THE POWER OF BELIEF
“Oh, God, Thou has appointed me to watch over the life and death of Thy creatures; here am I ready for my vocation and now I turn unto my calling.”
Over the years, I have gotten to know many special patients who mean the world to me. They search for healing and truth, and I hope and pray that my devotion, experience, and knowledge can serve them well. There is no greater honor in life for me than walking alongside you who are on the road to recovery and suffering.
I have always believed that everything in life is possible…that in spite of barriers and obstacles, we can always achieve our dreams and our goals. Born and raised to an immigrant family and being the son of an air force pilot and presidential candidate, forced our family to learn and live in multiple cities and continents. This made me fortunate to have had a diversified education and to see a world filled with many cultural, social, and spiritual beliefs.
I was also blessed with an amazing teacher, “Kika”, the beautiful soul wearing glasses in the photo above. She saw the potential in me before many others did and taught my class of four students for many years. Most importantly, she helped me realize what I can become. This came true for me after serving in the United Nation’s Multinational Force and Observers stationed in the Sinai Peninsula when I was 16 years old, and then receiving my degree in medicine at 23 years of age.
While serving with the MFO in the Sinai Peninsula, we received the Noble Peace Prize for our peacekeeping work at the border between Egypt and Israel, and for helping “conduct the affairs of nations in a more just and peaceful manner.” Due to the desolation and the remoteness of the region, as well as security concerns, we had little access to the Internet. I spent many nights sleeping in the desert, watching stars in the same area where David defeated Goliath; it is also where I saved a man’s life.
I was waiting at a bus stop in a small village near the city of Be’er Sheva, when I noticed a car and what seemed to be a small fire near its fuel tank. I ran to stop the driver, who was confused initially, grabbed him by his shirt, and pulled him out of the car before it burst into flames. The accident nearly took our lives, but always reminds me that our presence on this Earth can make a difference.
After returning home from deployment, I was ready to pursue my dream of becoming a doctor. I attended the New Granada Military School of Medicine, and was soon providing compulsory medical services in rural, underprivileged areas; this is where I observed a miracle and understood medicine was my calling in life.
It was at San Jose Hospital, located in a rural village situated on the mountains of Colombia, when I attended a 15-year-old patient who was found in labor at only 30 weeks of gestation. The baby was born with underdeveloped lungs as a result of the delivery having many complications; he was unable to breathe. The other attending doctor, who was the Director of the Hospital, believed the baby had no chance of survival and ordered us to not resuscitate. The mother, however, grabbed my arm and pleaded with me to save her child.
Guided by my belief in life and the mother’s wish, I took the baby in my arms to the room used for neonatal resuscitation, going against the doctor’s orders. On the way, my two-day, sleepless nights of work manifested itself through a pain in my chest that radiated throughout my body. At that moment, however, I felt the determination, power, and responsibility to care for this life, and I prayed to the Almighty for the insight and knowledge to handle the situation. With tears in my eyes, I inhaled a deep breath and started to put into practice all my clinical knowledge. I first performed all the basic neonatal CPR procedures I knew. This included the administration of antibiotics, fluids, and other medications via umbilical catheter, and the use of a suctioning machine to aspirate the baby’s airway before doing intubation, as well as the use of a CPAP machine I constructed from buretrol and IV tubing (I have to admit that this was a medical invention taught to me at another rural hospital by a neonatologist). After doing everything I could for this baby, what happened next was truly a miracle. I observed the reflection of God, as he gave the child his first breath of life.
The nurses were in another room with the mother, but they were astonished. They all wanted to know how I was able to use the hospital’s suctioning device, since it had not worked for over eight years. I tried to operate the machine again to show them, but it would not turn on. It was in that moment that I recognized the power of infinite possibilities and that my pursuit of knowledge was going to help save lives. I was able to transfer the baby to a higher level of care, NICU, and the infant survived with no further medical complications. I was told years later that the mother had named him “Andreas”, after me.
Before completing my service at the rural hospital, the patients and residents of the community had collected more than 500 signatures, petitioning the Governor of the State to intervene so that I would be appointed as a permanent attendant.
I always had a strong passion for the clinical work that I do, but I also dreamed of contributing to research. I saw myself working in a place where I would have the opportunity to combine the two fields. After years of gratifying but hard work, I was finally recruited by Baylor College of Medicine, the powerhouse for disease treatments and research.
