From nursing to homeopathy - Debs
Homeopath and School graduate Debs McCarthy share her experience of moving from nursing to homeopathy:
What got you into nursing?
My journey into homeopathy has been a gradual process that begun with an early awakening even during nursing training in Britain in the early 80s. Like most nurses I trained simply because I wanted to help people. But nursing seemed to be very much more about what the doctor said than what we did. I’m not sure that really sat right with me from the start, but I was learning a great deal and, at that time, being a very young and ‘green’ student nurse, I was very keen to learn.
We learnt on the run, our feet didn’t stop from sun-up to sundown. But it wasn’t all just “washing, sluice thoroughly” (no gloves!) first thing in the morning. It was also a massive call to join in on all medical procedures, most of which took place on the wards. At 16 years old I was petrified of Matron and I cleaned the theatre top to bottom with Milton till it sparkled. At 18 years old I handed out inhalations with eucalyptus and then performed chest auscultations, I supervised groin stitch removal on grown men and I taught immediate post-op total hip replacement patients how to walk and climb stairs again. By 21 I was running a 24-bed ward, organising doctors’ and consultants’ diaries and procedures and organising all other staff and other student nurses as well as managing the ward and then carrying out my own nursing tasks.
Slowly, over time, nurses’ jobs have been minimised, cut up into separate pieces and given to other professionals. These professionals now have huge waiting lists and don’t always see their patients for the amount of time that they would like. There was none of that when I first nursed, there were no waiting lists - we just gone on with it, with patient care always at the forefront and with a great, fun, bedside attitude.
I gained the position I wanted in ICU in Australia, so I emigrated at 22. I learnt a phenomenal amount of new knowledge and the work stretched my imagination. The team were superb, led by a brilliant Professor who wanted us, even me, a mere fledgling nurse, to be involved and I grew to become a Sister. The amount of team effort it takes to care for one person through a crisis is amazing. This is still very much the case.
What made you decide to move away from nursing?
I returned to the wards after 10 years of intensive care and cardio-thoracic intensive care. But a feeling of ‘surely, we are missing a great deal of other knowledge’ was still there. I questioned whether people were actually getting better or were just sustained on medication and hospital visits until their health deteriorated, changed somehow into a different illness or death ensued. During nursing training I had always read health and wellbeing magazines so on arriving in Australia I began reflexology training. After this I undertook a massage and bodywork college course and from there on my two careers always ran in parallel.
I have travelled and lived in both hemispheres and have practiced nursing in many countries and settings, in wards, units, care homes and clinics. My knowledge and clinical skill set is vast and I am able to recognize deteriorating health very quickly. I have run Deep Tissue Bodywork clinics in Australia, Spain, France and the UK and have never stopped studying. I once took a wonderful position in a Rainforest setting in Australia where I met many wonderful Healers. When I came back to the UK I trained in Devon in Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy.
My first love was always herbs but after using homeopathy at my daughter’s birth I never looked back. My daughter once had a health crisis and an ailment created by the combination of vaccination and shock was literally healed overnight by homeopathy. I have watched mums around me use all kinds of potions, pills and surgery to correct similar skin disorders in their children. They were all treated generically but my daughter’s illness was healed through this individualised treatment. This is how I came into homeopathy and from then on so many questions began to be answered. Finally, I understood that, yes, something is missing in mainstream medicine.
This truly opened my eyes to the sense of the ‘Ordering Principle of the Vital/Life Force’, that which governs us. My understanding was growing, my enquiry deepening and many strange things unfolded. ‘Trust your intuition’ came through strongly.
Then the pandemic came along.... I was working in a Wellbeing Clinic as a Deep Bodyworker and Craniosacral Therapist, taking occasional clients as a Homeopath, and also as a nurse in a care home whilst single-parenting my daughter. It was decision time, the medical profession all knew it was coming. I had been around for the AIDS pandemic, the Asian Bird Flu and Swine Flu H1N1 that had swept Australia. I didn’t want to miss this pandemic and so went to the ‘front line’, that is I went into nursing full time again and I utilised every skill from every path, whether nursing, homeopathy, therapy or facilitation. The care staff were frightened, the media was doing a wonderful job of scaremongering, the Government had no clue and we were being led blindly through it all with a long tactical program of slogans - all of which, if listened to, spelled out fear and spread doom and gloom for everyone.
Those months were intense and horrible, but we coped. The value of quickly recognising the SARS COVID-19 symptoms at the first signs of ill-health was critical. We recognised fast that something ‘wasn’t quite right’ and when working with the elderly in a pandemic of this ferocity it was a life saver. Often, however, the paramedics came out and didn’t believe us and we were often regarded as time wasters! 12 or 24 hours later a test would prove positive, but by then it would be too late. The care sector had to deal with an explosion of cases (ours began with the NHS sending us a dying, untested, COVID patient), they had to think and act fast. We felt penalised and everybody, from managers to patients, residents to cleaners, suffered. In lockdown we were safe but vilified - in opening our doors we let in the virus.
At Christmas, because of my eight years of palliative care experience, I went to the COVID Palliative Unit. But despite the staff wanting me there I was asked to leave by the company due to ‘no vaccine'. Here began the rumblings of what was to come.
Finally, months later I was forced into a decision, ‘no jab no job’, and after 40 years I stopped nursing. Actually, it seemed like the obvious and long-awaited thing to do. But, like all decisions and steps into a new path, it took courage and I was supported greatly by homeopathy. Ultimately, it took a friend asking me “What do you value more? Yourself, or your Job?” For years I had been saying this to my patients and here, finally, I was learning that, yes, you should value yourself at all times, first and foremost. Finally, I left nursing and I was very happy to go. I was grateful for the vast experience and my knowledge, and I was grateful to the wise ones and great nurses that I met along the way. But I was so much wiser by then and was therefore ready to step into being a homeopath properly.
