I had taken only seven confirmed cases when forty five year-old Gabe’s case came my way — not to mention ten more unconfirmed cases, looking exactly like the confirmed ones. Gabe’s was the most grave manifestation I’d yet seen, and the anxiety ran high for us both. (After he recovered, he tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies.)
Gabe’s wife had been a longtime client of mine and called on his behalf. “He’s starting to cough and has a slight fever, and I want to get him on homeopathy right away.” I have treated her and their children often, but rarely have I had the opportunity to help her husband Gabe.
I had met this lovely man a few times when he had come by my office to pick up remedies for his family. He was always very amiable and worked as an Emergency Medical Technician.
Gabe is exactly the kind of friendly, calm and capable presence you’d want caring for you, should you end up in an ambulance. For someone so steeped in western medical procedures, I’d been impressed at how cooperative, patient and open he’d been when relating his children’s symptoms to me for homeopathic care in the past. So, I was not prepared for how intense his state would become.
He began with typical symptoms; he had woken up with a scratchy throat and had an occasional dry sounding cough. Gabe reported feeling febrile with an oral temperature of 100.5 and he had a dull headache across the frontal area.
He had been out on his motorcycle the prior day running some errands, and his fever and weakness had come on that evening. He’d gone to bed hoping sleep would take care of it.
The day prior, when he’d been out on the motorcycle, had been a crisp and windy one. I started him with a few sips of Aconite 30c, taken throughout the day. I’d been tuning into Jeremy Sherr’s clear and thoughtful work on epidemics and a possible Covid-19 Genus Epidemics, and Jeremy had recently suggested Aconite for any presenting symptoms.
In some of my cases, Aconite had appeared to be nipping symptoms in the bud, though, not, as you’ll see, in Gabe’s case. I had him take the remedy spaced out over the course of a day.
The next morning Gabe woke with a lower fever but within hours it crept up to 102.7. When we spoke in mid-afternoon, I detected a note of anxiety in his voice. He said “We’ve got to get rid of this fever. I’m down for anything, Erika, as long as I can be back at work for the early shift tomorrow morning.”
After re-analyzing the case I switched him to Bryonia. He expected to go to work in the morning in this condition. The expectations on him and on homeopathy, were already too great. That’s when he reported that his fever was at 102.7 degrees.
“I’m not happy, Erika,” he said in an anxious tone. “I don’t think a grown man should sustain a fever over 102.” He agreed to sleep through the night, taking Bryonia if and when he awoke. By the next morning, Gabe had developed a deeper cough and now I was getting text messages from his wife and from him.
When I called him to speak about his current state, he reported that his legs still ached, and he was coughing more often. Two more days went by in this fashion, during which he took Phosphorus and Arsenicum. When I asked him to continue with Arsenicum, he said in an irritated tone, “This remedy is doing absolutely nothing for me and I’m done with it!”.
His cough was now affecting his breathing. This had us both legitimately worried. It was difficult for him to speak; his speech was interrupted by a series of dry coughs every minute, so I switched his remedy to Antimonium Tartaricum 200c.
Two hours and 4 doses later, I received a text from him. “102.8. Doesn’t make me happy…” I implored him to please keep with it every 15 minutes for the next two hours.
“Temp isn’t budging. Half an hour ago it was 103.3 which I REALLY did not like.” I asked him if he was noticing a difference in the cough, to which he replied, “Nope, and it doesn’t feel good.” “Cough maybe slightly less frequent.”
I received a text from him the following morning saying that he’d slept okay, was very thirsty during the night and felt hungry this morning. He also didn’t feel as hot and uncomfortable. His temperature had lowered significantly and he was coughing, but no coughing fits.
I told him to make a new solution of Antimonium Tartaricum 200c. We were seven days into this case.
As Gabe’s fever crept higher, he reported feeling hungry but unable to eat. “I get this horrible pain in my chest, stomach and back, maybe from coughing. And, food? My stomach just says NO. I just want to lay here and not move. And I’m anxious about being in bed and having my fever climb up to 104. Stories I’ve heard, you feel better, all of a sudden worse, then the next morning don’t wake up.”
So even though he didn’t feel he was dying, he was afraid he might die. I kept him on Antimonium Tartaricum, and his fever lowered to 100, but his weakness continued. “I have to take one step at a time on the stairs, I’m completely out of energy. This is a full body cough, my legs tense up and my lower back hurts and I’m splinting my chest when I cough. I was thirsty all night so I drank as much water as I could.”
All I had up to this point was cough, incredible thirst, extreme weakness and anxiety about dying, most of which seemed characteristic of the disease state. Gabe didn’t appear to be responding to more doses of Antimonium Tartaricum and was sending me audio files of his cough, which was constant and now with a high- pitched wheeze on expiration.
