In deciding suitable treatment for a case, Hahnemann instructs the physician to consider whether it is medical, surgical, mechanical or merely hygienic. It it is medical and curable, homoeopathy should be the sole guide to cure.
Once in a long while a case that seems in the beginning solely medical and curable, goes just so far and no farther under the best homoeopathic prescribing one knows. It would seem as if the goal were missed by one step. To be sure these are serious cases when they end in surgery, but plenty of serious cases are cured medically. Probably, then, they belong in the list of homoeopathic failures, cases which have missed the correct remedy or remedies.
All but one of the five patients reported here had poor inheritance; three of them had poor environment and living conditions; one resort to a pain-killing drug. All had been homoeopathic patients for all or half a lifetime.
Case I. R.T., 46. Septicaemia. Summer of 1935. Father, senile dementia. Mother and sister, cancer. Victim of migraine for which Psorinum proved the curative remedy.
June 25 pricked right forefinger on a thorn; soon after picked up a small metal instrument which had been used to cleanse pus from a childs ear. Suppuration in two hours; high fever in five hours; intense pain all night.
June 26, whole hand swollen, chills, high fever, great pain, red streak up arm. Pyrogen 1M., 4 doses between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. did not stop rapid progress of the infection. Taken to hospital at 6 p.m.; surgeon opened finger whole length and back of hand in two locations; arm and hand placed in magnesium sulph. bath continuously. Three weeks in hospital with local treatment, also Pyrogen on June 27, 28, July 2, 20, August 5, October 11. Dressings lasted well into September. Result: loss of most of bone of forefinger which became useless; otherwise good health.
Doctors and nurses were surprised at the vitality and steady progress of the patient, (the surgeon had little hope when he entered the hospital), but I was not satisfied.
Case II. L.D., 17 years. Cervical adenitis. Christmas, 1937. A pale, pasty-looking girl with little endurance; always has been much indulged; many difficult illnesses in early childhood, with prolonged convalescence; a patient of Dr. Edgar Speiden from birth until his death two years ago; this her first acute sickness under my care.
December 24. Sudden great weariness followed by chill and high fever. Next day throat sore, < posterior wall and right side, especially pillars and uvula. This patient grew gradually worse for three weeks, developing progressive weakness, some sticking pains in throat, sense of suffocation combined with chilliness and cool perspiration, lay between blankets with heavy bed covers; a swelling under angle of jaw by January 2 which soon became hard as a rock and grew finally to fill the whole side of neck, under ear, forward to chin and down to base of neck, surrounded by cellulitis which made a bag-like swelling under chin and caused cheek almost to close the eye. This swelling was so sensitive could not bear it touched; jaws closed tight so it was almost impossible to feed through a tube. The temperature fluctuated up and down, pulse ran high all the time. There was almost no sleep and little nourishment for many days.
By January 15 the swelling was causing choking sensations and these increased, so January 17 I called Dr. Custis who took her to the hospital, opened the abscess and drained an astonishing quantity of thick pus which had lain encapsulated deeply in the neck. Dressings continued until January 29 when healing was complete. Strength was fairly good by March 1.
It seems as if all this could have been prevented by the right remedy. The one which did most was Lachesis, given first on the 15th. Perhaps this was the remedy all the time but I did not see it before. Indications were: < hot drinks, great sensitiveness of affected parts, a bluish look to the mass in the last days of it, stiffness of jaws, suffocation, inability to lie down. Contraindications were: right-sided symptoms; chilliness, sensitiveness to air.
Case III. A.M.A., girl 12 years. Empyema, February and March, 1938. Been well all her life; no doctor since pneumonia in infancy.
February 6. Coryza for a few days. Yesterday began grunting respiration or a short hacking cough with each respiration. Pain lower left chest on coughing and deep respiration. Vertigo on rising. Nose stopped; epistaxis this p.m. T. 103.8, P.120, R. 30.
These symptoms persisted with little variation for four weeks during which the pleura on the left side filled with fluid, crowding the lung into a small space and burdening the heart. The temperature was high the first week, then gradually down to 100 to 101. Pulse kept up to 120 to 130, good quality until the fourth week, when weaker and higher, up to 142. Respiration went up to 40 and over as time went on. The general condition remained remarkably good.
Additional symptom details were:.
Talking in sleep; dreams of school. Dry mouth; thirst for cold water. Lips very red with face pale. Perspiration profuse in the night. Tongue yellow all over; later red streaks through the middle. Hunger all through the illness.
Remedies given: Ferr. phos., Bry., Phos., Sulph., Lyc., Verat. v. and later Pyrogen.
On March 4 she was taken to the hospital after the aspirating needle had brought very thick pus; a portion of the rib was resected and drainage tube inserted. This brought large quantities of thick pus. A slow convalescence followed but by the last week of March she was just about well.
Here is the case of a healthy girl going into a serious condition all in two days, and not coming out of it until surgery helped her out.