I am grateful for homeopathy in so many ways and I feel truly blessed. Since I left, my practice has blossomed and my client list is full. I gave it space and the space has been filled.
Why did you choose homeopathy?
I used first aid homeopathy for the extreme athletes and skydivers who were a big part of my clinic in Spain. Also, as I said, I used it at my daughter’s birth. We arrived back through Dover customs with a large brown box of suspicious little pills in bottles with strange names on them. My then husband was having difficulties explaining to the authorities what they were let me tell you! But when a huge, nine months pregnant woman got out of a van that she’d been in for 12 hours, driving from Spain, and then talked to authorities about homeopathy they soon backed down. I retrieved my ‘golden box’ of homeopathic remedies and shouted “Now, let’s get on, I have a job to do!”
My daughter was only given one part of her triple 3 vaccine as a young one month old baby. She grew up in Catalonia and the times and repetition of doses is slightly different. It seemed to create a shock within her system and I felt something was wrong. I was brought up with all my vaccinations and am not an anti-vaxer at all, but something felt wrong, I wasn’t sure what, so I went with my intuition.
A year later a great family and community shock swept over us all and I believe this was a catalyst which released the previous shock from the 1st dose. She developed a nasty and virulent skin condition and suffered.
I knew her condition came from these two big shocks but I also knew that something was missing and there was something I couldn’t see properly. So, I took her to see a homeopath. She prescribed a small pillule and that night her skin condition aggravated. The next morning after a night of long cuddles and tears we both awoke to no more skin pustules or any sign at all of the terrible condition. It had all gone. A month later a few pustules popped up, but we repeated the dose and they all disappeared. This is why I decided to train as a homeopath.
I studied with The School of Homeopathy because, despite my travels, there was nowhere else and no-one else whom I knew would get me! Life and where we all lived as a family often dictated the amount of work or training I did. For years I questioned my authenticity as a healer and therapist and why I had a ‘foot' on each path. Would this work? Could I work? What values did I hold? Did I value myself, my patients, my clients enough? I did a great deal of soul searching, turning to Buddhism, art and meditation for tranquility. I continued because, ultimately, it came down to people’s personal choice. If they choose to see a doctor, great! If they choose to see a homeopath, great!
What is it like to study homeopathy?
Phenomenal. Expect your life to change. Expect your life to be challenged and expect there to be such a huge learning curve in so many ways. The friends, the conversations, the exchanges, the fun at the School. It is amazing.
I felt supported by my fabulous mentor throughout. The Teachers were my equals, yet so wise and wonderful. From this I realised that I had found a place where I could bring all my other knowledge and experience in and not feel like a beginner. I felt like a student of life and something unreal was unfolding. I felt like an explorer on a journey of discovery, that I was part of a team. I have studied many different things at many places and not felt quite accepted or able to be truly myself. But at the School of Homeopathy I had room to grow.
A girlfriend, knowing me so well and herself having trained with Misha at The School of Homeopathy, had told me years ago, “Train only with The School of Homeopathy.” It took me several thousand miles and across both hemispheres and several countries but I got there. I highly recommend this School for its support, dynamism, professionalism, patron support and teaching methods.
What surprised you most about the course?
I started as a long-distance student in Australia for the first year. It required me to have a considered space and to get organised with my time. I joined as a second year in the college in the UK with TG33 (training group 33). The camaraderie with my fellow students was brilliant and it helped so much to not feel alone with the workload. Whilst everything around me had changed so drastically at that time this support was invaluable. Later, going to TG34, I found my tribe, the truth and wisdom in homeopathy.
How does it compare, from being a nurse, to being a homeopath?
I am fulfilled
I am helping
I am healing
I am listening
I am flying
Did being a nurse help you as a homeopath?
Not really, but then, yes, of course. Whatever you come from helps. If you have fully embodied that journey then it will help probably to structure your journey ahead in some way. I have seen fabulous engineers and chemists become awesome homeopaths too. What I mean by ‘not really’ is this is a totally different way of looking at health care. I had felt that in the last 40 years I have had one foot in the sick business and one foot in the health business.
Now I am truly where I want to be. But I wouldn’t be here without nursing too, even though at times I felt cruel, or unjust or I simply abhorred what I had to do or was told to give out in the form of medications - especially knowing what homeopathic state the patient was in. This is particularly relevant in the recent pandemic, when I saw the homeopathic remedy staring me in the face and knowing that homeopathy would help these people.
What advice would you give to a nurse thinking of studying homeopathy?
Don’t think, just do it! Organise yourself. You will be invaluable for your experience. Clients who come for homeopathy want nurses. They trust us still and they hold a respect for us that shows in clinic. And you will see that this is where you will not only heal and help people, but you will be the one in charge.
You have worked hard for this. You have had to endure countless shift hours of frustration, limiting yourself and your patients without true effect. You will not be alone, there is an entire community and world of health and healing in homeopathy that maybe you haven’t been seeing because the prejudice is rife and so too is the ignorance. Be brave – ‘Aude Sapere’, as the founder of homeopathy wrote. If you are looking you are not ignorant. So, value that and understand that you have something brilliant to bring to the clinic. For starters, you have your experience and your understanding of the physical and mental aspects of the human body.