Over the last 50 years, there have been treasured yet humble contributors to our well-being and health. One such Australian has dedicated his entire life to the discovery, research, and formulations to support our health. He cannot levitate, or throw misbehaving Jedi across the room, he can, however, weave some pretty impressive feats. His name is Des Lardner.
The beautiful landscape of the Wimmera is the home of Des Lardner’s Headquarters. Amongst the offering of therapies, organic food, consulting, etc. there is a Dark-Field Microscope for live blood viewing in the store. Giving practitioners and patient the ability to view patient’s own red and white blood cells in real time on an LCD screen. Sounds like Star Wars right? Nope, it is right in Horsham Victoria. Build it, and they will come here with people traveling Internationally and Nationally to get assistance.
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 31% of the burden of disease is preventable in Australia. Many Aussies recognize the need for health prevention, and while biological systems have similarities, each of us is very different in our body’s response. It is how we activate the most premium health in our very individual physical makeup that matters. Des Lardner believes that the focus on the history of medicine and reviving old formulas in combination with using more powerful herbs to good effect is a dynamic key to prevention. But more importantly? The knowledge needs imparting to young naturopaths and health professionals. (It screams of Jedi doesn’t it?)
There is a common thread in the diverse field of health that information needs to be hoarded and tucked away, a competitive field of “wellness experts” has instigated this trend. However, not this inspiring alchemist! 2018 presents expansion, Des Lardner, plans to get this lifetime knowledge out to those that need it while taking it to the Digital Space. While the format is still “under wraps” there is a buzz in the air, and it is contagious- (naturally!)
He is the genius behind the natural herbal colic mixture, renown all over Australia for relieving bubs tums and Mum and Dad’s nerves, later taken up by a leading pharmacy chain. More than 103 products formulated by the dedicated consultant pharmacist and herbalist have hit the shelves. One of his most outstanding achievements was the discovery of 2 novel pain compounds in rose hips while studying his Masters at Sydney University at age 60. Did I mention the word impressive?
Des now leads an entire team of qualified practitioners specializing in Naturopathy, Herbal Therapy, Sleep Apnoea (accredited services), Iridology, Nutrition, Homeopathy, remedial massage and cranio sacral massage as well as organic produce and products from food to makeup.
At a dinner party one night, a conversation started about an awe-inspiring surgeon who saved the life of a woman at our table.
This surgeon was astonishingly passionate, friendly and warm, who many years later still cared for those she saved. The moment the table was abuzz about her, I knew I had to interview her. When I found out she was at the Alfred Hospital, the connection grew strong, and we went on a hunt to capture a moment of this incredible woman’s life and ponder with her.
Assoc. Professor Sue Liew holds the position of Director of Orthopaedic Surgery but most of all she holds the smiles and hearts of many she has helped in the intensive and incredibly demanding role of surgical lead.
Deemed as one of the most intensely stressful and time-consuming occupations in the world, with a focus on Spinal surgery, lower limb reconstructive and complex pelvic surgery- trauma based orthopedics is not for the faint of heart.
The day of the interview arrived, and as I walked into the ward, everything started to feel familiar. The smells, the shape of the benches, the direction of the lines on the walls. I sensed a disturbance in the force. I had walked smack bang into ward 3East- Ground Zero for me, two brain surgeries and a place I had spent more time than I cared too. It was a place of incredible people trying to save lives- a place I feel so much gratitude for and yet it is a place of intense sickness and tragedy. At times when I visit there, I feel like I can almost taste it in the air.
Heroes walk the corridors, gratitude floats along stronger than antiseptic but so does the tears of those who haven’t made it. Such is the place of spinal and brain injury trauma. I remember on one visit I asked my admissions doctor if she worked in neuro- she responded that she could not, it was too tragic and depressing even amongst the wins. I know right? Whoa.
The man who was told he only had a few weeks to live and cried. He did not cry about his short life but for how on earth he would tell his children. The beautiful woman who reassured me that her condition was worse, and yet there she was still alive and fully healed. The nurse who visited me every night to talk to me about the wonder of Angels. The scent of hospital food trolleys sparks memories of vomiting uncontrollably and shaking from the drainage tubes that came from inside my brain.
I want to walk backward quicker than a cat in a dog show.
But then I remember that I am not here to have my skull cut open, I am not here to have a painful injection or procedure. I am re-defining my experience here in this place. I am here to step behind the curtain and spend time with one of the medi-heroes, the do-er of great things in a different capacity and I breathe out the jitters.
I put one foot in front of the other. I press the buzzer and a lady opens the door- with a huge smile and a curious look. Like she might not have been sure why I wanted to interview her. That’s a hero for you.
