What do you want your health for?

To be able to walk without pain.
To go on a hike once again.
To be able to pursue my career and provide for my son.

“It’s bad news. You will need surgery.”

It was the summer of 2010. My son and I had galavanted through Europe and we had finally arrived in Karachi to visit my parents. As pleasurable as that trip had been it was marred by the excruciating pain in my right ankle. My college friend, an orthopedist in Karachi ordered an MRI and now stood outside my parents’ home giving me the bad news. He suggested that I return to the US for the surgery.

Back home and three orthopedic consultations later the verdict was the same. Surgery gave me a 50% chance of being pain free. But I would most likely need a hip replacement 10 years there after.

The pain in my right angle began in earnest when I was about 30 years old. I changed my diet and became a vegetarian. I took supplements to reduce inflammation. Having grown up in Pakistan, I had learned from my grandmother the salubrious effects of spices and how best to use them. I tried acupuncture with efficacy but nothing really stuck. I have practiced yoga since the age of 18 years which I continued. I kept going. The pain would start about an hour and a half into my work day. With lots of ibuprofen I got through my day limping. But my story really starts much earlier than that.

I was born with bilateral clubfeet. My parents were told that I would be a cripple and never walk. My mother was plunged into a deep depression and cried every time she saw me. So she just stopped looking. When I was about six months old, a visiting orthopedist from England offered some hope. He agreed to try corrective surgery. Multiple surgeries later by the age of three years I was walking.

Embedded in that paragraph is another story. One of childhood trauma, bound feet and pain both physical and emotional. I learned to dissociate, to cut myself off from my pain body.

By the sheer power of my will I powered through life. I became a doctor, got married and came to the US.

But the body doesn’t lie nor does it forget. As I was turning 30 my marriage started disintegrating which is when the pain returned. The divorce had pulled the rug right out from under me and I was left with not a leg to stand on.

So back to the summer of 2010 at the mention of surgery all my childhood terrors were activated.

I started seeing a bioenergetic therapist to make sense of my childhood trauma. I began to understand the reason why a physical problem with my ankle was triggering so much mental anguish.

It was around that same time that I read about Rolfing. Rolfing is a form of body work the aims to produce structural re-integration and alignment. I clearly needed that but what I was not prepared for was the emotional memories that arose after each session. Ever so slowly, little by little my pain receded. Bioenergetics and meditation helped me to release locked up trauma and pain and allowed me to stitch together my mind, body and spirit. With the addition of energy healing I was able to walk sure footed again.

And so my journey continues. As I walk the halls of the hospital I meet kindred souls everywhere.
The bleeding ulcer from not being able to say no.
The intractable headache of anger that dare not be expressed.
The lupus flare of self-hatred.
The cancers of shame.
The broken heart from feeling never good enough.

The list goes on. We have all been touched by life. Our bodies tell the tale. The good news is that the healer lies within us. Suffering is not our destiny.

Integration implies two processes. The integration of all aspects of ourselves, mind, body and energy, and the incorporation of carefully selected non Western modalities into traditional care to facilitate healing.

So now I ask you the question. What do you want your health for?

— Sabiha Pasha, M.D.

2 Comments on “My Personal Journey

  1. Stumbled onto your page while I was looking to connect with physicians in the pursuit of incorporating more integrative medicine philosophy into their practice. Loved reading your story, thank you for sharing your journey. As a graduating medical student, I think it is so important to connect with mentors in the community that I feel the most connected to (integrative medicine). Dr.Pasha, I’m wondering if I may connect with you via email? Please let me know!


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