I have the honor of speaking to Paul Joel, a board certified doctor in Internal Medicine and in Pulmonary. Paul wrote the novel “A Man Like You and Me: A Supernatural Adventure Story” which is about supernatural events that started in 1982 and continues to this day. He’s also the recipient of one of God’s amazing miracles.

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Transcript

Jason: Welcome and thank you for joining me. My name is Jason and I'm your host. Do you believe in miracles? If you're a Christ follower, I sure hope so. In this episode, I have the honor of speaking to Paul Joel, a board certified doctor in internal medicine and pulmonary. He wrote the book, A Man Like You and Me, A Supernatural Story, which is about supernatural events that started in 1982 and continue on to this day.

He is also the recipient of one of God's miracles. Are you intrigued? Keep listening as we dive into this amazing journey and then head over to https://pauljoelbook.com/. That's https://pauljoelbook.com/ or just find the link in the show notes and get a copy for yourself.

Jason: So welcome Paul. Thank you for joining me on the podcast.

Paul: Thank you for having me as a guest.

Jason: Absolutely. I am so grateful for your time. The most precious thing anybody can give me is their time. So it does sound like you've had a very exciting life and you've got an exciting book and you have quite the story to tell. So I'm excited to hear more about it.

Paul: Okay, well, I probably should start off with my parents experience. They were Polish Jews during World War II. And everybody in my family, except for my parents, was murdered by the Nazis. I never believed in God. I thought this idea of this all powerful, all knowing, all loving God was a complete myth. Because where was he when all this was happening?

Was he on vacation? He didn't see it. He didn't care about it. Like, he certainly didn't care about my family . And it, and it was brutal. It wasn't just like somebody was sent to a concentration camp, or it was bad enough, or somebody was just lined up and shot. It was awful. My mother was four years old.

She lived in a very large house because her parents were there. She also had a brother, and she also had three sisters who were married, and each of them had at least three or four kids. They're all living in this big house. And the Nazis came in, again, she's four years old, and somehow she was in a corner someplace where she could hear and see everything, but they couldn't see her, fortunately.

And they came in and they tied up everyone, okay? And then they killed the kids, the children, in front of everyone . Then they raped the women, and then slit their throats. Then they killed the husbands, and finally they killed her parents, and then she ran and left. And was living on the street eating garbage for a couple of weeks until a Ukrainian couple who had no children took her in and she hid the fact that she was Jewish because they hated Jews . And that's where she, you know, survived World War II.

My father was much older than she was, okay? He has an interesting story too. This is a picture of him in his Polish Army uniform. And, Poland kind of was overrun by the Nazis within a month, and he came home during that war one weekend, and he was married, had an infant son, and the Nazis murdered both of them.

So then he deserted, and ran for his life, and kept this picture on him, okay, because he went towards Russia, and he wanted to make sure that people didn't think he was a Nazi spy of some sort. So he had his picture in the Polish uniform, and he survived several winters, Russian winters, no shelter.

Jason: Wow.

Paul: No food, no food, buy food, steal food, work a week, get some money, steal some money, whatever to survive, okay? And he had this great immune system that I inherited, and if he didn't have this great immune system, he would have been dead. At the end of the war, the Russians come through, Stalin's armies come through.

They see him and they enlist him in the Russian army. Okay, so he started the war and the Polish army deserted and he was in the Russian army for a couple of weeks or so, and deserted from that army too. So, I don't know what the record is for most armies deserted during the same war, but he, he deserted two of them .

And then at the end of the war, so he met my, my mother. And he's obviously much older than my mother. Okay. And the war started when, you know, she was four. And my mother wanted to go get to the United States to get out of there. And she certainly couldn't go on a boat to the United States by herself. She's a minor.

And I don't know if she ever really loved my father, but, you know, this was her ticket. So she married him, and suddenly she was able to go on the boat and get to the United States. And I thank God, I was born in 1949, after the war, in the United States, okay, I thank God every day that I'm American.

And then when I was four, unfortunately she decided to take me and, and divorce my father. Which was a catastrophe for me, because she never believed in God, she was really damaged goods and, You know, you can't really criticize her because of what she went through, okay? And my father, my father did believe in God.

So I would have had a shot he was like a kind person who knew what love was, okay? My mother really had no idea what that was about. And basically, I was kind of ignored and abused. She married my stepfather, who was very nice, and he committed the cardinal crime of being very overweight. So my mother, that was like a cardinal sin.

You have enough food, you don't have to eat more food than whatever. And so to make sure that he wasn't eating, overeating at 2 o'clock in the morning, there's suddenly no food in the house. Okay, I'm 6, 7 years old and there's no food. I'm starving to death. I'm really being raised starving to death.

Okay, I have a disorder where, you know, I can't stand starving. And I was emaciated all my life. And then I had a sister, same mother, but with my stepfather. Okay. So we have the same mother, but different fathers. And she was like seven and a half years younger than me. And I remember eating her baby food, because that would be replaced.

