I’m Chief Resident, doing my residency when I get the tragic news. Padma, my beloved younger sister, has taken her own life at a young age of 27. My world collapses in an instant. I loved my sister with all my heart. And part of my overwhelming pain is feeling that I failed to be able to help her. It shakes my faith in conventional medicine and I want to drop out of residency.
We grew up in an impoverished village in India, and moved to America when I was six. Padma was a perfect child, yet at 17 she was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type. My father, a highly esteemed doctor, got the best specialists available to help her, no doubt. Yet it wasn’t enough to keep her from taking her own life.
Padma seemed to improve, and with the support of our family, she was able to finish college, graduate, and prepare to embark on adult life. Suddenly, on September 11, 2001, there was a brutal attack on the World Trade Center; she was both triggered and traumatized to the core. She lost her faith in humanity. Six days later, she took her own life.
Padma, in Sanskrit means “lotus flower”.
The lotus grows only in murky water, hidden from both light and sight. However, it rises and reaches for the sun. When it blooms, it emerges from the darkness with unparalleled beauty and complexity. It floats on the still somber water with fearlessness and fortitude, demonstrating the power and tenacity of life. When its purpose is fulfilled, it retreats into the depths of its birth place and fades. But its imprint on the world is enduring.
I believe Padma was a true lotus, and as part of her purpose, she helped awaken me to mine. My purpose is to both fix and heal my patients, addressing the “cells” and the “soul.” I keep a photo of Padma in my office, always reminding me of her, and what I’m on Earth to do.
Today, I don’t just look at my patient’s labs or their complaints. I look deeper. I look for the root cause, the deepest Why? I look at what they are eating, what they may have been exposed to, or what they have endured. I help them address their health in a preventative way, and in a functional way so they can be healthier and happier.
Gowri Reddy Rocco, M.D., is double board-certified in Family Medicine and in Regenerative, Anti-Aging and Functional Medicine. Known by her patients as The Wellness Warrior, she’s been practicing medicine for more than 20 years and is the Founder and President of Optimum Wellness & Longevity in Corona, California. Dr. Gowri Rocco has a successful practice alongside her husband, Dr. Robert Rocco, and is the proud mother of three amazing children.