I am called Rebecca India Louise Sturgeon (DOB 18/1/1968). I studied, part time, at the London College of Practical Homeopathy 1994-1998. For the past 18 years I have been volunteering my homeopathy services in South Africa. I have volunteered in townships, schools, horse sanctuaries, elderly homes, autistic schools, emergency situations and in the last 5 years I have been privileged to teach homeopathy to African bishops and pastors, with Dr Elvia Bury, my mentor.
My story of finding homeopathy is probably slightly different from most. After being in a car accident, I was put on anti-inflammatories and in a neck support. I had been signed off of my full-time job at PPP (a private medical company) for 2 months.
When I arrived back from the hospital to our flat, I found that I just sat, staring into space. I wondered how I would heal, and I had zero interest in my life. I could no longer tell if any part of me hurt, let alone my neck. I wondered how people got well when they couldn’t feel anything.
Then I found a book called ‘Homeopathy for the Family’. After reading some of the book, I decided on Arnica and Hypericum, and Helios pharmacy was just around the corner.
I stopped the anti-inflammatory, only took the remedies and I felt human again! I could tell where the pain in my neck was, but I felt that it was better to know my physical limits, rather than to push my body and not feel it. I felt liberated with my healing and looked in the yellow pages for homeopathy courses. I had found homeopathy and my whole life changed.
I explored the colleges in London and, frankly, fell in love with the London College of Practical Homeopathy (LCPH). At the time I was a mouse in the world. My partner had to drive me to London for the first weekend because I was so anxious. That same weekend I put my hand up to be the case taken in class (I had never even been to see a homoeopath).
I just loved learning homeopathy and couldn’t not get enough. I would ask for extra homework. We were taught many modalities and methods. Classical prescribing was the base line but to be flexible with each patient as my guide.
In our final year I left my full-time job at PPP and focused solely on homeopathy. I just leapt, I did not know where I would land. In addition to college clinics, college weekends and assignments, I also had supervised private patients. We had 100 hours of clinical supervision to complete. Colin Griffiths was one of my mentors. I was in absolute awe at the way he looked at life and his patients.
A woman named Sue, who lived in Tunbridge Wells and worked at Helios, was a mentor to me in my final year and afterward. I had an extremely interesting MS case that she guided me through. The patient ended up becoming a homoeopath!
I began to work part time at Helios during my last year at college. It was an absolute honour to immerse myself in the work of the pharmacy. I would work there whenever I came back to the UK, and they always supported me and my volunteering.
I had our first child 3 months after graduating, which meant my practice stayed small and then a second baby arrived. My husband had been inspired by a man he had met in London and wanted us to do a course, in South Africa.
There we found a place to grow food, live simply and hopefully be in community. We came back to the UK, sold our home and 3 months later moved our little family to a farm in South Africa. Within a few months we where divorced. He moved to Cape Town and we followed a few months later. That is when, due to necessity and my nature, I offered my time, as a homoeopath, in a township clinic.
Suddenly I was in Africa, with 2 small boys and not a lot else. I moved to Cape Town, to the small village of Scarborough. I couldn’t start a private practice I was too shattered by divorce and being a stranger, and my qualification was not recognised here. Howeverowever Ho, I knew I had to get back on my homoeopathic horse. I went to the local township’s clinic and offered my services as a homoeopath, gratis, half a day a week. I was given a room and a translator, as I don’t speak Xhosa.
I was a brown belt in Karate by now, so I fed my children and myself through teaching Karate to kids and women. I felt that I had to get my confidence back before I could charge anyone for homoeopathy.
There were queues of Africans sitting, standing and so many children. And one by one they came in. I had little time for each person, about ten minutes. I saw snake bites, HIV, gonorrhoea, TB, cancer, nails in feet, curses, along with everything else. I saw about 30-60 patients a day.
My “office” was next to the vaccination room, and every so often I would go to that room and give everyone a dose of Thuja or Ledum. That was the beginning of my guerrilla prescribing. There was a TB clinic and an HIV clinic within the clinic. It was very busy indeed!
At one point the sister came up to me and asked me what I was doing in my room, as “everyone comes out smiling.” I considered it was because I listened and showed interest. I had once sat in with a nurse and a patient and she had followed a flow chart to prescribe a drug. I was astounded that she did not once look at the patient, just at her flow chart.
After about 6 months I was treating most of the nurses, admin staff, the sister as well as the patients.
Some of my quirky cases
A woman bought her daughter to me. She seemed lifeless, almost pale. The mother explained that the child didn’t want to play, eat or do anything. I really didn’t know what to prescribe so I gave Silica 30, daily. I felt that the Silica would absorb everything she would put in her body to the max. She came back the next week. Bouncing in. I didn’t recognise the child. The mother was happy that her child was playing and eating again. Her only complaint was that she didn’t have the money to feed her. Poverty, now that’s a disease in itself.
A woman I treated for HIV wanted to stay on her ARV’s. This I supported as this was her wish. Once, when I visited her in hospital, she had not taken her ARV’s correctly and she had become very sick. In this African government hospital, it was sparse to say the least. When I found her, there was no water for her. I asked a nurse for a jug and a glass. “We don’t have any”, she replied.
Wonderfully the woman came out of hospital. She then wanted to get off of the ARV’s. We did this by slowly reducing the dose and I had her on HIV nosode 200, weekly. Soon enough she was only taking the nosode, and she got fat!
A family of 6 came in, two mothers, not working, and 4 children, all from different fathers who were not around or supporting. One of the children had a big hole with puss in her foot from a nail. They lived in a shack in the wetlands, and all their belongings where on bricks to keep them from getting wet. They were walking around in water all the time. The hole in her foot could not heal. I gave Ledum 200. But what I do about their situation? I went and queued for food parcels for them, but there was nothing to spare.
After a year of volunteering in the clinic I was aware that dealing with poverty was the necessity. How can one get healthy when they can’t afford to eat, when every day is a struggle for food and shelter?
I often felt overwhelmed by the great need; women wanted me to adopt their children when they died from HIV/AIDS. This was the first year of the last 18 years of my volunteering. In my next instalment I will tell you about setting up an NGO and my continuing Guerrilla prescribing.