From Asa A., Toronto
Before I became a mother in 2001, I had a mostly conventional approach to health and medicine, thinking it was not in my hands. The birth of my first daughter was a profoundly life changing moment. I came to it with an open mind and all my natural instincts kicked in. I was at a small hospital in Sweden and had a wonderful, supportive midwife who showed me her complete confidence in my ability to give birth. When the sun set towards the end of the birth she didn't turn the lights on or call on the team, which often happens in hospital settings, but allowed me to give birth naturally in half dusk, with only her and my husband in the room. It was the most beautiful and empowering experience I had ever had, and it left me in complete awe of the innate ability of my body and mind to deal with pain and hardship. This overwhelmingly positive birth experience not only set the tone for and gave me a wonderful start at motherhood, which I was able to embrace with confidence and joy, but it was also my first powerful encounter with natural health.
A few months after the birth of my third child in 2005, I had a health crisis. I lost all my energy, was depleted and depressed and had severe pain and stiffness in my spine and hips. I showed all the symptoms of AS, Ankylosing Spondylitis, an auto-immune condition I knew well since my father has suffered from it since his twenties. Subsequent blood work confirmed that I had the gene and that the diagnoses probably was right. Shortly after, I moved with my family to Toronto for my husband to take up a postdoc at University of Toronto. I was in a bad shape and had a hard time even getting out of bed in the morning. Caring for three young children was a monumental task in my condition, and I knew I had to find a solution. I also knew I didn't want to take the same route as my father who has relied on painkillers and other medication to get him through the day. Happily, I had landed in the right place. While Sweden has very strict regulations regarding alternative health, Toronto's natural health scene was blooming. I found a Naturopath who set me up with a clean diet and supplements, and I started going to a student acupuncture clinic on College Street. Within a couple days I started regaining my mobility and my pain decreased significantly. Perhaps the most important part was my new found hope of recovery. My father's belief that "this disease runs its' own course" was not mine, and I felt empowered to pursue a different health journey. Over the years that followed I pursued a number of health modalities for me and my family and adjusted our diet(s) many times over. Over the ten years that followed I was helped by chiropractor care, osteopathy, acupuncture, EFT, and NAET. I also tried some homeopathic remedies over the years. I found the homeopathic topical creams very powerful, but the world of internal remedies was more mystifying. My then three-year old daughter was suffering from side-effects from vaccines and one summer I took her to a homeopath. After much deliberation he prescribed the remedy Mercurius vivus. Over the course of a few weeks her symptoms (weak digestion, a bloated, distended stomach with intense pain and diarrhea, lots of perspiration, weakness etc) disappeared and she was even back on track on her growth chart. The change was so profound, but also so gradual and natural that I realised that it was her own body that was doing the healing. By the time we came back for a second visit I had almost forgotten how sick she had been.
Over the years I have found some go-to homeopathic and household remedies for my family. Arnica for falls and bruises, Apis for bee stings. Belladonna helped one daughter's problems with bedwetting. Dr Reckeweg's R1 as well as raw onions, garlic, honey, chicken soup and other house hold remedies have taken me through many nights of ear ache and fevers in my six children. There has been a lot of hit-and-miss, but it has always been inspiring when it works, and we haven't been needing any antibiotics or prescription medication for the past ten years in our family. The best reaction in my children has always been "What headache?" after asking them how they feel an hour or two later. This is a similar reaction to the one I had when asked about my daughter's symptoms at the revisit to the homeopath.
My sixteen years of mothering six children have changed and influenced me in so many ways. My original life plan was to have a few children while I finished my studies, and then go out and have a fun and self-satisfying career, in academia or journalism. But once I had a few children I was a changed person. I was someone who cared deeply about my family's health and wellbeing and took that job very seriously. I am naturally curious and have an inquisitive mind, and my children's health, due to some vaccine injuries as well as more regular childhood ailments, always challenged me to find and pursue solutions to find their health again. Since we have been helped by so many different modalities, it has taken me some years to figure out in which way I could combine my interests in health and healing into a possible career. For a while I thought of becoming an osteopath. The hands-on approach is a familiar one for a mother. My last encounter with homeopathy however, convinced me in a different direction. My eleven-year old son came home from summer camp with a huge, infected, poison ivy rash on his leg and a face that was completely swollen. A homeopath gave him the right remedies and the swelling started going down in her office. He recovered completely within a week. The holistic approach of homeopathy resounds with my own experience of caring for sick children. It is not just body or mind, and it is not just one body part, it is one whole. I have been known for keeping my children home from school for minor things and "mental health" days but when paying attention to their energy, it's possible to catch some things early enough that sickness does not occur at all. As a parent you can listen, watch and observe, feel for temperature as well as evaluate the feedback and clues you get while caring for them. It reminds me of the philosophy of homeopathy. What ultimately draws me to the homeopathic study is the combination of rigorous academics and clinical training. I have a deep desire to learn everything about homeopathy and to be of use in the health field in the future.