Otherwise, I'd starve to death. And, and, you know, I basically was this emaciated kid all my life. I, I played two hand touch football on cement at the Glenwood Projects, Glenwood Football League, in high school, okay? And I was 150 pounds, whatever. Six one and, and then afterwards when I graduated from high school, I'm in college now and I'm on my selective service card when I'm 18, I'm six one, a hundred fifty pounds.

Okay. That's what's listed there. That's, that's pretty thin eventually. I'm in college now and I'm not interested in learning anything. Okay. I really wasted a lot of time there. I was on the chess team in high school, which I forgot about until last week or so. Again I had this great memory and I had this great immune system. That was the talents that I was given.

Jason: There's a component of your childhood. I would like to talk about and to touch on that. We talked about cause you, you said you grew up in Brooklyn. You had a pretty complicated childhood. You grew up basically being told that you were not smart enough. Right.

Paul: I'm 3 years old. Okay. And I'm not saying any words. I'm not, I'm not speaking. And you're supposed to be able to say 2 words with the meaning by the age of 1. Okay, and I don't have a pediatrician and I'm never sick, I didn't get any of these immunizations. You're supposed to get in the 1st, 3 years, you know, DPT, MMR, whatever it is, but.

Somehow I'm not sick anyway, so whatever. And my parents were kind of clueless and, you know, couldn't care. So, eventually I would play with this playmate who was 10 months older than me and the mother of the playmate said, hey, maybe he needs to see a pediatrician. Okay. He's not talking. This is not normal.

Okay. So, again, this is 72 years ago. I was seen by a female pediatrician. Who referred me to a male pediatric neurologist and I remember the word look on my parents face word that I was retarded and after examining me, he said, no, this is a direct quote from 72 years ago. It's the memory I'm used to.

Okay. No, he's not retarded. He's aware of his environment to learn to talk. He's just slow. He's very slow. Like, basically, he's dumb as a box of rocks, but he's not retarded. That was the upshot of this thing. Okay. What he failed to ask is, is anyone speaking English to this kid? And the answer to that is no.

My parents are speaking to each other in Polish or Yiddish or Russian, okay? There's no TV for me to listen to English. There's no radio to listen to English. So how am I going to learn how to talk? He didn't ask that question, but it was kind of like already put into my head that I'm a moron.

And then because they worked multiple jobs and they put me in this torture chamber called Yeshiva, which was for Jewish boys at the time. Now I'm sure they have it for Jewish girls too. And you get there at 8 o'clock in the morning and in the morning you learn how to read Hebrew, write Hebrew. You learn about the Old Testament, the history of the Jewish people, and there's a break for lunch.

And then in the afternoon somebody comes in and teaches you what you've learned in public school, reading, writing, arithmetic. But it's a long day from 8 in the morning until 5. And I'm sitting there, and I'm very frustrated, and I'm the dumbest kid in every subject. I'm getting D's in everything. And it's not like my parents are coming up to say, Hey, what's going on with him?

Because they already told me he's an idiot. And then we moved to a different part of Brooklyn, and now it was worse. Because it was the same schedule, but now I had a bus ride for six miles. And more walking to do to get there. But the same, eight in the morning until five. And so new kids, new school, same result.

I'm the dumbest kid in every subject. And this went on all through third grade also. And finally, at the end of third grade, Mr. Frank Tandler, who was the person who taught the public school part in the afternoon, said he needed to talk to me, and I was worried because I knew I wasn't getting some award for being dumb.

And he said to me, look, I don't know what's going on with you, but when I call you in class, you seem to have some idea what's happening. But when you take these tests, you are the worst student I've ever had in my entire career. Why don't you study for the tests? So I told him I don't get home until around 6, and I have Hebrew homework to do.

And then I told him the story that I was dumb when I was 3, and why should I waste my time studying? I'm an idiot. And he's, you know, he basically changed my life and about two weeks later, he announced that there was a test and then a loud voice embarrassed me and said, and you, I don't want to hear about your schedule.

Okay, there's a test tomorrow starting for the test. You understand English or is English a second language for you? And, you know, most of the children in that class were like me, they were children of immigrants and English was a second language for my parents. Okay. So, anyway, so I got an A and, you know, suddenly I started getting A's, who knew I was smart and then to top it all off, all these teachers that I had in issue had dark hair.

And when I got the answer wrong, I get smacked with a ruler on my hand or forearm. So it was awful. And again, they all had dark hair and now it's getting A's. And I heard there was this thing called SP, special progress in public school. You take a test in 6th grade, if you do really well, you go from 7th grade to 9th grade and skip 8th grade.

And for me, having one less year of school was like winning the lottery. Like, what could possibly be better in life?

Jason: Right.

Paul: and also public school is 9 to 3. So it was already a win. So I talk my way into public school. I'm on 5th grade in public school, and I have another teacher with dark hair, female, and of course, I remember her name, but we'll leave it out.

And she hated all the boys and love the girls. She didn't just hate me, all the boys, she couldn't stand. And so I get the answer wrong, 10 years old in 5th grade, I get the answer wrong. She said, quote, listen, you have to stop thinking with your penis and start using your brain for change. And I'm like mortified, okay?

