"I was very down, I was having uncontrollable crying jags," she says. "I really needed to tell someone how I felt--someone who wasn't friend or family. They had enough to deal with." Soon, Putney came to call.
He asked her what she wanted his role to be, and she told him she needed to escape the stress of the hospital. Putney then took her through a "guided imagery" session. She lay back and listened while he conjured up, with words, the sights, smells and sounds of the seashore.
"James made an unbelievable difference," she says. "There I was in hospital, sick from the drugs, with these terrible emotions taking over me--and for the first time, I felt totally relaxed. I felt fantastic."
Before she went home, Putney gave her a seashell, and as far as Colasuonno's concerned, that was the nicest thing anybody could have done for her.
Putney also talks about guided imagery to Eugene and Jeannie Kim today, and Jeannie says that she'd like to try it. She's read books on the mind-body connection, she says, but hasn't known how to apply it to her life. So Putney tells her a story about Jeannie up on a mountain, leaning against a tree with the sun on her skin. She shuts her eyes, relaxes.
Often, when Putney tells people what his job is, they'll say, "Oh, that's got to be really depressing, really hard." And it can be very hard, he says. Hard but also fulfilling--the most wonderful thing, he says, that he's ever done in his life. He meets such exceptional people.
He's grateful to all of them, he says, for showing him how people can face tough times with grace and strength, and how important it is to glean as much joy as possible from life.
"Some people travel the world to see gurus to learn the secrets of the world," he says. "I learn them every day from my patients."