I am going to tell you about a case I treated but I will mainly focus on the process I went through while the case progressed. Early in my practice I started a support group for local healers and met a young lady whose mother was terminally ill with nephrotic syndrome. I offered to help because I intuited during a group meditation that her mother wasn’t quite ready to leave this world. That intuition served me well, because even though she’d been given 8 months to live, under constant weekly/fortnightly homeopathic care, she managed to live another 2 ½ years. During that time she set her personal and religious affairs in order, made her peace with her maker and died when she was ready.
When I first took Alice’s case in May 2003, I was a bit dismayed at how ill she actually was, how swollen her legs were and that she was in a lot of pain. I asked her how she was feeling and she replied: “I’m tired, my mind is willing but my body isn’t up for it.” Her legs were like tree trunks, stiff and full of fluid and she was finding it hard to walk.
She’d seen a kidney specialist in January, who said her condition was ’caused’ by Glomerulonephritis (Brights Disease) and she’d been subjected to ECG’s & X rays and was told she’d lost 50% of her kidney function and was ‘losing protein’. She’d been prescribed diuretic tablets which had reduced her weight from 12 ¼ stone to 10 ¼ but she’d had an allergic reaction to them and had come out in a rash ‘like stinging nettles’, which made her itch and scratch so much she couldn’t sleep.
Two of her son’s are GP’s (she has 5 children) and ‘because of them’ she agreed to a kidney biopsy. At the last minute however, she decided against it and the consultant ‘blew his top. He was in panic mode’ and made her sign a disclaimer, and that was that. She was ‘finished with the hospital’.
She then went to see an herbalist, changed her diet to fruit , vegetables, soups , beans, chicken and cottage cheese. Ten days ago her weight had crept up to 11 stone and she was itching and scratching.
Her symptoms had started in the previous October when she started to have ‘frothy urine’ and ‘swollen feet’. She had been very tired but ‘very busy in the allotment’, and had been commuting on the train from the West Country to Aberdeen to tend to her aging parents. Before both her parents died, she had nursed her Dad, travelling every 2 weeks to see him and ‘got no sleep’ and then contracted shingles after he died. I said I’d do my best to reduce the oedema as that was causing the most distress. She loved vinegar and dancing so I prescribed Sepia 30c and said I’d see her again in a month.
I then went off to read up as much as I could about her condition.
Having never treated anyone so ill before I consulted a homeopath who was also trained in medicine and was advised that Solidago was a good remedy to try. I also decided to use the MYMOP forms so we could objectively see if she improved.
We got on very well. Alice was a Catholic convert and my mother is the same, so we had a common-ground to work on. It was obvious to me that the aggressive and unfeeling treatment she’d had at the local hospital was significant and the fact that I was prepared to listen to her and how she felt about everything helped pave the way for her to trust me.
The Solidago made no obvious difference in her symptoms and the only remedy that came up the most in articles and repertorization was Apis.
I gave the first dose of Apis 30c on 25th June. I visited regularly and carried on with the Apis, and the main things she reported at these visits were:
she was reasonable,
huge amount of wee,
weight now down to 10 stone 3 lbs.
On the 20th October 2003 after an undercurrent prescription of Nat Mur 200c that hadn’t done much, I decided to go back to the Apis 30c and said I’d be back the next day. Then a very strange thing happened. Alice said that during the night her throat started to feel funny and at 4am she woke up. Her nose on the left side was ‘pouring’ like ‘water flooding’. She woke again at 5am ‘nose pouring’. She weighed herself and she was 10 stone 2lbs. This carried on until my next visit and she felt she had’ got the flu’ with her nose ‘pouring’, ‘sneezing’ and ‘coughing’. As her kidneys weren’t working very well, I viewed this as the only way the extra water in her body (oedema) could be ejected.
By the 4th Nov 2003 her weight was down to less than 10 stone and she was ‘weeing like a horse’. Over the next few months she reported feeling ‘fine’. She got a few colds here or there and had a Lycopodium prescription and Sepia but we seemed to return to Apis as being the most capable of keeping her condition stable.
Most of 2004 was routine and I listened as she spoke about making a pilgrimage to Ireland, settling an emotional upset with her brother, thoughts about her mother and her deepest truest feelings. She also went to Paris with her son and had a visit to the seaside. I became a sort of confidant and we built-up quite a rapport.
This middle part of her treatment was more of me observing her moods and helping her process how she felt about herself and her family. She even helped me with a proving as her condition had improved enough for her to get out and about.
I asked a more experienced Homeopath to help with the case and we came to a good constitutional. Eventually all her children left home and when her youngest went to University, things seemed to change. In October 2005 she developed breathing problems and this was when I felt the case beginning to get out of my depth. I took the case to supervision again but nothing seemed to prevent the inevitable and by Christmas Alice couldn’t walk far, her breathing was really bad and I recommended she visit the local NHS Homeopathic hospital satellite clinic, a suggestion she never took up.
I asked a colleague for input and we changed the prescription to Lycopodium but Alice wanted to carry on with Apis as it had worked so well in the past. What could I do? Say ‘No’.
Just before Christmas 2005 I arranged to see Alice in the New Year. I needed some time to absorb the huge amount of responsibility that I seemed to have given myself by taking on this case and wanted some time away from the fortnightly visits to ‘get myself together’. I was shocked when her husband rang me on the 18th Jan 2006 to tell me she had died that morning. Even though we had been working together for over 70 consultations and I knew her condition wasn’t easy to treat, I was very sad when Alice died. Her family kindly invited me to the funeral, which certainly helped ‘closure’.
I don’t think I’d be able to take on another case like this as I spent an enormous amount of time worrying about my prescriptions and worrying about how she was doing. As she got more weak a close friend of hers even emailed me asking what I was doing’ to help. This caused me an enormous amount of concern as I knew she was so well liked and I had to take that to my supervisor too.
I had heaps of supervision and came to the conclusion that taking a case with serious pathology needs more than one person, and as I’m a lone practitioner, I was glad of the support network I’ve built-up. I’d learned about every member of Alice’s family, even met a few of them and I felt, when she died that I’d lost a member of my own family. Her daughter gave permission for me to write this piece, which feels like saying goodbye to a gentle, kindly Aunt.