Paper by S. A. Jones, M.D., Ann Arbor, Michigan, February 15, 1889, in the Homoeopathic Recorder, May, 1889, Vol. IV, No. 3, page 102.
Miss B., aet 20; a tall, spare brunette, and a good specimen of Fothergill’s Arab type, brainy and vivacious. General health has been good, but she was never robust; could not go to school regularly. Between her thirteenth and fifteenth years grew rapidly in stature, and then she was easily wearied on walking; knees tired and limbs ached. Had good digestion through the growing period, but subsequently became subject to “bloat of wind” in abdomen. These meteoristic attacks came when lying down. A “weight rises from the abdomen up to the heart”. She must at once spring up. This condition is relieved by eructating, by liquor, and by drinking hot water. The night attacks of meteorism are by far the worst. She is now subject to them.
[Her grandmother had such “spells of bloating”; would spring out of bed at night, lose consciousness, and “bloated up suddenly”. If she had such an attack when dressed, they had often been obliged to cut open her clothes].
Patient has found that apples, tomatoes, cabbage and onions disagree with her; no other food. She is constipated – “wants to and can’t”.
Her hair is unusually dry; scalp full of dandruff; skin, generally, soft and flexible.
She has frequent epistaxis; has had four and five attacks a day. Blood bright red, “runs a perfect stream”, does not clot at the nostrils. Has previously a “heavy feeling” in the head, which the bleeding relieves.
In appearance she is “the picture of health”; good complexion, fairly ruddy cheeks, sparkling eyes – in a word, she is an incarnated protest against “single blessedness”.
In the latter part of July, 1886, had her first “fit”. She had arisen with a headache, which kept on increasing in severity. Just after a light meal had the attack; said “Oh, dear! Oh, dear!” and fell insensible. Stiffened at first, then had clonic spasms. Neither bit the tongue nor frothed at the mouth. No micturition or defecation. On coming to, did not remember that she had fallen, but recollected being borne up stairs. Had a “dreadful nosebleed” after the attack. Left her very weak; could hardly lift her feet from the floor. Before the “fit” the headache had become unbearably severe.
Had her second “fit” on August 7th, 1887. Headache came on and kept growing worse; was in temples, beating and throbbing, and in eyes, “light hurt” – also on vertex, “pressing-down” pain. At four PM suddenly fell down insensible. No cry. Tongue bitten. Slight frothing at the mouth. First “stiff all over”, then clonic spasms. After the “fit” knew that something had happened to her. Was prostrated for nearly a month, but not so much as after first attack.
December 10th, 1887, third “fit”. On the night of the 9th her mother had been very ill, and she herself was very uneasy and alarmed. Had the attack before breakfast. Blurred vision, headache, fall; no biting of tongue, nor frothing. First rigid, then clonic spasms; after attack, nose bled profusely, head ached all day, face flushed and dark. Prostrated as usual.
In none of the attacks was there any involuntary micturition or defecation, nor was it ever necessary to use any force to hold her on the bed.
One other fact I gathered from her brother, namely: during her “fits” her abdomen bloated so rapidly and to such a degree that the family had learned to remove her clothing as soon as possible after she fell.
Of course, Thacher’s case, wherein the “abdomen was remarkably tumefied and tense”, came into memory at once. The old volume was taken down, and that case re-read. Then followed the Encyclopaedia, and then the English Symptomen Codex. No pathogenetic light or corroboration there. Then Currie’s “Jahr”. Ah! “”Inflation and tension in the abdomen”. Only a straw, but a pathogenetic, and I grasped it thankfully. I found also, “aching in the temples with violent arterial pulsation”.
It was an open winter; my son dug some skunk cabbage roots in a swamp; a tincture was made; ten-drop doses, four times daily, were taken until six ounces had been consumed. No “fit” up to date; no epistaxis; only once a slight headache.
I never made a diagnosis in this case; have not reached one yet, nor am I grieving over that omission. I did rashly declare that it was not epilepsy, because Sauvages tympanites intestinalis is a feature of hysteria, but not of epilepsy. But not a word of this was said to the patient. It was not a “mind cure”, for I have no “mind” to spare; nor was it “Christian science”, for I am not up to that. I had an amnesis in which grandmother and granddaughter participated. Nature had put the “key-note” in italics, not only in the patient but also in the drug. Thacher stumbled upon it empirically; Hering found it pathogenetically, and that led to its application under the guidance of the only approximation to a law in therapeutics that has yet been discovered by any of woman born: similia similibus curantur!