Since cases of progressive muscular dystrophy are rare, it is interesting to have two in one long practice. The first was reported to the I.H.A. in the early 1930s; it is sketched again here for purposes of comparison.
M.C. was four and a half years old when I first saw her in March, 1931. Up to about that time she had seemed to her parents a healthy child but her inheritance was bad. On the paternal side a great-grandmother had had tuberculosis, a grandmother cancer of the uterus, a grandfather died of spinal meningitis after hard drinking for many years. On the maternal side a great grandmother had had a paralytic stroke and a grandmother several strokes, an uncle died from a stroke, a great aunt had “leaky” heart valves, an aunt tuberculosis, an uncle paralysis from drinking jamaica ginger. The outlook from the point of view of heredity certainly was bad.
A year before I saw her, this child had been walking to her sisters school in the morning and again at noon, each way nine- tenths of a mile, making four miles five days a week. Also she took dancing lessons at that time.
At four and a half she was losing weight steadily, losing appetite, had increasingly poor color tending to be bluish in tint, was giving up play more and more to sit in on the sidelines, was developing fear of anything unusual. On physical examination hollows were noted where muscles ought to be, with a white nodular appearance of the skin over the hollow places. She would stumble and fall easily, would get down on her knees like an old person, would pull herself up with her arms, was very slow dressing and undressing. She had slight fever in spells.
I gave her Sulph. 10M in March and Calc. c. at the end of June. At that time her abdomen had become large and hard; she had noisy flatulence; her legs were looking like sticks. After the Calc., vitality and appetite improved, but the atrophy was progressive. By July she was apt to fall prone and strike her forehead. By October she was pulling herself upstairs with her hands on the banisters or hands on knees. She could not get up off the floor alone, could not get into a chair, had to be lifted, but she took more interest in life and in other children.
In this month of October the parents decided to take her to Johns Hopkins as the oracle of last resort. She stayed there in hospital for a week of observation and testing. Then the parents were given a letter signed by two heads of clinics stating the diagnosis, progressive muscular dystrophy, the prognosis, “no known cure,” a few years to live, not beyond ten years of age probably during which time she would become helpless and progressively weaker. So the despairing father and mother brought their child home and in a few days the father committed suicide because he could not face the future. This did not help matters any for the mother was left with two little children and a heavily mortgaged house.
I could think of only two remedies for this case, Calc. c. and Phos. I had her on one from June to November and on the other from November to January, 1932. Each one produced some improvement in strength, appetite and mental vigor, but neither produced a permanent gain or stopped the progress of the disease. By November it had become almost impossible for her to turn over in bed.
Then, on January 21st, I gave her Calc. phos. 10M and by February 17th, she looked decidedly better, had begun to gain weight. The muscles were really harder, more filled out, and she could handle herself slightly better.
From this time on changes for the better were steady and remarkable. In April she could run, picking feet up off the floor. In May she could walk and run normally. By August she could do almost anything other children could do, could go upstairs one foot over the other without holding the railing, could skip on one foot.
The next summer (1933) she was on a farm, climbing fences, excelling in games, called the tomboy of the group.
She has had no trouble with muscles since. She is tall, erect, wiry, with reddish hair and freckles. Tubercular inheritance showed for a time in frequent colds and coughs, also in enlarged lymphatics. Psoric tendencies were expressed in hay-fever for a few years in the spring and in eczema on back and limbs. Sycotic taint showed in large warts and huge callouses on one heel. Dysmenorrhoea is present too.
She looks in blooming health, however. She has been an office worker the last few years and was happily married in April this year.
Last January I received a letter from a lady in Florida whose husband has a large oil plantation. The title son of the Plantation manager began to be clumsy on his feet as soon as he began to walk. Progress from then on was similar to that of the case reported above, except slower, so that at five and a half years he had more muscular power than she had had at four and a half years.
The lady writing to me sent a description of the case to her friend, Dr. Lucy Swanton Clark, after the body had been taken to a child specialist who pronounced it progressive muscular dystrophy and said, “no known cure.” Dr. Clark responded that she knew just one doctor who had cured a case and referred her to me. As a result I flew down to see the child, watched him carefully for two days, saw his maternal grandparents as well as his parents and his two sisters. Then I promised to do my best and returned to my office to study the problem further.
In this case, also, heredity was very bad. In fact there were five cases of this disease in the five generations preceding this little F.E., all transmitted in the female line and all the victims males, dying with it in childhood or early adolescence. The victim in the next generation before F.E. began symptoms, as he did, on beginning to walk.
