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At The Happy Starfish we are dedicated to providing a wealth of information, products, workshops and articles all aimed at celebrating health, happiness and peaceful living. We believe that life should be an awesome adventure filled with love; love life and life will love you back. Are you willing to surrender what you think you are for what you could become? Are you ready?

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Pondering the NHS

Mention the NHS and you generally get one of two reactions.  Either a tale of woe preceded by the inevitable tutting and eye rolling, or, occasionally, praise.  With the majority of people having an experience to draw upon, whether personally or through a family member or friend. the NHS can, at times, be a controversial conversation piece.

As a holistic therapist, and lover of all things natural I had successfully avoided doctors for 30 something years when having a car accident added to my previous health problems and I found myself unable to walk.  My local NHS hospital completed numerous x-rays, MRI scans and tests and then pronounced there was nothing they could do for me.  My consultant explained that in years past, with a scan like mine, they would have surgically intervened but as they now recognised a huge proportion of back surgery does not work they tend to leave 'well' alone where they could.  I was told to take up knitting to keep my mind off the fact I was now a wheelchair user.  I was given physiotherapy for 6 weeks before my NHS physio announced I was a waste of resources as I would never be properly on my feet again with the damage I had sustained and I was discharged.  Now that could have been the end of my story but I am stubborn and feeling I understood my spinal damage was not my only problem, a fact I felt my consultant wasn't acknowledging, I spent hours and hours obsessively googling until I found a treatment I thought might, over time, help to stabilise my pelvis and decrease my high pain levels.  Excitedly going back to see my consultant with print outs, facts and success stories I was crushed to be met with scorn when he told me I was being ridiculous, he had never heard of the treatment and it wasn't offered on the NHS furthermore I had taken up valuable appointment time which could have gone to someone he could actually help.  "Go away and stop bothering me" was not the actual phrase but I got the gist.

Momentarily deflated, but never one to give up I decided to contact all orthopaedic units of every NHS hospital hoping to find one who could offer just a little bit of positivity.  My search widened and after much negativity stumbled across Birmingham Orthopaedic Hospital who had not only heard of the treatment, they offered it and agreed to see me for a consultation. Subsequently for the past few years I have been under the care of Dr Ketkar and I can't begin to express my gratitude that he not only agreed to undertake the regular treatment I required but gave me something far more valuable than medical intervention and drugs; hope.  He has always believed in my ability to progress physically and this has made me focus fully on the positive.

Now strictly speaking when I was discharged Thursday it could have been the last I would see of him and I was expecting this news.  He had told me last month my  body has been through so much it won’t cope with any further treatments without a good long break but surprisingly he still plans to regularly assess me and knowing I have his support makes a huge difference to my mental and emotional health.  I know should any new medical procedures come out that would help me he would get in touch as he genuinely cares about his patients.

So is this a rare occurrence to find someone caring in the so called 'caring' profession?  We all know doctors and nurses work long hours with not enough resources, is it any wonder that a few become jaded.  Would my NHS physio so brutally have discharged me, crushing hope of recovery if she had a choice or were her hands bound with protocol?  Did my consultant realise, as a mother of three young boys, how his negative words and pessimistic outlook of my future would impact upon my mental health?  Was I just unlucky?   After all a poor bedside manner does not mean these people are bad at their jobs. To be a good surgeon I guess you have to be good, well, surgically, boosting someone's self esteem is probably not in the job description.  I believe this is where holistic therapists come into their own, often more nurturing, I do feel orthodox and complementary medicine can and should exist side by side covering every aspect of a person's physical, emotional and mental health.

I don't like generalisation but on the whole we can be rather judgemental.  What is it that makes us want to label everything?  NHS care can be 'bad', private care can be 'good'.  Should we, could we, be open minded and not expect long waiting lists, poor care and bad attitudes, then we may be pleasantly surprised?
If I had listened to my original consultant and used this to demonstrate my experience with the NHS I could easily have tarnished the opinions of others. Yes I was met with a distinct lack of compassion in my local hospital, but, 80 miles away I have met the most amazing team of people who go above and beyond their role

What I am trying, in a roundabout way to say is do not judge, expect or let the opinions of others cloud you.  Go into every situation and greet every person you meet with an open heart and you may just be pleasantly surprised.  

I would love to hear of your experiences.

Spreading the love, 

Louise xx

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Positive parenting through language

For the past few weeks my 6 year old son has been having trouble getting to, and staying, asleep.  It is rare I sleep all the way through the night with my pain levels, so consequently this last month has passed in a blur of exhaustion.

Despite gently probing Finley the only explanation I have managed to secure is “Mummy I have worries that stop me sleeping, not big ones, just normal worries”.  I cannot dismiss any concerns at age 6 as being unimportant, I knew he had been worried about sports day but that had now passed and I feared getting up in the night had become a habit.

Last night at bed time I produced with flourish a bag of Gatamalan worry dolls.  I explained to Finley that these dolls were the answer to his sleeping problem and once they were under his pillow they would take all his worries away from him and he would sleep through the night.  After going through the bag and naming them all he promptly fell asleep for ten hours!

The language we use is critical.  The subconscious mind has difficulty processing negatives and they cause us distress and fear.  Consequently, had I said to Finley “These dolls will help because you can’t sleep” he would have picked out the wordscan’t and sleep which would have reinforced the belief he had formed that he no longer slept through the night.  Using the sentence “The dolls will take your worries away and you will sleep through the night” he subconsciously picked out will take worries away will sleep.  Clever old English language eh?

It is during our formative years that we develop many of our negative beliefs which many of us carry into adulthood;  I can’t, I’m not good enough, It’s too hard ….  Inadvertently we pick up these ideas from the language of our primary care-givers, parents, teachers, child minders etc. and the more we hear them the more we believe the words to be true.

If you begin using words affirmative in nature they will integrate naturally into your vocabulary.  If we can use language to eradicate limiting beliefs in a child’s head we can help them lead more empowering lives which will impact into adulthood.  Awesome how powerful words can be isn’t it, and such a simple thing to practice.

So next time your child asks you for something they can’t do, i.e. I want to go skating.  Keep the reply positive.  Rather than “you don’t know how to skate” you could try, yes “you can learn how to skate”.  Keep commands simple, replace “don’t run” with "walk" (the brain will respond to run).  Start to notice how differently your children respond to you and how much easier it is to parent.

In the wise words of Mahatma Ghandhi: -
Keep your thoughts positive, because your thoughts become your words.
Keep your words positive, because your words become your behaviour.
Keep your behaviour positive, because your behaviour becomes your habits.
Keep your habits positive, because your habits become your values.
Keep your values positive, because your values become your destiny.
Spreading the love, 

Louise xx

Monday, 2 July 2012

Buddhist Centre World Peace Day

Wow I am genuinely in awe of the amount of people on the Peace Path. I may have left with a croaky throat due to hours of shouting over the music but with such a warm fuzzy feeling inside it was worth it. A large crowd of like minded people all in one place meant you could virtually touch the love.

Hats off to the very brave lady who took the first steps in coming yesterday after her bereavement. Although she wasn't sure whether she should be there I do genuinely believe that we are led to the right place and people at the perfect time for us. There is such a thing as universal support but opening ourselves up and trusting that can, at times, seem mountainous.

I had such a hard time after my accident in accepting I couldn't cope, emotionally or physically on my own, but the greatest healing therapy is friendship and love and sometimes it can come from the most unexpected of places. I am glad now I let people in (eventually!)
Spreading the love,

Louise xx