I'm 10 years old, my teacher's talking about my penis in class. And so finally I get into sixth grade, and I have Ms. Hammer. And for the first time, I have a blonde as a teacher. And nobody's hitting me, nobody's embarrassing me, okay? I took the test for SP, made it. And I think in the back of my mind, I've already, like, pre programmed it.

Blonde is wholesome, blonde is good, okay? And then, of course Fast forward, I have this great memory I was an intern and resident at Kings County Hospital where they had this genius, Dr. Howard Lyons, in charge of pulmonary, in charge of lung disease. And he had a couple of mottos. His most important one is, if you know the patient, you don't need the chart.

So you'd be up all night and you'd be the intern, and the next morning at morning report, he would take the charts and you're expected to memorize everything and, you know, present the case. And again, there's a hierarchy in medicine. The lowest is the intern, then the resident, then the fellow, then the attending.

And the lowest person usually presents the case. So none of the other doctors could do it. They'd kind of cheat and say, well, the labs are all normal except for this and this, but I memorized all of them. And because of his letter of reference, I got to do a pulmonary fellowship at Mass General Harvard.

So I get there the first day, it's 1978, July 1st, and there's eight patients on the pulmonary service throughout the hospital. And thinking I'm supposed to memorize this, I get there two hours beforehand and memorize everything on these eight patients. And these are not just people who just got admitted.

They're there for days. That's a big chart. Which is an amazing memory. And then I meet the attending, Dr. Hales, and I walk over to the chart rack and hand him the chart. And he looks at me like I'm crazy and says, look I'm the, I'm the attending, I'm your superior. You're supposed to be presenting the case to me, not the other way around.

And then I told him what Dr. Lyons said and knew Dr. Lyons and I said, look, this will save you time. You can go through the chart while I present, and then write your note now instead of coming back and writing notes. It will save you a lot of time. So we do that, and then I hand him the chart for the next one, and he says, you know this too?

I said, yeah, I know all of them. That's what I thought I was supposed to do. Now here's the purpose of the story. We finally get to the intensive care unit. Now I had been there about an hour or so beforehand, and there's a shift change, so there's a different nurse. And it's a complicated patient, the patient's on the ventilator.

Every hour there's ventilator settings with vital signs that are recorded, there's tubes coming out of every orifice. And Dr. Hales is on my right, and I'm looking straight ahead and I'm presenting the case from memory. And as I'm presenting, I see the back of this nurse's head, and it's long blonde hair.

So I'm tracing the long blonde hair, okay? And the next thing is, okay, the width of her shoulders is all right, she's not fat, all right? And then she turns around and I see her face, and I stop, and I say, Oh my God, this is the most beautiful woman I've ever seen in my life. What is this doing here, okay, in the middle of all this. And I hear Dr. Hales in my ears. This is if it happened yesterday. This is July 1st, 1978. He says, look, you want to tell me how this patient got into ventilator? You know, we're pulmonary. That's what we're here for. Basically, we're not here to gawk at women. He didn't say that part. And then the next thought was pulmonary.

Who cares about pulmonary? Look at this woman. So I was intrigued and I'm shy. Okay. I'm not a ladies man. I'm the opposite. So it took me a while and she lived near the hospital on Peking street and I lived. Five or six blocks away and when you're in a hospital and you work in the ICU, you have gloves on and if you have a ring as a nurse, you'll probably take it off.

So I would wait till she left the hospital or she was going into the hospital and basically stalk her for a couple of weeks to make sure there was no wedding ring or engagement ring. I mean, I'm shocked.

Jason: scoping it out a little bit.

Paul: Well, what's the purpose of asking somebody for a date to get shot down?

And again, I'm very shy. So eventually I asked her, you know, would you like to have dinner? And she says, yes. So we're at a nice restaurant in Boston having dinner. It's normal. Things are normal. And in walks Dr. Miller, who was a young attending in the same department in Pulmonary that I was.

And he sees us, and we say hi, and the next day he walks over to me, and he says, How did you get her to go out with you? And, and I said, I didn't kidnap her, you know, it was kind of the usual way. I asked her, would you like to have dinner, and she said yes. He fancied himself as a ladies man.

I thought I was much better looking than he was, by the way, but whatever. I, I'm biased. And, and then he says to me, look, I've been asking her out for weeks and she keeps turning me down because she's engaged. Didn't you see that huge rock on her hand? She's engaged in this cardiology fellow, and I looked.

And I never, I never saw it. You know, again, I never believed in God then. And clearly, even though I didn't believe in it, he was helping me. Okay. And then the next question is, this is a very religious Catholic woman, okay, who graduated from Catholic high, goes to Mass every Sunday, goes to Mass every holy day. And how is she engaged to some, like, where is it in the Bible where it says you're engaged to somebody, but you go out with another guy? Like, how does that work?

Jason: Right.

Paul: That doesn't make any sense at all. And I was very happy that we're going very slowly in all these departments because I had no experience with women. The only experience I had was, I kissed a woman when I was a senior in college once, actually twice. The same woman. And it was disgusting because she was a smoker and I felt like I was, I felt like I was licking an ashtray and then I did it a second time too, I was like, what the hell's wrong with you?

