Clinical Cases

A Personal Story

Written by David A. Johnson

Homeopath and author David Johnson prescribes for a woman in her last hours with a lesser-known remedy. The conflict between physical and non-physical existence was the key to the remedy.

My partner’s mother was someone with whom I’d grown close over the past few years. Jane had benefited from homeopathic remedies in the past, for both acute and chronic conditions. One could say she had a healthy Arsenicum quality to her personality: fastidious, conscientious over details, and concerned about her physical health and financial well-being.

In the middle of summer during her very active 89th year, Jane called early in the morning. She was feeling a great deal of neck pain, and wasn’t sure if she’d fallen or not. The ambulance transported her to an emergency room, and after being diagnosed with a cervical spine fracture she was taken to surgery. Following surgery she was stable, alert, and the surgeon said she looked good. At that point her prognosis was uncertain and included the potential for permanent paralysis.

Although this event took place during the height of the Covid epidemic, Jane’s two daughters were allowed to be at her bedside in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit. She was in good spirits, talking with them and pleasantly joking with the staff. She confided to my partner, ‘I thought for a minute there I was going to leave (this earth,) but I decided to come back because there are things I still need to do.’

She made sure that a full list of small details surrounding her life would be accounted for: ‘Tell the water aerobics teacher I won’t be there on Friday; let the book club know I can’t make it; don’t forget the fresh peaches in the kitchen.’

Her pain was being controlled with IV meds, and the next step appeared to be a long road of rehabilitation. Within a few hours, however, Jane’s oxygen saturation was dropping, and the medical team suggested a pacemaker as the first of multiple but necessary interventions. She was quite upset by this idea, but also began noticing increasing difficulty in moving her legs or arms.

It was becoming evident to everyone that extensive medical and surgical procedures might be required to keep Jane alive. The medical team called a conference with her and her family to discuss what to do moving forward, and stressed the decisions would be completely up to her. After the physician explained her status and options, she calmly spoke to the whole room, expressing her wishes with poignant humor and a courageous and clear-eyed delivery.

In other words, she did not sound as though she was experiencing an Arsenicum state. “I’d hoped to make it to 90, but oh-well, I guess 89 and a few months short will have to be good enough. I hate to make my daughters sad, but I have to leave and go live the rest of my life now. I know where I’m going; I’m ready for the next step in my journey.’

She only wanted to be kept comfortable with mouth swabbing and pain medicine if necessary. Her bravery and clarity deeply moved the medical and nursing staff, and they complied with her wishes and prepared to move her to hospice care.

As her blood oxygen saturation continued to decrease, increasing flow rates assisted her compromised respiration. It became more difficult for her to speak or move; nevertheless she was able to continue communicating with her daughters and me.

Instinctive fears related to self-preservation then began to express themselves through physical restlessness and agitation, and her daughter asked what remedies might help. Jane herself agreed with the idea of receiving a supportive remedy. Of course I considered Arsenicum, but the unwavering conviction she showed with the medical team didn’t support that choice. Mentally and emotionally, she was ‘looking forward to the next step in her journey,’ yet it seemed her physical body was still coming to terms with the idea.

So instead of Arsenicum I thought about the Hydrogenium rubric “conflict between earthly and otherworldly existence.” I used a 10M potency, and each time Jane’s body began showing signs of restlessness, she was given a dose via mouth swabbing. With each dose the restlessness would immediately quiet down, and she’d return to a peaceful state.

Intermittently she would converse with her daughters with full presence, attention and love, selflessly saying things she might not have expressed in the past. The periods between dosing began to stretch out, even as she remained calm and alert, passing quietly three days after her decision.

For all of us, the way in which Jane faced her situation was a gift, and the experience provided me with an amazing “full-circle” insight into Hydrogenium’s conflict between “physical and non-physical existence.” It seemed she embodied the idea that once there was peace with leaving, she was able to be fully present until she was gone. Her final connections were rich, deep and strong, radiating love fully in the Now.

Hydrogenium’s “painful experience of earthly bonds” (The Homeopathic Proving of Hydrogen; Sherr 1992) is commonly associated with the pain of embodiment. In the past, I’d used Hydrogenium and Helium–for an infant apparently “reluctant” to fully enter a body:

In this case with Jane there was an instinctive and very human reluctance to leave the body. The use of Hydrogenium softened the physical resistance to breaking of her earthly connections. I share this personal story in the hope that Hydrogenium might someday help another human being at the end of their physical journey. I know Jane would want that too.

About the author

David A. Johnson

David Johnson, CCH, RSHom(NA) is a homeopath residing in the southern Wisconsin area of the US. He is the author of “Radiance, Resonance and Healing: The Homeopathic Periodic Table” (Emryss Publishing) which is based on his 20 years of experience of matching the theoretical schema of Series and Stages with the words of clients. His email is [email protected]


  • David, this is a welcome addition to the catalog of end-of-life remedies. Beautifully explained, but I would expect nothing less from the author of a brilliant text on periodic table remedies.

  • Thank you for posting. I have used Hydrogen successfully for a male who came back from a gap year stint in India all dressed in white flowing garments “looking for realisation”. I decided he wasn’t grounded and gave him Hydrogen 1M i think the potency was. I remember soon after the remedy he had a big sneezing fit. Enough to say he decided to go to University to study law which was most unexpected. He is now married , 2 children and works as a solicitor. I would say Hydrogen definitely grounded him.

  • Hello David,
    Thank you for this. Can anyone tell me where the recommendation of high potency ars alb came from? Obviously ars alb doesn’t fit this case, but only reference I can find to using ars alb in final stages is the caution about a “large dose” in hahnemann mat med. Remember a lot of his symptoms there were overdose /toxicology related.
    But it seems to me to urban legend to use high potency arsenicum. P

Leave a Comment