My Journey To Health, Wellbeing and Why I Created Harpal Clinic

My dad on his multiple travels in his youth, worn out shoes and all, trying to find his journey in life...

My dad on his multiple travels in his youth, worn out shoes and all, trying to find his journey in life...

I spent a lot of years trying to find my passion. To find a way to contribute to the world. I was not capable of having a 'job' as a means to an end (money and living). To me, it was better to live poorly and eat badly then to live a life with no passion. The journey started more than 10 years ago and was thankfully fuelled by an incessant need for reading and knowledge. 

I read 'Rich Dad Poor Dad' by Robert Kiyosaki. For those unfamiliar with this book, its about his two dad's philosophy toward wealth production and their vehicle of choice, which was property. This book changed my life. I was single at that point and decided that I could use the knowledge contained within that book to free myself of the need to constantly create money to live- which would then enable me to find the time to find my passion.

Needless to say, things don't quite work the way you want it to. What that lifestyle afforded me was the luxury of being able to walk away from jobs I wasn't entirely happy with as I had managed to create a small passive income stream. To many (family included), I seemed like a quitter. I didn't stay on and 'stick it out' as one is supposed to. Hence my rather varied career path which in retrospect, has greatly enhanced my ability to identify, empathise and understand the many different types of patients I see. 

By the time I was ready to start a family, I still had not found my passion. That's a lot of years of 'fumbling about' and whilst I enjoyed different aspects of the different work I had access to, nothing felt completely right. I was however still very carefree, healthy, fun loving and all the good things. At that point, I had already started putting on some weight. We ate 'healthily' but I almost never exercised. I was about 8kg heavier than my ideal 'college' weight when I discovered I was pregnant at the ripe old age of 35. I'm not very maternal and despite loving my child a lot, motherhood was hard for me. Together with a rather difficult pregnancy (symptom-wise), life was not that much fun. Weight wise, I managed to lose all the pregnancy weight within 6 weeks. We both tried to replicate our old lifestyle and before we knew it, we were pregnant again! Not clever, I know...

I found it very hard to cope and decided to go home to Mummy for a long 3 month stay with my little girl in Kuala Lumpur. It was one of the better things I did and by the time I was ready to come home to London, I'd survived the worse of the pregnancy symptoms. Now, I belong to the class of doctors who pooh-poohed all gobbledy-gooky pseudo-science. Didn't even see the point of vitamin supplements. So whilst I ate 'well' during pregnancy, I was careless with nutrition and extra supplements. This period however was my first introduction of what I considered pseudo-science: cranial osteopathy. As with most things, desperation leads one to explore areas they wouldn't normally. I had horrendous pain in my pelvic region, a condition called pubic symphysis diastasis (SPD). At my lowest point, I could not walk more than a couple of yards before stopping due to the pain. Being someone completely healthy before, this baffled me. I didn't know what to do, none of the doctors I saw knew what to do. I got referred to physiotherapist etc, to no avail. That was the first time I really understood medical desperation and a sense of no light at the end of the tunnel. To cut the long story short, the only thing that worked for me was cranial osteopathy- which til today, I have no clue why. But the pattern was always the same. They would play around with my skull bones and talk about 'flows' and 'can you feel the release' (I went to a school for cranial training so that I could listen in when they were teaching). The next day the pain was always worse and the day after that it would gradually improve. It eventually went away completely, which to me was a miracle as the normal course is for it to get worse as the baby grew bigger.

I coped badly with having two babies (15 months apart). I had post natal depression which I did not realise until a couple years later. I had infections that lasted months and had to be on long term antibiotics- a situation that really distressed me as I always prided myself on having good health with no effort. I had dental problems when I never used to before. I was overweight and not able to shift it (3 kg more than before- doesn't sound like a lot but it is for a small framed person). I was sullen, joyless and tired most of the time. Worse of all was that I couldn't see a way of of this and thought that I simply had to accept this as the inevitable ageing process.

