40th Reunion

View from the far side of the recliner

Looks like it is going to be the reunion. Need to write this while I can still remember.

First thing. There were a number of people who worked long and hard to make the reunion happen, even putting their own money down to secure the event before anyone else paid anything. So if you are reading this, Thanks you did a great job.

Before the Big Event

I had to get cleaned up, got my hair cut, took care of the nose and ear hair myself. Didn’t have that in high school. Straining to look in the mirror made me think, maybe our eyesight gets worse as we age so we can’t see the wrinkles.

Looking Back

This reunion got me thinking about things I hadn’t thought about in years. For the people that I only knew for the four years of high school, forty years is like ten high school experiences since we’ve seen each other. I remember a few classes that seemed like forty years. I don’t know how many students graduated with me but I did meet a really nice girl next to me whose last name began with “B” also. In four years of school we had never met. It was not a one room school house. A flashback to freshman year. The school was so crowded that we were on double sessions. Six AM first class for me for two years. Freshman had to share lockers. I shared with a guy I knew in middle school. Mark S. was precocious when it came to illegal substances. That’s not why we were friends. One time I had pain and muscle relaxant pills in the locker that I had for a sports injury. I didn’t like taking them but noticed one day that they weren’t in the locker. I asked Mark if he knew where they were. He said that he sold them because I wasn’t using them. I don’t know what else Mark was selling out of our locker. Looking back, that could have turned out really bad.

I did go to one other reunion, I think the 10th. A few things struck me from that weekend. Some people hadn’t changed much. There was this one guy who was really nice, jovial even and kind of big around the middle. He had gotten even bigger around the middle and had married a woman who was just as round, just as nice and even jovial! A good friend of mine hit it off with his ex-wife, ending up in her hotel room. They were both in relationships, she was married. This caused trouble in two states.  A woman showed up alone on the dressed up night in an amazing dress. I don’t even remember if she was wearing shoes, or had feet. She was stunning! Nobody, male or female seemed to know who she was. Several yearbooks were quickly scanned with no hits. Maybe she was from a different high school and just came over to mess with us. Or maybe got lost looking for model tryouts. There was a list of our classmates that had died. There weren’t many. There was probably more that had been in prison and one or two in both groups.

Back to the future, thirty years later

Getting ready

I almost felt retro acne coming on. Time to put the nice shirt on. Suck in the belly and stand up tall (tall for me that is). I kind of hope they play “Stairway to Heaven”. Guess I’ll find out what effect 40 years and gravity have on people. Forty years probably doesn’t seem like much to a Giant Tortoise. Then again they are born wrinkled and toothless and never bother to change.

Being There

There weren’t any people that I had been close to or even knew really well of the fifty or so folks. It seemed that a lot of the people were connected through the school band. They seemed to be a close group back in high school and apparently had good memories of those days. The jocks (of which I was a very minor player) with the concussions probably didn’t have good memories of anything. Nor did the stoners. I did met some very nice people. I might actually check in on Facebook with a couple of them. It is a small world (not the Disney song please!). One of my classmates dragged her cousin who is four years younger and went to another high school on the other side of Phoenix to the reunion. I don’t think she knew anyone else. We ended up sitting next to each other during the festivities. (It was murder mystery dinner theatre which is way too difficult for me to explain, not having been in any school plays.) We ended up talking a lot and it turns out that we both live in Flagstaff. She is a nurse at the hospital and I’m a PT (hypnotherapist too) we know of a lot of people in common. Interesting connection, a classmate that I don’t remember ever meeting bringing her cousin to a reunion with a lot strangers to meet someone who lives in the same town.

One last thing. On my way out I looked at the list of classmates that had died. There were so many names spread out over four decades, it seemed like it happened all at once. There was a moment of shock and sadness, remembering many of the people as teenagers which they were the last time I saw them. I did know more people on the list better in high school than I knew the people in the room. Some did die young, but we are in our late fifties so inevitably death gets more frequent. I would have liked to see some of them to see how they turned out instead of seeing their names listed like a graduation program, in alphabetical order but now with their final graduation date next to the name.

