The Physician Within

The Physician Within

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit?” (1 Corinthians 6:19)


terry-whipple2.jpgMany people rely on doctors and hospital emergency rooms to deal with routine medical issues which they are often capable of managing or preventing for themselves. The Physician Within is a medical education program designed to foster more accurate understanding and self-help measures for the general public. It is coordinated by Richmond Orthopedic Surgeon, Terry L. Whipple, MD, and sponsored by Richmond’s First Baptist Church and the Richmond Academy of Medicine.

Broken Hearts—Cardiac Forum

The Physician Within series presents Broken Hearts, a cardiac forum, on Wednesdays May 30 and June 20, 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. in Flamming Hall. The familiar “broken heart” expression literally means some kind of heart failure…with significant consequences. Maybe love suffers, or maybe life, but love and life are interdependent. So let’s study the heart.

A hollow muscle structure that contracts all by itself, the heart “pumps” blood through a closed circulatory network of vessels. Lots can go wrong with this pump. The mechanism can literally break.

  • Pressure maintenance: Blood pressure too high or too low (normally 90-120/60-80) means there’s too much resistance to blood flow or too little pressure for oxygen delivery. Hypertension usually is asymptomatic—CAUTION! Hypotension causes dizziness or lightheadedness. We must eat healthy diets, exercise and avoid the 3 S’s…smoking, stress and salt.

  • Angina: Chest pain due to poor circulation to the heart muscle (coronary arteries) may be felt also in the left shoulder, arm or jaw. These symptoms are URGENT! Chew an adult aspirin, take nitroglycerine and lie down. Confusing symptoms may be due to chest muscle pain or gastric acid reflux.

  • Valves: The heart pump has 4 valves to keep blood flowing in the proper direction through the pump to resupply oxygen to the blood and then to body tissues. Valves can leak (a pump backflow) or can become stiff and narrow. Both problems cause heart murmurs or “clicks” heard only with a stethoscope. Valve disease isn’t urgent but may cause the heart muscle to work too hard or cause blood clots to form and dislodge into the lungs or brain. Ouch!

  • Arrhythmia: This common problem means the heart beats too fast, too slow or irregularly. Symptoms include lightheadedness, palpitations and shortness of breath. Atrial fibrillation (AF) is most common. Blood may sludge in the atrium of a heart with “AF” and dislodge a clot to the lungs or brain causing a stroke. It’s recommended for arrhythmias to avoid caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, diet pills, psychiatric drugs and illegal drugs like “speed.”

  • Stents: Narrowed or calcified coronary arteries impede blood supply to heart muscle. Stents are wire props that open narrowed coronary arteries. They are inserted under x-ray control. Problems—they can form clots or scar ingrowth so the narrowing recurs. To prevent stent problems, patients can take blood thinners or the stents can be coated with medicines that prevent tissue overgrowth on the wire framework.

Previous Seminars

Do These Pants Make Me Look Fat?
Real Truths About Obesity

April 11, 2018, 6:00 - 7:30 p.m. in Flamming Hall

  • The real question is, “What is fat?” Obesity is a problem—and seems to be epidemic in America—but it may or may not be due to overeating. If it isn’t, what can be done about it and what caused it?  If it is, why don’t fat-free diets or cutting calories make us slim?
  • Truth: Some of us overeat, under exercise, don’t burn the calories we consume but store them as fat.
  • Truth: Some of us don’t overeat, but eat the wrong stuff and become fat.
  • Truth: Some of us don’t eat the wrong stuff, but get fat with age.
  • Truth: Some of us eat the right stuff and aren’t old, but still get big bellies.
  • Truth: Some of us are diabetic, but aren’t fat. Our pancreas just doesn’t produce insulin.
  • Truth: Some of us have a resistance to the insulin we produce and can’t burn even low-calorie diets.
  • Truth: Some of us have a genetic mutation, have a metabolic syndrome and look fat no matter how much we eat or exercise.
  • Truth: There is no hard/fast connection between obesity, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, heart disease and stroke. Sometimes they just happen in varying combinations or independently.

Let’s talk about Metabolic Syndrome.
It has different definitions but is generally characterized by high blood pressure, abdominal obesity (not extremities, neck, face), high blood sugar, high triglycerides with low HDLs. It makes the waistline look fat (not the pants) but the arms and legs may stay slim. Diabetes is commonly present, but the blood sugar may be high without diabetes (insulin resistance). Stroke and heart disease are greater risks, as are peripheral neuropathy and polycystic ovary disease. But, why?

Let’s talk Diabetes.
The pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin for the diet we eat and exercise we get. Or the pancreas produces insulin but our tissues are resistant and the blood sugar stays high and looks like diabetes. Obesity is common, but some diabetics are slim.

