Before relating the following anecdote I should offer some caveats.

 If you are convinced that consciousness ends at the time of physical death then you shouldn’t bother reading further.  If you are totally convinced that those who claim to communicate with souls who have crossed-over are complete and utter frauds, read no further.  If you are brainwashed by certain religious dogmas and doctrines and believe that alternative experiences are the work of the devil, read no further.

 But……if you are open minded, curious or have had your own intuitive experiences that lead you to seek more, then stay tuned.  The initial “twirling ring” anecdote was described in my book META-PHYSICIAN ON CALL… (p 77)

 The key to what I refer to as the credibility quotient regarding these anecdotes is knowing the individual who has had them.  There must be no question of their credibility, reliability and honesty.  What helps is their unattachment financially or professionally to the content of their story.  In other words, they have nothing to gain (and perhaps much to lose if someone regards them as a bit “off” by telling what they know.)  

In the book I refer to Marilyn (all names changed) who was gifted with medium/psychic ability since childhool.  She never charged for her services and actually desired them to vanish, which they did not.  She recalled learning of a nurse I called Janet whose daughter Sue died tragically in a car accident.  She knew Janet from working together at the hospital at which I was an Attending physician.  She had never met Sue but when she entered the family home for the wake she saw a picture of Sue and her sister Barbara.  Scanning the crowded room she saw Sue present there. She was translucent in appearance and she noted what she was wearing. It was clear that no one else in the room could perceive her.  She appeared anxious and confused and was vigorously twirling a ring on her finger. 

Months later she felt it was safe to approach Janet and describe the events of the wake.  Janet broke down in tears when she confirmed that, indeed, Sue would twirl the ring on her finger when upset.

 I have always considered this anecdote one of the most powerful I have ever heard and, quite frankly, highly suggestive of survival of consciousness after death.  But just the other day, nearly ten years later,  I had an amazing follow up.

 Janet brought her husband to me for a screening colonoscopy.  She then related a recent occurrence in the family.  They were on vacation and her remaining daughter Barbara describe having an extremely vivid dream in which her dead sister Sue appeared in specific clothing and affectionately stroked her face.  It was so realistic that she truly felt her presence.  But the next morning as she told her mother Janet, she felt almost foolish.  She rationalized that it must have been wishful thinking.

 The family returned home and Janet returned to work at the hospital.  To her surprise Marilyn greeted her and pulled her aside. “Your daughter Sue will not let me rest until I tell you and your daughter Barbara that she was really there– it was not a dream!”  Of course Janet was floored. How could Marilyn have known about the dream in the first place?  When Janet described the clothes that Barbara  had described, Marilyn stated– “Those were the exact clothes I saw her in at her wake.  She must have been wearing them at the time of her death.”  Janet confirmed the fact of the clothing, also that she was not wearing them when she was laid out at her wake.

 Now as Janet related this story to me she had a gently smile on her face.  This had been a powerful validation that Barbara’s experience with Sue was not a hallucination or dream.

 It gave her some small comfort to know that her daughter was gone from the physical realm but that her soul connection lives on.



I have been enamored of the relationship between a physician and metaphysician for years now.  My book is titled META-PHYSICIAN ON CALL.  My blog is PHYSICIAN TO META-PHYSICIAN.  I continue to believe deeply that the awareness of human beings as a composite being of body, mind and spirit is essential in the healing process.  

It was particularly gratifying to find a quote from Anatole Broyard, writer, literary critic and editor who stated Also, I would like a doctor who is not only a talented physician, but a bit of a metaphysician, too. Someone who can treat body and soul.  It would be presumptious of me to believe that I have reached that level of awareness. I do believe it is an ideal, one that I am striving to reach.

 I would point out that I have used the term METAPHYSICIAN and META-PHYSICIAN.  They are clearly related but not identical.  A metaphysican is someone who seeks to understand the nature of reality.  Metaphysics is a subcategory of philosophy. Using meta  hyphenated with physician also introduces the notion of meta as change or transformation.

  It represents a level of awareness among physicians that we need to transcend the weight of frustration, annoyance, outright rage that we experience from insurance companies and governmental bureacracy  that threatens our best efforts to appreciate the role we can play in our patients lives.  I must continuously remind myself that my better self can move beyond these hinderances and be the meta-physician I seek to be.

CAN TMI (too much information) BE A BAD THING FOR HEALTHCARE?

I can “hear” the groans right now wafting through cyberspace.  Here is an old school doctor bemoaning the “new patient” who is internet savvy and has done their homework. I must be one of those physicians who fears patient awareness and  their ability to come armed with reams of information by which they can mold and control their own healthcare decisions.  I am probably one of those who decry patient self-determination and their ability to possess ALL of their medical records.  

Well actually that is not entirely true. I do recommend my patients do their homework, their “due diligence” so to speak when it comes to their own health.  They are their own best advocate. But what has become a difficulty for me and my patients is exactly how to deal with the enormous volume of information which patients can obtain. I am concerned by what seems to be an almost adversarial approach that some patients now take towards physicans.

 One particular source of information has been generated by big Pharma in an attempt to bypass physicians go directly to consumers.  Ironically, I find that this practice has actually backfired to some extent.  Let me share one particular situation which I am attempting to deal with at the moment.  I am a gastroenterologist and I treat (among other conditions) Crohn’s disease.  This can be a very difficult, disabling condition with a variety of very unpleasant manifestations.  One of most horrific are fistulas.  They are “tracts” that can drain a mucus/pus like material from openings in the skin.  Unfortunately they often occur around the anus and genitourinary tract.  

One of the breakthrough treatments are drugs known as anti-TNFs.  Now I don’t want to expand in detail about exactly how they work and the brand names which many of you would recognize from TV and magazine ads.  Essentially they are very powerful with “potentially” serious side effects effecting the immune system.  On the other hand they can be tremendously beneficial for some patients with Crohn’s and other autoimmune diseases.  They problem is that the TV commercials are SO explicit in the risks and potential devasting consequences of bad reactions that even I would be loathe to try them.

 This has happened with my one young female patient with Crohn’s disease and perianal fistua who is reluctant to try this medication.  Ironically, she is willing to try an alternative drug which is chemically almost identical to the first but which does not advertize on TV and for which she is unaware of the same potential side effects.  And by the way, her insurance company will only pay for the one she is afraid to take.  So now my difficulty is to try to “sell” her on the necessity of trying the drug she is afraid to take.  And she is afraid because of TMI and her unwillingness (so far) to trust the experience and opinion of a physician.  I desperately want her to try the drug and have tried to communicate to her that thousands of patients have used it without difficulty or complication. And we can closely monitor in case issues arise.

In effect what I am calling for is a reasonable balance between information gleaned from a wide variety of sources, some of which are of questionable veracity, and guidance from a physician who really does have the patient’s best interest at heart as well as decades of experience and hopefully some wisdom as well.  An informed patient and a wise physician can, indeed, be on the same page.