I lived for 11 years with chronic pain. Toward the end my general surgery residency, I developed pain in my forearms from performing operations—radial tunnel syndrome. It was so bad that my right hand became paralyzed. I went through all the conventional medical treatments; nothing helped. I was despondent. Not only was I suffering–unable to sleep, drive a car or even push the remote control for the TV–but all the years of training and all the degrees would be for nothing if I couldn’t get back the functions of my hands and move them again. How would I make a living, much less pay off the hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans I had accumulated getting to this point, if I couldn’t finish my training? I had wanted to be a doctor since I was 4 or 5 years old. Technically, I could practice medicine (had my MD) but pragmatically, I was stuck because I couldn’t be a surgeon without that final 14 months of training. What was I going to do with my life?
In the midst of that turmoil, frustration, and pain, a friend suggested that I try acupuncture. Not only did it help my pain, but it gave me an outlet for my emotional suffering, confusion, and disbelief. I began to read about it and eventually fell in love with it. It became the beginning of my passion for caring for people using a harmonized, balanced system of a variety of forms of medical care—conventional and unconventional. The more I studied these “outside the box” interventions, I found them to be potent compatriots to “regular” medicine.
Eventually, I founded Chicago Healing Center and gradually expanded the practice to include a wide range of clinicians and a community acupuncture clinic. However, walking away from general surgery also meant leaving another dream of being a medical educator in an academic center. In 2018, I got the opportunity to try on working at a medical school full time. Like a pair of shoes that you think you want but then get them home and on your feet and they blister and hurt, academic medicine was just not for me. I love teaching but didn’t love the expectation of a 60-hour work week, the undervaluation, the sexual harassment, or the culture. So after a bit of time off to catch my breath, I am back in Chicago and doing what I love best: holistic, integrative patient care.
(If you’re not a story person and would rather have an abbreviated list of my credentials and training–not including hundreds of hours of continuing medical education courses–click here.)
About the Medicines
When I first opened Chicago Healing Center in 2012, my practice was largely centered on integrating the 2,300+ years old philosophy of traditional East Asian medicine with conventional medicine.
I then learned about integrative medicine and later began studying culinary medicine, functional foods, and manual manipulation as adjuncts.
Over the past 3 years, I have added many supplements and nutraceuticals to my knowledge base as I have been studying homeopathy and functional medicine.
I now use all of these techniques to provide an integrative, evidence-based, scientifically-founded approach to holistic care that fuses eastern and western, natural and pharmaceutical, conventional and unconventional medical philosophy, remedies, and interventions.
What’s with the name change from “Leslie” to “Sina”?
My first and middle names are the first names of my parents. When I turned 50, I wanted to claim a name of my own. Historically, I have gone by my middle name and wanted to eliminate that confusion: in the medical profession, it’s been an ongoing problem. For similar reasons, changing my name entirely as a doctor would be…not impossible, but close. So I had to get creative.
My first name is “Clasina” and going by a shortened version of that, by “Sina,” seemed a way to name myself without losing my connection to the first 50+ years of my life, my family, and my personhood. But first I wanted to investigate the meaning of this new word that would possibly become my identity.
When I learned about a Persian physician Avicenna (Ibn Sina), I was hooked on the idea of this name. He is known for bridging eastern and western medical philosophies, being a prolific educator and writer, and having a wide range of interests (astronomy, alchemy, physics, poetry, psychology, etc.). His “The Canon of Medicine” is a medical textbook, while his “Book of Healing” is more concerned with bridging science and philosophy, including metaphysics, logic and natural sciences. He sounds like my kind of guy.
My own educational journey is similarly a mish-mash of different interests. I have degrees in (or have spent years studying) literature, organic chemistry, physiology and biophysics, medical education, surgical education, acupuncture and traditional East Asian medicine, herbal medicine, homeopathy, integrative medicine, functional medicine, and culinary medicine. The cross pollinating of eastern and western philosophy and medicine is my jam and finding someone who was also deeply passionate about this gives me a touch-point of connection to larger human history, while still maintaining a connection to my family of origin. I think “Sina” fits me perfectly, and I hope you’ll find the transition to my new name as easy and natural as I have.