Let’s consider Age.
For unknown reasons, both diabetes and metabolic syndrome are more likely as we age—that isn’t fair either. But knowing the differences is important for how we eat, exercise and what medicines we take. Early diagnosis and preventative lifestyles are important to manage risks.

Oh, and don’t worry about the pants. They look good.


  • Robert Castellucci, MD - Endocrinologist
  • Maria Iuorno, MD - Endocrinologist
  • Jana Smith - Richmond YMCA Diabetes Prevention Director
  • Terry Whipple, MD - Moderator

Healthy Holiday Habits

Advent is a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus at Christmas.

In many ways, Advent begins as we celebrate Thanksgiving, and then turn our attention to all the upcoming events leading to Christmas day. It’s a busy time for sure, and we encourage you to participate in as many of the events listed below as you are able. But also remember that this is a season where it is extremely easy to overdo, especially when it come eating or not taking care of ourselves. Dr. Terry Whipple has a couple of great articles that will help you navigate the holidays in good health. Merry Christmas!


Thanksgiving — Pushing Back
The Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving was for having a harvest sufficient for their needs...not about having too much.


What’s on Your Christmas List?
This year, I wish I wouldn’t gain that average 4 POUNDS that Americans customarily gain during the Christmas season.

Health Advocates – You Can't Do It Alone

October 11, 2017, 6:00 p.m. in Flamming Hall.

Seniority has privileges…and consequences. In time, health and bodily functions deteriorate. Memory slips, endurance diminishes, the immune system weakens, vision and hearing become less acute, the bladder leaks, self-image and self-worth change.

Often the changes are so insidious, we don’t even notice them. Frequently some changes either reflect or affect significant internal health issues. We should pay more attention; we should continue to take better care of ourselves—but we don’t. We should pay closer attention to instructions given by our doctors, but we forget.

All our lives, there’s a physician within; but as we age, we could use an external physician, as who is more attentive and frankly forthright about subtle changes in our behaviors as we age that may be risky. We need a concerned health advocate, a “health buddy” in whom we can trust and confide.

With over a half century of experience, these two speakers will take off the gloves as they discuss oblivious aging and how we can reduce seniors’ health risks.


  • Moderator - Terry L. Whipple, MD
  • Geriatrician - Stanley Furman, MD 

Can’t Take Giant Steps?

May 24, 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. in Flamming Hall
Walking has been natural since we were two. Now that we’re older, heavier and less flexible, walking may not be so easy. There are at least 30 different causes of foot pain. Some are serious; some not. Some we can handle on our own; others we can’t. Which is which? What can you do about it? When do you need a professional? The Physician Within you will be wiser after May 24. Dance with the Stars. Hear the experts on the panel. Take giant steps again.


  • Moderator - Terry L. Whipple, MD, Director, Orthopaedic Research of Virginia
  • Hindfoot - J. William Van Manen, MD, OrthoVirginia
  • Forefoot/Toes - Luke T. P. Vetti, DPM, Synergy Health Foot and Ankle Associates
  • Midfoot - Russell D. Earnest, Jr., DPM, Earnest Foot and Ankle Specialists
  • Other Illnesses Affecting Feet - Michael H. Brown, MD, OrthoVirginia

Mental Power over Health

THINK about Your Diagnosis—Better Mood, Better Prognosis
Wednesday, February 15, 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m., Flamming Hall


James P. McCullough, PhD
Terry L. Whipple, MD
Alan E. Schulman, MD

  • 100 billion brain cells control every body function, every health response.
  • Illness, injury, all aspects of health affect our emotions, our attitudes, our planning, our values, our decisions…and vise-versa
  • The frontal lobe, where ideas are generated based on experience (memory) and knowledge (integration of learned facts) is wired by neurons to the centers that control hormones, heartbeat, temperature, the immune system, digestion and cellular responses. Even cancer defenses are affected by our mental state.
  • So “mind over matter” is not a trite expression.
  • Stress has a negative effect on the frontal lobe. Health can be a stress. Reactions to stress (stress response) can be learned, practiced and trained.
  • Depression is stressful and has adverse effects on physical health and survival. It comes in all measures of and size and severity.Is it learned or is it ingrained? Is our mood a cause or an effect?
  • Is our health a cause or an effect?
  • What steps can we take mentally to improve almost every diagnosis or health state? You may be surprised.

Diabetes Might Be OK, If...

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

There are ways to live well with Diabetes, IF you mange your condition responsibly.

  • 29 million Americans have diabetes;
  • 86 million have pre-diabetes. What is that?
  • What’s the A1c and how can you keep it low?
  • How is diabetes uniquely different for seniors?
  • What are early symptoms of complications from diabetes?
    • Impaired circulation
    • Heart disease
    • Vision disturbance
    • Neuropathy—numbness and tingling
    • Yeast infections
    • Slow wound healing
    • Coma
    • Association with obesity
  • What can you do about prevention?
  • Enemies lurk on your holiday party and dinner tables. Beware!