They are often unaware of the awe that surrounds them. These ward wizards who have sleepless nights, rigorous hours, hectic meetings, helicopters landing by the moment with bodies broken from all over Oz waiting to be put back together again. The somehow, the paperwork, the board meetings, the director hearings, the research, professional development, the surgical meetings, the school drops offs, the family dinners, the family life- they don’t often have time to contemplate their wonder or bathe in the gratitude of those they have saved. There are so many ‘the-s’ but just not enough time. You get the picture right ponderers?
As I interviewed Sue Liew her eyes glitter with humor and interest. She is razor sharp and emits a grounded warmth.
She is one of the first people I have interviewed that have enquired about me, and at times it felt like I was being interviewed- her interest in others and the non-self position was incredible.
There is a total lack of ego. Which without being unkind, I have to say is extremely unusual in a human with such a high position in medicine. So this is one chic I would love to share a beer or two.
K: So why did you become a surgeon?
SL: I like processes and systems – and was good at lots of different things, so I ticked off the things I didn’t like. I did engineering first, but once I got my hands in there, I couldn’t wait to become a surgeon, to fix things or be involved in active medicine. I loved surgery, it’s similar to engineering and reconstructing, you are rebuilding.
K: Thank goodness you found it. You have an impressive position and career, and this hospital takes in trauma nearly on the hour. It must be incredibly demanding and on-the-fly. It would be super demanding and disruptive to your personal life too no doubt.
SL: She smiles. (there are no words needed, we both get it).
K: You’re a woman in a very male-dominated industry. Have you ever encountered inequality directed at you? Did you have female mentors that paved the way for you?
SL: I have had all male mentors- I have been incredibly privileged and encouraged by male counterparts. I haven’t experienced gender inequality just encouragement- always. I know that might sound weird when you know, you hear about it happening so much in management positions- but I truly have had nothing but incredibly positive experiences. Does that sound strange?
K: I think that’s really refreshing, I like that answer.
K: Many people see surgeons and doctors as an elite kind of person of authority- often on a pedestal, and think money, prestige, etc. as well as heroic tendencies, but when I had to rely on this field to save my life I would often ponder about the surgeon. Like I have often thought that this person who operates had to spend years and years studying and researching, doing exams, doing assignments and thesis work, hours of interning, etc. to get to this point so they can save a life. A parent had to help pay a LOT of money to get this kid to a point where they are saving lives. What do you say to this?
SL: (Smiles- she thinks I am funny I can tell lol) Engineers, the finest minds now standing in an industry of prestige, once spent hours emptying ashtrays and pouring beers at the local. A medical degree does not support itself. Often they come from humble beginnings and well over a decade getting from a to b just to be able to work in this field.
K: So I take it you’ve had humble beginnings?
SL: Still do! (laughs) I came from very hardworking parents who valued education and opportunity. I worked my way through uni waitressing and was a barmaid in Werribee. There were times of confusion and lots of work. I was originally doing engineering at RMIT, then swapped over to Monash to do medicine. I hated it! Then I tapped into spinal trauma, and I secretly liked the challenge and became very focused- it’s like a vocation you know? It gets into your blood. I like to solve a puzzle and find a difficult diagnosis thrilling. But I didn’t always know I wanted to be this person, I just knew education was important. I think it’s important for people to know that you don’t always have the answers at the beginning! It can be a long road.
K: Does being a mother change you as a doctor?
SL: Well, my husband and I went on a holiday and came back and had a family. We had four kids between the age of 34 and 40. We called it the “fog” lol. Pregnancy does something that is for sure; it does something kind to you. Having children can give you perspective. I had a lot of support. My parents and my brother moved in with us into a bigger house, to help with the cooking and childcare. I breastfed all the kids for 6 months and had 12 weeks maternity leave. My husband was well established in his job too, so his position was able to support and was flexible. It helps.
K: What do you enjoy?
SL: Bikes, motorbikes.
K: Really!? That’s so cool. Is that the engineering mind coming in? For improvements and fixing things up?
SL: Yes! Reconstructive is like a series, an evolution of practices, forming a succession of surgeries and many hours re-building. Except you are working with people.
K: This has been the part I have heard so much about you, is your people skills! So often in a specialized area of medicine, people skills aren’t always the focus lol, would you agree?
SL: Well, the thing is, I am glad I guess that I get along with patients well. I see the mother, the brother, the sister and the child you know? (she shrugs humbly, but there is a strong connection here, you can see it in her eyes) But you know, so many of the country’s unique minds are incredibly focused on solving this one problem- or fixing this puzzle that is causing danger to a person’s life, they aren’t really thinking about how the conversation is going. They are thinking about the surgery or are compartmentalizing the systems and processes. You are sort of glad they have that kind of mind if that makes sense?
