Pauline Brumwell

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Pauline Brumwell - Professional Portfolio

-- Anonymous, April 28, 2001

Answers

Hello Pauline, I hope you donít mind my contacting you but it said you were a counsellor and I would like to talk to someone. I had an operation on my heart last year a triple by-pass and since then my whole life has changed. Nothingís the same. My wife says Iím a different person and sheís right, I am. I get so angry now and I never used to. I hope this is making sense to you. I think Iíll stop now, itís making me angry just getting the letters right. Yours Clive

Dear Clive Thank you for your e-mail. It sounds as if you've been having a very hard time since your operation. I'm aware that a triple heart bypass is a very major operation. It's not surprising that it has affected every aspect of your life and that you would be feeling very churned up about it. No wonder you're feeling angry! However, from your e-mail, it sounds as if it's so unlike the old you to get angry that you barely recognise yourself anymore.... so this feels like a real change of personality for you. Could you tell me a bit more about the anger - for instance, do you simmer or flare up? And could you fill me in with a bit more of the background to your operation... what led up to having it, for instance... and what was it like? How has it affected your life since? Are there things you can't do now that you used to be able to do? I think that's enough questions for now. And you certainly don't need to answer them all at once (or at all!) if you prefer not. If anything in particular stands out for you then just write to me about that.... whether I've asked about it or not.This is your space and sometimes just writing the feelings down can help to make sense of them. I'm enclosing an attachment with some practical details about counselling over the internet. If anything isn't clear, or if you have anything you want to ask me, please do ask. With best wishes Pauline

Dear Pauline, You sound as though you understand whatís happening to me. I donít recognise myself. Sometimes I flare up at Ann over nothing at all Ė like this morning. She called that breakfast was on the table and it made me angry. I know itís there Ė it always is. I donít need her to keep telling me. So when she said she was going to the shops and did I want anything I told her I could do my shopping myself. I didnít mean to shout but I could see she was upset and she went off in a huff and I thought Iíd go on the internet to see if you had replied and you had. So here I am writing it all to you and I feel better now. Iíll tell Ann I didnít mean to shout when she comes back. Sheíll understand. The doctors said I would probably feel angry. Iíve taken early retirement since the operation and although I know I could be doing another type of job, something with less stress and less physical, I donít really want to do anything else. I was a supervisor before I retired, had 200 men to supervise in the workshop. I miss work and the company. But I canít put my mind to doing anything else. Ann said I could help her with the house and the garden but thatís not the same. I think thatís all for now, Clive

Dear Clive I'm starting to get an idea now of how huge the changes have been in your life. You used to have a responsible job supervising a big workforce in a busy workshop. I guess your job was challenging and stimulating as well as quite stressful. On a good day I guess it enabled you to go home with the feeling of satisfaction that comes from a day's work well done. I also imagine that maybe you'd worked in the same place for quite a while in order to be in such a position of responsibility? You say you miss the work and the company and I'm not surprised. Your friends are still there and you're not. I imagine you must miss the feeling of doing physically demanding work too. Sometimes just doing something physical can really help to stop frustrations building up and it sounds as if your old job was physically demanding just as a matter of course. I'm glad that Ann understands about the frustration you're experiencing even though she sometimes ends up on the receiving end of it. I guess it must feel sometimes as if she's fussing around after you. I imagine she must have been worried by your operation and all the ways it has changed your life and maybe she's overcompensating a bit? I guess it's hard too for you both to adapt to the practicalities of being in the house together during the day. You've mentioned that you could get a less stressful and physically demanding job or that you could help with the house and garden... but it's hard to put your mind to either of these things. Is it like you're still missing what you've lost too much? All the best Pauline

Dear Pauline I do miss work a lot. Well I miss my workmates but I donít miss the stress Ė it was getting to me towards the end, then when I went to the GP because Ann said I should (I thought I just had indigestion) and he said I had had a heartattack Ė well I didnít believe him. I mean, I wasnít ill or in pain. After that they took me into hospital for a checkup and whilst I was there I had another attack Ė this time I could feel something but it wasnít that bad. Well, because I was on a monitor it showed up and they told me I was having an attack but it still didnít seem serious. Then I was given an appointment for some more tests and they found I had three blocked arteries. Well, we had to cancel our holidays and everything and I just stayed at home and waited for the operation. That was a difficult time, Ann was still working and I was on my own all day. I was very careful because they told me what I could and couldnít do and because I went privately on my insurance I got the operation done in 8 weeks. So really, I know I should be feeling good to be alive and ďwellĒ again but Iím just not back to my old self and that makes me angry. I donít want to be like this, a crochety, irritable old stick. Ann and I were looking forward to our retirement, it was to be a time for a bit of travelling and seeing things and doing things we hadnít had time for before. Now I donít like to leave home except to go shopping in Tesco with Ann. I donít want to go out visiting our friends. I donít like driving or being driven in the car. Iím stuck here at home with the computer and the internet for company. Annís going to retire at the end of the summer. She wanted to retire when I first got ill but I said she should stay at work until she wanted to stop Ė I know she likes being out of the house and she enjoys the company where she works just like I did. I think weíll get on each otherís nerves even more when sheís at home all day long. I hope this makes sense to you, itís a relief to write it down. Get it out of my system. Clive

