In this last group of drugs i have tried to include all the outstandingly nervy children, and I think the key to the whole group is ARSENICUM. I think the Arsenicum children are possibly the most attractive children that you will come across. They are always very highly strung, usually finely made, finely built, very often with a very fine skin, fine hair, delicate looking kids. They are always very nervy, they are very easily scared, very easily frightened, anything unusual will frighten them, they are afraid of being left alone in the house, afraid of going out alone, terrified of the dark, and they always have a very vivid imagination.
You get all sorts of stories of night terrors, the kid waking up in the middle of the night, terrified, jumping out of bed, wandering through the house to get somebody to talk to, and it is always the feeling of some horrible occurrence hanging over the kid, very often she does not know what it is and is just terrified. As a rule if they are comforted, consoled, they quiet down and go to sleep again, particularly if she is taken into the parents bed and has somebody about and had the feeling she has got somebody there.
Then, in spite of their delicate appearance, you will find that these Arsenical kids are always restless. They are always doing something; you never see them sitting about just looking at their fingers. They are very liable to take up one thing, do it for a little, and go on to something else.
When they are nervy you find them often going from their mother to their father, from the father to the nurse, and back to the mother. Each one gives them a certain amount of comfort, but not for very long; they push on to somebody else.
Then the next thing that you pretty constantly get about them is that they get completely exhausted. And very commonly you get the story that, in spite of their restlessness, and in spite of their activity, the child is all right for a couple of hours, busy, happy, occupied, a bit on the restless side, a bit too mentally active, then it suddenly gets completely exhausted, gets pale, tired, lied down, very often depressed, and in that state is liable to get nervy, frightened, feels that it is going to be ill, wants to have somebody about.
Then, another very common story that you get is that these kids are inordinately tidy. A small girl with a number of dolls, she keeps these dolls in a most astonishingly tidy condition. Even the small boy who breaks his toys and leaves them lying about on the floor, the Arsenicum kid puts them away and is distressed, not because the toy is broken but because it is in a mess. You often find them very distressed if they spill jam over themselves and get into a mess, they are distressed out of all proportion to what has happened.
Then the next thing that is very definite about them is that they are very liable to catch cold, particularly from exposure to cold, and their colds are fairly typical. They usually start as an acute coryza, with a watery, excoriating discharge, with very violent attacks of sneezing, and with a tendency for the cold very rapidly to spread on to the chest. These Arsenicum kids, you will see them in 24 hours with the history of acute coryza developing into a rapid bronchitis. That is one type, and with that extension you will practically always in the Arsenicum kid get a history that the child has become hoarse in between the development of the coryza and the onset of the definite bronchitis.
Then you will get the other Arsenicum type who get a very mild coryza of the same type; without any hoarseness at all, without any sing of bronchitis, they suddenly develop an acute asthmatic attack. And the asthmatic attack in the Arsenicum kids is very typical, because it is usually a very tight, dry, spasmodic asthma. And it is always in these children accompanied by acute terror. It is rather terrifying for a kid to get asthma, but these Arsenicum kids are almost beside themselves with terror.
And the other thing about them is that they are liable to get their asthmatic attacks either early in the afternoon about one oclock to three oclock, sometimes after lunch at least, or else early in the morning, again any time after midnight. And the other typical asthmatic characteristic is that as the attack subsides the dryness seems to disappear and their chests get flooded with mucus and they bring up quantities of white, frothy sputum. Quite frequently I have heard the parents say that they know the attack is subsiding because the dry whistle is disappearing and the chest is getting moister.
“If you give Arsenic in that stage will it have any effect ? I mean in the moist stage ?”
Yes. You can give it then and it will clear up the whole thing.
Then the other thing about the Arsenicum, kids is that they are very sensitive to cold, and exposure to cold is almost certain to upset them; it either gives them an acute respiratory attack, or gives them an acute digestive attack. And the Arsenicum kids do get digestive upsets very easily; they get them from exposure to cold, and they are equally liable to get them from over indulgence in any watery fruits, melons in summer, strawberries, any of the juicy fruits are liable to give the Arsenicum kid an acute gastritis.
And if they get a gastritis they are very liable to get diarrhoea with it. and there is one thing you have always got to remember about the Arsenicum child they are extremely chilly, in most of their chest conditions, in most of their general conditions you get a thirsty condition with a desire for cold drinks, but where you you are dealing with a gastritis or gastroenteritis you find the gastritis is aggravated by cold drinks; you may get is brought on by taking ice creams, and these ice cream Sundaes that they all now-a-days are particularly dangerous for Arsenicum kids, that is to say the mixture of fruit and ice cream.
During their acute gastritis the pain they usually have pretty acute pain is eased by warmth, either warm fluids or external heat applied to the abdomen. One tends to get the impression of the Arsenicum incessant thirst for cold water, you get the child who likes warm drinks and they make it easier and you are rather apt to be thrown off Arsenicum, but dont be.
The other thing about these acute abdominal attacks is that you have rather a delicate child to deal with, and they can go down hill awfully rapidly; an Arsenicum child with an acute diarrhoea will get into a state of collapse in a few hours. And in their collapse they are restless, they are worried, they are anxious, and they are liable to have constant small stools just little spurts of diarrhoea and a marked aggravation of the exhaustion after each stool; very often the child looking absolutely gray and cold and sweaty.
I have seen them brought in here in summer after over indulgence in strawberries or something of that sort, the child having been perfectly well the day before and brought in there the next morning absolutely collapsed, simply been purging all night practically. And it is perfectly astonishing how quickly they recover if they are Arsenicum children and you give them Arsenicum. I have seen a child brought in here to the childrens ward with an acute gastritis of that type, who looked practically moribund, the only sign of the restlessness that you could see was the child constantly moving its head backward and forward about all it was fit to do.
I have seen the child in a couple of hours perfectly well, colour come back, diarrhoea stopped and the sign of acute collapse, which you would say was a sign of acute dehydration, simple gone. I should have said the child was absolutely drained of fluid, it had the typical skin of the dehydrated child, and yet without replacing all that fluid the child was absolutely well in a couple of hours.
“How would you give it ?”
Give every 15 minutes in an acute case like that I always give cms when they like that, with violent onset, and it simply wipes them out right away. I want to get as potent a thing as I can to stop it. And I may say I have seen cases of that kind treated with Arsenicum low and we have lost them. They didnt seem to have enough vitality to respond to the lower potency, and yet they did to the high. I have never seen satisfactory results under a 10 m in the violent cases.
Then there is another thing you have got to remember about the Arsenicum kids, and that is that you have got a general hyperaesthesia in the Arsenicum. They are over sensitive to everything; they are over sensitive to smell, to touch, to noise, to excitement; smells will make them sick, noise will make them all jumpy and nervy, excitement will give them a nightmare that night; they are the highly strung type of children that you want to keep quiet.
If they are pushed at school you head for trouble, they are very liable to get a chorea if over-stressed at school; and if they are not very gently, quietly handled you are almost certain in the Arsenicum child to get, the development of periodical headaches, headaches recurring once in 7 days, once in 14 days, most violent sick headache lasting anything up to 24, 48 hours, to they may last two or three days even and the child is completely prostrated. And it is always an intense congestive headache, with intolerance of noise, light, disturbance of any kind.