East meets West in a healthy union

Written by Leanne Esposito


In what appears to be cultural role reversal this couple have bucked a stereotypical trope. Nick as a GP practices western medicine, while Lou’s EFT practice, along with her philosophy and mindfulness practices stem from an eastern perspective and her Buddhist studies.

Meet two passionate and caring individuals who are devoting their lives to facilitating good health and wellbeing in our community. Dr Nick Yim, General Practitioner, President of the Fraser Coast Local Medical Association, AMA Queensland Board Director, GP Academic Lead for The University of Queensland Rural Clinical School (Hervey Bay) and his partner Lou Coles, Emotional Freedom Techniques Practitioner and Mindfulness Facilitator.

Nick is the Australian born son of immigrants. His mother was born in the Solomon Islands and arrived in Sydney as a young girl and his father was born in Hong Kong and moved to Toowoomba
at the age of 16. Nick’s family lived in Brisbane and when it was time for tertiary studies he followed in his father’s footsteps and studied pharmacy. This is when he accepted a friend’s challenge to sit the Graduate Medical School Admissions Test or GAMSAT. He did well and his career path was redirected from that point. Nick may have started out as an accidental doctor but he is no less
passionate about medicine and his responsibility to his patients.

“I was sitting my third year pharmacy exams. I have a theory in life and that is if you are going to do something, you do it well, especially if I took a place in medicine,” he said.

Lou’s formative years were spent in South Australia where she was raised as a Catholic, however a chance meditation session with a local GP installed an interest in books by the Dalai Lama.
“In the one-doctor town that we lived in when I was a kid in South Australia it was the hippy GP, that had just returned from India, who came over to our house for dinner one night to teach my dad
breath meditation to manage stress.

“I participated and learned how to sit in the lotus pose. I still often recall his detailed description of breath meditation.

“It was some time after that, around 11, that my dad booked the whole family in to learn Transcendental Meditation from a teacher that moved to town for a short time,” she said.

Despite what appears to be Lou’s alternate health practice, she hails from a scientific background and holds a Bachelor of Science degree majoring in Marine Biology and Zoology in which she studied animal neurobiology, animal behaviour, and the ecophysiology of how animals adapt their physiology to their ecology.

Up until 2016 she was employed by the Queensland Government as a Park Ranger and held a substantive position on Fraser Island and was posted to Moreton Bay and other areas on notice.
In around 2011, Lou was diagnosed with Post-Viral Fatigue Syndrome, an illness similar to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in its presentation but follows a virus. It’s a complicated disorder characterised by extreme fatigue that lasts for more than six months and affects many body systems and their function, particularly the nervous, digestive and immune systems. The fatigue worsens with physical or mental activity and doesn’t improve with rest. It was a matter of physical, emotional and career survival that she regained her health. In 2012 Lou signed up to an online course on how to manage Chronic Fatigue which unbeknownst to her included EFT Tapping and her passion for EFT

“I started my own practice of EFT in 2012 to get better from Chronic Fatigue and then did the practitioner training in 2014. I had a period of time off and in 2012. I was steadily going back to work
and, at the start of 2013, I was the full time Moreton Bay Marine Parks Duty Ranger. So it was really important that I stayed well to be able to do that,” she said.

Recovering from an illness which had no known cure was the catalyst which redirected her career to become an EFT practitioner.

For Nick, childhood memories of camping and fishing family holidays on Fraser Island afforded him a sense of familiarity with Hervey Bay. That is why he chose to relocate to Hervey Bay to complete his GP training by joining Main Street Medical Centre in 2013. These days he is a practicing partner at Torquay Doctors. Nick is the first to acknowledge that mainstream medicine does not hold all the answers.

“While doctors can perform heart transplants and we’ve pushed scientific boundaries of eating mould as antibiotics (penicillin), I’ve learnt with experience over time that there are more things that we don’t know and that is why we refer to specialists for blood tests, imaging and treatment. If we
don’t know we go looking for answers,” he said.

After a chance over-the-fence meeting between Nick and Lou in 2013 a natural attraction and mutual respect gradually began to develop. Lou describes their first contact the progression of their relationship.

“I’d come back to stay with my parents after my contract had finished and was waiting on the next one in the South East. Nick had just moved in over the back fence. He was trying to meet the neighbours. I had come home from a yoga class and there was this young guy in the kitchen having a beer with my dad. He invited mum and dad over for dinner and said that I could come too. The food was awesome.”

At the time Lou was still a Ranger so Nick was unaware of her EFT practice until much later. After 7 years together and two border collie fur-babies, called Kevin and Bodhi later, their mutual respect of each other’s careers is well cemented. Nick’s appreciation for EFT has grown and believes there is a plausible case for its use in the treatment of pain and post-operative and trauma management. Whilst he admits there is no hard scientific evidence, he has seen its benefits first hand.

“I feel that modern medicine does not have all the answers, however evidence based care is something we do need to strive for. I feel that holistic care is paramount and there are instances, for example, chronic pain where we (doctors) have learnt that we are not the best treaters of chronic
pain and have inadvertently caused harm through the decades.

“Medication is definitely not the answer. Opioids are not the answer. Cannabis is not the answer.

“We know that pain is an emotion and each person will experience pain differently. Women tolerate childbirth differently from each other.

“It’s part of the psychological aspect of how we were brought up. The modelling behaviour of our carers can shape our responses to pain.

“I had some outdated viewpoints but I think Lou’s probably given me more insight and more to the fact that management of pain is not just about a tablet, but taking into account a multifaceted approach.

“The doctor has a guiding role and we need a team approach which could include a psychologist,
a psychiatrist, an EFT practitioner, a physiotherapist, an exercise physiologist or a friend at the coffee shop,” he said.

Lou explains how an EFT practitioner can assist in a patient’s health recovery and overall well-being.
“Trauma is stored in the body or there can be emotions that are stuck and aren’t dealt with and that are internalized or could be associated with an initial injury. We need to unlink them. There are meta-analysis studies on the use of EFT for PTSD, anxiety and depression and also on the physiological benefits of EFT,” she said.

Nick also believes and is becoming receptive to the theory that previous childhood trauma can be a risk factor that triggers chronic ill health.

“Anecdotally, what I’ve been finding in my work and practice is that it could be something from their childhood, such as a traumatic hospital experience or psychological trauma, which impairs the ability to get better. It makes sense,” he said.

Lou believes that it is patterns that are set up early in life or beliefs from childhood which affects how you develop a pain threshold or a response to stress.

“It affects how you relate to the world around you and what you see because you look at the world through that filter. You look for evidence to support your world view in your beliefs to a significant event in your adult life which can reinforce that trauma,” she said.

Interest in the benefits of the EFT model is growing and in 2019 Lou was invited to present on the SBS TV show Medicine or Myth with Dr. Charlie Teo.

While Nick and Lou continue to care for the health and well-being at a local, state and national level they will always remain humbly connected to the Fraser Coast.

Each play an active role in the area with local sport and volunteer work. So if you see Nick on the touch football field, Lou at yoga, or together walking with their canine family, make sure
to say hello. To them it’s the creative connections we all make together which aids in the health and wellbeing of us all.