Initial Interview July 23, 2005: Female b.d. 05.22.61 While the initial interview was done in person, she lives in a different province, so subsequent interviews except for the last mentioned here were done over the phone or by e-mail.
There are two things that bother me: one is things with vinegar in them and the other is about communication. At work, home or whatever, it’s hard to say what I need to say. I’m afraid to stick up for what I think. It was a little better after Argentum nitricum. I watch people saying what they need to say. I’m afraid of what people will think of me. I can’t trust my inner sense that it’s a valid opinion, even though I think I’m a strong, educated, loving, knowing, caring being. It’s important in the speech therapy that I do and in teaching special education. It’s all about communication issues.
The food sensitivities are also a big thing. And my ovaries are not right. There’s been pain during sex unless I jam my fist into my right ovary. There’s also been pain in my ovaries at ovulation and before my period. The pH balance is another issue, as my naturopath says I’m too alkaline.
I tend to work in extremes, either full out or nothing.
I find it hard to make decisions. When I make lists I either do it all or nothing.
My body is out of balance. All my problems are on the right side: ovary, knee, ankle, eye (astigmatism). Imbalance is not knowing how to say when, what is good enough. Feeling out of control. I like to be in control. I can’t let other people do what needs to be done.
[She wipes the corners of her mouth.] I’ve done it all my life. It’s a clearing thing, clearing excess stuff, not letting stuff get stuck in the corners. I don’t like slimy things or textures. I don’t like eggs not cooked.I have a hard time staying warm. I don’t like being cold or wet. I can’t stand cream on my feet. It’s slimy! Goobs are slimy. Goobs are the bain of my existence! [This is her term since childhood for foods containing vinegar.]
I spend so much energy avoiding goobs, it’s not worth it. The smell is so offensive, it makes me gag. The smell is overpowering and that’s all I can smell or taste. It’s fermented, not fresh and shouldn’t be associated with food. It should be associated with rotting things, slimy, moldy, icky browns and greens, like a big bubbling cesspool, brown, green, slimy and smelly. If I go somewhere I don’t know if there will be food that I can eat. Should I call and tell them I’m allergic? Should I pretend I’m fasting? Should I bring my own food? Who orders a Big Mac without the sauce?
When I’m not saying what I want to say, I feel fear, nervousness in my stomach. It’s like the gut feeling you get when something’s wrong. If I do say something, I soften it, try to be super nice. It feels smarmy. I don’t know how to act, how to be. There are all these people that work under me. I can’t give the impression that I’m second-guessing.
I have a tremendous need to belong. [She cries.] I like to belong; I will do things so I can belong. I’m afraid that I’m going to be alone. I like to be alone only if it’s my choice. I’m afraid that I’m always going to be alone. If I’m riding my bicycle and I can’t see anyone, I get afraid. If I’m alone in the house, I can’t do anything, like being in a depression. I chose teaching in the classroom because I was alone in my speech therapy practice. In this Special Ed. Job, I don’t belong to the larger group. I’m the only one. I’m in the staff room every day to try to connect with people. There’s no one really to share with. I have the respect and admiration from people around me, but I am alone. I was flattered into taking this job when I really wanted a regular grade five classroom.
A recurring dream of a highway like train tracks in the sky. I have to get from one place to the other and the road breaks away. I’m on the wrong bus. I’m afraid of falling into the deep water. I feel dizzy and want to jump in rather than fall in. I’m afraid I’ll lose my balance. Another variation of the dream is in a car and I can’t quite control the car and I just barely make the turn. Everything’s too fast and I can’t control it. Another variation is on a boat with two rickety things and I’m trying not the fall in the water.
I’m not comfortable with heights or with great speed and I don’t like anything slimy. When I was a child I was terrified when the big metal graders passed by our street. It was a new neighborhood under construction, so this happened a lot. I would run in the other direction screaming my head off.
I like Timora Pierce’s books, the ones my daughters read. They’re about a female hero who has some kind of gift or power. She fights with swords and is also adept with other weapons. The characters go through growth and transformation.
Zorro. Some handsome guy with a sword who saves people and a strong willful woman just as tough. I can’t watch scary movies or psychological thrillers; they give me nightmares. I don’t get dry or black humor. Sometimes I don’t get when people are kidding.It bugs me when other people break the rules. I like things to be very organized and I like to be on time.
My period used to be 32-36 days between before the kids and usually light. Some cramping. After the twins and the third child they went back to the same. Now they are 24-26 days and lighter yet, lasting only 3 days. My libido isn’t great after kids, especially if I’m busy or stressed. It feels like one more thing to be done on the list.
