Monday morning staff meetings were seldom entertaining but I had a bone to pick, so I was pretty energetic that day.
"Look, we can't have some nurse doing this on the side. With all the money we poured into starting up the pain management center, with the new building, the advertising, everything, we're going to let a nurse do her own little amateur hypnosis thing?" I said.
Dr. Collins was offended, I could tell. Not that I cared, I didn't think too much of his unit. The series of general practitioner office groups he ran that were scattered throughout the county, he wouldn't have even been a political player at the hospital, but he was also a long time friend and golf-buddy of the chief, so I had to take some care.
Being one of the few female senior medical staff members had its disadvantages sometimes. For one, I'd be damned if I was ever going to pretend to like golf just to ingratiate myself with the old boys club.
"Dr. Sullivan, Nurse Kemp has done some amazing things. We've had patients with back pain that was fixed by multiple surgeries stop using prescription pain-killers after working with her," he said to me.
"Right, I'm sure. Actual medicine versus some twenty-something nurse telling you you're getting very sleepy now. I saw her with a girl so young that she could have been a teenager on Friday, and the girl's chart said she was suffering from fibromyalgia. At least that's fake pain, so some fake medicine is probably the right answer," I rolled my eyes, and I could see that most of the doctors in the room were behind me on that one.
It was the general consensus that certain problems were not really medical in nature. fibromyalgia sufferers, or anyone who claimed to be allergic to more than one thing were pretty much automatically classified as psych cases by most of us.
"Come now, Nancy, don't you list hypnosis as one of your precious pain management clinic's available options?"
"Sure, but we don't recommend it, and we bring in an outside therapist who is a certified expert when we someone ask for it."
I would have pushed the argument farther, but the chief gave me a look and changed the subject, so I dropped it for the time being and just enjoyed the nasty looks Collins tossed at me through the rest of the meeting.
I stopped in to the cafeteria on the first floor to grab some lunch to take back to my office. I passed by a table with two young women and I got a few paces past the table before I realized that it was the famous nurse Leanna Kemp, with a familiar looking younger woman.
When I turned around, I recognized the girl, who was maybe twenty. The woman seemed engrossed with whatever the nurse had to say, leaning just a bit too close to her. Kemp looked all of a half-dozen years older, and both of them pretty, young women. Prettier and younger than myself, to be honest, which didn't help my reaction.
She smiled and got up to take my offered hand.
"Doctor Sullivan," I told her. "I run the pain management clinic? I understand you also run a pain-management practice of some type."
She looked a bit flustered by my approach, it was obvious she was already hip to the fact that we weren't likely to become friends any time soon.
"I, well, I do some hypnosis..."
"Isn't it true that multiple studies have found hypnosis no more effective than placebo when used for pain management though?"
"I-I don't know. I've helped some people," she began to explain.
"What sort of training have you had?"
"I mean, what are your medical credentials to be performing this non-effective therapy in a clinical setting?"
She was noticeably embarrassed, her cheeks looked pinker than they had when I'd walked up. I let the question hang in the air for only a moment before continuing.
"You know, take me for example. I went to one of the finest medical schools in the country, I've worked in some of the finest hospitals in the country, and of course I'm also board-certified in several specialties. I'm sure before you started waving pocket-watches in front of patients you had some training, right?"
Both she and her companion were upset; this pleased me enough that I smiled at her before I strode away, without looking back.
Working late in my office, after the clinic had closed, I was surprised to see young nurse Kemp in my doorway. She wasn't in scrubs, and she looked even prettier in street clothes.
"Can I help you?"
"Doctor Sullivan, I'm here to ask you to stop talking about me. I understand you've been telling people that I'm some sort of danger to the hospital."
"Don't you think you are? Are you bright enough to understand the sort of liability this place is exposed to by your little amateur hour voodoo medicine practice?"
"It's not voodoo medicine. I've helped a lot of people."