And then I graduated and I went to medical school and then she went to California and became famous. I knew she was smart, she was really famous. Her name was Lottie Golden. And I didn't recall her name until You know, 54 years, it was forgotten and then I was at a dinner and somebody mentioned something and suddenly the name came back.

That's kind of like what this memory is like. So so anyway, so we're going out and I'm very happy that we're not having sex or anything because. I have no experience with that, and I figured I'll screw this up too, and you know, that will be the next part of this. At least let her get to know me a little bit.

And so finally years later, it's 19, the end of 1981, okay, we met in 1978. I ask her to marry me, and she says, well, I'll marry you, but only if you get baptized. And I said, you know, I don't believe in God, so how's that going to work? And she said, well, we baptize infants. Nobody's going to ask anything. So I remember standing there saying to myself, okay, somebody throw some water on my head.

I don't believe in this nonsense, but I get to marry the woman of my dreams. It's a deal of the century. So I got baptized November 4th, 1981. We got married in January, 1982. But there really wasn't time for a big honeymoon. So we planned this six week tour on a Euro Pass through Western Europe. And that's where the book begins.

The only thing in the book, she's not there in the beginning, but clearly she's there. And you know, we're on this trip and We're going to see this castle in Neuschwanstein in Germany, and Germany's gorgeous, and suddenly the whole world is beautiful.

Her smile, like, lights up the room. She's a saint. She's athletic. She's brilliant. She has a phenomenal personality. She's like the perfect human being in every way. And by the way, you'd think that it would be nice, you know, great being married to a saint. It's not okay. It's annoying. Okay, because every day I see how she manages and goes through the world and and it's like a slap in my face because I say, I can't do what she just did.

I can't do that. And again, nobody ever accused me of being charming. Okay. And so. That's a disadvantage, but whatever. So we're on this bus to see Neuschwanstein, which is this beautiful castle built by Liberty II in the 1800s. It's gorgeous. And it's the same castle that Walt Disney used as a model for all his castles and his movies and TV shows.

It's gorgeous. If you go to my website, https://pauljoelbook.com/ you'll see a picture of it. There's all signs, excerpts in the book, and you can learn about the book, just, you know. to see if you were interested in buying it. Anyway, so, the bus stops in the middle of nowhere. I had a coffee shop that obviously paid the bus company to stop there.

And everyone, including my wife, gets off to go in the coffee shop, but I didn't feel like eating or drinking or using the men's room. And across the street is this church. And, you know, I didn't believe in God, but I'm 33 years old, but sometimes they're nice to look at, and I had nothing else to do. And I didn't know the story of this church.

It's called Tears Church, or in German Wieskirche. And the reason for that is there is a stick figure of Jesus being scourged that they used to use in the Good Friday procession, but everyone agreed it was ugly. So they tossed it in the barn, threw it away, and a couple of decades later, somebody Realized there were actual tears from the eyes of Jesus in this thing, you know, coming out.

So they built this church and put this ugly thing on the altar, and I walk in there, and it's a Catholic church, there's stations of the cross in the walls, and the walls and the ceilings are gorgeous. There's nobody else in the church, and I'm sitting in the front row, and I'm looking at this ugly thing, because your eye is drawn to it, it's so out of place.

And suddenly I get this message, "I love you. Your sins are forgiven." And suddenly, like, a little bit like St. Paul on the road to Damascus, I believe in God, and I'm all thrilled. And it wasn't like I heard a voice. It's kind of like, you listen to my voice right now, and then your brain interprets what I say.

And the nerves in your brain and your, and your spinal canal, they travel at the speed of electricity. So immediately you interpret this from your ears to your brain, whatever it is. This was like a direct message into my brain. I didn't hear anything. It was like right there.

Jason: Yeah.

Paul: I'm thrilled. I'm excited. I tell my wife about it. There's actually a God and to top it all off, he's actually communicating with me. Like, who am I in this world? I'm nothing. And so our plan was to check out of this very inexpensive hotel near the train station in Munich. By the way, Munich is the the place where the Nazi party was founded. My birthday is April 20th, which is the same birthday as Adolf Hitler.

Jason: Oh my goodness.

Paul: Okay, wait, and it gets better. In the Jewish calendar, my birthday is the last day of Passover, when actually the angel of death passed over and killed the firstborn. Males of the Egyptians and spared them. That's where the holiday gets its name.

Okay. I'm born on that day. Okay, 2 a. m. And again, when you looked at my birth certificate, the first 5, 6, 7 years of life, okay, my parents are so clueless. They couldn't figure it out in 9 months. Find a name for a male and find a name for a female. It's going to be 1 of those 2. Okay. Figure it out. Okay. Instead on my birth certificate, it just said, baby boy with my last name.

That was it. Okay. That's my official birth until it until it was changed. Like, when I was 7 or 8 years old. And again, so I'm, I'm born on the last supper. Jesus and his disciples were celebrating Passover. That's the day I was born. And again, I'm a 1st born male. So I would have been 1 of the people, you know, dying if I was an Egyptian or whatever.

