The first interview took place in November 2012 at the Student Clinic of NYSH with 5 follow-ups over 3 years and regular telephone updates.
This case was conducted in the style that we at NYSH call “Experiential” which is based on the work of Divya Chhabra. The purpose of this method is to get the patient to describe the “experience” of the source of the remedy that he or she needs. Divya Chhabra often refers to this as “Leaping to the Source.” The actual method of case taking varies from one practitioner to another, and every patient needs a slightly different approach as well, but the hope is that through the physical complaints, food desires and dislikes, dreams, and fears, the homeopath tries to guide the patient into describing or naming the source he/she is resonating with. (see NYSH Case taking Methods by Susan Sonz)
Olga is a beautiful 28 year old woman who was born and grew up in an east European country, but now lives in New York with her 6 year old son (see Mother and Son: So Similar, Yet so Different in this issue). During the interview she seemed a little bit lost and confused. Her body language showed tiredness and heaviness. The main issues in her case are anxiety and confusion about her identity. Her physical complaints are cramping and heavy periods, back pain during her period and skin discoloration (she calls it vitiligo). She also complains about being very tired, that she needs a nap during the day, and that she feels sluggish. Olga came back to fears and anxiety again and again; it did not matter whether she was asked about dreams or important events in her life or about her childhood. She described her anxiety through words of physical experiences and it quickly became clear that her case needed to be taken as an experiential case because otherwise her anxiety will be all that is heard.
Right in the beginning when she is asked why she is looking for help in homeopathy, Olga says she wants to find “clarity,” she feels “stagnant” and that she faces “a lack of identification.”
Can you tell us more about stagnant?
“Heavy, anxiousness, there was a period of time I had anxiety with heart palpitations.”
Can you tell us more about heaviness? How does that feel in your body?
“Heavy rock, weighs you down, lack of breath like a fish without water.”
“Unable to move, one place, heavy, deep down, motionless.”
Olga started to talk about her childhood. It was, for her, full of suffering with her mother.
“Mom was coming home, I got that feeling of anxiety, what did Mom feel about what we were doing wrong, heavy feeling in my chest, tried to take a deep breath, [hand gesture] flow of oxygen, I wanted to have lightness back, I felt pushed to the ground from my chest.”
Lightness along with heaviness comes up often in her case. It is later combined with light as air, part of air, air moving through me, airy.
“I wanted to avoid contact, to not have the feeling of anxiety, like pins and needles in my body, hot, uncomfortable, displaced, no connection, sense of rejection, body to reject out, push it out, …,Body pushes it out, kind of reaction like allergy, does not feel comfortable.”
Pins and needles?
“Something crawling, not like dots, all over the body, like in acupuncture, many of them, warmth, heat.”
Warmth and heat?
“I feel it in my arms. They feel overheated, very flexible, boneless, without structure, kind of floating around.
Tell us more about “body pushes out.”
“It is like a balloon filling up, expansion, like a gas bottle, getting too big for it, any sort of container, too big for the environment, keep growing, growing, heavy feeling.”
We go on to ask her about her childhood fears.
“I heard my parents arguing. What comes to me? Anxiety feeling. (She is laughing.) My body wanted to be invisible, disappearing, not existing, pins and needles, dots of colors, multiple colors, blacking out, going dark, dots of colors, blackness, coming over.”
Pins and needles?
“Sour, acidity, coppery taste, type of acid, like vinegar, sour, uncomfortable feeling.”
“Gross, metallic, little bit foreign, taste of blood, that kind of coppery. Not digestible food. Not preferable. Would not enjoy eating this.” [Jump to food]
Pins and needles is a tactile sensation which she associates with a taste. It is an answer that is out of context, non-rational. In Divya Chabra’s terminology, she has jumped. Moreover, the impression of taste leads to an image of food (a smaller jump). I go along and ask her about her food preferences.
What do you like to eat?
“Cheese, I like fruits, buckwheat, almost like couscous, a kind of cereal, sense of home, reminds me of my Grandmother, fire baked potatoes., I spent much time at Grandma’s house, takes me kind of home, warm village house, carefree feeling, vastness, wide range to play with….many fences were not finished, lot of time in the forest, picking cranberries, no boundaries, being able to run, wild flowers, taste of sugar, snack peas, hay, wilderness, marches, wet soil, mist settling, fresh, clean air.”