She kept her eyes on mine, she looked much more composed than she had in the cafeteria. I was preparing to shred her some more for the fun of it, when she made the most ridiculous suggestion.
"I came here to make a wager with you. Let me show you that what I do isn't bullshit. Give me a chance to hypnotize you, and if I can't, I'll stop doing hypnosis here."
It was so absurd that I wasn't sure where to start. She had to be crazy if she thought I'd let her try to hypnotize me. Crazier still if she thought she could succeed.
"Are you kidding me? I have an IQ over one-forty, and I not only meditate but I do tai-chi and yoga as well; I probably have the strongest mind in the whole hospital. You could try for ten hours and you couldn't hypnotize me, it's a waste of time."
"All the same, I'm willing to give it a shot, and I'll stand by my side of the wager. If you'll sit for ten minutes, relaxing in a chair while looking into my eyes, and I can't prove the power of hypnosis to you, I'll give it up at the hospital entirely. That is, unless you think your strong mind can be dominated by a lowly nurse, then I'd understand if you were too chicken to give it a shot."
Smirking, I stood up. As if she could dominate me at anything. Ten minutes of babble was a small price to pay to put her in her place.
"Where would you like me to sit?"
A minute later we were sitting facing each other in the two chairs for visitors in front of my desk.
"It's six-oh-five now, you have until six-fifteen. What would you like me to do?"
"Nothing really. Just relax and listen to my voice. Please look into my eyes, just focus on them while we talk. I want you to keep your focus on my eyes and just relax to the sound of my voice," she said.
I had to stifle a laugh. The whole idea of sitting through this for ten minutes was ridiculous, but it would be the easiest way to get rid of her all around.
At least the nurse did have a gentle, soothing voice. Soon the girl would be telling me to feel my eyes getting heavy, I hoped I could keep myself from laughing when she did.
"I want you to think about meditation, or yoga. There is a point when you're meditating that you become so calm, your mind so still, that you experience the total freedom of letting go. Think about that point, that enlightened feeling of peaceful stillness when you actually transcend your body, losing all awareness of it."
Give her credit, she did actually seem to know something about meditation. Her voice was like the gentle murmur of a slow moving creek, it really was quite soothing.
"As you look into my eyes I want you to remember how that felt, how your mind was so focused on one thing that you were able to lose focus of everything and just let go. Feel that feeling now as you concentrate on my blue eyes."
With a voice as pleasant as hers, she should consider getting into radio or something. Could ten minutes feel like ten hours? Time seemed to slow down as I listened to the calm, steady flow of her words. Well, at least I did feel more relaxed than I had before she'd arrived.
"I've been told my eyes are like the color of the water around a warm, far away island. Just relax and remember that feeling of perfect calm as you look into the calm blue pools of my eyes. Focus on my pretty blue eyes and let yourself sink into them as you remember that feeling of focusing until the world melts away."
She continued to prattle on about letting go of my body, then of my thoughts, and at some point I just stopped hearing what she was saying.
I blinked and found myself looking at the nurse again. She was smiling and her perky happiness put me immediately on edge. I glanced up at the clock to see if the ten minutes was up, so that I could end the whole silly waste of time.
It was seven-ten. Light was fading at the window, and the office was silent. I opened my mouth to speak, but as the reality of the situation set in I was too confused to know where to start.
My face grew hot with embarrassment as I thought about the missing hour. Then I noticed that my wrists were tied to the arms of the chair with thick rope. More rope wrapped around my ankles, tying them to the legs of the chair.
"What ... why am I tied up?" I said.
Leanna smiled a little wider. "Oh dear. I think you've been hypnotized--by a nurse."
"Untie these ropes."
"Not just yet. I'm not sure yet that you respect the power of hypnosis. I don't want to leave this office until I'm sure you'll understand just how powerful the link between mind and body can be. Besides, you were a total bitch to me earlier, and I think you deserve just a little bit of your own medicine. I think it would help your attitude if you were made to feel humiliated and helpless by a co-worker."
.... There is more of this story ...