Q & A with Bernie – March 31, 2014

Question for Bernie:

Hi Bernie—I have to share this story with you. I honestly thought that it was you I ran into the other day, while stuck in a small rut at Costco! I had just done a full shop and my trunk was chock full of unbagged goods.

Needing to fill up on gas, I stopped at the Costco gas pumps. While filling up, I had closed my driver side door to keep my nosy and over-friendly escapist Shih-Tzu named Smokey from running away! And so, at one point, I went to grab my wallet from the front seat when I discovered that I had somehow locked myself out.

Heart pounding, with about ten cars behind me, I made a dash to the trunk. Thankfully, it was open! Now I remind you of how full the trunk was…here I was in a full lineup of frustrated and hurried gas shoppers, all waiting behind me. I started what felt like, mountain climbing to the front seat- as gingerly as possible, trying not to attract too much attention to myself. Crawling over and through boxes of goods- I finally made my way to the front seat of my van to open my locked door. Suddenly, I was greeted by this lovely bearded gentleman, who had a gentle nature to match. He pulled up beside me in his jeep and said, “Slow down, it’s OK! Nobody’s hurt, take your time. I have a wife and daughter you’re reminding me of. It’s OK. Just take your time!”

There was such a reassurance and sweetness in that brief encounter. Here was someone in this world who had slowed down enough to help another soul on this hurried journey to remain calm and carry on. It could have gone the other way,  but instead, I left that scenario thinking, either that was Bernie with a beard…(though, I didn’t noticed any bumper stickers)….OR, it was a man who has read your column and learned that it’s ok, to take a breath, slow down and carry on!

And on a side note, Bernie, I have read most of your wonderful, life-affirming books, and even considered enrolling in the Graduate Institute (mainly to hear you speak)! I recently attended an incredibly soul-filling open house up in Hartford. Unfortunately, with four kids at home and finances playing a fairly significant role, I cannot attend right now.

I pray I’ll find my niche when the time is right. Up until then, I will soak up every ounce of Bernie in the weekly paper, then go on and gift the world with my new found wisdom 🙂

Praying for you and your wife.

Bernie’s Answer:

It is especially exciting to hear from someone like you who does find passion in helping our medical system be much, much better, to train doctors in compassion first, and then technical competencies.  Without that person-to-person connection with doctor and patient functioning as a well-oiled team, all the “whiz-bang” gadgets and algorithms, and “pill cams” can’t help us if the doctor has to do some additional research in the medical literature or doesn’t hear everything we say because the clues are almost always there.  Today, computers diagnose using data input sometime earlier.  Do those medical centers that are heavily automated have the money to keep all that online content current? Do they really have the latest and greatest information as they claim?

Yes, doctors are always busy—but it is the kind of healthy “busy-ness” that comes with moving toward your goal.  Many, many people have shared with me that it was the difficulties along the way of any journey where everything meaningful and memorable occurred.  Getting to the goal was often anticlimactic, so one thing we can start to do to change our negative culture is stop complaining about being so tired.  Rearrange your life to sleep when you are tired and work when you are awake (some play may be okay, but if you’ve been really bad about complaining about how tired you are, no play privileges for now)!

I am honored that you intend to train, to keep clinically working and gathering research, and that people like you will carry on what started as my cause, but has grown into the cause of millions around the world!

Question for Bernie:

I treasure your statement that you wrote below and say it over and over to myself frequently.   I bought your new book and plan to read it during my chemotherapy next Friday. The time will be my special time to learn from you.   Chemotherapy is treating me very well.   After my first treatment, I immediately felt a terrific decrease in pain.  I have had no side effects except being very tired periodically. But, the good part of that is that it’s a wonderful opportunity to do my visualizing.   My blood work is great.    I am looking forward to the next chemotherapy to make me even better.

It is so clear how much better the Immune System would relate to these messages coming from a patient’s positivity rather than hopelessness, anger, resentment, and refusal to help in the treatment.  On another matter, I listened to you online on a talk show yesterday. You are very inspiring. Thank you!

I do have a question on behalf of a friend who writes:

“The drugs from the first four chemo rounds left me feeling physically, mentally, and emotionally fragile. Like the slightest wind would knock me down, but I managed. With the new drug I feel brittle, irritable, angry, manic, and broken. I know a lot of that is the steroids, but for the first time since I began chemo, I want to stop. I want to beg my oncologist not to give me this drug again. I hate, hate, hate this.”

Bernie, do you have any advice for her?

Bernie’s Answer:

Tell your friend that it is her life, and she can follow her heart  and do what feels right for her, as long as dying is not a failure for her.

She must resolve with a total commitment to heal her life, she must demonstrate daily to her body and soul that she thinks she is well worth living.  Do things that are healthful and good for your body—it will get the message that YOU WANT TO LIVE and love living in a body she loves just as it is right now.

Her real power will come to her when she visualizes having chemo with no side effects.  With visualization, and she can change many things too, including the visualization she is doing now that is totally negative about a good outcome.  This must stop and be replaced with the wonder, the gratitude, and her own commitment to no matter what anyone else’s opinion may be, your friend can choose to heal her body in miraculous ways.

I worry about her negative powers of visualization—as an example, right now she visualizes the worst outcome and her body acts it out. Her doctor could give her a placebo and not chemo and she would still have all the side effects.  She needs to reach inside and find all the ways she is grateful for the life she has had so far; she needs to be grateful for her life just as it is and support it unequivocally through treatment.  She should look at any discomfort or pain as labor pains of a new self-birth.