Anyway, so we're on this I walk into the church and I get converted in. And so now we're back at the hotel and we're, our plan was to take a train to Vienna that night and spend the night on the train so that I don't have to pay for a hotel room. And we're checking out with our backpacks and our sneakers and jeans and and I said, my wife, hey, let's celebrate.

We, we can get the next train. Okay. We have a Euro pass. Not like we have a ticket to a specific train. So I asked the clerk there, what's one of the nicest places to eat here? In Munich, and he said, well, probably the restaurant, the Four Seasons Hotel. So I said, let's go there. We'll take another train. And then he says, you can't get in there.

I said, what do you mean? He says, well, it's Friday night. Apparently, October 15th, 1982 is a Friday and it's a small restaurant. You need a reservation. And also you need a suit and she needs a gown. Okay. You can't get in there. Jeans. He didn't say sneakers. He said running shoes and backpacks. And I remember thinking to myself, Hey, I just, you know, the creator of the universe just communicate with me.

He'll take care of this. Okay. So we're running over to the to the hotel and we get there and there's a doorman dressed to the nines, the top hat, and I ask him where the restaurant is. And he says up the master room on the second floor. And he says to us, look, let me take your backpacks from you.

I'll give them to you on your way out. Like, basically, we don't allow people to dress like you with backpacks in our lobby, let alone eat here. So I go upstairs and the maître d is in a tuxedo. The piano player is in a tuxedo. All the waiters are in tuxedos. The guests all have gowns and suits on.

Paul: So he asked me my name. So I tell him my name, and there's one empty table with a reserve sign on, and my wife said she saw on the reserve sign it had our last name on it, but I didn't see that. So we eat there and have like the meal of the century, and the piano player is playing a song, and I asked the waiter if he knew, the song.

He said, yeah, it's a famous song, it's called "A Man Like You and Me" by Michelle Jarry. And of course, the book title is A Man Like You and Me, A Supernatural Adventure Story. And I wrote down the beginnings of the the lyrics to that song, and I'm gonna read it now. If a man is rich and powerful, if a man is a king, it does not matter. He's still a slave to his fate. We're all slaves, whether king or beggar. We're all equal in this world.

And again, the book is really about the interplay between fate, you're given a hand, and free will. So, as fate would have it I'm attracted to blondes. Okay, blonde is wholesome in my life. So of course I marry a blonde.

But the point is It's not like you're going to sit there and God's going to throw it in your lap. You have to have some choice. You have to ask her out. You have to court her. You have to be a human being. You have to, you know, do what you, you know, you have to live.

Jason: Right.

Paul: It's not like a passive life. And so that's part of the book. And again, for anybody who's interested. I hope they buy the book, but I hope also that even if they don't believe in God, if they believe in God and they buy the book, great, okay, the purpose of the book is to increase faith in God, okay, the reader, especially if you have a friend who's an atheist, please buy the book and hand it to the friend, because if you read the book, it's an adventurous story, there's all the supernatural events that happen.

And then there's also a listing of, okay, this happened, if you went to church that day, this is the mass reading you would hear. And so there's about 35 readings of the gospel, you end up reading a good chunk of the Bible, okay? And for an atheist, he's probably not reading the Bible on his, you know, on the weekends, and he's certainly not going to church. Okay, so it would be a good introduction for those people. And I'd like to have some other people have the experience that I had suddenly you believe in God. Okay. You know, it's, it's, it's earth shattering. Okay. It's like the whole and and again.

I, I always questioned whether I was crazy or the world was crazy or both of us were crazy. Because here I am going up during the Cold War and so we had Stalin and now we have Khrushchev is supposedly the improvement. He's better than this mass murderer, Stalin. Okay. And, you know, I'm, I'm. Growing up, and I see him in the U. N. taking his shoe off and banging his shoe on the table, and I'm saying to myself, Did you ever see a leader of a country do that? Like, this guy's crazy. And then, of course, we have we elected this wonderful president John F. Kennedy, and between the two of them Khrushchev and Kennedy, we have the Cuban Missile Crisis.

And I'm growing up with this, and I'm saying to myself, does this make any sense? We're holding our breath that a nuclear war is going to start over this nonsense, and there's an embargo on it, and if the Russians try to break the embargo, there's going to be a war, and here's the ridiculousness of it.

Okay, so you don't like nuclear weapons this close to Florida. Okay, I get that. I understand that. But we have weapons in Europe right next to Russia. The same distance. And that's okay. Where's the logic in all of this? Okay. And for like a week, everyone's holding their breath, it's gonna blow up the place.

That was kind of the way I grew up and again, I, I didn't have much attention from my parents. It was amazing to me that I didn't grow up to be some kind of mass murderer.

Jason: I just want to kind of summarize because you, you know, 1978, you met this unbelievable woman and unbeknownst to you, she puts you on this path to God. And 1982, you guys got married and there's a lot that probably went on and, but that seems to be the genesis of the book is from 1982 forward, but then in 2019, I really want to touch on this because I think this is, this is really important for people to hear is in 2019, there were some events that led up to your miracle that happened in 2022. Do you mind going into that a little bit?