How do you feel in your body being home with your Grandmother?
“Light like a balloon, light weight, bouncing ball, very open, very connected, body did not feel like a barrier, feeling very connected to nature.”
The lightness and the balloon image come up again here. We had it in connection to her description of anxiety earlier. We do not draw attention to it, but go on to explore dreams.
“I remember a really frightening dream. Two men and dogs were in the same room with me. I got frightened.”
“Heavy, like an immobilized feeling in my dream. I am telling my arms and eyes what to do. Disembodied feeling, telling your body what to do.”
What is the feeling in your arms and eyes?
“The eyelids are heavy, fighting against darkness, blank state. Arms are feeling heavy, not reacting, almost as if you are immobile. Loss of control.”
“Period of moment before death, an out of body experience. The physical self, detached from itself, floating above, body is still, wanted to reconnect, get back, my mind telling my body to go back. Weighing down, sinking through the bed, my body pushing down, going through the bed, falling through it, going down, sinking feeling.”
There was so much energy in her description of how the fright felt in her dream. It felt like an experiential moment. She describes her fears as if she were living them, not just explaining them.
She recalls another experiential moment when asked about the incident when her former husband broke into her house to get their child.
[Hand gesture]”Body falling, being attracted more to the ground, move concrete, not soil, feeling soil being loose, able to settle, dust particles, light.”
“Solid, magnet, body is like magnet to the ground.”
“Ground is attracted to my body, not like being bouncy ball, floating along.”
Tell us more.
“From head down, like rock laying, like magnet, hard to pull off. 2 magnets: very hard to pull it off. Rubber band scratchy feeling, bouncing back, want to pull away but can’t.”
“Image of my son: Very light, son is skipping to school, bouncing, carefree feeling of taking things as they go.”
“Light, lack of worries.”
“Cozy warm feeling. It is not like in the room. Fear: heated feeling, overheated, internal fire, heat is heavy, cold is heavy, warmth feels airy.”
“Between chest and stomach, [hand gesture] gradually getting hotter and like potato and fire, not burning, more heat, like sun, heavy mass, heavy round mass.”
“Core of earth. Very hot. Deep red, oranges, round, very circular, like lava colors, solid, when it cools, rock heavy, vapory mass, volcanic, very still.”
The patient jumped into nonsense when talking about the fear as a “heated feeling”: “The heat is heavy, the cold being heavy, warmth feels airy.” This is a source description, which has all her words she repeats when she describes anxiety. These source words are: “Heavy”, “heat”, “airy”, “rock heavy”.
As described by Divya Chhabra, it can be considered a LEAP when she mentions lava. That is when she breaks free of mundane reality completely and is totally in touch with her non-human remedy’s source. Some patients, like Olga, will even name the source when they leap.
“Shining light [hand gesture], planet itself had volcanic eruptions, colors oranges, liquidity, circular mass, surrounded by darkness with stars. Side view. See it from the moon. Picture it like from the moon. I am seeing it from different angle. [hand gesture] Flowing.”
“Like lava, very fluid, very thick, not lava that cools off, constantly, lava moving around in circular forms, deep colors: oranges, red colors. Very deep reds, transitional from changes to red, constantly moving, from red to orange, very much like lava.”
She remembers another dream of meteors:
“Being amongst the stars. When it hit, light was everywhere. From the moon, out of space. Meteor hitting the sun, engulfing it so to speak, surrounding it with flames, ingested it, if you drop something into hot liquid, not water, more thickness, kind of swallowing it up...seeing the sun in a hole, it is round, flames bubbling, the shine blinding, looking at the sun from earth, overpowering lightness.”
There is source talk again in her dream and the source is described as “hot liquid, not water, thickness, kind of swallowing it up.” This is a description of lava.
We decided to give Olga a lava remedy. When she made a leap into the sub conscious and started to speak nonsense, she mentioned lava – and the lava came again and again. In her case, words that are coming up are: “heavy,” “airy” and “rock” which confirm the source talk. Divya calls this “confluence.”
Lava contains many gases and she articulates the feeling of gas. Those words were “lightness,” “light as air, part of air,” “air moving through me,” “airy,” “floating,” “spirit like,” “out of body experience.”
Lava is clearly the right choice, but now the problem is which lava remedy should we choose? There are several lava remedies and there are some provings and cases described in different books and articles. We looked into Hekla lava, Lava kilauea, Arizona lava, Lava etna and Lava stromboli.
