I arrived in the UK in 1989, pregnant, with 2 suitcases and £200, all that we owned in the world carried in our hands through Heathrow immigration and into our new lives. I had met my English husband whilst travelling, in Australia, under a blood red sky in the build up of the rainy season in Darwin, 16 degrees from the equator. Bathed in the steamy humidity of sultry skies we met and fell into a passionate love that brought me from Canada through Oz, NZ, throughout Asia and finally to England.
We ended up in Oxford, for Hubby to do his undergraduate course, and whilst he birthed his degree I had the babies, "Irish twins", only 16 months apart. They were fantastic years, unbelievably challenging, living on a student grant, raising children within the context of only just beginning our own adult lives. We took whatever work we could find, bar jobs, babysitting, I taught part time English at a language college, we both took summer jobs, juggling so that one of us could always be home with the babies.
During those years I also had to learn to cook, and as my skills grew so did my reputation for my cakes. By the second year I began to sell my cakes to local delis and cafés and within a short time had over 12 clients who I baked for throughout the week. It was a perfect solution to being able to generate an income whilst still being an at-home mum. We were not rich, (laughing! poor as freakin church mice) yet we always managed to have fabulous experiences within the context of needing to scrimp and economise.
After graduating, as Hubby took his first career steps, I kept on baking up a storm and devoting myself into the world of little people. I look back on those years as time of great joy, what a privilege to be an at-home mum, but I also remember it as a time of very great challenge.
I had birthed my first child in March, was pregnant in July, miscarried in Sept and was pregnant again in October (no wonder I do Fertility for a living!). The toll this took on my health was intense, and throughout all of this time I was very much seeking the kind of care that would bring me back into a full recovery. It was during these years that I began to self-study in earnest the benefits of food as medicine, learning how to support my immune deficiencies through corrective diet.
5 months pregnant with number two, I was still nursing 12 month old number one, and I was on my knees. I had still not fully recovered from my autoimmune issues that had cost me my riding career, and I was in a constant state of allergy, quite underpowered to be coping with such back to back reproduction.
It was during this time that I was introduced to a woman who truly set me on my road to recovery, a wonderful chiropractor named Ali Gordon-Creed who was sorting out my wonky rib cage that gave me constant shoulder and back pain. It was so bad that I had trouble carrying my own babies, no slings or baby backpacks for me, and breastfeeding would leave me in absolute agony, pain so bad I could not sleep. Thank goodness Hubby was such a genius with his shoulder massages, he nursed me through some tearful times.
And then Ali sent me to the acupuncturist she worked with, Lorraine da Luz Vieira, who helped to revolutionise my health and cemented my ambitions for my own career pathway. Having had an introduction to Chinese Medicine in Singapore I was already a big fan and already knew that this is what I wanted most to study, but at this stage had had very little exposure to acupuncture bar my one miracle cure experience. The baby-train was all consuming and was the only priority in front of me. I had set aside all my own ambitions in order to just focus on mothering my children. My dreams were on hold.
I went to my first session with Lorraine with open mind and open heart and great excitement. I was happily blown away - from the very first needle I could feel the transformative power of what this medicine could bring me.
And so I entered into a 3 year course of rehabilitative treatment moving seamlessly from an Ali session to a Lorraine session as between these two marvellous practitioners they straightened my ribs, hips, spine and shoulders and helped to reorganise my energetic structure to re-build my immune systems, re-building me up from the deep depletion of my too-close pregnancies.
Over the course of these years both Ali and Lorraine unstintingly supported me and not only cared for me with their clinical skills but they also brought me the mother sister aunty support that I so lacked with all my family being so far far away in Canada and NZ. They nurtured me, they mothered the mother.
In those three years, as we managed the raising our growing family on an undergraduate student grant, these two women allowed me to pay them in kind, doing whatever I could do to pay for their clinical support - babysitting their children, baking cakes for them, cooking, cleaning, whatever I could do to in some way pay - I would always somehow find a bit of cash or find the time to do a deed to recompense their kindness.
For THREE YEARS these two wonderful women walked me back into health, step by step helping me to re-build my immune system, taking me to a place of being allergy free, to a place without shoulder pain, recovering from the toll of my back-to-back pregnancies and into a place where I felt grounded and in my own body in a way that I had not felt since the onset of my autoimmune complications which had began at the age of 15.
Never once did they ask me for their full fee. Never once did they put a price on the constant support they gave me. Never once did they feel that any of the small tokens of repayment that were all that I could offer were ever too small a price for the gift of their treatments.
And all my career long I have ever Paid It Forward. If ever a person in need has come into my clinic who cannot afford the fees then I too will always offer the support that Ali and Lorraine gave to me so unstintingly, and any time I can support someone I will (drives my accountant barmy!), for the debt of honour I owe to them may never be truly repaid other than to keep on paying it forward. And all the patients who I have helped on this basis know this story and they too repay it forward, always using their time and kindness to pay it further forward in our chain of support.
This little story is homage to Ali and Lorraine, for they set me on the path that has led to the development of a practice that supports women, supports men, supports couples, supports families, working to find all the ways to enhance the ability to manage the tremendous stresses and strains involved in conception and childbirthing, recovery and parenting, all in the context of step by step pathways to better health.
At the heart of my practice lies their true-heart kindness, and my work is always striving to be an embodiment of the unstinting generosity of support that these two women gave to me. Their gift to me is genuine health.