What about you? You seem to know a bit about this world? Do you have a medical background?
K- (laugh) no! But I have spent some time on this ward, and am happy to tell you I am glad I am here talking to you and NOT for the reasons I was here originally. (I then go on to tell her a smidge about my story on the ward- we know some people in common, and she extensively asks me about my life, we seem to spend a lot of time laughing and unpicking each other’s brain.) It turns out she is good mates with my surgeon number 2- who is a bit of a legend in these parts.
K: If you could have a chance meeting with your 25-year-old self what would you say?
SL: Oh boy. Really? Phew. Ok. I would say: do something you like, life has taught you that you end up wanting that anyway. If you do something you like- you will fall on the pathway easily and not so hard. You can go to bed knowing you are doing what is right for you. Find your own way.
K: Wow. That’s an entire story in one sentence!
SL: That’s not the half of it! (laughing).
K: Thank you so much for your time, this has been awesome!
SL: You and I should keep in touch, will you swing by and see me when you are here next?
The elusive far away creature ruling the intensive care trenches is this wickedly funny chic who likes motorbikes and was once a killer barmaid. I love it. She gets to save lives and be cool. Unfair right?
When you Google the term ‘Sugar Free’ you’ll find over 13 million responses. There are pages and pages of sugar free diets, substitutes, recipes, chefs and desserts. There are umpteen sugarless products for diabetics, chocolate, beverages and more.
However, when scrolling through the results to find something… anything to help manage sugar withdrawals, or guidance to stop cravings, or to retrain your taste buds and rewire your brain to make being sugar free easier to handle, there was a big fat unsweetened zero. I gave up searching after page 12.
As a previous sugar addict, I know how hard sugar was to give up; I see it everyday with clients who reach out after failing miserably. They give in to cravings just to stop the headaches or anxiety, the highs and lows that many people experience when they quit.
So how do you manage sweet cravings without severe withdrawals and cave ins naturally? Here are my 3 top tips:
Substituting actual sugar with a non-sugar replacement doesn’t solve the longer-term challenge. Our beautiful brains are a chemical hungry maze. The more sweet things we drink and eat, the more our brains remind us to seek more sweet. Whether it’s sugar or a sugar substitute, the brain doesn’t know the difference. Swapping sugar for a substitute doesn’t stop us wanting more sweet treats. It just means we ingest more chemicals on our quest to be healthier.
The key to becoming sugar free is not in the substitution of sugar, it is in re-training our brain and taste buds to stop triggering us to want it. Wouldn’t it be easier to say goodbye to sugar if we didn’t actually crave something sweet?
To do this we need to interrupt the triggers that cause the cravings in the first place. We need simple strategies to retrain our brain to disconnect the attachment. For example, if you learned to respond to emotional impulses by reaching for something sweet, then it’s important to ‘comfort yourself’ in more healthy ways as you become sugar free.
When sweet cravings dance their merry way across your brain and taste buds, take a deep breath and follow this simple strategy.
Slowly roll your eyes one way
Roll them back the other way
Blink 3 times and take another deep breathe in.
The intensity of the urge will reduce. If the intensity is still above a 3 on a scale of 1-10, repeat the same sequence until the craving drops below a 3.
Some key information to remember about ‘sweet treats’ is that early in life we learned that emotional needs were satisfied with food. More often than not it was something sweet (honey on the dummy or pacifier or a cookie and a cuddle).
Emotional needs will never be met or satisfied by food which includes sugar and it is this realisation that will help those cravings.
We can see that the solution to a sweet craving is to provide an emotional response i.e. give yourself an inner hug, comfort yourself as you say “I am the kind of person who loves my body back to health”
Then roll your eyes one way, back the other way and blink three times. Take in a deep breath… repeat until the craving is below a 3.
Choose Inspired Action Language rather than ‘Have to’s.
If you say “I choose to be sugar free” instead of “I have to be sugar free”, your brain will not trigger the resistance that often occurs when we don’t like being told what to do. We’re programmed from a young age to dislike being told we have to do something.
So whenever you are offered something sugary, remember to use inspired language such as “I choose to…”, I get to…” or I’m free to… “
Please note: Your taste buds will adapt faster than you think, so use my Eye Rolls consistently for the first 2-3 days, drink lots of water to avoid the sugar withdrawal headaches and reach out if you need assistance.
