You likely have heard by now that Dr. Wayne Dyer passed this past Saturday in his home. I was stunned by this news, as I last saw him less than a year ago and, despite his prior diagnoses of a form of leukemia, coronary disease, and chronic neck pain, he looked energetic and vibrant.
While I have been a fan of his work ever since I read his first book, Your Erroneous Zones, in 1976, I lost track of his message for a number of years, given my time demands during college, medical school and training, then cardiology practice. I got reacquainted with him when I stumbled on one of his many PBS TV specials–I was again captivated by his message, his palpable presence, his magical ability for storytelling.
So it came as a surprise when I was traveling to speak and had just arrived at a hotel in downtown Toronto around two years ago and received a call on my cell phone. The caller ID said the number was from the Boca Raton, Florida area. The only person I know who would call my private cell phone from Boca was my daughter. So I picked it up and answered “Hey, Sweetie-Pie!”
After a moment’s pause, the caller, answering in a deep, sonorous voice said “This is not Sweetie-Pie. This is Dr. Wayne Dyer.”
Well that threw me. Nonetheless, I laughed at my goof and we began talking. He told me that he had eliminated all wheat from his diet after he met with Paul and Anne MacInnis, a couple in Halifax, Nova Scotia, who arranged speaking events for him in Canada. He said that, after not having seen them for two years, he was surprised at how healthy and slender they now looked. “How did you do it?” he asked. Paul and Anne told Wayne that they had brought me to Halifax a few months earlier to speak about Wheat Belly and, since then, they had stopped all wheat in their diet, prompting substantial weight loss and looking and feeling better: freedom from mind “fog,” sleepiness, muscle and joint aches, inflammation, skin rashes. They were all seated at a restaurant table and a waiter brought a basket of bread to them. Wayne turned to the waiter, put up his hand and declared “None of us eat wheat at this table.” After that, Wayne himself read the Wheat Belly book, eliminated all wheat from his diet and turned around a number of minor health conditions, including losing around 30 pounds, much from his waistline. He asked one of his daughters to try it and she lost 16 pounds during the first two weeks. He asked his wife, Marcelene, to try it and her weekly adult-onset grand mal seizures and premonitory seizures all stopped within a week.
He told me that he called because he felt that the benefits he and his family experienced were so unexpected that he wanted to support the Wheat Belly message, including helping me create a Wheat Belly TV special for public television. Wayne said that he was going to talk to his public TV producer, Niki Vettel, who had produced all 11 Wayne Dyer public TV shows. What was special in a Wayne Dyer-way about this was that, just days earlier, an executive from the Atlanta PBS affiliate, GPB, had called me and said that they wanted to help create a Wheat Belly public TV special and they knew the perfect producer to get it done: Niki Vettel. When I mentioned this, he replied in his signature Wayne Dyer fashion, “There are no accidents in this universe.”
We did indeed go on to create the Wheat Belly Total Health public TV special, produced by Niki, with a DVD recording of an hour-long Q&A between us, Wayne providing his unique thoughts on the Wheat Belly lifestyle, still part of the package of materials provided to PBS viewers with pledge drive donations. During one of our off-air conversations, Wayne mentioned that he had received a coronary stent a few years earlier. I therefore told him that, while the Wheat Belly no wheat, no grain lifestyle was a big part of creating a truly effective program to halt coronary disease, there was more to do, such as vitamin D, fish oil, have thyroid status assessed, and cultivate bowel flora. We ended not having time to pursue that conversation further, both agreeing to have that conversation in future.
Unfortunately, we never got that chance to talk and, as most of you now know, Wayne died in his sleep just this past Saturday, August 29th. I don’t know if, had that conversation occurred, whether he would have followed my advice or whether it would have made a difference (as I believe the cause of death was only a matter of speculation), but it will be a painful reminder to me that there is no better moment than the present to seize control over health.
I am grateful for having met this giant of a man whose generosity and humanity was matched only by his genius for captivating the people who took the time to listen to his message.