I then decided that I would add stress to my already stressful situation by taking on a massive development project for our flat which took 8 months. I project managed it personally (I love architecture), was very active, ate very little hoping to lose weight in the process. I also started working in Harley Street at this point in a male sexual dysfunction clinic. And I started getting fatter. This time in the classic 'potato on 2 sticks' fashion ie slim limbs with a fat face and middle.

Looking back, I can see that I suffered from poor nutrition due to my body not having recovered from the first pregnancy. The fact that both pregnancies were difficult meant that I suffered a great deal of stress and was less able to cope- the start of adrenal fatigue. Post natal depression (very easily treated I now know) added to the stress. Long term antibiotics contributed to gut dysbiosis or leaky gut, alongside hormonal imbalance. The development project and new job plus guilt of not spending enough time with my babies pushed me into a full state of adrenal fatigue. I felt fat and ugly and joyless, a state of depression at having no control over myself and my body. Was this the start of an inevitable downhill decline into old age?

I consider myself lucky that I found a way out. As it happens, my future passion found me. Most people struggle this way for years and years, barely coping, just existing. I was one but I refused to let go of my dream of 'finding my passion'. I stumbled upon it whilst looking to set up my own practice in male sexual dysfunction, a subject that I had grown to love. A plastic surgeon I knew asked me if I were interested in anti-ageing medicine. I had no idea what he was talking about but I said yes in any case. That was my first introduction to bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. Fast forward to my training with Neal Rouzier in Salt Lake City and my life as I knew it changed. Here was a form of conventional medicine that worked with you but in a preventive capacity instead of only treating the symptoms. Here was a form of medicine that seemed 'true', not influenced by the pharmaceutical industry or politics. Here was medicine practised the good, old fashioned way but with all the latest research and technology combines. How come no one was shouting about it from the rooftop?

I then felt that I could not only do hormones without understanding the rest of the human body and how it all interacts together. An ear infection is not just an ear infection. The more I read, the more stupid I felt. The more stupid I felt, the more I read. And I applied what I knew to my family. Friends started noticing and I helped them too. The changes were massive. Between my husband and I, we lost over 27kg and still counting. Today, I'm full of energy, don't fall sick as often as I should be (having a new business and very heavy personal stresses), my skin glows, I am happier, I'm not the weight I want yet but I'm very close. I look better than I did 10 years ago despite being 10 years older. My face is simply not that bloated anymore. I have to constantly remind people that I'm in my forties as youth is not appreciated in my profession!

I'm a working progress and I feel that I'm in a very unique position to help others. I created the clinic as a complete anti-ageing clinic, inside and outside. I think the way one looks contributes greatly to the way one feels- there are very few people who aren't influenced by this. Not surprising considering that even babies are drawn to 'better kept' people and symmetry. When one combines that with managing the inside and handling stresses the right way, we end up being happier, more productive and simply more relevant and useful to society/family/whatever and whoever that counts to us. On the inside, we now have an opportunity to delay our bone age, brain age, heart age, skin age amongst other things. With evidence-based medicine, science and technology, we now have a way to avoid the ravages of age; we may not necessarily live longer but we have an opportunity to not be a burden to loved ones and society, to be relevant (a complaint I frequently hear), how can one ignore this opportunity?

My clinic was borne out of my personal experiences, my attitude to life and my need to help others. When you tell me your story, I see pieces of a puzzle. I then try to complete the puzzle by giving you the missing pieces. Its an honour for me to get such an insight into your lives and I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all patients, past, present and future, who have opened their hearts and trusted me to help them. I hope fervently that you will join me on this journey. I will keep writing and sharing. I'll tell you about some wonderful books out there, some excellent blogs, some great events. Its a minefield and you will question it a lot. The point for me is that you are asking questions and not just accepting life. Do join me and ask me questions on my blog, make requests as to the next topic you'd like me to write on. All I can say is that I will certainly try my best.