Next week I’ll write about something. I’m not sure what yet but it will be something.

Feel free to contact me with any comments and of course if you know someone who might be interested in these posts please send them on.
Thanks,
Don Berlyn

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My First (formal) Hypnosis Experience

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—View from the far side of the recliner

My First (formal) Hypnosis Experience

My first formal hypnotic trance experience occurred June of 2007 in Sante Fe, NM at the Hypnotherapy Academy of America. I remember (always questionable) being one of the first students to get in the recliner in the front of the class. It was a revelation and mind opening experience.

It turns out that I and probably everyone with normal cognitive function has been in a hypnotic trance, many times, maybe most of the time. Every day dream, every time becoming entranced in TV, a movie, play, those times stopping the car at a familiar place and not remembering anything about driving there, pretty much anytime when our mind took us to some other reality when we were not actually asleep, is likely some form of trance. When someone states “I can’t be hypnotized” they are denying experiencing anything other than living in this exact moment in this exact setting. Kind of a sad! They actually mean that they have such a powerful mind/will power that no one can control their mind. Fortunately no one with those beliefs have shown up at my office. It would be an expensive few minutes for them and a complete waste of time for us both. When someone makes such a statement I don’t argue with them, after all they have such a powerful mind (is that the same as a strong opinion?). I do explain my understanding of what hypnosis and hypnotherapy is, almost more important, what they are not and the way I use them in my practice. People usually have a difficult time denying ever having a day dream or getting into some type of entertainment. Actually I have a free consultation by phone or in person so that never happens. What often happens is that a client or potential client states “I don’t know if I can be hypnotized” and that turns into a conversation instead of some talk show yelling match. I don’t yell so that never happens either. I’m pretty sure that by time we have the, “I don’t know if…” conversation they are ready to take a chance because they’ve tried everything else.

Alright back to my trance, because isn’t it really all about me, unless it’s all about you if you are the “me”? One of the amazing aspects about the experience is that I could clearly hear every sound in the room. I don’t know what I expected, but I remember being so surprised that I could hear every sound in the room. My classmates were trying to be quiet but I could hear pages turning, people shifting basically sounds that I would not have been conscious of if I was sitting in class doing anything else. It seemed like I would hear the voice of the hypnotist that just made sense. The fact that my hearing seemed enhanced was just amazing. That was my first WOW! so that what hypnosis is like learning experience.

I had many other learning experiences in those seven weeks. I had never seen a hypnosis entertainment performance so was floored, actually I didn’t hit the floor, to learn and experience that you could stand, walk, open your eyes and talk in a trance.  Also the experience of being in a trance so light that I seemed to be just relaxed and so deep that I could just barely hear and knew that I could move if I wanted to but just didn’t want to. There is so much more but I’ll save it for another time.

As always, experience is the best teacher. Although if it is a really bad experience it’s better if someone has the experience and you do the learning. I use the suggestion that “any sound you hear, even the sound of my voice, just helps you go even deeper into relaxation”. Many hypnotherapists use that suggestion as part of deepening the trance. My office is about 200 yards from a major railroad crossing and over a hundred trains a day go through Flagstaff. Incorporating extraneous sounds into deepening relaxation is both powerful and essential in my setting. Every time I give that suggestion I’m reminded of my first time in the recliner more than seven years ago.

So stay amazed and enjoy your trance!

Next time I’ll probably write about pain, so bring bandages, ice packs and aspirin. I am, most likely going to my 40th High School Reunion. That may be a different kind of pain, so maybe I’ll write about that.