Paul: Absolutely. Okay. So I'm the physician depicted in the book. And on March 25th, 2019, which is the feast day of the annunciation. The first joyous mystery of the rosary that I say every day. I'm driving to work to see patients in the office. I never got there. Suddenly, I don't know how to drive the car.

I'm confused. I don't know how to use a cell phone. So I stopped the car. Fortunately, a policeman comes over, and I still remember my home phone number. So he called my wife, and I recognized my wife, but about 95 percent of my memory was suddenly wiped out, wiped away, and I also had this horrendous peripheral neuropathy.

So my feet were numb, my balance was off, my fingers didn't work, and I couldn't walk without a cane. And I'm in the hospital, and the disease is a very rare disease, Hashimoto's encephalitis. And I knew about the term Hashimoto's because when I studied for the Internal Medicine Boards in 1977, passed the first time, a lot of it is about unusual presentations of common diseases.

So thyroid disease is very common, but Hashimoto's thyroiditis is rare, okay? And the way you make the diagnosis is the thyroid is inflamed, so the thyroid function studies, T3, T4, TSH, are all abnormal. But there are these two tests that are positive, antithyroid globulin and antithyroid peroxidase. So I come in with this the MRI in my brain lit up like a Christmas tree, and all this information, and my memory is wiped out.

And the only thing I remember about this Admission was they did a spinal tap and we're thinking, okay, that didn't hurt much at all. They numbed it up pretty good. And I recognized my wife when I thought I didn't recognize my adult sons when they came to visit, like, for a week or so, but they said, no, dad, you recognize this.

You just didn't remember that you saw us the day before. So, each time they came, it was like the 1st time that I saw them. Like a weird memory. And anyway, so I'm treated with chemotherapy and steroids. And I'm seizing anti seizure medicines, and get this, the chemotherapy that they use was a Drug called Celset.

Celset is FDA approved if you have a liver transplant or a kidney transplant to suppress your immune system so you don't reject this foreign organ. Right, but the only, the only FDA approved dose of Celset is 500 milligrams twice a day. And instead, I get treated with 1500 milligrams twice a day, so three times the maximum doses.

And my immune system is wiped out so that great immune system that I had is gone. And the great memory that I never appreciated was special, by the way. That's gone too, and I'm a moron. And my wife is stuck with this moron. And I have trouble Doing anything. Okay. I have trouble sweeping the floor. I got to focus like I'm playing football.

My life depends on catching the football to do any kind of menial thing. I got to hold on for dear life walking down the stairs. I got to hold on for dear life and calculate how am I gonna take a shower? Body part am I gonna wash? What am I gonna hold on to so I don't kill myself in the shower? And just, you know, a couple months ago, I fell down a flight of stairs at home and broke my wrist.

Jason: No.

Paul: Yeah, right. So, so anyway, so this is going on and Eventually I called a priest that I knew and said, look, I don't want to go to hell for committing suicide, but is it okay if I just stop eating and drinking and let nature take its course? Because every day for me is horrific suffering. And also, my wife could marry somebody else, you know, she can't marry anybody, we're Catholic, if I'm alive, it's a win win for both of us.

And the priest said, go ahead, you know, God will understand. And that's what I was planning on doing until this Dr. Cheryl Fry, who read the book, and has been the person who saved my life and most instrumental in helping me. Said, well, if you really think you're the person in the book passed by God to get the Pope in unison with the bishops to consecrate Russia, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, as requested by our Lady of Fatima in 1917, and you decide to say take a hike to God you're certainly going to go to hell.

Okay, it's like God tells Noah to build the ark. It's not going to go well for Noah if he says, look, I'm busy, God, take a hike, find somebody else.

Jason: Right.

Paul: the only reason, that's the only reason I'm still alive. Okay, because, you know, when I told her, like, She went ballistic and I like her personality also because. I grew up in Brooklyn where it's like straight talk, there's no sugar coating it, and she does the same, she grew up in Dorchester, so I grew up in Brooklyn looking at the wonderful things in Manhattan, she grew up in Dorchester looking at the wonderful things in Boston, and she also taught at Harvard also, she's brilliant.

So anyway, I'm alive because of Dr. Cheryl Fry, and because she read the book. But I'm still a moron. Okay. So after 2 years of this chemotherapy and steroids and antiseizure medicines, nothing changed. The MRI still showed destruction of my right hippocampus and right temporal lobe and other parts and I'm left handed.

So the right side of my brain is dominant part and nothing changed. So treatment was stopped and a year later on April 29th, 2022. Miraculously, and suddenly my memory came back. The peripheral neuropathy is also a little bit better by the way. Okay, and I realized that because normally I take a shower and I wash my hair so I hold on with one hand and the other hand I wash my hair and suddenly I'm standing there watching my hair with both hands and saying, hey, the balance is a little bit better.

And the thing about this is that. The nerve cells in your brain and your peripheral, peripheral nervous system, they don't multiply. They never get replaced. Okay. And if you see somebody, let's say, who has a stroke, unfortunately, you'll see that they may improve the first couple of days because they also have cerebral edema as the edema gets better.