F.E. had a younger sister who died at four months with a tumor of the brain.
The patient had fractured a clavicle three times simply by falling out of bed. At two years he had an eruption on neck, upper chest and back, “like flea bites,” itching which lasted three weeks. I was told he was fat and husky up to the last year.
I found a thin, rather wasted boy of medium height and dark complexion with pale, rather waxy skin; a sensitive child,already conscious that he is not like other boys and shrinking from their company. He is naturally a stay-at-home, quiet and precocious, fond of books and pictures, of mechanical toys with which he is clever. I was told he learns extremely easily and has a remarkable memory, repeating bits of the conservation of his elders two weeks after he has heard it and teaching an older sister the whole of a verse she is trying to learn. He thinks things over and then asks questions about them.
He is affectionate, thoughtful of others, with a serious outlook on life, a rare but sunny smile. When younger he shrank, from other children and animals as if afraid of them. Hearing is acute. Myopia is pronounced, for he bends his head way down over a book. Perspiration is free all over, except hands and feet, with a sour odor on face and scalp. He is warm blooded, requiring very light clothing. He takes cold easily, mostly a dry, harsh cough. Teeth are poor. Walked at thirteen months.
During the last year, besides losing flesh and strength, his very good color has left him. Walking had been progressively unsteady until, when I saw him, he almost pitched from one side to other. LIke the first case he pulled himself upstairs with one hand reaching forward on the banisters and the other pushing on his other knee. He had great difficulty getting up from sitting cross-legged on the floor. He could climb into a chair, however. He could not jump at all, falling down when he tried. He could not pull the trigger of his toy pistol with one hand but must reinforce it with the other. Nocturnal enuresis returned after two years without it and has lasted for two years. The muscles did not seem so wasted as those of the first case but some of this was visible along the spine.
Naturally, as I watched this boy, I could not help comparing this case with the earlier one; they were so much alike. The boy had several characteristics of Calc. phos. that were lacking in the girl, causing a stronger temptation to prescribe this remedy on the spot. But I did not do it. I came home and made a thorough study of the case, sending Calc. phos. 10M on February 6th. The first report two weeks later began with the opinion of all the family that the child was better, stronger, with better color and much more appetite; more interested in life; more self confidence.
By April 8th, improvement had stopped and he began losing ground slightly. Another dose of Calc. phos. was sent him then. Improvement followed in two days and continued steadily. He was taken to the child specialist who had said, “no known cure.” This doctor tested the body, pronounced him very much better and wanted to know what I was giving him. I sent word to him through the family that I would be very glad to tell him all about it if he would write to me. I learned later that he said he would write after seeing the patient on his return from seeing me.
The boy was brought to Washington to see me on June 3rd just past and stayed four days with his mother in my home. My grand- nephew nearly four years old made a fine playmate for observation purposes.
My first impression of great joy was to see his abundant vitality, self-assurance and natural happiness. The next was to notice his round face, chubby hands (he has gained two pounds), erect carriage, normal walking; next came a plateful of supper put away as fast as possible, not taking time for much chewing. Then came the much stronger grip of his hand, his ability to run like other boys and play hard, pushing with his back muscles to make a spring hobby horse “walk” over the grass rug. He can jump three or four inches off the floor. He can go up a whole flight of stairs without holding on the banister or pushing with hand on knee, but this, as yet, is a hard struggle and he can reach the top only with great difficulty. He comes downstairs freely, one foot over the other, normally.
He still must take a long afternoon rest, but then is good for more hard play. He spent two hours in the Zoo walking about, was very tired after it, but a long rest cured this. The case seems to me seventy-five per cent cured already in just four months from the first dose of Calc. phos. 10M and there have been only two doses so far. He may need other remedies as he grows up, just as the first case did, but I venture to predict that this remedy will complete the cure of progressive muscular dystrophy.
In comparing the two cases, these things should be noted:.
Both children were thoroughly examined by high-up specialists and the diagnosis given, followed by the statement, “no known cure”.
Both cases have very bad family history but characteristics of it vary widely.
The same remedy proved curative in both and in both improvement was evident within two weeks of administration of the first dose.
Muscles wasted to a pitiful degree can become filled out, strong and efficient in a matter of a few months from the start of correct homoeopathic treatment.
Improvement shows first in the general condition of the patient and in recovery of the muscles later, recovering from above downward.
