One hot day in August 2015, I walked into an elevator and something unexpected happened. I was in Houston, TX at the Texas Medical Center. When I entered one of the many elevators at the large medical complex, I was faced with a woman holding a bag containing a bulky load. Inside the bag, she was carrying a load of colorful vegetables. Another individual standing in the elevator noticed as well and asked, “is there a Whole Foods market nearby?” To which the woman answered, “No, I was just at my doctor and this is the prescription my doctor sent me home with.”
Many of us are more familiar with the doctor experience where we walk out of the office with a slip of paper prescribing a certain kind of medicine for a pill, potion, or lotion – but a bag of vegetables? How…brilliant. Dr. Joe Galati has decided to take a different approach to healthcare and transformation, one that doesn’t just address symptoms of a larger problem, but one that hits at the crux of the issue. His approach has always been about helping educate patients so they make better choices for their bodies. As a result, they prevent bigger problems, improve their quality of life and transform their health.
I’ve met many doctors and many of them are good at what they do. But Dr. Joe Galati is a horse of a different color. Instead of merely instructing what it is his patients should do, he provides the resources needed and shows them what they should do. He’s been responsible for changing the lives of hundreds of individuals taking this unconventional and yet, effective and logical approach to helping others improve their health.
How Unconventional Paths Can Make Us Better
How Dr. Galati practices medicine can likely be attributed to his educational journey. Having wanted to be a physician since the age of five, Galati arrived at college prepared to follow the standard path for students heading to medical school. When the time came to take the MCAT however, that process started to get bumpy. After retaking the MCAT for the fourth time, he applied to medical schools, interviewed with several, was waitlisted at some, and would ultimately be rejected from each one. He then decided to approach international schools and would eventually attend a medical school on the island of Grenada in 1983, only to witness an invasion soon thereafter. Was he just not meant to be a physician, he wondered? He persisted though and did well in school, going on to attend one of the top residency programs in the US and top programs for additional training.
It’s no wonder his practice of medicine is unconventional, yet effective. His own personal journey was unconventional, yet incredibly effective. But isn’t that the story of many of the most successful people around us? It’s the unconventional routes, the diversions that make us better. Dr. Galati is now at the pinnacle of his career overseeing one of the finest liver transplant programs in the country.
So often we are faced with what seems to be a public opinion or obstacle that stands in the way of something we seek to accomplish. It’s during these moments where we’re faced to either accept that opinion, get discouraged or forge our own alternative path.
Pushing Forward Against All Odds
Dr. Galati’s journey reminds me of the infamous “Hillary Step” mountaineering story. On May 28, 1953. It was twenty-five degrees below zero Fahrenheit. Altitude: 27,500 feet. Two men, Edmund Hillary, a beekeeper from New Zealand, and Tenzing Norgay, a mountaineer from Nepal, pitched a tent in preparation for their next milestone. The following morning, after a freezing, sleepless night, they left high camp and proceeded to climb. Fighting through snow, winding along a ridgeline with drops of over 3,330 feet on either side, they scrambled up steep, rocky steps and navigated a sloping snowfield on their way to the world’s highest peak.
Wedging himself into a crack in the mountain face with the summit in sight, Hillary inched himself up to what was thereafter known as the Hillary Step. He threw down a rope, and Norgay followed. At 11:30 a.m. on May 29, 1953, the climbers stood on the top of the world and did what eleven prior expeditions failed to do. They achieved what had been considered the unachievable. Since that historic day, more than four thousand people have scaled their way 29,035 feet above sea level to the summit of Mount Everest.
The event stunned the world and inspired many people to seek goals beyond their wildest imaginations. The story is about ordinary people achieving the extraordinary. It’s also a lesson on cause and effect, risk and reward, conflict and triumph. Asked about the significance of this remarkable accomplishment, Hillary humbly said, “It’s not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.”
They didn’t give up, just as Dr. Galati hadn’t. Against all odds, in both of these examples, paths were forged that led to greater heights, greater achievements. Consider the obstacles that threatened to derail you or force you off the path to where you want to go. Perhaps it’s time to take an alternative – maybe unconventional – route. It’s those unexpected delays and detours that will create the person you’re meant to be.
For those seeking to treat liver disease, they are indeed grateful Dr. Galati persevered. To this day, Dr. Galati still hands out approximately 10 pounds of vegetables each day, recently surpassing the “ton” mark – 2,000 pounds given to patients to help transform their lives. Hear more inspirational stories of transformation by tuning in live on 77WABC radio at https://www.wabcradio.com. You can also listen on demand at either https://chuckgarcia.com/77wabc-radio/ or https://soulmatter.co/a-climb-to-the-top.