I’m a strong believer in the power of the mind. Recently, I had a chat with a friend, who told me that her mom had died at a relatively young age. She’d had cancer for a while, and then, her doctors told her she had 3 months to live. She died exactly 3 months later. I think that what we believe manifests itself in our life.
For years, I have been using the placebo effect on some of my child coaching clients. I give them “special pills” that make them smart, happy, healthy and friendly (I can only use it on children, because I get consent from their parents, while they don’t know the real deal). The success rate of my placebo treatment is 100%.
Because when I install in those kids the belief that they are smart, happy, healthy and friendly, they can’t get it out of their system. Their subconscious mind makes it true.
The idea to use the placebo effect on my mother came up after we saw John the Wizard. He said it would take 6-12 months to get the painkillers out of her system and I read somewhere that we needed to go through all the seasons in order for the body to replace all its cells. At first, that freaked me out. My time was limited, and I knew that as soon as she went home, things would be out of my control.
The next time my dad had to put a patch on my mom, he put it on her back, so she wouldn’t see that it was smaller. She had agreed to it, but that made things easier.
She was grumpy and in pain and she didn’t want to go anywhere with us. She was nasty towards my dad and Tsoof (my son) took my dad with him to do things a couple of times. My dad was very happy to go out, but expressed concerns about going back home.
One day, my mom refused to come with us to the sauna. My dad did not want to leave her, and I realized he felt responsible. Everyone convinced him to go (she was never alone in our house, because Gal stayed home) and I had a chance to spend some time alone with him.
My dad was very sad and frustrated, and he restricted himself, because he didn’t want to leave my mom on her own. Even when he went to his volunteering work, she would complain about it and if she didn’t feel healthy enough to go somewhere, he never went by himself.
I told him that she was a drug addict and until she was clear of the medications that toxified her mind and body, she was not responsible, and he was her guardian. Legally, since she was not sane (being on such heavy medication) he had to make all the decisions that affected her.
I also had a chance to talk to him about what would happen to my mom if anything bad happened to him. At first, he thought I was talking about him dying, but I wasn’t. I said to him, “If you die, she will be moved somewhere else, because she can’t take care of herself. But if you get sick and need care yourself, she will not be able to do it”.
I think he had never thought about that option and it scared him. We agreed that he needed to take all decision-making rights away from her. To soften it, we decided that when she wanted things to be done her way, we would say “When you are clean from medication for a year, you’ll be able to make this decision”. We did that in a very kind way and it worked. It was a great incentive for her to come off the medication.
During the time we had in the sauna, I told him about my placebo trick and he said, “Let’s do it”. I called John, told him my plan and asked him to give me a piece of paper at the end of our next visit. He was very cooperative and as we were about to leave, handed me the piece of paper.
Since I had to translate to my mother (she does not know English), I told her that John was giving me the name of someone who makes powerful natural remedies that cure cancer and autoimmune diseases.
One day, we went shopping and my mom didn’t want to come with us. We spent 6 hours creating a story about a tall, old Chinese man who lives 2 hours’ drive away (so there was no way she could see him) and how we talked to him for a long time and he asked questions and he was the head of a pain unit in a famous hospital in Far North Queensland and now he works from home and compounded pills especially for her only because John referred us and the special thing about the tablets is that they allow the body to heal itself.
We came up with things he said, like, “The problem people have is that the self-healing mechanism is not functioning, and the tablets will restore this function”. We decided that the tablets were very special. They would start working within 1-4 hours, the first tablet would last for 3-4 weeks, the second tablet would last for 6-8 weeks, the third tablets for 12-16 weeks and so on. He “gave us” 8 tablets and we “paid” about $900 for them.
We figured the “tablets” would last more than a year and by then, my mom would feel healed already. We agreed they were all made of natural ingredients and would have no side effects (unlike prescribed medication). They tasted like sugar to make them easier to dissolve in the mouth.
