Blue = Elaine Lewis
Black = Miranda Castro
Red = Alan Schmukler
Green = Shana Lewis
All images are either of Miranda, or by Miranda, from her garden, kitchen, or nearby her house.
EL: We have here in the studio with us today, Miranda Castro on the phone, Alan to my right acting as our engineer, and Shana, my daughter, on my left, who’s here for some unknown reason. Miranda, how are you?
MC: I’m brilliant, thank you.
EL: Thank God someone is!
MC: I was only referring to my well-being, unfortunately. Where are you? In the Northeast? I’m sorry. I’m here in central Florida. We’ve a beautiful sunny day here. This time of year is heavenly. It makes the extreme summers all worthwhile.
EL: You’re not at the beach?
MC: I’m an hour and a half away, but within easy reach of where I live there are literally hundreds of fresh water springs! These springs are extraordinary…the water comes out of the earth at 72 degrees the whole year round and is crystal clear. However deep it is you can see straight through to the bottom. And the colors … every shade of blue and green from exquisite turquoise to deep emerald. Just gorgeous.
EL: I have a clear view of the oil refineries from where I live, how about you Alan?
AS: I can’t top that.
EL: Miranda, let’s see one of those fresh water springs!
EL: That settles it, we’re moving to Florida! Shana, get my hat!
MC: I don’t care much for the ocean –it’s full of things that don’t want us there…sharks, jelly fish…. Then there’s the stuff that we don’t want, like the “red tide” at the gulf coast – from the algae that proliferates on the surface of that ocean. It’s responsible for a lot of allergies. The ocean looks good, as long as you’ve got a respirator!
EL: What do you do all day, Miranda?
MC: I’m a worker bee. I’m engaged in a variety of projects, most of which involve homeopathy. I’ve got my practice…I’m always working up cases, even after 25 years in practice I still spend one to four hours working up a new case. I’ve gone through many phases in my practice, thinking I might get better at some point….
EL: I’ll drink to that!
MC: And thank goodness also because I am someone who is easily bored and in 25 years, I haven’t been bored. Not once. Well maybe a couple of times but it’s really rare! There’s so much to get to grips with. There’s so much variety. It seems to me that homeopaths don’t get to rest on their laurels. It’s hard. We’ve got so much new data coming at us all the time from the new provings, how on earth do you catch up?
And as I’ve gotten better, maybe I’m attracting more difficult clients, but the other thing that happens for me is that I’ve always audited my practice; that is to say, once a year I’ll pull all the charts off the shelf and make piles based on the outcomes: are patients better … a little better, a fair bit better or a lot better? Or are they not doing so well? Plus a pile of files of those patients I haven’t heard from in six months or more. I jot down the numbers, compare them with the previous years ‘piles’ to see whether ‘I’ am doing better, worse or the same. This is similar to what we do with our patients when they return for their follow-ups, right?
And I believe that it’s one of the major errors in our community, that we’re not rigorous about our results. I think that for homeopathy to survive and thrive, we have to get smart about this, and I mean really smart, because we are vulnerable in the area of double-blind research trials, homeopathy is not suited to those, and so in order for the scientific community to look upon us with even a modicum of respect, we need to be giving them some data. Our provings are not compelling, so the only data I think will be at all interesting to them will be outcomes audits that have some degree of objectivity.
EL: Miranda, you mentioned the pile of people you haven’t heard from?
MC: The pile of people I haven’t heard from, especially when I was a baby homeopath….
EL: Ohhhhh……. So, you’ve been in practice a long time! A verrrrrrrrrry long time!
MC: Ho ho ho!! I’m referring to my second and third years in practice!
MC: I call these people or drop them an email … I used to write real letters … and say, “I haven’t heard from you in a while, how are you doing?” and most people I contact are pleased to hear from me.
EL: No! What do they say?
MC: That they feel cared for and they appreciate my getting in touch. What I find out, also, is that at least half of them haven’t been in touch because they’re better. We have a duty to follow up on people, and most homeopaths are pretty bad at that. But anyway, of the people who are doing better, I ask them if they think it was the homeopathy or any other healing influences in their lives or both? And sometimes there are other healing influences and sometimes there aren’t, so, I am able to put these other factors in their notes too. Of the people who aren’t doing any better, I have ideas about some of them and offer to work up a new remedy, so there’s a helpful conversation that is had. I don’t charge for those reassessments. I do not use these appointments or emails to solicit business.
Accountability is very important. Ten years ago I wrote a software program to manage my practice. I went paperless six or seven years ago, and I now have my program, called COMPASS that allows me to audit my practice at any given point in time and see how many and what proportion of my whole practice has had the ‘simillimum’, and what proportion are on ‘similar’ remedies, how many are having mixed results, what proportion are returning but not doing well, and how many are lost or not returning. I go through these and follow up on those I haven’t heard from in 6 months or more. This task used to take me a day or two and now it just takes a couple of seconds! If I have a spare hour or two in the day, I’ll work on the patients that I know are struggling.
EL: Miranda, how did you happen to stumble into homeopathy in the first place?
MC: My parents used it. They were fully paid-up members of the Anti-Vaccination League. I was the only child in my school who hadn’t been vaccinated; and the only child in the school with brown bread in her lunch box. Very traumatic! Our family doctor was a Naturopath who used tissue salts. When I left home at 18, I was intrigued and I bought a 36-remedy homeopathic kit and a cell salt kit from Nelson’s and I used those for years and years. I had two little guide books: the cell salts handbook and Gibson’s First Aid in Accidents and Ailments; and I did really good. I had maybe two courses of antibiotics in my adult life up until I got pregnant, and then I got into a lot of trouble with morning sickness and a difficult birth and a horrible time recovering afterwards. When Daniel was a year old, he was very sick with whooping cough, and even with my modicum of knowledge, I was giving him good remedies but they weren’t working. So I started on this incredible adventure. We trekked from one homeopath to another and got an education. We started out with a medical doctor who was a homeopath in London, very well-known and highly respected, and extremely unkind! He gave me strict instructions as I sat down. I wasn’t to interrupt the interview to talk to my son. I was to place the baby on the floor away from me and I was only to pay attention to the good doctor. He was going to ask me a number of questions and repeated that he was not to be interrupted. Bear in mind the baby has been coughing and vomiting for about 4 months and wasn’t amenable to being ditched and ignored. The doctor was a tall man in a dark suit typical of private doctors in England at the time, but there was one unusual difference: he had a small dog on his lap, which I have never ever seen before or since in any surgery. I answered his questions and after a little while Daniel asked me something so I dealt with him quickly and then went back to the good doctor. He put his pen and pad down and he said, “I can see you’re the sort of woman who should never have become a mother.” So, I rose to my full 5′ 6″ and said, “I can see you’re the sort of man who should never have become a doctor!” and I took my child and left.