For those of you who don’t know me…I am a naturopath, nutritionist, medical herbalist, yoga teacher and life coach so I guess that makes me a personal development junkie and a complete nerd.  I have been a police officer, schoolteacher and yoga teacher before I really decided to turn to the dark side and become a naturopath.

I thought today I would share the reason I became a naturopath.

Back in 2008, I was teaching yoga part time whilst also bringing up my 4-year-old daughter and my 15-month-old son. For some reason, my son decided it would be fun to swallow a padlock…yes I did say padlock! The small one attached to my daughter’s diary.    

He choked, I did the whole first aid thing but he was still hysterical and nothing had come out. I took him to the local A & M and was seen by a GP, straight out of training. She told me that there was nothing wrong him and that I was being overly dramatic! I asked her for an x-ray just to be sure and she refused. She told me he had viral tonsillitis and to take some antibiotics. I had questions – I had heard that you shouldn’t take antibiotics if it was viral – she told me it was a preventative; I asked if it was possible that he could have a normal oxygen saturation rate if the ‘thing’ he choked on was lodged in his food pipe rather than his air pipe, she told me I didn’t know what I was talking about and that she was the expert. I started to doubt myself, maybe I was wrong, maybe he hadn’t choked…I took him feeling told off and stupid.  My gut told me otherwise but I didn’t listen.

4 days later, my son was still distressed, he was back to eating baby food and was losing weight. My gut was telling that something was wrong. I saw my GP and told her what had happened, she watched him drink water, she checked his oxygen and she looked down his throat. She told me he was fine. I told her he was not. Thank God she listened to me and gave me a referral to Starship children’s A & E and sent me there immediately.

For the 4 hours, I saw countless medical professionals who did physical examinations and told me he was fine. I stood my ground and refused to leave until they X-rayed him. I waited patiently for 2 hours in the radiology department, watching people come and go. I then lost the plot and started shouting that I wasn’t going to leave EVER until he was x-rayed. Eventually a radiologist came out to find out what all the noise was about I told her how long I had been waiting and she saw me immediately. After the first x-ray, she came running up to me and said ‘don’t let him lie down’. ‘Why?’  ‘Because he has a padlock stuck in his oesophagus’. I won’t repeat what I said, but it was very, very rude!  

He was then rushed into surgery. We were told it would be a quick 10 minute surgery to whip it out. 1 hour later, my husband (who had joined me by this time) and I were still waiting and I knew something had turned to custard. We were then informed that the padlock had become lodged in the membrane and had broken up…they had planned to cut his throat as they were struggling to remove it via his mouth but at the last moment had managed it, unfortunately ripping his oesophagus whilst removing it.

So to cut a long story short, we spent the next month living in Starship. It was the singularly most stressful experience I have ever had.  Because I was stressed, I couldn’t pump my breast milk so my son was going to have to have formula. I told the dietician that he couldn’t have dairy because it made him vomit. She told me that as I hadn’t had him tested he would be fine. I disagreed and she told me that I didn’t know what I was talking about. I kept quiet, even though my gut told me different.   Guess what – they gave him dairy formula and he vomited continuously, he became dehydrated, he had to move to intensive care because he was aspirating and at risk of pneumonia. His colon swelled up and he was losing a dangerous amount of weight. I lost the plot again. I refused to let them feed him the formula and bought a soy formula instead…the vomiting stopped (on his notes they wrote he must have had an infection). Then he was given lactulose as a laxative. I asked the doctor what was in it, ‘Sounds like dairy’. ‘No’, he said ‘It does not contain dairy’. My gut said it did, but I listened to the doctor. They gave it to him and he vomited again. He was so bad he need IV electrolytes. I Googled lactulose – guess what it contained – bloody dairy.  I lost the plot once again…I had by this time got myself a reputation for being ’difficult’.  I decided to take my son home and care for him there.  It was not easy to convince them to let me take him home but I think they were glad to see the back of me. Within 24 hours, of darkened rooms and proper sleep he started to put weight on and looked well.

I was already a hobby herbalist and interested in nutrition. I decided I wanted to study nutrition and medicine basically so I would have the confidence to argue with dieticians and doctors but because I was also a bit of a hippy I decided I would study naturopathic medicine instead of mainstream medicine.

Don’t get me wrong – I am not medicine bashing. Without the doctors and nurses at Starship my son would have died – he certainly had a few moments where I held my breath but I learnt a lesson I have never forgotten – to always listen to my gut. It has never ever let me down.   Those in authority don’t always get it right, they don’t always know and your intuition is a powerful thing.  Don’t ever be scared to stand up for your intuition.

I did make a complaint to the Health & Disability Commission which was upheld and I was given a written apology and an offer to meet the original GP.  I thought it safer for her if I didn’t.

I enrolled to study naturopathy and haven’t looked back.  It is very true that challenging and sometimes traumatic experiences can be life changing. They can steer you into a completely different direction. I will always be grateful for that situation because I would not be on the path I am now.

Whilst my original reason was to gain the confidence to have arguments and for the sheer fun of it, I found I absolutely love being a naturopath. My WHY has now changed. Now I am a naturopath because I LOVE working with women and seeing them transform from feeling held back by their symptoms to living the life they really want.  I help women go from feeling yuk to yay…and nothing beats that!  

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