In the first case-use of Calc. c. failed, then Phos. failed but the combination succeeded. In the second case more characteristic symptoms of the combined remedy showed up from the first.
In both cases there was family tragedy, suicide in one, sterilization of the mother in the other because the father was so shocked and worried over this disease in his son and the fatal brain tumor in the next younger child.
It will be interesting to know whether any others in our group have had cases of this pitiful malady to treat. Such cases as these surely will held build up lay faith in homoeopathy.
DR. WILLIAM B. GRIGGS: I have seen several cases of muscular dystrophy in the Childrens Hospital, where I have been connected for over fifty years, and I have seen only one recovery. This is simply marvelous work. One case has stuck to me a matter of sixteen months which I think has recovered. He is a boy going to the Episcopal Academy in Philadelphia at the present time.
I gave that child Glycerin in the 1000th potency and repeated it several times, and he began to improve in weight and his nutrition seemed better. Then a careful examination of the child again showed me he had flabby muscles, and the dark condition of the skin, like an ordinary, emaciated marasmus type of infant. I gave Calcarea phosphorica, began with an old potency, 300M and began raising it up and repeated it often, to the 1000th and never yet went be young, but the child began to improve. I took his hemoglobin every month regularly. The blood count and the tonus of the muscles improved.
That child today is playing like an ordinary boy, and I think he has recovered. He is the only case I have seen recover in fifty years experience at the Childrens Homoeopathic Hospital.
DR. A.H. GRIMMER: I have had no experience with this type of case. I had cases of atrophy of muscles following infantile that have filled out and returned to normal with the aid of remedies. One was cured with Calcarea sulphurica. It seems that the calcareous salts may have something to give us a key, judging from the reports of these three cases. It is well worth coming to a meeting just to hear a paper like this. It gives us courage. If we would just stick to our homoeopathic philosophy and remedies, we could cure all those so-called “incurables”.
DR. ALLAN D. SUTHERLAND: I should like to say a word, though perhaps I will be ruled out of order, since my word isnt strictly confined to the subject matter of Dr. Greens wonderful paper. The statement is sometimes made that cases of infantile paralysis recover completely under the homoeopathic remedy. We all know that many cases which are paralyzed will recover completely, anyhow, and I think we ought to be very careful in making statements to the effect that there is no question but that the recovery was due to the remedy, when in fact it may have been due to the natural recoverability of that particular case or disease.
DR. GRIMMER: All cases do nor recover. Many of them are terribly crippled.
DR. SUTHERLAND: Only about 20 per cent of the cases are paralyzed anyway in infantile; in other words, a large percentage is going to get well, and of those who get over the acute stages with a residual paralysis many will eventually recover without the remedy. Hence recovery is not always due to the remedy. Sometimes we make claims we cant substantiate. It we make claims, we ought to be able to substantiate them.
DR. RAY W. SPALDING: There is one case of progressive muscular dystrophy – the diagnosis was made by the neurologist – in a man fifty years of age, where Calcarea carbonica, followed by Phosphorus has been of assistance, but not curative. Possibly Calcarea phosphorica is what I should be looking for.
The thing that I want to bring out briefly is that I am told that a progressive muscular dystrophy does not show atrophy of a muscle. The essayist and the discussants have mentioned atrophy. I am told by this specialist in Boston that the paralysis is in the motor end plate and therefore one rarely finds an atrophy. The muscle appears as good as ever and so it does in this case I am reporting – a very bid man, weighing 190 pounds. The difficulty is in the calf muscles and they are as large as normal and very strong, but he is unable to lift his foot to go upstairs.
DR. HARVEY FARRINGTON: In fifty-two years I have had about four of these cases but none in children, and I cured none of them. The last one, a man of fifty-seven years of age, is improving, and it looks as though he were going to get well; in this kind of case any improvement is encouraging.
He has a number of symptoms of Alumina, which I gave him in the 1M.
This case illustrates a lesson that we often overlook. It was three weeks before he noticed any improvement from that medicine. Kent says that Alumina is slow in acting, but Kent might also say this kind of disease is slow in curing.
This is a charming and instructive paper that Dr. Green has given us.
DR. JULIA M. GREEN [Closing]: One thing struck me very forcibly in these two cases, that the first improvement was noted within two weeks. Calcarea phosphorica is a deep remedy and I didnt expect be shown so plainly in general attitude of the patient within two weeks.