Expert panelists include:
Stan Furman, MD and Baseer Ahmad, MD with moderator Terry L. Whipple, MD.

The Mature Pelvis: Life after the birds & bees

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Men and women were created differently. We learn that at a very early age.
But everything changes with time.
• Pipes rust and clog.  
• Solutions crystalize.
• Muscles weaken.
• Cancers grow.  
Urinary and reproductive systems are no exception. They have the same risks.
The physician within you wants to know…

  • What your common pelvic symptoms might mean
  • How to reduce those discomforts and malfunctions
  • How to prevent them in the first place
Hear these important subjects for mature adults addressed by an acclaimed urologist, former Chair of Urology at Emory University School of Medicine, and by a five-star Richmond gynecologist whose experience with issues confronting the changing mature pelvis is unmatched.


Back Talk: Why does my back hurt & what can I do?

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • Download PDF of Back Talk handouts
  • Back Talk: Why does my back hurt & what can I do? presented by Lawrence F. Cohen, MD—Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, VCU School of Medicine and
    Terry L. Whipple, MD—Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, VCU School of Medicine

Back pain is common. It is the leading cause of disability worldwide.
• One fourth of US adults have had low back pain in the past 3 months.
• 11% of adults, or over 27 million Americans, have back pain at any given time.
• 60-80% of Americans will develop back pain at some point in their lives.
• For Americans with chronic pain symptoms, back pain is more than twice as prevalent as osteoarthritis.

Back pain can indicate an urgent or significant, even life-threatening condition. But most back pain is non-urgent and no cause for alarm. There are ways to manage it with good discipline and common sense. And there are ways to prevent most of it, in the first place.  

Learn about the danger signs and measures for prevention.
• Sprains and strains can both cause back pain, but you manage them differently.
• Disc degeneration and facet arthritis are different from sciatica. But they may be related.
• Some back pain comes from internal organs, not the spine. The difference is important.

Unheeded, back pain treatment is expensive, exceeding $85 billion per year. Let’s not go there.

The Hospital... Be Prepared

Wednesday, October 21, 2015
The Physician Within presents a seminar focusing on end-of-life care including advance directives, insurance options, and medical advocates.

  • Download PDF of Honoring Choices Virginia presentation—Debbie Griffith, Critical Care RN and Key Coordinator for Honoring Choices Virginia at HCA’s Henrico Doctors’ Hospital; Candace Blades, Clinical Coordinator, Interim Practice Administrator and Honoring Choices site leader for the VCU Center for Advanced Health Management
  • Download PDF of Honoring Choices handout
  • Download PDF of Medicare 101—Steve Jenkins, Owner of Advanced Benefit Solutions LLC
  • Download PDF of Patient Advocates handout—Terry Whipple, MD, Orthopaedic Surgeon and Founder of The Physician Within

Skin: Cancers, Bumps, Tears and Rashes

Wednesday, June 3, 2015
A panel discussion moderated by Dr. Terry Whipple, featuring area dermatologists. Topics: cancer, inflammation, aging skin, skin damage.

  • Download PDF of Skin Damage handout: Skin Damage—Terry Whipple, MD, Orthopaedic Surgeon and Founder of The Physician Within
  • Download PDF of Skin Inflammation and Skin Cancer handout—Dr. Margaret Terhune, Richmond Dermatology and Laser Specialists and Shelley K. Hoover, MD, PhD

Memory Matters

Tuesday, January 20, 2014
A panel discussion moderated by Dr. Terry Whipple, featuring area neurologists. Topics: How Memory Works, Dementia vs. Forgetfulness, Alzheimer’s Disease, Sleep Schedules, Care for the Caregiver 

Don't Eat That!: Nutrition, Weight Management and Exercise

Saturday, October 26, 2013
Focusing on the food we eat, how it helps and hurts us, with information about specific risk factors and conditions that can result from poor choices.

  • Download MP3 of We Are What We Eat: Physical and Emotional Health—Terry Whipple, MD, Orthopaedic Surgeon and Founder of The Physician Within
  • Download MP3 of Nutrition, Weight Management and Exercise—Madge E. Zacharias, MD, Nutrition Metabolism Expert
  • Download MP3 of Cancer Risks of What Eat, Drink and Inhale—Joshua J. McFarlane, MD, Virginia Cancer Institute 
  • Download MP3 of Addictive Behaviors: Breaking Bad Habits with Food, Drink and Drugs—Martin N. Buxton, MD, Expert in Addiction Disorders
  • Download MP3 of Gastro-intestinal Effects of What We Eat and Drink—Andy J. Thanjan, MD, Gastrointestinal Specialists, Inc.

See other previous seminars on Vimeo.