I waken between 2:30 and 3:00 a.m. The worst thing that happened to me was a moment when I thought that my husband was going to tell me he was leaving me shortly after the twins were born. I went completely blank, like there was nothing after this. I have a hard time feeling like I live up to my own expectations. I should do better. I drive myself hard. I need constant reassurance that I’m doing well, that I look good. I have a hard time feeling good, based on my own sense and judgment. I’m very competitive. I’m concerned with how others view me. I don’t look outward at what’s going on with others.
The main complaints are problems with communicating and the aversion to vinegar. The metal themes of performance and defense run through the case and also show up in the recurring dreams involving train tracks, buses, cars and boats; the books involving sword-wielding warriors; Zorro; the fear of metal road graders. Although I found myself looking at Calcarea carbonica with the feelings of inadequacy and the aversion to slimy things, I sought her remedy from the row of metals in the silver series and the following rubrics:
Mind; FLATTERY; Desires**
Mind; OBSTINATE, headstrong; Amiable, tries to appear**
FEMALE; PAIN; General; ovaries; right**
Speech & Voice; SPEECH; Awkward*
Mind; DELUSIONS, imaginations; Deserted, forsaken*
Mind; DREAMS; Swords*
MIND; DICTATORIAL, domineering, dogmatic, despotic*
While my version of MacRepertory only lists one remedy for aversion to vinegar, ReferenceWorks brought out a few more possibilities with Palladium scoring high.
Prior to taking her case, I had prescribed Lycopodium and Argentum nitricum for acute bladder/ovarian pain issues with minimal success. This ruled out these remedies.
I felt it significant that she had been flattered into taking the Special Education position. I also found it significant that her specialty as a speech therapist had been stuttering, particularly as her main complaint was difficulty in communication.
I found that her concerns are around her position in society, her roles, and her performance and defending her position. This led me to the periodic table, specifically the metals. Her hobbies and favorite books confirm the silver series: karate, cycling (in which she’s very competitive), tap-dancing, piano and singing, and later rowing show a competitive spirit and an affinity for metal things.
In discussion with this woman’s sister, I found that she had been plagued with measuring up to her older sister, always trying to be the centre of attention. She also told me that her aversion to vinegar is ‘legendary,’ often causing her to be ridiculed by other family members when she couldn’t eat something with mayonnaise or pickles in it. The aversion manifests as disgust, gagging and even vomiting if she accidentally ingests some.
Plan: Palladium 1M (She took the remedy on August 10, 2005)
I chose this potency because her vitality was strong enough to handle it and because of the delusion level of the swords and the intensity of the vinegar aversion.
First follow-up September 7, 2005: [The following was relayed in an e-mail.] I just have to tell you that I had some most interesting “vinegar incidents” while at my conference the weekend of August 21st. While I was driving down, my colleague and I stopped at the Safeway to pick up something to eat. We both got a few snacky type things and then carried on driving and chatting. I began to tell her about my vinegar thing, and how you were trying to help me with it. One of the things that K. was eating was a vegetable medley in a plastic container, and she had it sitting open in the car between us. When I told her about my vinegar revulsion, she said, “Oh my god, I had better put this away then”. I said “Why”. She said – because it’s got Italian dressing on it! I couldn’t smell anything, so I picked it up and sniffed, but I couldn’t really smell much of anything at all. I told her that maybe it didn’t have vinegar in it. Then later on, I twigged that perhaps I just wasn’t reacting as much to the vinegar, so I picked it up and sniffed it really deeply. I could tell that it was dressing, but I wasn’t gagging, and it just didn’t seem to bother me. We were both quite astounded. At lunch the next day, there was caesar salad served, and I was trying to see if it had vinegar in it. I couldn’t smell anything, so I took some and put it on my plate. When I tasted it, I could tell that it did have vinegar in it, but I just couldn’t smell it very much. I didn’t want to eat it, but it didn’t seem to be all that bad. The next day at lunch they were serving sandwiches. I picked up a couple and looked in them to see if there was mayonnaise in them. I couldn’t really tell with the first one. There was something on it that was either mayonnaise or whipped butter. I couldn’t smell anything, so I ate the first one, which was a ham sandwich. The second one that I picked up was a turkey and cranberry sandwich. When I took a bite, it seemed to have a very gooey texture, so I pulled it apart, and it did have white goobs in it beneath the cranberry sauce. I didn’t eat it because the texture bothered me, and the taste seemed a bit different… but I could not smell any vinegar! K. looked at the sandwich and verified that it was indeed mayonnaise, and I was astounded once again. I took the sandwich apart and tried and tried to smell the vinegar in the mayonnaise. K. finally made me stop because she said I was beginning to look like I had Asperger’s syndrome, and that nobody else was taking their sandwiches apart and smelling them over and over! On the way back home, we stopped on the side of the road to buy peaches, and I also got a bag of chips. K. purposely bought a bag of salt and vinegar chips so she could test me on the vinegar. She opened them and I took a whiff and I couldn’t smell anything. So I stuck my nose deep into the bag and took a really big sniff and I still couldn’t smell anything. We laughed and laughed as I launched into Aspergerish compulsive smelling behaviors again. When I moved the bag of chips away, I all of a sudden got a big whiff of vinegar, but every time I put my nose up close, I just couldn’t really smell it. On the ferry, they put a pickle on my hamburger so I picked it off and laid it down on the tray. I ate the whole burger without tasting any pickle residue on the bun. Later, I noticed a funny smell on my fingers and I couldn’t identify it. K. suggested that perhaps I had pickle juice on my fingers. I did, but it just didn’t smell the same. I fully verify that I was not drunk these last three days, or on drugs, and I don’t think there is anything physically wrong with my nose!
