I didn’t choose medicine; It’s my calling. At the age of 2, I left the pediatrician’s office and told my mother that I would be just like him. I had no idea what that meant, but when I got home and told my father, he was filled with joy and corrected me. He said, “you will be like your grandfather.” My paternal grandfather graduated from medical school in 1929 in Havana, Cuba. He helped thousands until he died in 1968. My father told me, “Helping to heal is in your genes”. I didn’t understand what he meant, but I grew up instinctively knowing that our body has an innate ability to heal itself.
In the spring of 2007, I was confronted with a debilitating health challenge. I was a 4th-year medical student diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis (IC), also referred to as painful bladder syndrome. I had ulcerations in my bladder and lived with severe chronic pelvic pain. Conventional urology and urogynecology offered me no hope. I was told: “We don’t know why you have this condition, perhaps it’s triggered by stress. There is no known cure. Few treatments can help you.” I was started on seven different medications. I was offered painful bladder instillations and possible surgery. All therapies had multiple adverse direct effects: anorexia with weight loss, hair loss, fatigue, and joint pains, which eventually led to multiple degenerative joint diseases in my body.
I prayed every day for a cure. I prayed for wisdom. I researched my condition and stumbled upon Hippocrates’s quote, “Let Food Be Thy Medicine.”
If this was true, why did I only receive 2 weeks of nutrition in medical school? Reading this quote was my turning point. I discovered that nutrition could help with IC. I started an elimination diet, and I sought other integrative modalities: acupuncture, cranial-sacral therapy with somato-emotional releases, pelvic rehabilitation, grounding, meditation, homeopathy, aromatherapy, etc. You name it, and I tried it. I was on a mission to heal myself because my mentors and the medicine that I was being formally trained in was failing me.
I reversed my condition and all symptoms in 18 months. I went back to my specialists to share my success and was told I was misdiagnosed with a severely overactive bladder. Shame on them!
A.P. Still, the one who founded my osteopathic profession taught me that our body has an innate ability to self-heal, and I proved it. I removed my bucket of toxicity and let my immune system do its job. The most important lesson I learned was that to heal physically, I had to heal spiritually, mentally, and emotionally.
Just like my grandfather, I pursued a family medicine residency and later a geriatric fellowship. A few years into practice, I became disillusioned with the practice of medicine. I was mainly seeing unsuccessful models of aging and only a few successful models of aging. I wanted to help those that weren’t doing well or at least help my very old and frail achieve a better quality of life. I decided to return to school and formally learn how to help patients heal the way I did years earlier.
I started with The Institute of Functional Medicine, and since, I have attended countless forums, conferences, and private mentorships.
By 2015, I transitioned from practicing conventional care and opened my first clinic in Functional Medicine: Panacea BioMedical Institute.