MY FIRST LESSON.
CASE I.-ABSCESS IN ARMPIT DISPERSED WITHOUT OPERATION.
IT is one of the canons of old school medicine that as soon as matter or pus has undoubtedly formed in an inflamed part, there is nothing for it but to let the matter out. There is no possibility, it is taught, of causing absorption of matter: when once formed an abscess must be opened. That impression is so firmly drilled into students in the ordinary schools, that two years of homoeopathic practice had failed to get it out of my mind. The preceptor who finally cured me of it was a very humble person-a hawker who came to consult me at the Homoeopathic Dispensary in Ipswich, where I was then practicing, for a swelling under her arm. On examining the part I found the whole armpit converted into a bag of pus. I said to her that it was an abscess, and would have to be opened, and I proceeded to make arrangements for the little operation. But I had reckoned without my patient. An operation of even that trifling nature she sturdily refused to agree to.
I felt that the dignity of the whole profession was outraged in my person by this rejection of my advice, but I pocketed my pride for the time being and prescribed Hepar sulph.6. one pilule three or four times a day. On her return the following week I expected to find that the abscess had opened itself in a very unscientific way, after causing much needless suffering to the patient. In this I was disappointed: she had gauged my therapeutical powers better than I had been able to do myself-the swelling was very much less! No opening had taken place, the patient was feeling much better, and the pus was nearly all absorbed. In a short time all fluid had gone, and an agglomerated mass of glands was left. The glands soon separated and then resumed their ordinary state, the patient recovering perfectly with a whole skin!
From that patient’s “obstinacy,” as I regarded it at the time, I learned a lesson which has been of the greatest service to me ever since. Matter can be absorbed, and its absorption can be promoted, by homoeopathic medicines. When matter is absorbed in this way, it is dealt with as the organism deals with all waste tissues, and is not “dispersed” into the circulation to poison other parts. When matter can be thus dealt with, by putting the organism into a more wholesome condition, it is infinitely better for the patient to avoid any operative interference.