ACA Blog

Chris Allen
Jun 30, 2011

Day 3

Restless, Jim wakes up before 5 because he simply can’t stand the thought of staying in bed any longer. He needs to do something, but he’s not sure what. He decides that an early morning walk around the lake will do him some good, besides he’s used to early morning exercise and there’s time to think about things. He kisses Fran on the cheek, roles out of bed, and get’s dressed. Out of habit, Jim sets the coffee maker’s timer for 0630. He knows that Fran will probably be enjoying a hot bath and a book by the time he returns. He also wants to surprise Fran with making breakfast.

Jim was correct. Fran woke up as the coffee finished brewing. Morning is Fran’s favorite time of the day because the house is quiet and she can be alone with her thoughts. As she waits for the tub to fill up, the smells of coffee and bath salts mix together, “strange but nice.” The old routine while Jim was in the military was similar, but without the big tub and bath salts. There are candles in the bathroom cabinet too, but Fran decides to save them for later, resigning herself to her favorite mystery novel, a full cup of coffee, and bubbly hot water that covers her entire body, all the way to her chin. “perfect.” Usually, Fran can’t let herself feel “perfect.”

Jim arrives back at the cabin around 0700. Fran is still in the tub and has re-heated the water a couple of times by now. Jim knows that Fran is a crepe fan and has found precisely what he needs to make them. Jim thinks out loud “how did V&B know that I would want to make crepes of all things?” Always the wife that remembers everything, she casually chimes in “because we filled out a list of our favorite foods on some questionnaire.” They both share a laugh and breakfast. The Smiths also decide to go their separate ways for the day, agreeing that Jim will make dinner reservations at the V&B Restaurant. (The Veranda). Italian is the menu for the evening.

1000 - Fran’s Appointment with Kamiah in her office
Fran’s inability during the last session to come up with some goals during her vacation is not Kamiah’s primary concern for this meeting b/c she knows goals will evolve over the natural course of Fran’s stay. As the two warm up to each over coffee in Kamiah’s office, Fran tells Kamiah about dinner with another couple the night before and how well and quickly the couple bonded. “Something just felt right b/c they seemed like old friends.”

In the blink of an eye, something changed in Fran’s mood. She started attacking Jim and praising him at the same time, so confused, happy and angry at the same time. Kamiah simply let her talk. As Fran repeats the same concerns over and over again, Kamiah is doing what Counselors do, she’s thinking about what she knows so far about her Client. She knows that Fran likes cooking and gardening. Based off of that knowledge, Kamiah figures out and decides that Fran is probably a creative person. Fran seems to have a vivid imagination and a flair for describing her surroundings
.
Conveniently in the corner of Kamiah’s office, facing a window overlooking a ranch sits a desk with paper and plenty of crayons and markers around. She points to the chair across the room and proceeds to invite Fran to draw her life. “Draw your life Fran. That’s all I want you to do. If you don’t finish before your 1130 meeting with Dr. G, don’t worry about it b/c we have plenty of time to work on your drawing. I’ll leave you alone for now b/c I need to go and do some laundry. You can take your drawing with you or leave it on the desk, whatever you want.” Fran is left alone with her thoughts and a magnificent view of two gardens and a stream that runs between them.

1130 – Smith’s Appointment with Dr. Guilee
Fran and Jim arrive at Dr. Guilee’s lobby at about the same time. They notice that this lobby looks and smells a little more like a Doctor’s office. Like the giant counselor lobby, Dr. G’s lobby is also spacious and in a cabin but the décor looks more “doctorry” according to Fran. Her comment as the two sit down makes Jim laugh, putting him at ease. As the two wait, Fran tells Jim that her appointment with Kamiah was fun. “She had me draw a picture of my life of all things.” “Can I see it?” Jim asks. “Maybe.”

Just then Dr. Kevin Guilee walks into the room. He’s a pretty tall and easy going looking guy Jim thinks.

“I’m Kevin Guilee. Both Kamiah and Mel have told me so much about you both, and I’m glad to finally meet you guys.” “Please come into my office and have a seat.”

Dr. Guilee reviews the most recent blood work and CAT Scans taken by medical staff back in Chicago. (As part of the reservation process, pertinent medical tests are given. The results are then forwarded to V&B.)

Kevin has already reviewed Fran’s test results and knows that “physiologically” she is fine. During the course of talking with Fran, he does not tell her that the “pain is all in your mind.” She’s been told that many times before according to her, by loved ones, her friends, her husband, and other health care professionals, and yet the pain is real. Dr. Guilee does not make a diagnosis, nor does he discount her pain. For Fran, Dr. Guilee simply listens to what she is saying. He doesn’t prescribe antidepressants at this point to Fran but will consider combining medications with V&B’s working treatment plan if the Staff makes a recommendation. What he does tell her is this:

“I believe that your pain is real, and I honestly don’t know exactly what’s causing it. I do know that I want to see you on a regular basis over the course of the next three weeks so that we can monitor the pain you are having in your head. We can see each other during a formal appointment or we can just talk when we see each other on the Ranch. No need to feel pressure in making a decision now, and you can let either Mel or Kamiah know what you decide. Many times I see guests that are experiencing pain that can’t be explained by medical tests, but our Counselors are pretty good helping identify the cause. ”

Jim pretty much sat silently as Fran spoke with Dr. G.. Observing the discussion, he instantly liked this Doctor because Jim could tell that he cared about the woman he loves, even though he didn’t provide the always desired “magic bullet” cure.