It sounded much like whooping cough, relentless and paroxysmal, and I was fearful that he would become hypoxic or dehydrated (though he was doing a decent job keeping up with fluids). I added a ‘wheezing on expiration’ rubric and asked him if he was delirious, as he hadn’t eaten anything in eight hours, to which he wrote back the following;
“Thankfully, no. I’m sitting here and then begging the powers that be asking what I did to deserve to just suffer on and on like this – I’m not getting any answers. If I start getting answers I’ll let you know. I can’t take much more. This thing is so powerful. I appreciate all the attention you’re giving me. I’ve gotta take Tylenol to get this fever down.
He described what it was like to eat. “It’s a complete lack of desire, like a disgust.”
I was now getting a later-stage, clearer view of his mental/emotional state. Because the audio recording of Paul’s cough was so intense, I debated seriously whether or not to send him to the hospital.
Going to a New York City hospital in early April was very bad news; ERs were admitting twenty plus people a night to the ICU and were grossly understaffed – two caregivers for twenty-six patients. As long as he could still breathe and hydrate, he seemed better off caring for himself at home.
He said: “It’s a straining cough in the back of my throat, so itchy, wheezy, high pitched and constant, it drains me and give me a headache. It’s so painful in my chest. I’ve decided that this cough doesn’t exist for any other reason than to torture me. This thing, it’s got it’s hooks in me, and I can’t sleep cause I’m in constant fight mode. This thing is a real beast, Erika. I talked it down so much and was so nonchalant about it, I guess I deserve it.”
Finally I heard something I hadn’t heard prior: a persecuted theme running through his commentary. This was not, as I had been seeing in other cases, part of the disease-state, but rather his disease state. So I added to my repertorization the first characteristic mental rubric: ‘MIND, delusion, persecuted, he is’, and the physical rubric, “Generalities, food and drinks, food in general, aversion to.”
That’s when I called my friend and colleague, Rebekah Azzarelli to go over my current thinking and we assessed his whole picture now that we had a mental state beyond ‘anxiety’. The snake family has a theme or persecution (“I’m asking the powers that be, what have I done to deserve this?”) that runs through it. It also has the choking cough, the wheezing, the sharp tongue (“I’m DONE with this remedy!”) and the aversion to food in general. We came up with the remedy that finally turned things around: Lachesis 30c.
When I called him back to suggest Lachesis, he reported, “I couldn’t do worse than I am right now; the coughs are coming on the heels of each other. I’m just coughing and crying.”
Before hanging up the phone with him, I instructed him, if he didn’t experience any lessening of symptoms within two hours, to let me know. I expected to be on the phone with him at various points in the night, but lo and behold, I didn’t hear from him until the next morning. “My six year old daughter said the cough was now ‘nothing’ compared to how I have been coughing. The cough is about twenty percent less. Bronchial irritation is better, too.”
Following this improvement, he took Lachesis several times daily for five more days. His energy was still very weak and his cough would wax and wane. Though he was gradually improving on the remedy, there were definite dips during those days as well.
His fever was still elevated, and the cough intermittent, so after three days on Lachesis, I switched him to Carbo VegetabiIis because of his cough, and because his energy was so depleted and lastly, it had helped immensely with another of my Covid clients. After a night on Carbo veg, he said, “I was up fewer times in the night and would take it when I got up to use the bathroom. Sweated and fever-free since sometime during the night. Still fever free this morning, but all of a sudden that hacking cough is back, out of the blue. It leaves me weak and breathless.”
His fever crept back up to 101.5 and he was now coughing a little more. The slight wheeze was back and similar to what I’d heard prior to taking Lachesis, so put him back on Lachesis, hoping it would work again. Thankfully, it did.
The fever reduced and I heard from him the next morning:
“Whole different story today. I can actually function, not running out of energy so quickly. I was able to make breakfast on my feet as opposed to with a stool there that I’m constantly taking breaks to sit on. Last night temperature finally reached my normal 97.4. It’s at 98.5 right now. I just took a shower and stripped my bed. I need to be fresh to put this behind me!”
Note: Gabe tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies a couple of weeks ago.
We exchanged virtual high fives. Together, we’d kept him out of the hospital, and it was two days later that I tuned into Paul Herscu’s webinar. He closed by saying (and I’m paraphrasing):
“In assessing remedy action during the Covid-19 pandemic, our bottom line COULD be the following question; Did anyone treated with homeopathy end up in the hospital? That would be a meaningful question to ask and answer in terms of publishing a conclusion about the efficacy of homeopathy during the Coronavirus pandemic.”