[Further in the first follow-up:]
At the start of the remedy, I was having dreams of sleeping with someone other than my husband, a dream of mistaken identity and dream of having a baby. The ovary pain is gone and the last cycle was a full 28 days. It was bright red, scanty and short with no pain and very little PMS. I can stick my head in a jar of mayonnaise and not gag!
I’m having amazing times with my kids, open, loving, chatting visits, feeling really connected and having good communication with my kids. My journal entry on August 31st reads: Something is happening and I am being transformed. I am communicating well. People are seeing me as a person to be listened to, as inspirational. People like my ideas. All of a sudden, I am part of a leadership team at my school. Leaders all over are taking note of me. I am excited to forge ahead with my ideas.
The remedy action is apparent and she is well in the two areas of concern: vinegar and communication.
Second follow-up December 15, 2005: [This was in an e-mail.]
For the first time in probably 20 years, I had a period with no PMS and no cramps. The ovary pains that I used to get are completely gone. I feel like my reproductive system is heaving a sigh of relief! Also, I went out to a dinner theatre a few days ago. It was one of those deals where the menu is all pre-set. In times past, I would have been very worried about this, and would have gone to great pains to contact the establishment to check on the menu, and make sure that I would not have to come into contact with any vinegar — or else I would just opt not to go. Not this time. I didn’t even give it a second thought. The appetizer was a lovely tasting ceasar salad. I tucked in along with everyone else. When I had finished it, I checked with my husband to see if it had any vinegar in it. Yes, he assured me there was, but I didn’t notice it. The main course was chicken and it had these lovely onions draped over the top. I ate the whole thing. Later on, someone remarked how lovely the marinated onions were! Didn’t notice any vinegar there either! Oh my god, I felt so normal. Do you have any idea how nice it is to go out and eat what is served without all the fuss and worry!
I am also in such a clear headspace about all the change that is going on for me as regards my job situation. I am very comfortable having closed the door on working in an environment with special needs students whose most effective means of communication are screaming and violence. I am not sure what door will open up for me now. But I know that I will not step into another job unless it is doing something that I want to be doing. It makes so much sense – I don’t know why I couldn’t see it earlier. I don’t know why I had to spend so long stuck in this place.
Also, I am doing some incredible writing about my new rowing experiences. I shared some of it with my fellow rowers, and they really loved it. One woman told me — “Boy you have a real way with words – I think you may have found a new career.” My life is so good right now. It is in a constant state of change, but it is all good.
Another good report in which she continues to move forward physically and mentally, so no need to redose.
Third follow-up March 29, 2006: This follow-up was done over the phone. At this time, the family was in the process of moving to a much bigger and nicer home. She had gone on an extended leave from her job and was waiting to hear about a new placement in a regular classroom. She had a very bad cold and was having difficulties with one of her teenage daughters, while her husband was out of town. She cried during most of the conversation.
Plan: Palladium 200CH
I did not find her returning to her pre-remedy state, but rather struggling in a very stressful time. Therefore I chose to dose the remedy at 200CH instead of 1M.
Fourth follow-up October 26, 2006: [This came in an e-mail]
I have been having trouble with my left eye for some time. It started with what I thought was a simple eye infection. I took antibiotic eye stuff for it, which caused a worse reaction. It took about two weeks for it to settle down, but on top of having a small spot that was like a little sty, I had inflammation and irritation that moved into the area beneath my eye. My whole face and cheek below my eye were puffy. It has kind of gone away, but every now and then it acts up and I get puffiness under my eye — makes me look like I am really hung over!! It is itchy and irritated – but not always. I do not really have redness in my eye. My eye does water more, and sometimes I have bits of yellowish discharge in the corner of my eye. I just can’t seem to get rid of it. It is going on six weeks now since I first had a problem.