They may have some improvement the first couple of days, but after you know, you can't move your arm and your leg and it's a week or so later. That's it. And the rehab is learning how to walk with a hand and a leg that you can't move. It doesn't come back. Okay. It's not suddenly you see somebody who can't move their arm and leg for a month because of a stroke and now suddenly they're walking and talking and doing everything went perfectly normally. No, that doesn't happen.

Jason: Once the cells are damaged, they're damaged. There's no going back.

Paul: They're damaged, but not and they die. And not only that, they don't replicate the nervous system. Does not replicate not like the cells of your skin. So anyway, so this is like, totally a miracle that I can have a conversation with you. I have a normal memory and tell you about things that happened when I was 1. 5 years old or 3 years old or what happened yesterday.

And the weird part is everything from. April 29, 2022, as it happens, it's like the old memory. I can tell you what was said, what was done, what was, I went to this restaurant, this is what we had you know, 4 years ago or 3 years ago, whatever the heck it is, okay? I can tell you everything my wife ever said to me, the problem is I'm continuously having to look up stuff that was still wiped out before that day.

Jason: Okay.

Paul: So, for instance, again something, told me something about chess. And suddenly I realized, hey, I was on the chess team in high school, and I know how to play chess. And so that came back, and now I know how to play chess.

I know the moves, and I know, you know, I know the limbs of Indian defense. I used to use a black and the queen's gambit and everything. I'm like Suddenly, it's there, so it's kind of like a weird thing, but anything from April 29th, 2022 forward, it's like the old brain, you know, and again, we're talking about when I met my wife, which is 1978, but it happened yesterday.

Okay? Or I'm seeing the pediatric neurologist at age 3. The memory is as if it happened yesterday. Like, it's perfect. You know, when I tell you, this is exactly what he said. Those are the words that he said then, no, he's not retarded. He's aware of his environment to learn to talk. He's just slow. He's very slow, but basically, he's dumb as a box of rocks, but he's not retarded. Okay. This is the, this is the sentence that he used. Okay. I'm not making up, you know.

Jason: Yeah. So, so basically the recovery that you experienced is beyond medicine's ability to explain.

Paul: Exactly. And the other thing that's also unexplainable is there is no specific part of your brain for remembering medical information, and that seems to have stayed. I still work. I review cases. I haven't driven a car since March 25th, 2019. I'm afraid. My feet are numb and my fingers don't work. I'll kill somebody on the road, unless, you know, unless I have another miracle. My wife has to take me everywhere. And and I miss, by the way, the little things like, again, I never appreciate this memory. But then when I look back, hey, this is very special. I'll give you an example. So I had a practice in Delmar, New York. And you know, it's a typical practice. You have a charge.

Patient comes in. Well, but I also used to do the shopping. Okay, I would drive the car and do the market shopping. And I have like 5 or 6 thousand patients that I would see like every 3 or 4 months. And then I have some other ones that would come every once in a while or whatever. And so I meet 1 of the patients in the market.

This is Jones or Mr. Smith. And I say, hello, Mr. Jones, Mrs. Smith, and their face would light up because I'm in the market. I don't have the chart in my hand. And the doctor remembers in this impersonal world, the doctor remembers your name. So, the face would light up like, you know, wow. Okay. And then with this memory that I had, I'd say, are you remembering to take your medicines?

Then I'd list off the medicines and doses that they were taking. Okay. And their mouth would drop and say, who the heck remembers, because I don't have the chart in my hand. Which is not what we're in the office. So it's a, it was a very special memory, you know, ability to memorize things. And again, I remember also, I was taking pediatrics in medical school.

And we had this terrific teacher, Dr. Rook. And every Friday he would give one of these short answer tests on this picky and stuff on 100 pages of Nelson's textbook of pediatrics. Every week I'm supposed to memorize 100 pages of this pediatrics text, okay? And I could do that. Okay. No problem. And I got very good grades on, you know, on all of those things again.

And towards the end of the, you know, I'm saying, okay, I've now done 1200 pages of this textbook, or 1000 pages of textbook. And I was worried. Is there space in this brain to memorize another 100 pages? I don't need what I just memorized 2 weeks beforehand. Okay. That's not going to be on this test. So I was, I actually was worried that there's not enough room here to put all this stuff in my brain, but.

There was never any problem with the capacity, but, you know, still, it's like an amazing memory that I never appreciated until I got sick with this Hashimoto's encephalitis and I got this miracle and I got better. Then I said, wow, that was, you know, I never appreciate, you know, I, I appreciated the immune system that I inherited from my father, you know, that I, that I knew.

And again, I'm an intern at Kings County Hospital, so in the middle of the night, there's no air conditioning, I'm sick, I've got 103 fever, and I'm drawing blood on one of these patients. And he looks up at me, and I'm sweating a bit, and he says, Doc, you don't look so good. And I said, look, let's concentrate on you, you're the patient here, you know, I'm going to be fine, but, you know.