Sometimes it is good to know that the most simple steps can be implemented especially now in the field of neuroscience which is providing some incredible brain training science to help people understand the pathways and patterns of the brain. When these practices are implemented we see incredible results fast for people switching off sugar cravings! Sugar Free September doesn’t need to be be torture month!
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Or the head of a large foundation backed by some of the world’s most prestigious sponsors. I did my due diligence and researched my interviewee. The more I read, well let’s just say the more overwhelmed I began to feel as the accomplishments and accolades, not to mention the adoration from others- built up brick by brick like a mighty wall of quivering anticipation and nerves. This is one chic that may have a little more than a handful of accomplishments under her surgical belt.
What happened next left me smiling, uplifted and holy toledo did it make me Ponder.
Ponderers I would love you to meet Professor Fiona Wood. Fiona is the incredibly impressive Australian that I think is better than Vegemite, as impressive as Bradman and has won the hearts of many. What this woman has done for medicine in Australia, the world and burns patients will leave you in awe.
Some of you may have heard of the Fiona Wood Foundation. The Foundation is a not-for-profit organization responsible for some of the most impressive pioneering in burns, wound care management programs in the world. One of Fiona’s mentors Harold McComb was the original name-bearer of the Foundation- then known as the McComb Foundation in 1999 with scientist Marie Stoner. It was renamed the Fiona Wood Foundation in 2012 in recognition of her work in the field of burns medicine.
One of her most well-known joint achievements was the creation of “spray-on skin” and her involvement in saving the lives of many after the tragic 2002 Bali Bombings.
The mother of six and avid cyclist has so many dimensions, and within moments of chatting, her warmth and infectious positivity and wit were bouncing in a contagious frequency. My nerves and sense of intimidation evaporated as quick as water on a hot Perth pavement. I instantly liked her and was grateful for her time. There was no sense of imposition, but rather a willingness to share and be human together.
K: Fiona you are no doubt an extremely busy lady! Where on earth do you get all of that energy?
FW: Good sleep, eating well, fitness and nutrition are everything to being able to keep everything in balance. It can be pretty rigorous work being on call so health is so important. Daily exercise in the early morning makes you feel great. I enjoy cycling and pilates, swimming not- (she starts laughing heartily) – you know I look like a demented seal trying to catch waves. But I really do believe that fitness as well as choosing a positive attitude is absolutely everything to balance and being healthy and happy.
K: It is an exciting time in many fields of Medicine in regard to improvements and evolution of technology and long-term research coming to fruition, isn’t it? What are some of the aspects of this you are enjoying?
FW: In short- So much! Seriously though, there is a LOT of knowledge to be harnessed, the bit I like the most is the improved quality and outcome for patients, the quicker recovery times and people are surviving more serious injuries. The goal posts are moving. Mind you, for me personally they can’t move quick enough, as I don’t want to stop working until it is even better again. When I was younger I had this idea that you would go to work, solve the problem and everyone can all go home, and all would be well. This was not the case! Every single body as such is unique and technology needs to be integrated individually, burns are so very complex. The differences in scars is where data analysis has a future, and there is a new wave of medical ideas and research that is working. Burn injury and inflammation affects the whole body, so it is so very important that we continue to reach for complete scar recovery. The quality of a scar being worth survival is the goal.
K: I can hear the passion for what you do in your voice, it’s so infectious! This can’t all be nature, there must be some nurture in there. Many people I interview with that kind of insistent passion for doing hard work and persistence for a goal are influenced in some way by another person or mentor. Who was yours?
FW: My parents were incredibly hard working. We were brought up to work and the joy of work for work’s sake, to be useful and to find joy in work, to get that great feeling from a job well done and that has really been a big influence. My parents were passionate about hard work along with the idea that education provides freedom, that it creates choices. They really pushed that. When I started working in the field one of my mentors was Harold McCarb, an incredibly dedicated surgeon. So I have definitely had my influencers.
K: I love hearing you say this! We have always told our three children that even though sometimes education feels like a task, it is a gift and if you start to enjoy learning as a tool and a source of growth it provides opportunity and flexibility as an adult. You never stop learning! The ability to have choices means you are giving yourself your very best opportunity to have fulfilling experiences in life. It looks like we are both pro-work and education. I have been accused of being a high achiever, and sometimes it worries me that this sense of urgency has rubbed off on my kids. Do you find the same thing with your brood?
FW: I don’t know that this is a negative, to be honest! I had 6 children in 8 years and they are all older now, and every one of them is a high achiever and they all love sport, even more than me. They are happy. One of my sons is a multi-athlete, and they all strive to be better. But I don’t think this is a negative thing. It ‘s nice to make great choices and feel positive and joyful in what you do; it is important to feel a sense of purpose. Setting goals and achieving them is great!