Dr. G turns his face and body towards Jim now, immediately Jim’s face goes red with embarrassment. Kevin notices, laughs at Jim, cracking a silly joke that puts Jim at ease.

Jim’s initial presenting concern for Dr. G was the inability to fall and stay asleep. Throughout the course of discussing the results Jim’s healthy “over 40” men’s physical, Jim sheepishly reveals that he is having a difficult time achieving an erection. Jim and Fran have always enjoyed sex, but lately with life’s changes, “frequency and intensity in this department has changed Doc”.

Most Doctors would probably prescribe “Viagra” or a generic form of the drug after an initial consult like this. After all, Jim is physically healthy enough for the drug. Everything checks out medically, but Dr. G wants to wait on writing a prescription at this point.

Instead, Dr. G tells Jim that he would like to wait for about a week and a half before writing a prescription for Viagra. Jim instantly likes Dr. G and decides to trust what he says.

The appointment with Dr. G is over. Goodbyes are said and the Smith’s leave with the re-assuring feeling that they can ask Dr. G about anything, anytime, anywhere on the Ranch. He’s not just a Doctor, but he’s also someone that cares, the kind of guy that Jim swears he could “sit down and have a beer with.” Maybe he will.

The Smiths decide to head back to the cabin for a nap and a leisurely lunch before Jim goes fishing with Dave Sanderson. Jim can hardly sleep in the deck hammock because he’s pretty pumped about getting out onto the lake. Fran is simply happy that Jim is happy and at the same time excited about finishing the last 10 Chapters of her murder mystery. She realizes that she’s got the time and smiles to herself.

1400 – Jim goes fishing and makes dinner reservations for 1930 / Italian
Jim finally gets out of his hammock and makes his way to the restaurant to arrange for dinner reservations. With that complete, Jim makes his way casually around the lake to the boathouse. It’s about 10 minutes until 2 and there’s nobody standing around outside. The door of the fishing cabin is open, so Jim decides to investigate.

To Jim’s amazement, the place is like a mini version of a mini “Bass Pro Shop.” There are guys sitting around tables playing cards, a couple other guys seem to be taking some kind of fishing lure making class. Glad that he arrived 10 minutes early, Jim decides to take a look around the place.

There’s a room with bow and gun hunting equipment, another room with equipment for something called “geocashing,” and finally the fishing room. Like most of the buildings on the ranch, there’s a small fire burning somewhere that Jim can only smell. Jim casually nods at some of the guys he runs across b/c he’s seen them in other places on the Ranch. Three of the guys Jim sees started their vacations at the same time Jim and Fran did.

At about 5 minutes past 1400, a man steps out from a closet to the back of the fishing lure and equipment counter. In a loud and booming voice, the tone way too high for such a quiet place, Dave yells out so that the entire room can here “Smith, Whitehead, Burch, and Jones, get your asses out here so we can go fishing.” The other guests knew what was coming and quietly smile when Dave popped out from behind the counter b/c they shared in the experience a week before. Somehow, the guy can throw his voice to the other side of the room.

Dave is a double amputee, losing both of his legs below the knee 6 years prior to his employment at the V&B. In losing his legs, Dave never lost his faith or his sense of humor. So without missing a beat, Dave comes from around the corner of the cabinet when he beckons Smith, Whitehead, Burch, and Jones. From the sound of Dave’s voice, these new guys expect to see a 6ft. 6 inch guy towering behind the counter. Instead, they don’t see anything as they look around.

“Hey Burch, I’m down here. Can you guys help me get my legs on?” Like the jokester and skilled Counselor he is, Dave lets his question hang in the air before he and everyone else around him breaks out into raucous laughter. Dave puts his own legs on and announces to everyone that “today is going to be a great day!”

Prior to 1400, Dave reviews Jim’s progress notes, along with the progress notes of Jim’s 3 new friends. Their complete files are continuously updated on a localized and secure database that all V&B Treatment Staff Members have access to.

Areas in Jim’s file that that Dave finds interesting are the following:
“I lose my temper sometimes with Fran lately.”

“I would really like to find a job that I enjoy.”

“I just want to fix what’s wrong and move on with life.”

“Erectile problems”

Dave will not bring these issues up directly, but he knows they will eventually be addressed as trust is fostered within the group, both during normal fishing expeditions out on the lake and during the inevitable times when these guys will interact with each other outside of the group.

Dave gives the guys a formal tour of the place, letting them know what the process is for checking equipment out, safety requirements for equipment use, etc… With ground rules firmly understood, agreed to, and established, the guys head out to one of the boats at the doc for a great day. They only have about 3 or 4 hours out on the water before dinner, but everyone is simply excited to be right where they are, living in the moment.