Feel free to contact me with any comments and of course if you know someone who might be interested in these posts please send them on.
Thanks,
Don Berlyn

Hypochondria and Pain: real Mind-Body Phenomena

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View from the far side of the recliner

Hypochondria and Pain: real Mind-Body Phenomena

I saw a client tonight who came to see me for hypochondria.  The details aren’t important other than a bit of medical history with a non-genetically related family member that died of a condition in the same area that my client felt symptoms. The client did have an examination and discovered that there was a mild issue in the area. Mentally this client was able to rationally think through the unlikelihood that the headaches that were experienced off and on over the years was a brain tumor or that there wasn’t cancer or nerve damage somewhere but the stress and anxiety were real. For this person the fear of an illness has had a debilitating effect on their quality of life. The good news is that if the mind is the source of a problem it can also be the cure. Tonight’s session seemed to go very well. I’ll find out soon how effective it was.

A couple of years ago I saw a woman who had been in constant burning leg pain from diabetic neuropathy. She reported unrelenting pain which was becoming worse. We used a technique in which the person localized the feeling in the body, identified the quality of the feeling and any other sensory attributes. So the negative items were, a burning pain throughout both legs and the colors of red/orange. The client then imagined what she did want. The positive attributes were a cool feeling in both legs, the colors of blue and green, and I think the sound of water.

With this technique the feeling is identified, localized in the body, the qualities of the feeling described, then any sensory effects that are related to the feeling. I ask about visual, auditory, smell and taste. At minimum there has to be a body area and quality of the sensation. Typically with the negative condition the client can identify a visual quality. On the positive side the client can usually come up with sensations for all the senses that help them feel good.

So the woman went into a relaxing trance using her breath, breathing in cool blue and green into her legs and breathing out hot red/orange. After coming out of the trance the client reported that she felt as though she was stepping into cool blue/green water and the pain, heat and the colors of red/orange moved out of her legs completely. For the first time in a long time she was completely pain free just using the power of her mind. Once she knew the technique she could use it whenever she wanted too. Well that was easy! Dealing with chronic pain was the reason I got into this crazy business.

Feel free to contact me with any comments and of course if you know someone who might be interested in these posts please send them on.
Thanks,
Don Berlyn

Odds and Ends

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View from the far side of the recliner

Odds and Ends

Well probably not that odd and definitely not the end.
Another Learning Experience
I got a call from a potential client’s wife which is usually a red flag. In this case the man had been referred by a physician I know to quit smoking. I didn’t feel I could turn that referral down. The gentleman had a number of serious medical conditions and was looking at another surgery. His doctor naturally wanted him not smoking, surgery is risky enough even for someone in good health. It turned out that the man smoked 5 to 7 cigars a day the way other people smoke cigarettes. He also wanted to work on dietary and exercise goals.
The problem was he still had cigars. I usually want my clients to have their last smoke and get rid of all smoking material before they come to see me. If they are not willing to do that they probably are not ready to quit smoking. There are some other techniques I can use to assist them to being ready but of course if it’s not really their goal I can’t help them with that goal.
We spent a long time going over his history and goals. Decided on the language for suggestions. Did a quick reality technique to check if he could really see himself as a nonsmoker. It was not easy for him to see himself a nonsmoker. Not encouraging. Because of the medical importance of this issue I decided to go ahead. I taught him some simple stress reduction techniques then went into what seemed like a good trance session. In the review at the end of the session he seemed to think he could give up the cigars. We scheduled another session in two days to keep working on the other issues.
Next session he had not quit and still had enough cigars to last him three days. He had decided that his goal was to quit smoking at 6:00 PM on the third day while tapering off. It didn’t seem like the best plan but he was sure it would work and he had spent a lot of time thinking about it and even had a number of precise suggestions. We reviewed the previous stress reduction techniques then proceeded with a session using his suggestions and very specific target for being a nonsmoker.
I called him about an hour after the target time to congratulate him on being tobacco free only to find that he felt terrible and couldn’t give up the cigars yet.
Although that result wasn’t totally unexpected at least the stress reduction techniques were reported to be helpful. I talked to the doctor about the outcome and he thought it worth a try anyway.
I will give this client a call now that it’s been a couple of weeks and see if he wants to work on anything else or do some deep work on his need for the cigars.

