Yesterday’s article was written for a dear friend who has a major prick as a neighbor. I had decided not to publish it after Renee, my wife and editor, told me she thought it was good, but not up to my usual standards. I thought about what to do with it and realized that what I was really trying to accomplish was teach my friend how to negate her neighbor’s venomous attacks by visualizing him as a sad, deficient, comical a-whole.
In deciding what to do with the article, I realized that many of us either had been plagued by a major prick in our lives or currently were dealing with one. That thought made me LOL as I thought about Leighton, a major prick I dealt with for 3 years, and visualized him with SDS(I think he had it!). I wish someone had taught me how visualization could be a powerful, positive force in my life. That thought reminded me that visualization could not only be a positive force for good, but a negative force as well.
Time for a true story. Joe was a sixtyish man with a resolving pneumonia. He had been hospitalized for 3 days and, when I saw him in the evening of the 3rd day, was doing well enough to go home in the morning. I told him that, if all was well in the am, his wife could pick him up around eleven.
At 8 am, I received a call from Joe’s nurse telling me that Joe was dying, his vital signs were crashing, and she wanted to move him to the ICU. I told the nurse that I had seen him the night before, that everything was fine and that I intended to send him home today. She reassured me that she had the right patient and Joe was transferred to the ICU.
I quickly left the office and was at bedside 20 minutes later. I reviewed his medical records, history, exam, lab and x-ray all of which were perfectly normal. Even though Joe had no reason to die, he was actively dying.
Me- “Joe, you are dying, and I can’t find a single problem or reason for what’s going on. I’m calling in an Intensivist for a second opinion.”
Joe – “Last night you told me I was dying from a cancer and that there was no hope.”
Me- “You’re confused. I told you everything looked good and you would probably go home in the am.”
Nurse- “In morning report they told me you would be going home today. I was shocked to see you crashing!”
Joe – “I’m sure you told me I was dying. I slept poorly all night, thinking about dying.”
Me- “Joe, you must have had a bad dream. Either you can believe your dream and you’ll be dead this afternoon or you can get out of bed, eat breakfast, walk around and go home in the am!”
Joe got up and went home the next day. In Joe’s case, he saw himself dying; and, in response to that visualization, he almost died. (I know it sounds unbelievable; but, in 40 years of practice, I had a lot of unbelievable things happen to my patients.)
So, practice using visualization as a tool for good. The next time you hear a journalist preaching doom and gloom on the evening news, visualize a different outcome. Visualize yourself as living a healthy and happy life. The next time a prick crosses your path, visualize a poor a-whole with SDS, laugh and walk away.
The one thing you have to promise not to do is visualize a scenario like Joe did, and let your mind kill you.
Here’s your music for today. Renee and I bought a bicycle built for two yesterday and start our exercise regiment today. Here’s your joke:
A tandem rider is stopped by a police car.
“What’ve I done, officer?” asks the rider.
“Perhaps you didn’t notice, sir, but your wife fell off your bike half a mile back . . .”
“Oh, thank God for that,” says the rider – “I thought I’d gone deaf!”