We Don't Know What We Don't Know - The Importance of Seeking the Right Help

If you’ve been into our new clinic at North Lakes, you’d be familiar with our growing collection of beautiful indoor plants.  Now, despite my knowledge and passion as a herbalist, the most ironic thing is that I really struggle keeping plants alive.  But, this is a skill I could learn, I told myself, as I purchased a bunch of beautiful greenery for our new office. 

One of my favourite patients is a very skilled gardener/landscaper and owner of a big nursery.  I went to his nursery and asked lots of questions about which plants would be best to suit my space, and what routine I should have to make sure they got everything they needed.  With the right advice, off I went with an array of succulents, palms, peace lilies, and Ficus trees.  I was paying such close attention to them, checking their soil and hydration and keeping on top of big weekly waterings.

One day, I walked into the clinic and saw one of my Ficus trees looking pretty unwell.  He was droopy and the leaves were speckled with little bits of brown.  All I knew to do was water him… so, that’s what I did.  He didn’t look any better for it.  I asked some friends who love gardening what I should do.  They advised me maybe I’d watered it too much.  Jeez, that’d be right, I thought.  I’ve spent so long making sure I water them I’ve killed them somehow with too much attention!  So, I did the next logical thing and asked Dr Google, who quickly told me that yes, I’d either been watering the plant too much or not enough.  Wow, thanks for that helpful information.  The two possible answers were completely opposing things.  He seemed fine for so long, I thought, surely it’s not the watering.  But, what would I know?  So, I became fearful of watering him because I didn’t want to be over watering, and I became fearful of not watering him enough in case this completely opposite reason was why he was so unwell.

In perfect timing, that week my gardener patient was due for a visit.  As soon as he walked in the door I asked him to have a look at my Ficus, and explained my worry about over watering or under watering, telling him I’d been diligent in making sure he was watered but maybe I was just destined to be a plant killer.  What happened next is the whole point of this story… he took one look at the plant, touched the leaf and rubbed his fingers and said, “Mites”.

How is this the point of the story, Emily?  Well, I’d spent a week fretting over what was going wrong with my plant, and not once during that time had I thought to do the only logical thing and ask someone that actually knew about plants.  I was asking friends, swinging to and fro from uneducated opinion to uneducated opinion and taking advice from a freakin’ home décor blog.  At the end of the day, we don’t know what we don’t know.  If I had’ve just asked someone that knew straight away, I would’ve known what to do and how to fix it!  And, if I had’ve waited a few weeks longer to seek professional advice, my Ficus would probably be in the mulch with all my other plant skeletons at home. 

It was such a lesson to me because I realised that this is what people do with their health, over and over.  We experience a symptom and we talk to others about it, get their advice (which can only come from their own personal experience anyway… and we all know that what works for one doesn’t necessarily work for anyone else), try their advice, research more about it and then end up so paralysed by conflicting information we don’t know what to do or what action to take.  We do nothing or waste our time doing things that aren’t going to be helpful in changing how we feel.  We spend all this time and stress (and money!) without ever seeking professional advice that resonates with us, and will help us.

So, just like me and my Ficus, if you’re worried about something and want real guidance in fixing it… don’t go to Dr Google or Fred down the street who had a similar-but-kinda-different-thing-happen-once… see a professional that can identify and treat the cause <3