I started working as a research fellow in urologic oncology, studying the use of TGF-β as a plasma biomarker for predicting prognosis in patients undergoing radical prostatectomy. I also studied the expression of TGF-β, as well as its receptors, in transitional cell carcinoma; our experiments were published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology and Cancer. I remember spending many nights in the laboratory along with my best friend and postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Sharokh Shariat, who has been repeatedly recognized as one of the leading uro-oncologists worldwide, and is currently a professor and the chairman of the Urology Department at the Medical University of Vienna, Austria.
Once I completed the fellowship, I became interested in gene therapy and stem cell biology. I joined Dr. David Shine’s lab to work on CNS tumors, where we studied the delivery of vectors carrying immunomodulatory genes in glioblastomas and the uses of gene therapy to produce tumoricidal effects; I also studied the role of neurotrophic factors in CNS degeneration. At that point, I was working with rats and unfortunately, due to flooding and the inclement tropical storm, I lost months of work when my rats died. I was forced to move into a different area, and I was offered another postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Pediatrics and Cardiovascular Genetics at the Texas Medical Center, working with Dr. Jeffrey Towbin and Dr. / Professor John Belmont, the founders of the first Cardiovascular Genetics Clinic in America. This is where I decided to do a residency in both internal medicine and pediatrics after I developed a special interest for patients with chronic conditions. It was a very competitive program, where again, I was in a class of just four students.
Sadly, before I would graduate, my father developed some health issues related to his prior diagnosis of prostate cancer from 20 years before. I chose to postpone some of my post-graduation goals and spend time with him.
When my dad was told he would only have a few years to live, my mother and I had to look elsewhere for hope. That’s when we started collaborating with experts outside of traditional medicine and delved into the world of alternative medicine. The approach helped my father enjoy more quality years of life and with dignity, which was very important to our family. This was my greatest motivation for studying integrative medicine and I was inspired to expand my medical knowledge.
After traveling to Washington, D.C., I completed a four-year doctorate program at the revolutionary Capital University of Integrative Medicine. From 1996 to 2006, Capital University of Integrative Medicine was the only resident institution of higher education in the United States with a curriculum of widely diverse integrative health therapies. There, I studied with renowned alternative medicine experts, like Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt, leader on autonomic response testing, mental field therapy and natural treatments for Lyme disease, and neural therapy; Dr. Doris Rapp, a pioneer in environmental health; Dr. James Gordon, a Harvard educated psychiatrist and world-renowned expert in using mind-body medicine to heal anxiety, depression, and psychological trauma; Dr. Mark McClure, a biological dentist; Dr. Robert Adkins, known for the famous Adkins Diet; Dr. Robert Bardford, founder of American Biologics and specialist in dark field microscope; and many more!
With years of experience and knowledge, I was ready to build a place of healing for my patients. However, before I opened my integrative practice in Florida, my beautiful mother was diagnosed with dementia.
When the disease began affecting her ability to communicate verbally, my mother discovered an ability to paint (without any formal experience or training). She told us, “it comes to my head without knowing why.” Her work was displayed in museums and published by the Colombian Association of Psychiatry, with her first oil painting used as the cover of their magazine. As her illness progressed, so did her technique, to the point that, as with the painting on the cover, the search for texture through oil was imperative, given the need to recognize what she painted by touch. Her paintings, she would say, “have no title, because that’s what’s in my head above.”
Unfortunately, after my father passed away, my mother’s symptoms worsened as the deterioration of the cells in her brain affected her ability to paint and memory. The portrait of her above was taken by our dear friend, Pepito, during this very challenging time in her life. While she has much to overcome on her journey, it’s when she feels beautiful that she recognizes and understands herself the most. This serves as the inspiration behind our meaningful whole beauty treatments from around the world, which are being performed at my clinic today.
Besides being a doctor for my patients, I also wanted to serve in the military, like my father. After intense sacrifice and training, I now serve as a Lieutenant Commander with the US Navy Reserves and the USMC in Tampa, Florida. I’m currently responsible for the medical readiness of 1,100 marines and sailors, and also one of the few physicians to directly work with the marines in military training camps like Camp Lejune, performing emergency procedures and stabilization of urgent cases. While serving, I have been fortunate to meet some of the most incredible human beings. Their courage, sacrifice, and strength inspire me every day.
My dedication towards my dreams has further given me insight into what my mission in life is and to who I am as an individual. Every day, I am ready to serve as hope for people; interacting, learning, and speaking with individuals and their loved ones, while addressing all aspects of their emotional, mental, and physical health. Along with caring for my dear patients and serving in the military, I am also researching ways to reverse Alzheimer’s and dementia and taking care of my beloved mother. In spite of the barriers and obstacles before us, I live knowing that we can always achieve our dreams and our goals.
Dr. Andreas Grossgold, MD
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