I don’t think I would have made it to fifty if I hadn’t studied Osteopathy. As a young guy, I was all over the place and couldn’t even decide what to study at Uni. Thankfully, my mother introduced me to Osteopathy. I had no idea what it was and decided to pursue it anyway, to keep myself alive. Which presents the question. Why did I need something to keep me alive?
I was a star pupil before I lost my father at the age of 12. Always in the top 3 of my class. Excited to be in every lesson and craving to learn. After my father died, I didn’t realise it then, but I now see, a dark fog descended on me. The fog’s name was grief. My grades went downhill and all I wanted to do was play rugby.
I suppose I just wanted to get all that pent-up energy out or maybe I was angry at losing my Dad and sport was a great way to get that out. By the time I finished school, I had played rugby for Yorkshire, but like a lot of guys of my generation I was drinking (a lot) and smoking. I didn’t really care about my grades. The plan was to travel to the Middle East for a year, learn leadership skills along the way, and a bit about ancient history, and be away from home.
Although I applied, because my grades were not good, I was not accepted to study Osteopathy. I didn’t care, I just wanted to get out of the UK and have a great time. Even more distraction from what I really needed. I nearly ended up living in Israel until my mother told me to come home and get a degree. I came home early to resit my A ‘levels and ended up studying Osteopathy in London at the British School of Osteopathy (BSO), now the University College of Osteopathy. My life was turning around, but really, it was still a distraction from life itself.
Although now studying, I still wasn’t sure what I was doing. Osteopathy seemed like a good distraction and the 4 years I spent studying my undergraduate degree were some of the best times of my life. Well, the parts I can remember! I am also not sure how I got through, as most of the time I was drinking heavily and partying hard. I must thank all the support I had at the BSO for keeping me on track and pushing me to get through. The amount of belief that these health practitioners/teachers had knowing I would succeed was remarkable. This is why and, how I became an Osteopath. It was the first step on my healing journey.
Deep down I always knew that I wanted to be exceptional at everything I do. When I left Osteopathy, I didn’t feel exceptional with my four-year degree in Osteopathy, so, I decided to do the master’s and strive for more success. At the same time, I was asked to lecture at the BSO and throughout Europe. This was something that over the years helped me believe that I could achieve my goals. Thankfully youth was on my side. At this point, I started seeking my healing journey. I learned through Osteopathy that structure governs function, and the body has its own healing mechanisms and it’s not just mind over matter but matter over mind. Read that again. It’s matter over mind. Life-changing stuff when you really consider that.
I realised that it wasn’t even willpower but the self-care to be healthy. I knew I needed to stop banging my head against a brick wall and find a way to help myself.
It made me realise that being part of a community was so important. Being brought up surrounded by great family and strong friendships really helps you want to succeed. It must be very hard if you don’t have this. However, there were times when I felt alone. I was happy to drink and smoke pot and socialise under the influence, but I started to become a recluse when I started on the harder drugs. I preferred to do them alone and push the limits rather than with friends. They were not party drugs for me. It was as if I was looking for the warm hug of my father that I would never get again.
It’s strange, as I knew I had to achieve health and find a way out. I knew that I would find a way to health. It was as if I was being challenged every step of the way. Even to the point of pushing me too far deep down, but through it all, I knew there was a way.
Finding health started as a real struggle as trying to work out my health and still being unhealthy, as I didn’t want to let go, was a difficult line to walk. I guess that sounds like madness coming from someone who made health their career and I guess it’s a bit like the chain-smoking doctor or plumber with a leaky roof. I started seeing a counsellor and would come out of therapy sessions feeling great and then… drink and smoke. I would have a great hands-on treatment and then repeat old patterns. It was only when I started to look outside the box of modern medicine that my journey started to make sense.
As an Osteopath, I knew that I needed to look at my life in full and not just the mind as the somato emotion. Reflection is a vicious circle in healing. I started to read a lot about shamanism, Ayurveda and more traditional and older styles of medicine, I consulted these practitioners and my mind started to move, I became vegetarian for 18 months. I started playing capoeira (which I still hold very close to my heart today). I did yoga. I read a lot of books related to health and the health journey. I learnt what it was to be a wounded healer and used my own life journey to help me as an Osteopath. Medicine was about the whole and Osteopathy taught me to look at it all. Not only the physical but also my social, spiritual, mental, biochemical, and emotional self.
My life started to change. I became a spokesperson for Osteopathy in the UK. I became part of the first integrated medical centre in London and I started to enjoy myself much more than running away. I even met my wife.
But my health journey didn’t stop there. After the birth of my daughters, they were both diagnosed with a rare developmental epilepsy called SYNGAP-1. This type of epilepsy requires round-the-clock care and we put all our energy into this new chapter of our lives. It was exhausting and extremely stressful on our relationship and bodies. Our passion resulted in raising $2 million dollars to start a seed research fund to find a cure. Unfortunately, this was very stressful and old habits die hard as they say. With a history of debauchery and now huge stress my body had finally had enough. I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 2019. On top of everything going on, this was another blow to me trying to find health and it happened just as I thought I was doing well.
Looking back something was bound to happen when you have no sleep and a family environment where you have no time to rest and chronic stress. Understanding how the philosophy of the body works, I see that now. I realised, I needed to start putting my own health really, truly first. Otherwise, I would be useless to those who really needed me.
My journey through Crohn’s had begun. I saw the gastro, I had a colonoscopy, I was officially diagnosed with Crohn’s and prescribed medication that I would have to take for the rest of my life. However, my health philosophy thankfully was embedded by then. You created it, you overcome it, I said to myself. What will meds do if I just carry on this lifestyle? I figured they would eventually, make me worse. The medication would treat the symptoms and not address the underlying cause. I consulted my dear friend who is an amazing functional doctor. I read and listened to a lot on stress and IBD (inflammatory bowel disease). Then over 3 and half years, I changed my life again. I stopped all the fun food, the alcohol, changed my diet and started endurance exercise. I wasn’t going to take medication; I didn’t want to mask it and to get on with life I needed to affect the self-healing mechanisms and heal. I now no longer have Crohn’s. My gastro told me to just keep doing what I do. And, I do.
To date, I am starting to feel another journey coming on. One of self-actualization and the passion to strive for what I want and not let dis-ease get in the way but work together to succeed. I realise I am my own best teacher and all I need to do is apply the principles I have learnt and put them through my osteopathic sieve.
What does that look like? This:
1. We can heal ourselves. Sometimes we just need a hand.
2. The body is more than the medical model it’s interconnected within and with its environment.
3. We can all do it if we really want to.
4. Be curious about your health – It helps to look outside the box sometimes.
5. Ask for help if you feel shit.
6. REST is really important to health.
7. Don’t wait to change as dis-ease is sitting there waiting for you.
8. Intuition is important.
9. Find a community.
10. Look at all aspects of your health not just the one which is a concern as this may be the cherry on top of the disease.
11. It’s NOT A FAD, it’s a JOURNEY and YOU decide the path.
12. Don’t judge, everyone has a different life.
13. Help others with the skills you have. It doesn’t need to be medical.
14. Exercise is so important to health. It doesn’t have to be endurance but something that includes strength, stamina and suppleness.
And so I say, osteopathy saved my life. If not for the practice of osteopathy I would never have had the skills, understanding or ability to do the things that I really needed to do, to get onto a path of health and longevity. And thank G-d. Because my daughters need me. And I plan on being around for them, for a long time.
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