Dear Clive Thank you for your e-mail. I'm glad it's helping to write down some of the things that have been bothering you.... Like you say, sometimes writing things down can help to get things out of your system. Reading your third e-mail, I'm really struck by how much 'out of the blue' this all was for you. It must have been especially shocking for you because you didn't even feel ill... no warning at all. It's like in the course of eight weeks you lost some huge chunks of your life.... Your friends at work (because no matter what anyone says, I know it's never the same seeing people away from the working environment, because you've lost most of what you had in common with most of them), your holidays and your dreams for your retirement. Before your condition was diagnosed, you were planning on a happy retirement, travelling and doing new things. I imagine a lot of those retirement plans would still be possible, but it's as if your confidence has been really rocked. It feels like a real strain now doing things you wouldn't have thought twice about before, like visiting friends or going out in the car. Could you tell me some more about what you don't like about those things now? I've been thinking too about what you say about your relationship with Ann. It's obviously very strong and you want her to do what's best for her, but I wonder if at the moment it feels like she's still got a lot of the things you miss so much... getting out of the house, good company at work, plus her health and self confidence. Even though you clearly care about her very much and only want the best for her, I wonder if there's a little part of you that resents her freedom... while dreading the further changes that will come when she retires too? I wonder if any of this rings bells for you? All the best Pauline

Dear Pauline Thanks for your email. It was good to hear from you again Ė Iím sorry Iíve taken a while to reply but things havenít been going so well here lately. Annís been sick with flu but she took to her bed for two days Ė something I donít think I remember her doing before. It was hard to look after her Ė take her drinks and all that. I always relied on her to do the nursing, that sort of thing, Iím not used to it. Anyway, we managed for a day, then her sister came and helped out. I was worn out by then, anyway, had to take things easy again. It makes me so angry that my body keeps letting me down like this. I want to be well again. I think some people think Iím shamming Ė my doctor tells me to do whatever I feel like doing. But I donít want to do much. Some days itís hard enough just to get out of bed. Itís really getting me down, all this sick business. Only a few months ago, we had no worries at all. Now look at me. I feel Iím only half the person I was. Iíve lost sight of the old me. Iím just a grumpy old codger now. No use to anyone. I think thatís all I want to say now. Iím looking forward to your reply. Clive.

Dear Clive Thank you for your e-mail. I was really struck by how miserable you're feeling. You really wish you could turn the clock back. You and Ann have obviously been a youthful energic couple and at the moment it must feel as if you're both just getting older and more vulnerable to health problems. It must be horrible to feel as if you're no use to anyone. People often feel 'useless' when they're taken away from the things they can do well and have to learn lots of new skills. It's not easy to know how to be a nurse to someone when you've never done it before. It takes quite a lot of skills that take some time to learn (Like getting an idea of how much help to offer and how often to check up to see if the person's alright... not to mention all the running around getting hot drinks etc!! ). Plus it can be very hard having to care for someone when you're not feeling on top form yourself. And people who are poorly are not always very appreciate of all the time and care their 'nurses' put into trying to look after them. Did you feel very resentful about having to look after Ann as well as feeling worn out? And how did it feel having her sister around the house helping out? I've been wondering how you're feeling about the apparent changes in 'roles' that are going on for you. Not only are you feeling increasingly confined to the house and garden which have generally been Ann's responsibility before, but now you're having to nurse her too... It's all very different to what you're used to. I'm not sure what your doctor means when he says that you should do whatever you feel like doing. You say that you think some people think you're shamming? Do you think the doctor thinks that too? What do you think? All the best Pauline

Dear Pauline, I think you understand me and I want to tell you something now thatís very difficult. I almost canít spell it out. But Iím frightened. Thatís it. Everyone wants me to be well again Ė back to my old self - but what if I canít. What if I have to stay like this Ė feeble, half a person, canít do this, canít do that. Get tired, cross, canít look forward to anything ever again. I canít tell Ann this Ė she wants me to get better so much. She tries so hard to look on the bright side but I donít always want to be positive. Some mornings I lie in bed and I think what would it be like if I didnít get up ever again? How would Ann cope? I canít bear to read this throughl. I hope it makes sense. Clive