So the next day on rounds I look like a rose. I'm only sick for an hour anyway. So I'm talking to him and he's complaining to me. He says that I'm not fair because I took the good medicine and I'm better and he's still sick. Okay. And like, how do you explain to him that, you know, I didn't take any medicine.

Okay. That's just the way it goes. You're sick. And the other thing that was wonderful about it was that there's no masks there. There's three 60 bed wards. Of patients with COPD, emphysema and mostly drug resistant TB, okay? TB was rampant then, and, and so you'd have to have a patient, depending on what they had on their x ray, two drugs for two years, or three drugs for two years, whatever it is.

And these were patients who were alcoholics and they'd stay there and if they left the ward they'd be hunted down by the police because they're going to be giving TB, drug resistant TB to everyone on the subway. They're there on the bus. Okay. So there's no masks. You couldn't really function if you thought you're going to catch this stuff.

Okay. I'm walking around and then to top it all off. I had TB. In junior high school, they had a whole program because TB was rampant in New York City, so everyone had a skin test for TB at PPD. Mine was positive. So I'm, you know, a terrified kid this morning. I'm, I'm gonna die a tb. Okay, so the next step is they do a chest x-ray.

And again, if the chest x-ray is normal, you're supposed to get a year of INH if you're under the age of 35. And clearly I was under the age of 35 in junior high school, but they lost me to follow up. And so I was never treated. And then when I finally got to medical school and I learned about this, and I should have had a year of INH.

And I said, well, I got this great immune system and it's probably killed everything and my x ray is normal. It's always been normal. And, you know, I'm not going to take a year of mine. But then when I got this Hashimoto's encephalitis, I said, this is going to be just great. Because most of the time, TB is not a primary infection.

The scenario is that you get TB. The infection, it gets walled off for years, and then it gets activated, and that's when you get the cough, and productive cough, and coughing up blood, and losing weight, and everything else, you get the active symptoms then. And here I am, I'm on this chemotherapy, and get this, the thing is going to reactivate, and I'm going to give it to my wife.

Okay, that will be the upshot of all this. I'm going to start coughing. She'll get TB for me, and so I'm worried about it, but then, you know, I had a Quantiferrin Gold TB test, the PPD test, if there's any organism, whether they're dead or alive in your body, this test to see if there's any living TB organisms in your body.

And mine was negative. So I was correct. The immune system killed every last bug in my body, every last TB.

Jason: That's amazing.

Paul: my body. Okay. And, you know, the fact that I didn't have the year of INH, so you don't need it. Okay. This, this immune system kills everything. It was a gift from God. Okay. Like, you know, God, I never believed it. So I had that all my life.

Jason: Yeah. We're running up on time. I want to make sure that we have enough time to give you a few minutes to talk about your book. Anything important you want to tell us without giving anything away.

Paul: The book, is a true story basically. And it starts off with our trip in October, 1982 and we're in Germany of all places. And Germany is gorgeous. I, I went to Europe once before, before I was married and my trip to Germany was seeing Dachau concentration camp. That was the 1st concentration camp, not necessarily for Jews.

It was for anybody who Hitler thought was a threat. And that was my visit to Germany. I left within 24 hours. I wanted to see 1 concentration camp and that was it. But now I'm with Mary Beth and the whole world is different. Germany is gorgeous. And again, the book is really about the interplay between free will and fate.

You have a certain fate, but you also have to use your free will. So,

Jason: I like that.

Paul: you know, my, my fate was in a way, well, I had this great memory, but I didn't appreciate it. I had this great immune system was taken away. I Had this bad experience with the teachers with dark hair and suddenly the one woman who was blonde was suddenly everything was great.

And in my brain, blonde is wholesome, blonde is good. So of course I meet my wife who's blonde. You know, that, that's, you know, it kind of fits with that, you know, and that's part of the story.

Jason: That's great. That's great. Well, Paul, it has been a privilege to talk with you, to hear about your life, your miracle, your book. You know, I'm so grateful that you took the time to come on the show. Like I said, at the beginning, time is the one thing we can never get back. We can't earn more of it. You know, it's the most precious thing we have. So. I want to let you know, I really appreciate you being here.

Paul: Well, thank you for having me. You made it fun. Okay. So this is, you know, this is not something I do every day and, and you made it a lot of fun. So thank you for having me.

Jason: That's

Paul: And hopefully some, hopefully some of your listeners will buy the book. And again, if they have a friend who's an atheist, buy the book for them.

Okay. Maybe it'll change their life. They'll have this light same way that I had on October 15th, 1982.

Jason: You never know what's going to inspire people. Thank you all for listening. Be sure to check out the links in the show notes. Paul's book is on there. https://pauljoelbook.com. He has an amazing story and I'm sure you will enjoy it. Take a moment to like and subscribe or follow the show on your favorite podcast app.

Check out me in the show notes. I've got my links in there as well. If you are enjoying the show, consider supporting me at https://myministrymission.com/support. You don't have to give me money. Just share it with people. There's ideas on there until next time. Be sure to read your Bibles, love your neighbor and may the Lord bless you and keep you.

So God bless everyone. And God bless you, Paul.

Paul: God bless you too. Take care. Thank you very much for having me as a guest.