More Seizure Stuff
Last time I wrote about my experience of having seizures. Most of the time I can function just fine and no one else knows what’s happening in my head. At least twice that I remember, I was working with clients deep in trance going through suggestions when the auditory hallucinations came on strong, after a bit my ability to form words was getting compromised. Until the seizures passed it was a matter of extreme concentration and frequent pauses to keep going. At the end of those sessions I was exhausted but at least the clients were relaxed and had no idea of what had been going on the other side of the recliner.
Hypnotherapy Conference
Last week I attended the American Council of Hypnotist Examiners Conference in Pasadena. There were three days with 24 presentations and 16 workshops. I managed to get to six workshops and two presentations for a total of 17.5 hours. Almost everything I went to was excellent. It was great to hear directly from two authors of powerful books in the field and from one of the best known medical hypnotherapists in the world. The other speakers were very knowledgeable with excellent information. It was nice to be reminded of some of the things that I learned previously, techniques that I want to start using again and new insights and details on what was familiar. There were four areas in which I gained a lot of new information using metaphors in hypnotherapy, working with; insomnia, PTSD and children.
I am really looking forward to incorporating the new information into my existing practice and expanding into more working (kind of like play) with the little people and helping those folks dealing with PTSD.
I meet two of my classmates from the Hypnotherapy Academy of America (in Sante Fe, NM back then) class of Summer 2007. We agreed that we did get an excellent education. I meet a number of very nice and interesting people from all over the country. There were even a few from Arizona.

That’s it for now.

Feel free to contact me with any comments and of course if you know someone who might be interested in these posts please send them on.
Thanks,
Don Berlyn

The distant sounds from within

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The distant sounds from within
Four years after the head injury, towards the end of the classroom part of physical therapy school, I was sitting in some type of neurology rehabilitation class. I felt normal. I became aware of a strange noise or sounds like ocean waves in an echo chamber or large empty space. It wasn’t loud. I looked around to see if anyone else seemed to be hearing anything. Apparently just me. It lasted for probably about a minute then was gone with some popping sounds. This continued intermittently throughout my internships. I rarely mentioned it. I did test my coordination and balance, standing on one foot, eyes closed, fingertip to nose, throwing and catching. All systems go during the static. I did ask a PT that I knew to check my pulse, eye movements and pupils during one of the episodes. Normal.
On my first PT job (in Tucson) I had real health insurance and the money to pay deductibles so I went for a hearing evaluation. Everything tested normal and there was no explanation for the random sound effects.
I moved on to Durango, CO and ran a small PT clinic in Aztec, NM. Over time the episodes became more frequent, lasted longer and perhaps unrelated, I thought I noticed occasional moments of incoordination. I had another evaluation that was normal for hearing but showed a deficit in my right vestibular mechanism. Those results didn’t explain anything that was happening inside my head.
I was moving to Flagstaff, trying to catch up on my paperwork (the curse of my existence) in Aztec and driving to Flagstaff on weekends trying to find a place to live. Sometime in there I ran the Imogene Pass run. One day I was sitting at my desk eating lunch and finishing the morning’s patient notes. My first afternoon patient had come in early and was exercising on his own before his session started. No pressure. The day was going fine.
I began to get a strange feeling, not pain, not ill, more a sense of dread. I never remembered that feeling before. For some reason it seemed like a good idea to splash some cold water on my face. While in the bathroom, splashing the water on my face it became difficult to use my right arm and the right side of my face began to droop. Oh fecal matter! I was having a stroke. Managing to get the door open before things got worse, I got to my secretary’s desk and tried to say that I needed help. I couldn’t speak but she got the message. Getting up from her chair and she put it behind me so I could sit down. I didn’t quite sit, sliding from the chair to the floor.
The lights went out.
Over an hour later they came on again in the Farmington, NM emergency room. Very groggy and confused. That apparently was a grand mal seizure, shorted out, gone. My fiancé, Debbie also a PT, came and got me back to Durango. She was pretty concerned, scared even. I don’t have much of a memory of the couple of days after that. An EEG and MRI were normal. The assessment was that maybe I was just exhausted and that could cause a seizure. I was put on Dilantin temporarily but if there was no relapse it was up to me if I wanted to continue it. I declined. Dilantin clashed with my coffee.
The irregular auditory sideshow continued, back to normal and I moved to Flagstaff.
The outpatient PT clinic in Flagstaff had good exercise equipment which we used before or after seeing patients. There was also a shower. I worked out before seeing patients one day then took a shower. In the shower I began to notice music, that was nice, but there was no speaker in the shower room. Oops! Things started to go downhill. I quickly pulled my shorts on, got out of the shower room while I still could and right in front was the office manager’s desk. I couldn’t talk but she could tell that something wasn’t right (more than usual) with me. Somehow I was brought back to one of the treatment rooms. I knew what was going on this time and seemed as if I was able to fight to stay conscious.
Another MRI, an extensive evaluation at an epilepsy center and no evidence of anything unusual. The brainstorms happen when they will regardless of mental meteorologists. This time the Dilantin was not debatable. My coffee consumption increased to meet the challenge.