We went to a candy shop and bought some small candy in different colors. We looked for a small container we bought at another shop and we wrapped it.
I think making up the story was a good exercise for both my dad and myself. We had to know what she valued and appreciated. I felt great making up a story. I had discussions with many people about the placebo and morals. I never had a dilemma about it when I worked with kids and I didn’t have any dilemma about it when I had to come up with a plan for my mom. In my head, she was not in her normal mind and my dad was the guardian. If he said go ahead, I had all the moral rights I needed to make up the special, expert, Chinese doctor, who was very tall and lived in a huge acreage in the sunshine coast.
I was always good at making up stories, which is why I’m an author. My dad was very good at it too. I knew how to give a placebo and keep a straight face. I had to make sure my dad would be cool and not say anything that would reveal to my mom she was taking a placebo. So, we practiced it several times before we came home, and we talked about the moral right to do it until my dad was convinced that she was not sane.
It was hard for me, as her daughter, to say, “My mom is not in her normal mind”. It was very hard for my dad to admit that his wife, the woman he had been living with for about 60 years, was a drug addict and wasn’t thinking straight. But it was necessary for him to understand his responsibility as her guardian before we could try the placebo.
We practiced the story so well that when we came home, we were aligned. My mom was impressed, but very scared. She told my dad it was too expensive, and he said that for her, he was willing to pay double (so romantic). Connecting the source of the new remedy to John the Wizard was a good strategy, because John was her new idol.
The day after, my mom took the placebo. Within 20 minutes, she said she was feeling her heart racing a bit and said it was scary. We told her that this was a sign that the tablet was starting to work.
To support the placebo effect, we told my mom that whatever she was feeling was a sign her body was doing its job.
I asked her, “If you eat something bad and you throw up, what does it mean?”
She said, “It means you are sick”.
I said, “No. It means that your body is working well, because it recognized there was something bad in the system and threw it out”.
Then, I asked her, “If you have fever, what does it mean?”
She said, “It means you’re sick”.
I said, “No. It means your body is working well, because it recognized something there was something bad in the system and is fighting it! Fever is a good thing. It means our body is doing its job!”
I wanted her to change her mind from considering discomfort as a sign of illness to making it a sign of a strong, sophisticated body doing its job.
The days after were amazing. I am sure it was a mixture of meeting John again, lowering the Fenta dosage, sleeping better and the placebo. My mother started smiling and even laughed on some occasions. Her appetite changed and she slept without sweating at night.
She kept taking the tablets for her sugar level, but the tests in the morning showed that she her sugar was balanced. She even took a walk around the neighborhood and was much happier to spend time with Ayla, her new great-granddaughter.
One day, Gal and I were busy with work and my parents sat with the kids to play cards. For about two hours, they laughed and laughed. I had seen my kids laughing like this, but I had not seen my mom laughing like this for years.
Since they came, we did a round of “three good things that happened to me today” every evening. We like playing this game, but my mom could not join in. She just couldn’t find things to be happy about (except Ayla). My dad was very cooperative. He was like a kid and very open to every game we played, but she wasn’t.
After that night of laughing with the kids, when we started the round of three good things that happened that day, my mom said she had a great time with the kids and she was very happy about it. The kids said she played well and was sharp in her game.
Things seriously started to change.
Next week, I’ll tell you about Ayla’s contribution to my mom’s healing. Ayla is my mom’s third great-granddaughter and my first granddaughter.
Cheers for your health!
This post is part of the series From Sickness to Health:
- From Sickness to Health: The Story of Our Life
- From Sickness to Health: Working Together on a Shared Goal
- From Sickness to Health: Doctors are Not Gods
- From Sickness to Health: Doubt Before Healing
- From Sickness to Health: The Pharmacist
- From Sickness to Health: John the Wizard
- From Sickness to Health: New Diet and The Drug Dealer
- From Sickness to Health: Miserable Discount
- From Sickness to Health: The Placebo Effect