Watching for the Signs and Signals


I became a mother a couple of decades ago. Like many of us, I knew very little about nutrition beyond what I had learned from my parents, so I became completely dependent upon whatever advice my GP would dish out.

I am a scientist and, at the time due to working on numerous chemical trials, I was repeatedly exposed to many dangerous chemicals, including biocides, biostats, PCP and hydrocarbons. Of course I was aware of the immediate dangers some chemicals posed. However, like many, I was quite oblivious to the potentially dangerous long term effects of exposure. Data sheets would be provided, but in my job I remained focused on the mode of action of the chemicals on the substrate with which I was working, and paid no attention to the person who was handling the chemical, or how it was being handled.

I was working for an international chemical firm as one of their head scientists. I was pregnant, and no one alerted me to the dangers of handling handling PCP! I was testing and using chemicals, and performing timber preservative trials behind closed doors without any knowledge that the chemical may take a toll on my baby and myself.

Looking back I feel so foolish, despite the lack of responsibility taken by the authorities or the company concerned. As an individual, I had never abused my body with alcohol or any sort of drugs. That may have saved my baby’s (and my own) life.

I did have my son full term, but he had many health issues, such as convulsions, a continuous high temperature, being a difficult feeder, and losing weight no matter what I tried.

At the same time, I had a friend who had a daughter with chronic asthma and allergies. My friend went through a great deal of trauma during the pregnancy and that had reflected on the daughter’s wellness. A mother’s holistic wellness is paramount to deliver a healthy baby. The immune system of the child had been affected through the mother’s unhappy pregnancy. But this friend of mine managed to get her daughter into functional medicine and managed her symptoms very well.

I had to find out how she achieved it. I learned as much as I could from her. She was willing to pass on her knowledge. My husband and I then began to research complimentary medicine. The rest is history. Our son started putting on weight, his appetite improved and an ongoing fever he had seemingly constantly, subsided. He began to flourish in school and was soon excelling in his studies.

I often shudder to think what could have happened to him if I hadn’t intervened and looked outside the square for wellness.

Dr Gloria Hettige PhD


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