Tomorrow I’m off to another Hypnotherapy conference. Not sure what I’ll write about next time but there will be words.

Feel free to contact me with any comments and of course if you know someone who might be interested in these posts please send them on.
Thanks,
Don Berlyn

Head Injury, Part 1 Talking to myself

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Talking to myself.
Languages have always been a challenge for me. I’ve tried Spanish, German and Russian and been found wanting. Wanting some language I could master. Some would claim that I’ve never really mastered the speaking part of English, mumbling doesn’t count as a second language. For many years I took reading, writing, hearing and speaking English for granted.
I was transitioning from almost finishing a special education degree to getting into physical therapy school. I had just finished my lab finals, the next week was the lecture finals. Some of the people from the physical therapy department where I was volunteering were having a pre-Christmas party. Sounded good to me.
You should not drink and drive. I did.
If you drink and drive you should not do it with a motorcycle. I did.
If you drink and drive a motorcycle you should wear a good helmet. I did.
I came to in the emergency room (now “emergency department”) of the hospital where I volunteered. I did not recognize it at first. I never went to the emergency room or laid in a hospital bed as part of my volunteer duties. I did have an incredible headache and I couldn’t really understand what people were saying.
Over the next six days in the hospital I found that I could not read, write, understand spoken words or speak coherently. I had been worried about studying for the finals. Somehow someone figured out that I wanted my books. Looking at the pages was amazing, so familiar and so indecipherable. My friend Peter was leaving for a semester in Germany and came to the hospital to say good bye. The look on his face let me know how bad things really were. Laying in the hospital room watching people’s mouths move while they spoke and hearing sounds reminded me of watching films in Russian. It was pretty obvious I wasn’t being understood either and not because of mumbling. Because I couldn’t understand instructions I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to get out of bed without help. I was confused when the nurses seemed upset when I got up and used the bathroom all by myself. I used to get praised for that when a very young lad.
The only injury of any consequence was a “closed head injury/skull fracture” with a severe concussion. Functionally I had expressive and receptive aphasia. Words in, words out not working. There was no telling how long it might last and how complete a recovery there would be. Everything else was just fine.
It was a very interesting experience. I had worked for years with people who had difficulty speaking, had limited verbal vocabularies, couldn’t read or write. And here I was. Interacting with the external world I was pretty much like my old clients. My internal communication was perfectly normal (for me). I laughed inside my head (maybe outside too, I could make sounds). “God this is pretty funny. All the times I laughed at those things that happen when you work with the mentally disabled and this is my punishment.”
It took about six weeks for everything to get back to “normal”. One thing I remember from the recovery period. My dad was always really good with crossword puzzles. So he gave me a very simple one, thinking that it would help me feel better. I was totally stumped. I don’t think any of us felt better. Still don’t like crossword puzzles.
Everything did get back to normal. A few months after the accident I ran a marathon. I had run one about a week before the accident. The science and math prerequisites were eventually finished and I got into physical therapy school. Seemed like the brain was functioning fine.

