THE limits of the curable and of the incurable are not represented by any fixed lines. What is incurable to-day may be curable tomorrow; and what we all of this generation deem incurable may be considered very amenable to treatment in the next generation.
When walking the hospitals years ago, I was taught, in respect of cataract, that there was nothing for it but an operation. A few months since I spent a little time at an excellent metropolitan hospital for the eye, and found that it is still the one thing taught, viz, if you have a cataract, there is no hope for you beyond that of getting blind, and then trying to get your sight again by having the cataractous lens removed.
On the twenty-eighth of May, 1875, I was sent for to see a lady suffering from acute ophthalmia. She informed me that her friend, Dr. Mahony, of Liver pool, had recommended her to try homoeopathy when she should again require medical aid, and had also mentioned my name to her. She seemed rather ashamed of calling in the aid of a disciple of Hahnemann, and was very careful to lay all the blame upon Dr. Mahony; “for,” said she, “I know nothing about it.” My patient was in a darkened room, and hence I could not well see what manner of woman she was; but I soon learned that she was the widow of an Indian officer and had spent many years in India, where she had ophthalmia a great many times, and that she was in the habit of getting this ophthalmia once or twice a year, or even oftener, ever since. It generally lasted several weeks, and then got better; no kind of treatment seemed to be of any great avail. Did I think homoeopathy would do her any good? I replied that we would try it.
I made an attempt at examining the eye by lifting up one of the laths of the venetian blind to let in the light, and then everthing the lid; but the photophobia and consequent blepharospasm were so great that I barely succeeded in recognizing that the right eye was a red, swelled mass, while the left one was only comparatively slightly affected-in fact, a case of panophthalmitis. A more minute examination was impossible, as the pain was so great that the patient screamed whenever any light was let into the eye. I took a mental note of the chief symptoms, notably of the fact that the inflammation was chiefly confined to the right eye, and went home and worked out the homoeopathic equation. I was especially anxious to make a hit, and so I spent about half-an-hour at the differential drug- diagnosis. The drug I decided upon was Phosphorus. Thus: R. Tc. Phosphorus lm. xij. Sac. lac. q.s. Div. in p. aeq. xij. S. One in a little water every hour. That would be about the one-hundredth part of a grain of Phosphorus at a dose, or rather less.
I called the next day, about eighteen hours thereafter, and my patient opened the door herself, slightly screening her eyes with her hand, and was quite able to bear a moderate amount of light. The inflammation was nearly gone; and the next day it was quite gone.
Patient’s amazement was great indeed. In all the twenty years of these ophthalmic attacks she had suffered much, and had a number of doctors, including London oculists, to treat her; but to no purpose. And yet she had been treated actively, and there had been no lack of physic and leeches, and also no lack of medical skill; but there was lacking in their therapeutics the one thing needful-THE LAW OF SIMILARS.
How was it that I, with no very special knowledge of the eye or of its diseases, and with only usual practical experience, could thus beat skilled specialists and men of thrice my experience?
Was it, perhaps, greater skill, deeper insight into disease, or more careful investigation of the case? BY no means…. It was just the law of similars, patiently carried out in practice.
My dear allopathic confreres, WHY are you so very simple that you leave us homoeopaths with this enormous advantage over the best of you? Any little homoeopathic David can overcome the greatest allopathic giant, if he will only keep to his Materia Medica and the directions of Hahnemann. And the good thing lies so near, and is so constantly thrown at you. If we homoeopaths were only to make a secret of our art, you would petition the Government to purchase it of us!
But-revenons a nos moutons. My patient was naturally very grateful and said, “If that is homoeopathy, I wonder if it could cure my cataract?” On examining the eyes now with some care one could readily perceive that there were opacities behind the pupils, that of the right being the much more extensive. She then informed me that she had a cataract for some years, and was waiting for it to get ripe, so as to undergo an operation. She had been to two London oculists about it, and they agreed both as to diagnosis and eventual operative treatment. She had waited a year and gone again to one of these eye-surgeons and been told that all was satisfactorily progressing, although but slowly; it was thought it might take another two years before an operation could be performed. Her vision was also getting gradually worse, and she could not see the parting in her hair at the looking- glass, or the names over the shops, or on the omnibuses in the street; could see better in the dusk than in broad daylight.
In answer to her question as to the curability of cataract with medicines, I said I had no personal experience whatever on the subject beyond one case, * (This was the case of a lady of 48 years of age, with senile cataract, in which Calcarea 30, and Silicea 30, had been given with apparent benefit.) and I thought that from the nature of the complaint one could hardly expect medicines to cure it, or even affect it at all. Still some few homoeopaths had published such cases, and others had asserted that they sometimes did really succeed in curing cataract with homoeopathic treatment. I added that, inconceivable as it was to me, yet I had no right to question the veracity of these gentlemen simply because they claimed to do what seemed impossible.
In fine, I agreed at patient’s special request, to try to cure her cataract with medicines given on homoeopathic lines!
I must confess that I smiled a little at my own temerity. But I consoled myself thus: “What harm could it do to treat her while she was waiting to get blind? At the worst I should not prevent it!”
So it was agreed she should report herself every month or so, and I would each time prescribe for her a course of treatment.
All this was there and then agreed to.
She took from May 26th to June 19th, 1875, Calcarea Carbonica 30, and Chelidonium 1, one pilule in alternation 3 times a day. Thus, she had two doses of the Calcarea one day and one the next and conversely of the Chelidonium.
There were indications for both remedies, though I cannot defend the alternation; I hope I alternate less frequently now.
Then followed Asafoetida 6, and Digitalis Purp, 3.
Then Phosphorus 1, and subsequently Sulphur 30, and then Calcarea and Chelidonium.
Thus. I continued ringing the changes on Phosphorus, Sulphur, Chelidonium, Calcarea Carbonica, Asafoetida and Digitalis, till the beginning of 1876.
On February 7th, 1876, I prescribed Gelsemium 30, in pilules, one three times a day; and this was continued for a month.
Then I gave the following course of drug treatment: Silicea 30, for fourteen days; Belladonna 3, for fourteen days; Sulphur 30, three times a day for a week, and then Phosphorus 1, for a fortnight.
A month or so after this date, March 20th, 1876, I one morning heard some very loud talking in the hall, and my patient came rushing in and crying in quite an excited manner that she could see almost as well as ever. She explained that latterly she seemed able to discern objects and persons in the street much better than formerly, but she thought it must be fancy, but that morning she suddenly discovered that she could see the parting in her hair, and she at once started to inform me of the fact, and, en route, she further tested her vision by reading the names over the shops, which she previously could not see at all.
I ordered the same course of treatment again, and in another two months the lenticular (or capsular) opacities completely disappeared, and her vision became and remained excellent.
She never had any recurrence of the ophthalmia, and she remained about a year and a half in my neighbourhood in good health; she then went abroad again, and in her letters to her friends since, she makes no mention of her eyes or sight, and hence I fairly conclude that she continues well.
The patient’age is now about 50 or 51.
I have detailed this case somewhat circumstantially, so that my conversion to a belief in the medicinal curability of cataract may appear to others as it does to me.
This case made a considerable stir in a small circle, and a certain number of cases of cataract have since come under my care in consequence, and the curative results I have obtained in their treatment are extremely encouraging. Be it noted that the diagnosis of cataract was made by two London oculists.