Sheffield Telegraph, July 28th, 2000 TELEGRAPH LIVING

Natural Solutions

by Penny Baddeley

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Heather Hull had a stressful career teaching English in a secondary school in Chesterfield.

The 36 year old from Holmesfield, Derbyshire, worked every evening and weekend to keep abreast of the job but it just seemed to get harder and harder. "There’s pressure from the government, new initiatives, and to keep all these plates spinning is getting impossible," she says.

Then at half term in October 1997, after fighting off the usual round of viruses circulating the school, she succumbed to ‘flu. It then turned into viral meningitis and she never recovered her health.

Six months later, after a barrage of medical tests, she was diagnosed with ME, commonly known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Later still she suffered double pneumonia.

At her worst she thought she was dying. The stress of work, she believed, had taken a toll on her health and well-being.

It’s a link that is increasingly being recognised. A recent American study at the Harvard Centre for Society and Health found that a stressful job is just as unhealthy for women as smoking.

Heather’s symptoms were varied and wide-ranging. She suffered complete loss of balance, severe headaches, aches in joints and muscles, palpitations, a fluctuating temperature, insomnia, sickness, diahorreah as well as extreme fatigue which confined her to bed.

The NHS provided her with a diagnosis but could offer no cure.

Heather says: "In a way the diagnosis was a relief but it was also very depressing. They say, ‘you have got ME’ but then discharge you because there is no treatment. That can make you feel desperate because you want to get better".

In desperation she took the advice of a friend and travelled to Bristol to visit an alternative health therapist who used the ancient Japanese form of healing called Reiki.

Reiki is said to balance the flow of energy in the body and support the body’s natural ability to heal itself. Reiki practitioners place their hands lightly or near various parts of the body known as ‘chakras’ - centres of energy. The healer aims to clear blockages so that the body’s energy is flowing freely.

The treatment is said to promote a profound sense of calm and deep relaxation.

Heather says: "I’m a sceptical person and after having taught for nearly ten years I’m fairly cynical but I was willing to give it a go.

"It was a nice experience, very soothing. It didn’t set the world alight but it sowed a seed. I felt there was something in it."

She returned to Bristol and decided to learn it for herself so that she could self heal. "I started to get results. It’s hard to describe but I knew it was doing me good. It works on four different levels - healing physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally.

"Most of all it gave me a feeling of confidence that I would get over the ME. It is incredibly soothing. If I had a bad headache I would self heal and it would go. If I had aches in my joints I would self heal and sometimes it would just put me to sleep.

"It was gradual. It didn’t happen in an all-singing, all-dancing kind of way but I just knew I would get better using it. I wasn’t getting all of the symptoms all of the time and my stamina improved."

By now Heather had been off work for two years and lost her teaching job but she had become a Reiki Master.

"I knew no employer would look at me because I had two years off, so I decided to become self-employed".

She set up as a Reiki Healer but within three months she was well enough to begin a new part-time teaching post. She gave it up recently to practice as a healer full time.

Her Reiki clients’ problems are varied. They suffer from chronic back or neck ache, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and asthma but in the main feel they have stress-related illness.

Heather describes the sensation she feels when healing her clients. "My hands get really, really hot, you can feel the energy flowing almost like rods coming through your hands. It can throb or pulsate. It’s different for each person."

She claims that her clients are benefiting in the same way as she has herself. "More people are becoming aware that they need a bit more than the NHS and tablets to treat symptoms. They want to get to the root cause.

"They are becoming aware that their spirit and soul needs attention as much as their physical body."

Heather Hull is also a qualified Reflexologist. She works from home at Main Road, Holmesfield and at Top To Toe Beauty Salon, Eckington.

Telephone (0114) 289 1342 for more information or an appointment.