Pesky ear infections
My first experience of Osteopathy was nearly twenty years ago when my young son Max was constantly beset with ear infections. A friend recommended a Cranial Osteopath as I couldn’t stand the endless rounds of antibiotics. I was utterly delighted when Max was cured in a single visit.
Toby was another story!
Shortly after that in 1997, my 3 month old baby Toby was diagnosed with a rare and incurable renal cancer resulting in Great Ormond Street Hospital removing his kidney and later further tumours leaving him with a mighty scar on his left flank. His oncologists created a lengthy treatment protocol of massive chemo and radiotherapy which rendered him barely able to stand and suffering from myriad complicated medical conditions, one of which resulted in brittle and broken bones.
Miraculously he reached the age of two and a few gentle Cranial treatments helped to settle his damaged system.
It’s all Greek to me
All was well when we moved to Athens, Greece in 2002 when the boys were 6 and 7. Toby terrified his overly-cautious teachers at the British Embassy school by zipping along the monkey bars like he owned them! He also loved hanging out at the top of olive trees.
Fast forward to 2008 and Parvo virus was rife. Toby caught it and couldn’t seem to get better. A trip to the Paediatrician and E100 later, she confirmed that he had a persistent cough and recommended he borrow Max’s inhaler to alleviate it.
Two days later, I saw his usually skinny legs were swollen to bursting point and within minutes had him seen at a private hospital. Suddenly, we were being whizzed through the night by ambulance to the Onassis Heart Hospital and straight into ICU. Devastatingly, Toby was quickly diagnosed with serious heart failure and a week later he suffered a massive stroke.
GOSH to the rescue
After two months in hospital in Athens, I literally begged GOSH to take him back for the heart transplant that he urgently needed. This vital service is not available to children in Greece and other tiny children were sent home to their destiny. Toby and I thankfully repatriated to the UK with just one suitcase and zoomed fast from Heathrow to HDU.
So thorough are the GOSH doctors, that they managed to stabilise Toby and I agreed to see if he could wait a few months for a new heart. He was only 12 years old.
Upon settling back in West London, my friend Anne Wright used gentle treatments to bring Toby back to an incredible standard of health. The stroke had left him with some cognitive and processing difficulties, scoliosis, right side hemiplegia and distonia. Sometimes, he would come to me and say, “Mum I think I need a top-up” and after some Cranial, his energy would visibly improve.
GOSH continued to keep a watchful eye on him and the chemotherapy-induced cardiomyopathy which was destined to continue to ravage his heart. However, he attended a new school and went on to achieve great GCSE results, despite another hospital episode with a burst appendix and septicaemia!
Meanwhile I joined the Rollin Becker Institute to organise their CPD courses and began working with some of the best Osteopaths in the UK. I saw their skill in teaching Cranial Osteopathy and marvelled at their passion.
That’s backs isn’t it?
I still couldn’t understand why, even when I enthusiastically recommended Osteopathy, nearly everyone shied away from the idea. It frustrated the hell out of me that the general public did not understand what it was some 20 years after I had first seen its benefits! It was this frustration that would eventually lead me to seeing how I could provide support to those whose business was not how they wanted it to be.
Meanwhile, Toby’s life-long passion to be an actor was not going to be extinguished that easily and despite his asymmetrical and damaged body he began a 2 year BTEC in Performing Arts.
Regular Osteopathic treatment kept him in ridiculous health and his Cardiologists were astounded at how well he was despite having a severely damaged heart.
However in April 2013, Toby again collapsed with heart failure and it was obvious that it was now time to be listed for a heart transplant, an incredible five years after we had come home. Amazingly, Toby returned to college as though nothing had happened, travelling on many buses to get there and back while we waited several months for a match! Most children with a heart this damaged would normally be permanently kept in hospital while they waited, however long that took because of the risk of collapse.
(Update – Toby has now met the cast of The Inbetweeners, is an extra on the episode Sports Day in Jack Whitehall’s Bad Education and had a small role on ‘Hoff the Record’ with none other than David Hasselhoff due on TV in Spring 2015!)
A death and a life
In September 2013, having reached his 17th birthday and achieving a Distinction at college, he was fortunate to receive a perfect and healthy new heart. We were enormously grateful but also grieved for the family who had lost a loved one.
He came home only three weeks later albeit in a very lack lustre state. However, Anne popped by to give him a treatment and, quite literally, the next day he was bouncing off the walls! The difference in him was amazing.
By Christmas, Toby had returned to college and a hero’s welcome.
I truly believe that Osteopathy has played a major role in keeping my son in optimum health despite numerous life-threatening conditions.
You can now see where my passion comes from and why I am dedicated to helping spread the word and gain the recognition in the community that Osteopaths deserve. This is why I am channelling all that I have learnt in business over the years into this endeavour.
Recently I asked doctors and managers at GOSH why their seriously ill children were not receiving Osteopathic treatment as part of their recovery. They didn’t know why and of course they didn’t know what you do.
Osteopathy is available in a few hospitals here and in some countries Osteopaths are in every hospital. How can we persuade the powers that be, that this is a vital treatment? I would love to hear your ideas – drop me a line in the comments box if you have suggestions to tackle this issue or email me firstname.lastname@example.org.