I have been absolutely loving my job, but things have been difficult on the home front. My daughter is giving me a lot of grief, and my husband’s “wonderful new job” – because of all the coaching time – is amounting to me having to be somewhat of a single parent. Relations between him and I have been very strained. I have also been very sad about not being able to row with my original rowing partner. I seem to have so much sadness right now that it is not in proportion to what is actually happening in my life. I can break into tears at the smallest thing. It is not just PMS — it has ranged over the span of 6 weeks. In spite of having people all around me — I have felt very, very alone.
Plan: Palladium 200CH
This potency worked well last time, so I repeated it.
E-mail sent the next day, October 26, 2006:
Boy, did I ever have a different day today! I first noticed a change on the way to work in the morning. Now, you may think this sounds silly – but, each time I tried to get on the highway, I reached the merge point just at the moment that there was a break in traffic. I also hit all the green lights all the way in to work. This has been the opposite of my experience of late. My eye also felt much better, and there was much less difference in the appearance of my two eyes. You had to look pretty hard to discern that one was different than the other. Everything at work was absolutely stellar and this carried on into the evening as well. I even had a really nice conversation with my daughter, and she spoke to me without scorn or disdain. I am feeling much less vulnerable emotionally, and had no urge to cry at all today.
So…. perhaps my vibration is humming along a little better now. There is just one thing that is showing up as a problem today, and that is my knee. Do you remember that time on a bike trip where I all of a sudden had a problem with my knee. Well, I am having that kind of problem again. I think you suggested Bryonia at that time. Should I take some again, or should I just take another dose of Palladium? Also, I have to tell you that I put some mentholated gel on my knee, without thinking about what it might do to the remedy I had taken. The gel went on after dinner. Will I have completely antidoted the remedy? Should I take another dose? Let me know.
I do not have much concern with this remedy being easily antidoted, as it has been such a good match for every aspect of her life. I decided to see if the knee issue would resolve without more remedy.
Fifth follow-up April 29, 2007: In a meeting in person, I observe that this woman looks vibrant and healthy, having improved her physical shape with her rowing practice. She also tells me that she won two silver medals at the American National Rowing Competition last season, and looks forward to competing again. As a Canadian, she was not allowed to claim her medal and it was given to the American third place winner. She complained to the head of the competition, saying that she understood that she could not officially hold that title as a Canadian, but it would be really nice to be given a medal. Her coach was furious at her for challenging this institution, but they did acquiesce and a few months later medals were sent to all the members of the club that deserved them.
She is in a teaching job now that she loves and is doing some writing work part-time for a man who wants her to become a full partner in his business. She has written a novel from her early rowing experiences that he is helping her to get published. She and her husband have moved into a much bigger house in a beautiful neighborhood.
Her aversion to vinegar has not returned. She is also much less sensitive to wheat, alcohol, dairy and sugar. At this meeting she complains of a recurrence of the right ovarian pain and has had a couple of colds that have resulted in chest infections. The days between her last two periods have shortened to 21 again. She is rowing every morning at 5:00 a.m. before working a full day and participating in a power yoga class for rowers to begin training for the season. Her three teen aged daughters present her with regular emotional challenges.
Plan: Palladium 1M
As she has not had the remedy in six months and the ovarian/menstrual symptoms have returned, I went back to the 1M. This was the first repetition of the remedy at the original potency.
This remedy has most certainly solved the chief concerns about communication and the vinegar aversion. When I told her that her remedy is in the silver series, she told me about the above “medal” incident and insisted that this be told in the write-up of the case! The ovarian pain has recurred, but minimally, considering that it was constant before the remedy.
In the initial interview she talked about the characters in her daughters books that had swords and went through transformations. Perhaps her transformational swords have materialized as the blades of her boat!
As of May, 2010 this remedy continues to be the similimum for this case. She takes the 1M potency two or three times a year. Most recently this addressed a problem of yeast overgrowth from antibiotics used for dental procedures.
I think it is helpful to see a modern expression of Palladium, as the old books present a caricature that is difficult to relate to cases we may see today.
Lovely case. Yes, it is really nice to see a remedy which has flamboyant descriptions in the Materia Medica play out slightly more subtly in a real person. I also like that the case is presented over the longer term treatment of this woman: it shows how imagining cure as a permanent state is not necessarily realistic. Possibly there are homeopaths who would say that if Palladium keeps cropping up, peeping through, it’s doing a good job, but there is a deeper similimum, or a miasmatic layer, or whatever. It would be interesting to hear the author’s philosophy on this.
Sincerely, Genevieve Ahearne
so, after some time now, what is the follow up about this patient