1600 - Fran’s Visit to the SPA for facial
After finishing both her mystery novel and her Pina Colada, Fran decides to leave her reclining chair on V&B’s pool deck so that she can take a swim in V&B’s indoor pool. For a while, she switches between the hot tub and the pool. She does this several times because the change in temperature relaxes her muscles. She realizes that in half an hour she will have the best facial of her life from some Counselor named Abigail.

As Fran leaves the pool for the Spa’s female only steam sauna, she spots Lisa Edwards coming out of Abigail’s office and decides to ask Lisa about her experience. Fran and Lisa strike up a conversation in the steam room while several other women chime in with approval.

Fran learns the following:
“Well, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this place, but Abigail is very nice. The license on her wall says that she’s a ‘Certified Counselor’ and ‘esthetician.’” What was it like? “Well, it was great! Abigail was so nice. I went in a little nervous about what to expect b/c this was my first full body massage, just me and my towel. We didn’t talk about much really and I actually fell asleep half way through. She was that good!.....Abigail, hey. I was just telling Fran about you. Fran this is Abigail, Abigail this is my friend I was telling you about.”

“Pleasure meeting you Fran; I’m so glad you asked me to give you a facial because facials are one of my favorite things to give. If you’re ready, you can make yourself comfortable on the table in my room. Just follow the hallway around, and it’s the first door on your right.”

The room is small and dimly lit. Smells of lavender fill the air and some of Fran’s favorite songs are playing softly in the background. The music selection reminds Fran of different periods in her life, some challenging and some rather enjoyable. About 10 minutes pass as Fran lies down on the massage table. The room’s ambiance thoroughly relaxes just about every single muscle in her body. “It’s been an amazing day so far” she thinks.

“Sorry for the delay Fran, but I like my friends to become familiar with the room before we start.” “Makes sense to me” Fran says.

Abigail has read the Staff notes, so she is aware of Fran’s challenges and goals. Abigail’s primary concern is giving Fran an excellent face massage and subsequent exfoliation and extraction. During the course of conversation, she will actively listen to Fran, if she says much at all because some clients don’t. Because Abigail does know that one of Fran’s biggest stated concerns centers on her frequent migraines, she will look for muscle tensions, passively trying to discern what’s causing them during the course of conversation or during certain songs. She is a big fan of music therapy. Abigail will make intentional, yet subtle inquires into what she actively feels in Fran’s body during the hour long session. As with her other guests, Abigail will make recommendations to other staff members if anything pertinent is learned.

At around 1830 Fran and Jim meet back up at their cabin and share the experiences they’ve had. For the first time in quite a while, Jim and Fran are starting to feel normal and comfortable around each other. Deep down inside, the Smith’s are feeling a little more in control of their destiny. They realize that the V&B Staff genuinely care about them, care about them in ways that seem so foreign to what they’ve experienced in the past. Is it because of their training or is it because of what’s in their hearts?

The Smiths arrive at the Veranda and have table for two reserved for them. At the host’s podium a young man in his mid 20’s gives the Smiths an envelope with their names written on it. They immediately know that the note is from Mel but decide to open it later.

The young man at the podium is a Soldier in his 3rd week at the V&B. He is thinking about leaving the military in a year so that he can pursue a career in the hospitality industry. Some career counseling tests taken during Rob’s stay peeked his curiosity.

Rob leads them to their table. The table is not by the window this time; instead, it’s situated so that the Smiths are adjacent to the room’s fireplace instead. Oddly enough, they have a view that partially reveals the restaurant’s kitchen.

There are about 60 guests in the restaurant right now and about 20 people in the kitchen. Fran notices that there are people that look like V&B Kitchen Leaders (Counselors), and it looks like there’s guests cooking back there too. They seem to be having a great time. Intrigued, Fran knows that she will ask Kamiah about the people she sees in the kitchen during their next session.

As the Smith’s sit down to an appetizer of fried calamari, Jim opens up the notes from Mel.

Jim and Fran,
Glad you guys had a fun day yesterday. Jim, Dave told me what he did to you and the other guys at the fishing cabin. Wish I could have seen your reactions! Fran, Abigail tells me that you might be interested in joining one of our cooking groups. Let me know the next time we see each other, and I will find an opening for you. Or, you can tell Kamiah to let me know and that will work too.
In Christ,
Mel

1000 – 1200 Fran’s Meeting with Kamiah
1000 – 1200 Jim, tag, your fish cleaning with Dave at the Fishing Cabin!
1800 – 2000 Dinner at the Smith’s Cabin with Kamiah. Kamiah says that she can come over at 5 if that’s ok with some ingredients for a new beef stew recipe she would like to try out. Fran, if the time is not good for you guys, Kamiah says that you guys can discuss it at your 10am.



Chris Allen is a counselor and an Army Officer just returning from Afghanistan. He is passionate about developing counseling practices that best address Veterans and their families. Blog comments are not representative of the Army or Department of Defense.

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