HOW I BECAME A HOMOEOPATH.
FIFTY-FIVE years ago I was appointed schoolmaster and sexton at Holkewiese. That village was the poorest village in Pomerania. There was no road leading to it. It was far away from the worlds traffic. I had never taken an interest in the art of medicine. That lay outside my interests. Besides, I had never been seriously ill and had an instinctive dislike of doctors in general. Poor people call in a doctor only when they are very, very ill. I knew that if the doctor had paid a visit, there would soon be a call on the part of the undertaker. I disliked doctors and undertakers equally strongly.
When I took up my appointment at Holkewiese, things became different. My sick father and my delicate mother came to live with me, and so did two of my sisters who were still rather young. Later on I married, and my young wife was frequently indisposed. I was surrounded with people whom I loved and I felt responsible for their lives and health. Even if I had had confidence in doctors, the problem was how to find a doctor, especially at night,in the Pomeranian wilderness. I felt very worried and told one of my experienced colleagues about it. He advised me to obtain a chest containing one hundred homoeopathic medicines and a textbook to go with it.
I felt highly elated. I thought that all my worries about the health of my family were at an end, and I started treating them with the greatest zest. Unfortunately all my endeavours were in vain. I had no success whatever. I thought the whole thing a fraud and deception and made up my mind that I should put the box of medicines and the book into the fire.
One fine day during the summer holidays a poor woman came to me and asked me to visit her husband and to help him. He had been suffering from a very serious attack of colic for three days. I told her: “I am afraid you have come to the wrong man. I have a lot of remedies in my house, but I have found them perfectly useless.” However, a schoolmaster is an important personage in a poor and isolated village. She insisted upon my going to see her husband. I hesitatingly put my book and my medicine chest under my arm and went with her.
I found her husband groaning and complaining with pain. I sat at the opposite side of the table and, like an ignoramus, read through the homoeopathic book to discover a remedy and felt very foolish. At last I said to myself: “After all, nothing is going to help the poor fellow. Let us give him the medicine relating to pain in the stomach which has been given the largest space in the book.” I found that Colocynthis 3x was the remedy which occupied most space. I put twelve drops of Colocynthis in a glass of water and asked the patient to take a tablespoonful every hour. Immediately afterwards I rushed away because I felt very much ashamed of myself and thought that I had behaved in a manner ill befitting a schoolmaster by pretending to act as a doctor, and I made up my mind that I should never again be prevailed upon to act as an amateur doctor.
The next morning I had to go early to Rummelsburg, and I had to pass the house of the patient. I looked the other way, feeling deeply ashamed of myself, and was startled to see the patient in the meadow on the other side of the path mowing the hay with great energy. I called out to him: “What are you doing out in the open on such a raw morning? Yesterday you were so ill that I thought you might be dead by now. Instead you expose yourself to a bad chill which might bring back your terrible pain.”
The man told me in his broad Pomeranian dialect that I must have given him a very powerful medicine for his colic, because the first tablespoonful of the mixture had enabled him to breathe and had cured him completely. He kept the rest of the medicine in a bottle for more than a year although the water had, of course, gone bad. A neighbour of his was at that time dying of prolapse of the bowel followed by gangrene. Hoping that the “powerful medicine” might prove efficient in that case as well, he gave him the rest of his drops, which, ofcourse, had no effect. The peasant himself never again experienced an attack of colic.
This little episode taught me that my previous failures were due not to the homoeopathic medicines, but to the homoeopathic text- book which I had been using. My non-success was due to the homoeopathic book which I had studied. It was written by a celebrated homoeopathic physician, but, unfortunately, the author had not expressed himself so clearly that an ordinary mortal like myself could learn from it the art of homoeopathic prescribing. With incredible labour I succeeded at last in understanding the secrets of homoeopathy which, rightly considered, has no secret. Homoeopathic treatment is simple if one treats patients in accordance with the leading symptoms. I would illustrate homoeopathic treatment by a few examples from my practice.
SOME CASES OF PLEURISY.
About eighteen months after curing the peasant of colic, I was called to a farm bailiff whose only son was gravely ill with pleurisy. He was an apprentice in a town in the neighbourhood and he had been treated by a local doctor from the very beginning of the illness. His condition had rapidly deteriorated. After a few days the doctor said that he could do nothing further for the boy. His employer immediately notified the father and the father fetched back his son, although the weather was terribly cold.