K: What would you tell your 25 year old self if you were talking to her now?
FW: Get up in the morning and enjoy what you do, you will do well and better.
K: What are you looking forward to?
FW: I look forward to the beach in the morning, and the kids all over for dinner in the evening. I am looking forward to the results coming through for experiments we have done, it’s a 7 year piece of work that has just been recognised after doing work in Canada, and it’s a wonderful feeling when your team’s work is validated. You just want to do your best surgery, and best work and it’s transforming. I really look forward to that.
K: Finally Fiona- what do you enjoy reading?
FW: I really enjoy science fiction especially futuristic style!
Fiona’s entire focus while we talking was her passion for her patient’s comfort and quality of life, the recovery and the repair. I was aware that she was on a time limit, yet not once did she impose it and I felt we could have spoken for hours. Her positivity was bubbly and effervescent, she really is an extraordinary person extraordinarily serving the world. I love it when you chat to someone and walk away feeling like your heart is full and running over with a kind of bubbling presence.
Fiona said “You can choose every day to actually choose your view on things” I think this is worth such a ponder. Don’t you?
You may have heard of the Mind Body Connection, this unique turn of phrase used to describe some mystical or fad wellness existence that has us scratching our heads and wondering what, how, when and who? We have asked Andrea Lane, an accredited Hypnotherapist, Psychotherapy practitioner and author who specialises in transforming lives for emotional, physical and mental wellbeing. Who better than give us the run down on what on earth this jargon is and does it really help?
So what is it and is there science behind it? How can it benefit you on a daily basis and how on EARTH do we obtain it?
Our thoughts and feelings play an important part in influencing our physical health. Thoughts impacting health is not just a theory thought up over turmeric lattes and mandala classes. It is science. How so? Well, when we have a particular thought or feeling it affects our nervous system by using neuropeptides. Neuropeptides are a naturally occurring group of compounds in our body which act as neurotransmitters or messengers as a simpler term. They carry messages back and forth between the mind and the body. They are involved in a wide range of brain functions, including analgesia, reward, food intake, metabolism, reproduction, social behaviors, learning and memory. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuropeptide)
Neuropeptides are constantly changing their configuration that reflect the changes in our emotional state. (Anastasia Christidou) Therefore when our emotional and mental state is out of balance, these neuropeptides may create physical symptoms that appear in the body.
The interesting thing is that when each thought is associated with a particular emotion, and if that emotion builds prevalence it will build up more of these neuropeptides. Imagine it gets stronger each time it is triggered. A meta-analysis of about a hundred smaller studies confirms that when this emotion build up is experienced long term there arises the risk of a whole range of diseases. Some of these can include heart disease, headaches, asthma, arthritis, skin disorders, etc. When that emotion is triggered, a peptide is released within the physical body.
Our physical body can be changed by the emotions we experience as our organs, tissues, skin, muscle and endocrine glands all have peptide receptors on them and can access and store emotional information. An amazing point of reference is Human Givens by Joe Griffin, Ivan Tyrell where unexpressed emotions are examined and with evidence to show that they are literally lodged in the body.
In recent times our perception of the body has changed from what appears to be a vehicle for the mind to live in, to a process that is in constant flow of neuro information and energy. The fifty trillion cells in the body are constantly communicating with each other as they carry out countless of functions to keep you alive. Studies have also shown that nothing holds more power over the body than the mind. Expanding our self-awareness is to harness the unlimited power of the mind. When our self-awareness is narrowed such as when one is feeling stuck in trauma, anxiety, or depression it creates a stress state, the information flow throughout the mind and body is impacted.
Being stuck in toxic emotions can create a negative feedback cycle between the mind and body. As a result to cope we often take on non- nurturing habits such as over eating, poor food choices, denying ourselves exercise, drinking, nail biting, gambling, drug use, to help us cope which in turns creates more internalized pressure and stress.
Becoming aware, the path to happiness and wellness
As Deepak Chopra states if we expand our awareness of ourselves and the world with more compassion and understanding our energy is free to flow which creates more energy, vitality, being open to new possibilities and a new reality. I believe this translates locally within our own body, then those around us, then so on, expanding to the greater community. Being conscious of our mind and our body helps to establish a firm and evolving connection- and ultimately wellness and happiness. Meditation, yoga and mindfulness practices are well-known tools that allows for the expansion of this conscious awareness.
Ultimately if you deal with the emotion or feeling and the thoughts will change naturally.
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