Q & A with Bernie – January 7, 2013

Question for Bernie:

First of all, thanks so much for your books and for all that you do for mankind. I am truly enjoying your books.

The question I have is that I was wondering if there is some visualization exercise I could use to help get over the fear of going to doctors? I was diagnosed with breast cancer in May and have gone through surgeries and radiation.

blood pressure takingNow that I am regaining my strength, I realize that I have developed a fear of going to a doctor. It became apparent when I went a few days ago and the nurse said that my blood pressure and heart rate were high.  The rest of my day was shot and I was just drained! Usually I have low to normal blood pressure (120/80 or lower).

I was thinking that I should practice some technique to help me get over this, and I thought you would be able to guide me. I do practice meditation and breathing exercises, but I realize that this was like a reaction to some unpleasant memories. Thanks.

Bernie’s Answer:

I would recommend my CD Getting Ready and if you go to https://berniesiegelmd.com/products-page/audiobooks-cds/ you can read the description of how the guided visualizations and inner journeys can help you before, during, and after undergoing treatment.  You really can teach your body to relax whenever you find that you need to.

Several times a day sit quietly and visualize going to the doctor and having a friendly visit.  You might also visualize meeting someone special in the Waiting Room and getting a warm hug of support.  Go on with the visualization and see yourself getting a good report from the doctor.

Ice-Cream SundaeVisualize continuing this pleasant day with a stop to get yourself something you like—maybe a little chocolate ice cream or something else appealing.

When you do this kind of visualization your body will be programmed for a pleasant experience and things will change.

To help keep negative images out of your visualizations, I recommend drawing yourself at the doctor’s office.  Look carefully at what you have drawn and eliminate any negative elements in the drawing.  Now you will not have them intruding on your positive visualization.

If you are in a position to easily care for a cat or a dog, consider getting one—pets make the best teachers.

I heard from a veterinarian who was struggling with the same feelings about going to the doctor as you describe.  What cured her fear was thinking about the animals she cares for.   She told me, “I amputate legs and jaws and my little furry patients wake up and lick their owner’s faces.  They know they are here to love and be loved and to teach us a few things!”


Question for Bernie:

I have your books Love, Medicine and Miracles and Peace, Love and Healing.  I am going to read those two first and then get your other books.

serbian preschoolI have to admit, although I grew up in a family where my parents didn’t get along all the time, I felt loved.  I also remember feeling loved at Preschool, surrounded by my friends. Things went well for the most part as I was growing up.

After high school my parents divorced and that was a very difficult thing for me to accept. I felt that if they only invested just a little more time and energy into their relationship, things could have been better.  It seemed to me that they just gave up on each other.  Anyway, I was a student at the time with a very busy schedule, so I eventually managed to accept my parents decision and move on.

Having grown up in Serbia, I moved to the U.S. in 2001. I came to Boston through a student exchange program and still live here today. I was excited about the opportunity to live in a different culture and learn the language. I have met some of the nicest people here, and I am grateful for that. When I first arrived I was taking classes and working at the same time. Things were going well.

I met my husband in 2004. I thought he was the nicest guy, and we got married in 2005…I was happy. Things didn’t look so good at times but got worse about two years into our marriage with frequent arguments and my husband’s anger issues that I didn’t know about before we married.  Also his impulsive behavior at times, while never physical, still didn’t feel so good. But I loved his good side too much to leave.

I was in a nursing school at the time and it wasn’t easy to manage school and part-time work. My husband was supportive and that helped. I graduated in 2009 with honors and got a job as an RN. This was a great accomplishment that made me very happy. However, under the pressure of a busy schedule, I knew I wasn’t finding any time for myself and hadn’t been for a long time.  My personal growth was on standby.

RN graduationIt is now difficult for me to see whether my busy schedule might have worsened the situation with my husband or if it was the other way around.  Either way things were not so good. Between 2009 and 2012 I worked full time and took classes online to get my BSN so I could apply to grad school.

Both my husband and I went to therapy to try to figure out the issues we were having.  My therapist strongly suggested that I leave my husband. My husband couldn’t even hear about this option let alone handle it.  Finally he agreed to move out for three months, staying with a friend, to see if this helps us see things differently.

Growing up I was always healthy and didn’t have any major health issues besides back surgery in 1991.  However, during this time of 2009 to 2012, I had a feeling something was wrong. I was treated by my PCP for frequent urinary tract infections. My symptoms of urgency and incomplete emptying were atypical.  I saw my PCP 2-3 times each year from 2009 through 2012  I would go to her 2-3 times a year (from 2009 to 2012) but felt like I was blowing things out of proportion when she would just say “let’s check your UA and give you antibiotics.”

I also had intermittent LLQ pain which she didn’t want to do anything about, but my gynecologist ordered a transvaginal ultrasound (US) which was negative for cysts.  In May 2012 I had left flank pain. In her office I was seen by a medical student who agreed to order a renal US as I insisted that there it was a mass on my right kidney.  I was scared and felt like she never seriously considered my symptoms.  Even though kidney cancer doesn’t usually have symptoms until late in the course of the disease, I felt that she could have looked into it a little more.

In May I was finally done with school. The day before graduation I found out about my kidney. Both my husband and I panicked! I said goodbye to my PCP and went to see two urologists and they both suggested surgery. I was lucky to be treated by one of the best urologists in the Boston area (and in the country).

I realized there was more to this condition then just diagnosis and the treatment. This has changed my life completely in the matter of days. I completely changed my diet, focusing only on fruits and vegetables and organic products (I ate mostly organic prior to diagnosis as well). I learned more about the benefits of meditation and yoga. I examined my whole life of 34 years so far, and I identified all of the areas I need to work on.  I tried to do mostly those things that made me happy. I went to church with my mom every Sunday. My husband and I separated to see if that would help us figure out where we stand. He says he loves me every day and says he would do anything to make me happy including buying the house that we wanted to get in 2010 but weren’t sure if we should because of our marital problems.  I’m not sure how much he can change.

boston parkI realize that over the years because of the busy school and work life, I didn’t find time for myself and that hurts.  On many occasions I was focused on my husband and wanted to find answers for his behavior and our issues.  I am now at the “crossroad” and having difficulty considering a divorce. I still have feelings for my husband and wish things were better, but I am unable to tell at this point if they would be.

My life, like the lives of many others, hasn’t been easy, but the diagnosis of cancer and the fear that it may come back changes everything!  I apologize if this is too lengthy, and I can’t thank you enough for your time and attention during this time in my life,

Bernie’s Answer:

You are a strong and accomplished young person.  You are getting there—to that place survivor behavior takes us.  With your compelling story, you have shared a very, very important message for all of our readers—that is:  The greatest lesson of life is to live it in the present moment, savoring all experiences, and especially giving and receiving love.  Ultimately that is why we are all here.

Please go to https://berniesiegelmd.com/resources/organizations-websites/ on my website, go all the way to the bottom of the list, find The Immune Competent Personality, and read it.

Because of their caring natures, nurses have a lot of trouble saying “no” to others about the things they don’t really want to do.  Instead, they say “yes” to others and deny themselves what they want and need.  This is a change you can make right away to strengthen your immune system.  Never be hesitant or afraid to tell someone at work that you can’t or don’t want to do what they ask if it isn’t patient-related.  Practice that honesty at home, too. True friends and loving family members will not hold your honesty against you—they all want you to stay well.

Finally, let your heart make up your mind, and do not be submissive as a person or as a patient.

Peace and love to you,