This morning i woke up to an email stating that with a push from the Medical Assosciation, the TGA have decided to 'review' the Practitioner status of Naturopaths and other Natural Medicine Practitioners. If it goes through, as a Naturopath i will no longer be allowed access to Research, Practitioner-Strength products, or Pathology Testing.
I am torn between feeling disheartened and angry. Why is it that modalities which clearly help people on a daily basis, must be pushed beyond their limits and not allowed to practice freely? I thought this would actually be a fitting time to share my own personal journey, and the reasons i chose this profession in the first place:
From the day i was born, the Western Medical model had no answers for me. I was born with my feet and legs 'turned badly inward (think pigeon-toed but far worse). Straight away, without testing, my parents were told that their first born child had Cerebral Palsy- a physical disability. The only treatment they could offer was to place my legs and feet in plaster casts and calipers, and hope that they 'grew straight' with a bit of twisting encouragement.
After a short time the diagnosis of CP had been cleared, but still this 'physical deforment' had them baffled. Naturally, i was in pain all the time so could not sleep. I cried all the time. My mother was at her wits end.
I was then taken to a 'musculoskeletal specialist', who brainstormed the idea of cutting my achilles tendons and hamstrings, manually stretching them into place, and then re-stitching them. There was a 20% chance id ever walk, and a fair possibility id be in a wheelchair. And i wasn't even 6mnths old yet.
Lucky for me i have parents who always ask questions, so after the news that this was the 'only effective option', i was taken to a Practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine (or Quack, as my father preferred to call him) for a second opinion. He apparently took one look at me, demanded that the plaster came off my feet, and that i needed to have a solid stretching routine, as often as possible. . and so my parents began stretching my legs.
From as far back as i can remember as a child, my legs ached. If i had done anything more than a walk during the day, i would lie in bed all night crying from the pain. I also walked on my toes until i was 12, because i couldn't get my heels down. I just wasnt able to.
The only thing our GP could offer is Painkillers. But they didnt help at all.
One other thing that was prevalent throughout my childhood was chronic eczema. If i wasnt lying awake in pain from my legs, id be driven mad by my skin- everywhere you could see, was bright red and inflamed. Naturally, this gave my confidence a battering as well.
For what seemed like a lifetime, i was placed on Painkillers and Steroid creams to reduce the redness and swelling of my skin. I was completely reliant on them.
When i was 6yrs old, my mum took me to a Naturopath who suggested i make some dietary changes to help my skin. As a 6yr old i bucked, and with mum not knowing any better, the whole family fell back into regular routines pretty quickly. Nothing changed.
I was encouraged to start playing sport at a very young age, mostly for my leg 'condition'. The stretching and running around of Netball helped a lot, but i still recall many nights of solid pain- not to mention the embarrassment of having to wear a netball skirt with my legs covered in eczema.
In my mid teens i had had enough. We had tried every cream known to man and then some.. The logic in me was sure that there was 'something more' to this story. Something i could change. I changed my diet dramatically, and discovered that my skin would clear up a bit. Not entirely, but better than id ever seen it. In time my legs were no longer sore-to-touch and i was getting a night here and there where i wasnt woken from the pain. I thought i was onto something.
Year 12 came, and due to the extreme workload i resorted back to the diet i had prior. This time my skin didn't go crazy, but after Year 12 I hit a wall. Chronic fatigue set in. I would sleep 19hrs per day, easily, and all the GP could suggest was putting me on Antidepressants.
I had to put my Education on hold and simply try and survive. Every day was a struggle.
The day i knew i had to find it in me to make the changes i remember distinctly. I was sitting in a lounge chair staring out the window at a Blackbird. It moved. I was devistated! My entire world had been rocked because i bird skipped about 15cm. Wow.
In the background of all this, i had begun studying a Naturopathic Degree, and was also working part time at a Naturopathic Clinic. (actually for the naturopath who consulted me when i was 6yrs old). I gathered all i had and approached both avenues for answers, knowing something had to change and fast.
With the right guidance, dietary changes were suggested to me again, as well as a small regime of minerals and herbs to help correct any imbalances. Within 6mnths the pain in my legs had completely subsided, and for the first time in my life i could bend enough to actually touch my toes! I could also get my heels on the ground.
My skin cleared up and has remained so ever since.
The fatigue took about 12mnths to really come good, but once it did there was no stopping me.. to this day i struggle to find people who can keep up!
Without this industry both myself and my family would never have been educated enough to make the changes required for me to live a 'normal life'. My Chronic Eczema turned out to be a dairy intolerance; What was once-diagnosed as a severe physical disability and 'Cerebral Palsy', turned out to be a massive mineral deficiency, driven by that dairy intolerance; My 'Chronic Fatigue' turned out to be major 'adrenal fatigue' caused by a dietary imbalance and years of stress brought on by my childhood illnesses and self-consciousness...
I know of many more stories just like mine, but the sad part is they are just that, 'stories'. In this country there is an ever-growing push for evidence-based research, which is virtually IMPOSSIBLE to do with a whole living organism. You can NOT control all aspects of a persons' body in order to test just one parameter. Its impossible by definition.
The Natural Medicine Industry has the most common-sense approach to healing i have ever come across. I only hope that the money hungry bench-sitters will one day open their eyes and realize what value we can bring to the healthcare industry.
Thanks for letting me share. :)