To be continued.

Feel free to contact me with any comments and of course if you know someone who might be interested in these posts please send them on.
Thanks,
Don Berlyn

Why I Love that there is (almost) no paperwork with Hypnotherapy!

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View from the far side of the recliner

What good is having a blog if you can’t rant? Well this is my blog and here is my rant.
I just spent a couple of hours today trying to finish a report for a Medicare Physical Therapy patient and I’m still not done. This patient has a long list of relatively common medical issues but also on that list is a rare neurological condition which had been misdiagnosed as another more common neurological disease. I was seeing this patient for a simple activity related neck and shoulder pain complaint with an onset about four months ago. In a rational system the initial evaluation and medical history should have been a thirty minute write up, a page and a half at the most. My patient didn’t understand that further Physical Therapy would have to be approved and that she isn’t allowed to pay us until we have billed her Medicare plan and secondary. It is not clear if this patient wants to continue or will go somewhere else. She is somewhat confused so I am somewhat confused.
Welcome to crazy town. All medical records now have to be electronic. This means that if there are nude pictures in your medical records they will likely be leaked any day now. Hope you look good in that blue gown with the open back! If hackers can get into secure sites of defense companies, banks and government agencies what chance is there that the people that brought you HealthCare.gov will do a better job. Even if a site isn’t hacked, theoretically anyone in a medical office or insurance company that has access to your records can help themselves to that information. Theft of information in the electronic age can happen so much faster and in incredible amounts compared to the old days of paper medical billing and tabbed patient files.
Medicare requires an incredible amount of irrelevant information. Levels of disability or function need to be chosen somewhat arbitrarily from lists. The function limits are from redundant, overlapping lists. The time spent doing all of this, is time not spent treating patients and is not reimbursed. The costs of the various programs and the monthly fees to use the documentation to be in compliance are an added burden. The effect of all this on medical providers has not been pretty. I know a number of family or general practice physicians who have closed their practices and either retired, become hospitalists or gone to work for large hospital based clinics. It is very difficult to find a physician that will take a new Medicare patient. It is harder and harder to make it as a small practice. I think something is being lost in the process and it’s not just old magazines in the waiting room.
A friend of mine who is a Physical Therapist and Certified Hand Therapist, recently became a Licensed Massage Therapist, teaches a bit at a massage school and runs a bed and breakfast. This very experienced, skilled specialist is only occasionally seeing hand patients and won’t bill insurance companies. The non-treatment parts of healthcare are taking the pleasure out of serving people. The reason people go into healthcare (hopefully) is to work with patients and not be mind-melded with an uncaring electronic bureaucracy.
One of the beauties of Hypnotherapy that I really appreciate, is the ability to really help people achieve their goals without dealing with insurance, paperwork, billing or bureaucracy. It is so simple, the client wants to make a change, comes up with a goal, determines who or what can help him/her achieve that goal, makes an appointment, receives the service and pays for the service. Just a person wanting to get somewhere, hiring another person to help them get there. Strange no one thought of that way of doing healthcare before.
I love that about Hypnotherapy and would like to see it happen with Physical Therapy.
Next week I’ll write about something. I got off track this week due to my paperwork issues. I’ve actually had a couple of hypnotherapy sessions on this curse of mine. Guess I need some more work on that, maybe a lot more work.
Feel free to contact me with any comments and of course if you know someone who might be interested in these posts please send them on.
Thanks,
Don Berlyn