Apart from briefly wanting to become a professional gymnast like Olga Korbut, I have always wanted to be a doctor of medicine, like my mum and dad. It was nice to see them being at the heart of the community and respected far and wide. Our family motto was always: we have to help people. This of course involved waking up in the middle of the night to help a neighbour or two but also brought about a nice warm feeling that my parents were doing something important.
Choosing a different path
When it came to going to Uni, my dad strongly discouraged me from going to medical school as at the time there was a huge crisis in Russia and he was working three jobs just to keep our small family afloat. So, I trained as a chemical engineer.
On graduation it turned out that female engineers were pretty much destined for the research institutes as working at the chemical plant involved too much swearing, vodka drinking and banging of the huge hammer to open/close massive valves - which regulated pressure and temperature and were hissing and spitting rainbow coloured liquids in one’s face.
As a result, my subsequent career involved selling reagents for a pharmaceutical company, timber trading from Russia to Egypt, jewellery wholesale in the Czech Republic and running my own bookkeeping business in the UK.
Getting back to my calling
But the longing to help others was always in the back of my mind so I volunteered for The British Red Cross as a part of emergency response team and was often called in the early hours of morning to fires and floods. This has taught me the importance of a cup of tea. Everything feels better after a good cuppa, even if your house has just burnt down.
Still wanting to do more for others, I have enlisted my mum and dad to help brainstorm my options. As I was in my early forties, becoming a doctor was not an option. Acupuncture seemed an obvious choice as my mum had trained in Korean acupuncture back in Russia and was able to help many of her patients where all other medical efforts failed.
Fortunately for me, Reading is home to the world-renowned College of Integrated Chinese Medicine. The quality of teaching is superb, and I also had 9 months of supervised college clinic to help learn from experienced teachers in a safe and supportive environment.
The feeling I got when my first ever patient got better is hard to describe in words. That was in February 2018.
It feels right
Since then, I’ve been fortunate to help many other patients on their road to recovery from various misfortunes. We have opened a community clinic in Southcote to offer low cost treatments in a multibed setting. I have also been helping people living with cancer in Surrey County Hospital, Guildford as a volunteer acupuncturist at the Fountain Centre. I’ve met people from various walks of life and would like to think that I’ve finally found my true calling.
My passion lies in helping others to help themselves. Whilst I accept the necessity of medication, I feel that it should be our last resort. Our body is a delicate and smart self-regulating system. It sends us signals if something is wrong with it. If we listen carefully, it is possible to nurture ourselves back to health without heavy medication (although sometimes it is necessary short term to give us that initial boost). Our will to live and flourish shouldn’t be underestimated and I’m here to help others on their road to becoming whole again.