Case IV. R.R.E., 68 years. Another case of empyema, November, 1937 to May, 1938. A slender, pale, wrinkled little lady, looking and acting at least ten years older than her years, yet quick-mentioned, darting about like a little bird. Blood pressure about 200 for several years. A chronic cough for at least two years with great quantities of purulent, grayish mucus raised rather easily.
Occasional haemorrhages from small area to left of midsternum. Examination for tuberculosis negative several times. Sputum examination in January showed staphylo- coccus, streptococcus and pneumococcus. The chronic cough grew worse about the first of last November, a hacking, tormenting cough in paroxysms < during the night, especially 6 a.m. It seemed as if the frail little body would cough itself to death. By January 27 she was in bed with an erratic fever coming and going, never very high and never leaving.
The chills and perspiration were present that so many patients have had during the last winter and spring. She wanted plenty of air blowing in the room to prevent a sense of suffocation. Her chronic difficulties about food were exaggerated until she half starved herself and suffered much from flatulence. She complained bitterly of a bad taste, swollen mouth and lips, although they did not look swollen.
Taste was gone completely, but she smelled everything bad. Meantime the sputum filled basket full of paper containers each day and the cough continued to rack her to pieces. There is no use enumerating remedies, which probably did little for her.
On February 11, in desperation, I called Dr. Custis who suggested Stannum. This brought the temperature to normal in a few hours and diminished the cough considerably for two weeks or so. Then it increased again and stannum did nothing more. Suddenly on March 6 fever went high after a chill and severe pleurisy developed in right lower chest with entire suppression of the cough, no cough whatever after this date. Respiration became labored and short and the look of failing vitality was upon her. chills and sweats continued occasionally and digestive disturbance were perpetual trials.
April 6 Dr. Custis aspiration and obtained nearly a quart of very thick pus of a vile odor which filled the house. Evidently the colon bacillus was added to the former array. Relief was considerable but temporary as the pleural cavity partially filled again in the next few days and the patient looked cadaverous. So she was taken to the hospital for rib resection and free drainage in the hope of making her last days easier. The operation was done under local anaesthesia and as quickly as possible. But lo! she rallied very well, lost all her fever and began gaining slowly. Now, the middle of May, she is at home of one of her nurses, sitting up a little each day and promising to be at least half as good as before.
This gain cannot be laid to homoeopathic potencies for I have not treated her since she went to the hospital. It looks as if I had better keep hands off. Her family is noted for great vitality. A laboratory test of the drained-off fluid showed streptococcus haemolyticus. The cough is returning and a very slight haemorrhage occurred May 7. (Note at later date: Patient died May 31.).
Case V. Miss A.M.B., 56 years, a graduate nurse in charge of a Health Home where real homoeopathy is much favored.
November, 1937. On Thanksgiving Day this patient had a sudden shaking chill followed by hard aching all over and prostration. By evening her throat was sore on the right side. Next day when I was called there was a gray ulcer eating deeply into the right tonsil, pillars and edges of uvula. The pain was intense and prostration considerable.
From this day, November 26, to December 2 when she died, progress was almost steady. Sometimes it halted, even some clearing of the membrane, but soon it marched on again covering the entire throat from right to left and eating away the pillars, uvula and some of the posterior pharynx. The gray color gave way to a red, shiny or glazed appearance toward the end. The larynx was affected, almost taking the voice. A culture was negative for diphtheria. Dr. Custis, who was called, said it was a pneumococcic throat. Where it came from no one knows.
Remedies were Lyc., Kali bi., Merc., Phyt., Lac. c. and Pyrogen.
The day she died I learned what seems to me the key to the failure of remedies. She belonged to a highly nervous family, deeply miasmatic. She was always hard to treat for suppressed nervous conditions leading to hysterical spasms. She was a victim of migraine attacks which might keep her in bed two or three days. For the last two years or more she had secretly resorted to some sort of dope to stop these headaches and allow her to remain on duty.
It is often said that we learn most from our failures and I, for one, have no objection to reporting them, for we humans are frail and imperfect at best.
DR. HAYES: In the case of the abscess of the neck, I noticed the symptom “aggravated by cold,” and the rapid progress of the bluish discoloration, and I thought of Vipera, which is very much like Lachesis but very often in acute infections in five times faster.
DR. PANOS: This excellent paper is more appreciated because we should not hesitate to report our failures. We must remember when we operate that the large amount of fluid that is accumulated is beyond the power of the remedy. The vitality is of course already low. Even when we inject that much fluid in a perfectly healthy individual we dont expect a patient to go without a heavy disturbance, and when the patients vitality is already low we must not expect a remedy to absorb a tremendous amount of fluid, but we should give aid by surgical methods.
DR. GRIGGS: I see a great many cases of pleurisy, of empyemas, in the hospital, and I think one of the best remedies I have ever used in cases of inter-lobar empyemas, where there has been confined pus, where you have the erratic septic temperature and a harsh suppurative cough, has been Sulphur iodide. Sulphur iodide has really caused absorption and helped some of those cases, and I think I have cured two or three really severe cases of inter-lobar empyema, just taking a little through a Luers syringe. I have cleared those cases up perfectly with a negative x-ray with Sulphur iodide. It is a good remedy to think about.