Dear Clive Thank you for being so honest. It must be horrible for you to feel so frightened when you look into the future. It's like you can't really picture yourself as anything other than how you feel now. You sound as if you don't want to tell Ann how you're really feeling because you're scared you would just frighten her too. It must be such a strain trying to be positive when it's the very last thing you're feeling. I'm not clear when you say you wonder what it would be like if you didn't get up again... how would Ann cope without you... is that because you're feeling tempted by thoughts of suicide or just because thoughts of dying are more in your mind now generally? What do you think? Best wishes Pauline

Dear Pauline, Your reply really helped me through a bad patch, Pauline. Thanks. I feel ashamed I wrote you about my fears. I do feel a bit better now. Ann is really well again and we are planning a week end away soon. Iím scared of staying away (we havenít been away since my op.) and Annís been very patient with me but sheís used to two or three holidays a year and sheís had to put up with my heart stuff for long enough. So Iíve been looking at holiday brochures with her. Itís been good to think ahead. But Iím still a bit scared. Thanks for listening, Clive

Dear Clive Thank you for your e-mail. I'm glad you're feeling a bit better and planning some time away with Ann. The things you wrote to me didn't seem like things to be ashamed of... just very natural and understandable responses to a really major shock and all the changes it has made and is still making in your life. I guess you've always expected yourself to be able to take whatever life has thrown at you, without ever feeling scared or despondent, but it seems to me that true courage isn't about not feeling scared, but more about doing things even if you are scared of doing them... which is what you're doing now. I remember from your earlier e-mails how much you and Ann used to enjoy your holidays so it's great that the two of you are starting to think about having time away again. It seems really wise to plan a small break first of all.... Not too much to cope with all at once while you're both still recovering! Even so, I know it will be a big step and a real challenge for you after everything that has happened. Please let me know how you're progressing with it. I think fears are bound to arise for you as you do this, and it may help to write about the worries that arise as you're going along. All the best Pauline

Dear Pauline, Thanks for the email Ė you are so right about not taking things too quickly. Ann and I plan a long week end in June in the Lakes so Iím going to get on with the arrangements now. Itís good to know that I can come back to you when I need to. At the moment, things are going well but Iíll write again if I get into difficulties. Thanks again, Clive

Dear Clive Thank you very much for your message. It was good to hear that things are going so much better now. Certainly don't hesitate to get back in touch with me if you find things getting tough again. If I don't hear from you before, I hope you have a lovely weekend in the Lakes. With very best wishes Pauline



-- Anonymous, July 08, 2001


Pauline Brumwell Ė Supervision report

Individual supervision Pauline W and I were able to set up individual supervision and have met twice on msn. At my first supervision session as supervisee I discussed some practical issues about the requirements for the course, and also, my frustration on my clientís behalf that she had been unable to get msn to work for her and so had had to resort to e-mail. I wondered if her disappointment was the reason I had not had a reply to my last e-mail. Pauline asked how often we were expecting to exchange e-mails and I realised that I had set myself a far too difficult task in attempting to reply within 48 hours. We identified that my client also has difficulties with overextending herself and pushing herself to do too much for other people. Under the circumstances, it seemed appropriate to express this to the client and possibly consider with her giving myself more time to reply.

I was ready to do this, but in the event, two replies came quite quickly after each other. The first apologised for the delay in reply as the e-mail had been incorrectly addressed and had been returned to my client (a mistake that I had also made earlier in the relationshipÖ. an important learning experience!!!). The other was saying that she had to go away for a fortnight.

This took the final e-mails out of the timescale for the course and I heard from Angela that she had written to all clients saying that the counselling should be ended by the 19th. I wrote to Angela explaining the situation and was given an extension for the counselling. Both Angela and I wrote to the client confirming this.

As an experiment, I e-mailed the counselling e-mails so far to Pauline so that she could refer to them during the supervision session.

This was really interesting. Pauline was able to ask questions about several aspects of the clientís background which I was very hazy about. For instance I thought she was a widow while in fact this wasnít clear. Pauline picked out a theme of gratitude/ingratitude, which felt very relevant. During the supervision hour I progressed from feeling quite stuck (and so paralleling the client) to knowing what areas I needed to explore further with her and also with the idea that it may be relevant to use an e-mail equivalent of a f2f technique that can often be very effective i.e. ĎWhat would you like to say to your daughter?í/ ĎYour mother?í

After the session, I wrote immediately to the client asking for clarification of some areas of her story. This has helped move the counselling on and at the time of writing, two e-mail exchanges remain.

Sadly, because of Gillís computer problems, I have not been able to experience being an on-line supervisor.

-- Anonymous, July 23, 2001


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