I found the patient wrecked with fever, wildly shouting and gesticulating. He complained about stabbing pain in the left side and displayed all the leading symptoms of Bryonia. As the doctor treating the youngster had given up the case as hopeless and as there was the utmost danger of death. I did not hesitate a moment, but gave the sufferer 5 drops of Bryonia mother tincture in a tablespoonful of water and told the father that the boy was to have a similar dose every hour and that next day he should have only one drop in a tablespoonful of water per hour.
On the second day after my visit I was sitting at my desk, occupied with writing, when to my amazement the sick boy came into my room and asked me to enter his name as he wished to receive Holy Communion. He told me that after receiving the second dose of 5 drops of Bryonia he had fallen asleep, that he had slept all night long, preparing heavily, that next morning the stabbing pain had gone, that he had stayed all day in bed, but that he had found it impossible to stay in bed any longer. He proclaimed that he was perfectly well, but only somewhat weak. As far as I am aware he has never had a relapse.
Sometime after this adventure I was asked to help a miller who lived quite close by, and who also had been attacked by pleurisy. Unfortunately I could not help him because my stock of Bryonia tincture had become exhausted. Hence I advised the wife to send for the doctor and the doctor treated her husband for a week. As he had no success, he suggested that a second doctor should be called in consultation, and after a week a third doctor was called in. After three weeks treatment by three doctors he was out of danger and the miller was urged by the doctors to be most careful not to catch a chill because otherwise he would have a relapse which probably would prove fatal.
Six weeks after this cure the miller caught a chill. On a beautiful Sunday morning he was attacked by a violent fever which shook his whole frame; he had severe stitching pain and pleurisy in both sides of the chest. Meanwhile I had received another bottle of Bryonia mother tincture, and as the three doctors had told the patient that if there was another attack, it would probably be fatal, I did not hesitate a moment to undertake the treatment of the case. When I went into the millers bedroom, I found him in a raging fever. The bed shook with his trembling, and he moaned: “Now I have the pain in both sides. All is over. I am a dead man.”.
Having the utmost confidence in Bryonia, I told the patient: “Today is Sunday. On Wednesday you will be able to drive with your flour to town once more.” I asked his wife to put a bag filled with hot mashed potatoes on his chest and gave him 5 drops of Bryonia mother tincture in a tablespoonful of water, and went to church. After service I went around to him, and found him sweating profusely. The stabbing pain had greatly diminished, and he actually was able to drive into town on Wednesday as I had prophesied. Moreover, he has not had a relapse, and many years afterwards I heard that he was still alive when he was over 80 years old and that he enjoyed the best of health.
During that far-away time, more than half a century ago, I visited a colleague of mine, Johannes M., another teacher, and found him as white as a sheet and shivering with cold, sitting close to a hot stove. I stopped only a little while and then went home. A few minutes after my return there came a messenger from my colleague requesting me to visit him at once because his whole body was shaking with fever and he experienced violent stabbing pain in the left side of the chest at every breath.
This message made it clear to me that this was another case of pleurisy. I had a better chance with him than I had had with the miller because I could start treatment immediately with a bag of the hot mashed potatoes and Bryonia mother tincture, 5 drops in a tablespoonful of water to be taken once an hour. Having taken two doses of Bryonia my friend fell asleep. He also fell into a profound and most beneficial perspiration which welled up from every pore. His breathing became gradually more normal. I stayed with him till 12 oclock midnight. As he continued sleeping peacefully I went home, having left for him 5 drops of Bryonia in a glass of water with instructions that he should start on the mixture only the next day, taking a tablespoonful every two hours.
The next day after school I went to my friend in the afternoon. He looked very happy and called out to me: “Well, Wiener, I have had enough of bed, I am getting up.” Of course I would not allow that, but on the following morning he got up without asking my permission, he attended school as usual, and, like the miller, he has had not a single relapse. Relapses are almost unknown in the case of homoeopathic treatment.
The examples given, to which I could add any number of similar ones, show how Bryonia acts in ordinary uncomplicated pleurisy if that remedy has been selected in accordance with its leading symptoms.