All about me
How I got involved in healthcare.
I landed in hospital for a month when I was 11 with osteomyelitis of my right hip, bedbound on traction and talking heavy anti-biotics. I soon realised that I LOVED hospitals, the buzz of them, the making people better and that’s when the seed was sown for a life in healthcare. I wanted to be a doctor, to be honest, but being from a large family, I did not want to ask my parent to afford 6 years in college, so I went for physiotherapy in Trinity College Dublin. It was a good choice.
Me as a physiotherapist
My career been varied and really enjoyable, to be honest. It also allowed me to indulge in my deep character flaw of getting bored once I've mastered something, so I moved around a bit. Since I loved hospitals, I spent the first 8 years of my career working in hospitals: orthopaedics, elderly rehab, respiratory physio, stroke and neurological care and general surgical and medical rotations. This included working in Australia and Texas, USA. Very interesting to work in other settings: our medical system in Ireland might not be perfect, but it’s not bad either. Then I spent the next 8 years working privately in clinics ( including my own): backs and necks, joint injuries, general sports injuries… But I hankered to get back to hospital physio, and so I worked the next 10 or so years in Milford hospice in Limerick. This involved what is termed ‘palliative rehabilitation’: rehabilitating people who are terminally ill, after an acute illness and also providing supportive care for those who nearing end-of-life. This was mainly for cancer patients, neurological patients ( such as Motor Neuron Disease) and respiratory patients ( end-stage cardiac and lung fibrosis patients). It was at this time I trained up as a lymphoedema therapist. It might sound strange, but it was lovely working in the hospice and home-care environments and I had great colleagues, even if it was challenging emotionally. But all things have their time, and I finally moved on to another acute hospital job: this time in lymphoedema prevention in University Hospital Limerick. My current job is to monitor high-risk patients for the onset of lymphoedema and teach them how to prevent and treat it themselves. So interesting to move from end-stage care to preventative care! Most of my patients are recovering from breast cancer operations, including mastectomies.
My research career:
Just after I started in Milford Care Centre, I started a Masters in Clinical Therapies ( Physio) in the University of Limerick. AS part of this, I conducted research and this led me and my colleagues down a path of researching and publishing a number of papers on physiotherapy in palliative care, which was badly needed as there was so little to guide us as this is very much an emerging field. See my research papers here. I also wrote a book chapter on fatigue in the first book on palliative care physiotherapy, which ended up being quite ironic ( read further down!). I thought I had put all of that writing and research to bed, but am now conducting a study on lymphoedema prevention….I promise, that will be the last!
How I fell into teaching Yoga and Somatics:
So I had taught myself yoga from a book at least 15 years before I trained as a teacher. I dipped into this and meditation for anxiety, which I had lived with since being a teenager. Just before the COVID pandemic, I trained as a yoga teacher on a whim: my friend Cormac asked me if I’d do it with him and I said yes. It wasn’t really part of my plan. But I found that I loved it and gradually it changed my career path a bit. I also became interested in Somatics, purely by chance: A friend of mine had suffered from a really traumatic childhood and I got to reading about trauma in a brilliant book caleed The Body Keeps The Score. It was here that I first heard about Somatics. Co-incidentally, my training studio was running a somatics course, so I signed up. I thought I was doing a workshop, and then discovered that I had inadvertently signed up for a teacher training course (!!!) so my first somatics class ever was done when I was training up to be a somatics teacher with Living Somatics…talk about putting the cart before the horse ( an old saying in Irish for doing things backwards). I found yoga and somatics helped me with a lot of my physiotherapy patients: yoga was the lost link I needed to provide really good exercises for rehabilitation of injuries, as well as brilliant breath techniques for reducing stress and slowing down the nervous system ( many people have a stress component to their injuries). Somatics was really useful for some of my chronic pain patients, also to reduce the sensitivity of their nervous system to control pain and anxiety. So I continued to binge out on yoga and somatics courses during the COVID pandemic. See my Yoga credentials here. I also started to do youtube videos during the COVID pandemic, mainly to keep boredom at bay for friends (!) AND to instruct my lymphoedema patients on techniques they needed , as they mostly had to self manage during lock-downs. These are great fun to do: I’m a talker so I did them all in one shoot AND because I’m too lazy to go editing them..Ha! My youtube channel can be found here.
Me and chronic fatigue:
Also, in the midst of COVID, I was off work for the first time in my career, with fatigue/burnout and a medical condition. For the first time in my life, I couldn’t exercise ( which I loved). I now had to rely on gentle yoga and somatics, breath techniques, meditation and other low-grade body work to keep me occupied. I also had to practice fatigue management (sigh!) – the same techniques I had been sermonising about when I was writing the book chapter on fatigue – the irony was not lost on me. I got interested in the gut-biome after reading a book on inflammatory conditions ( remember my long course of severe antiobiotics as a child?) and I tried lymphatic treatments and all kind of everything to improve my situation. It’s 3 years into a projected 5-year recovery plan, and I’m getting there …slowly. This new development got me more and more interested in the effects of long-term stress on the body and nervous system and it’s really exciting for me to see the science catch up with the age-old wisdom that we are a body/mind entity and that gut health and mental health is central to our overall health.
What I’m offering:
- Yoga classes in-person locally, specialising in beginners because I love it best
- Somatics classes on-line: it’ll take some time but I am hoping to expose more and more people to somatics for body awareness and stress reduction
- Youtube videos on yoga and lymphatics, infusing my offerings with my physio knowledge I hope
- One-to-one yoga/somatics or physiotherapy ZOOM sessions for people with a particular issue that I can help (post cancer recovery, mastectomies, sports and muscle injuries, chronic pain, lymphoedema, yoga injuries)
- Monthly blogs on different conditions…giving my tuppence worth, and checking in on the science
If you’ve made it this far….well done! That’s me and thankyou for reading.