Lava hekla is made from igneous rocks from the volcano Hekla on Iceland- the remedy is made from fine ash.
Lava kilauea is from a Hawaiian volcano that is still active .
Lava arizona is collected from the Sunset crater in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Lava stromboli comes from Stromboli volcano in the north of Sicily and this volcano is active.
Lava etna is from the Mount Etna in Italy, an active strato-volcano.
Looking into Materia medica for Hekla lava, the best known lava remedy, gives us information about the physical symptoms – Hekla lava helps with exostosis, gum abscesses, difficulty teething, nodosities, caries of the bone, tumors in general, bone necrosis. In Olga we did not see anything like this in her physical complaints. Also the patient did not speak about ashes in her source talk, and Hecla lava is made from the ash.
Photos of the Hawaiiean volcano on the internet show explosions reminding us of her meteor dreams about a meteor hitting the sun. The images of the active volcano from Hawaii look like the sun hit by a meteor the way Olga describes it in her dreams. The lava flows and flows, and bubbles and slides and it is red and orange.
We decided on Lava kilauea 10M because the patient goes so easily to describing and naming the source of the remedy.
Olga needed her remedy every 4 weeks. She slept better, her energy was better – especially in the mornings, she did not need naps and did not feel heavy and sluggish. Her periods became less long and heavy, the back pain and cramping during the period was much better too. We saw the improvement for about 5 months but she always relapsed about two weeks after each dose.
In the follow up we tried to get new clues to find a better remedy. Her words and experiences stayed the same, almost sentence for sentence:
“I feel lighter after the first 2 days after having taken the remedy. More uplifted. The inspirational part, the creativity got better. The periods are 5 to 6 days, the cramping pain is not so bad, sort of 2 – 3 days in comparison to 5 to 6 days. It is a dull pain now, less cramping. The back was not hurting much. I start to feel connected to myself. I am dreaming a lot. More about relations, to John’s father and to my Mom.
I feel anxiety in my chest. Palpitations. Heart beats off beat, heavy, need to take deep breaths. I can feel it, not quick, but constant beat. Circular, gets wider, slowly gets wider, gets back to regular. Heavy in the chest.
I feel hot. Everywhere. I did not notice it, John [her son] touched me, he felt much cooler. I feel internally hot.”
Tell us more about the hot sensation.
“Color, flame, orange color, rushing inside, arms, legs, circulating, oranges, reds, colors of fire, I feel the heat coming off.”
“Not like water, like fluid, moving fluid, constantly like a river, not water, kind of thick, consistency.”
We started a word association exercise by asking her to describe exactly what she sees, starting with “black”.
“Black U, output kind of (She drew what she saw on the board. It looked like a horseshoe). It is solid and dark black here.”
“I see the sun, picture of sun, sporadically coming out, intensity of the sun like between 10 and 11 am, very bright, bits of yellow color, pure crystal, white morning. I picture water, reflection of the sun, in waves, crystal whiteness of it.”
“Something sharp, pointing. Not even. Very rustic. From earth.”
“Rust, like red kind of rust on old pipe. Turning orange. Has been there for a while.”
What else do you see?
“Broken off at one side. More orange inside than dark colored pipe, dark area, pipe broken off at left, kind of jagged.”
“Dark metal pipe, broken off, rusty area, orange and kind of brittle.”
We went back to the provings of different lava remedies and looked at the images of different lavas. We were particularly intrigued by the image of the lava pipe.
Mount Etna is famous for its systems of lava pipes, but other volcanoes have them too. Her drawing of the U-shaped pipe looks similar to these lava pipes. In the proving of Lava etna (www.provings.info/pruefungen/etna-lava-e.pdf) we found many of Olga’s symptoms. The provers Gulia, Pitari and Dominici highlighted the big themes of the remedy, some of which are:
- Weakness, heaviness, weariness
- Calmness, anger, powerlessness, nostalgia, exaltation and cheerfulness
- Wateriness (nose, eyes, urination)
- Female: Provers experienced less menstrual pain, the length of the period was reduced and there was a lighter menses.
- Back: The provers had much muscular pain in the lumbar region. The pain was sharp and some felt an electric shock sensation.
- Skin: The provers developed many skin issues: dry, not itching red eruptions; desquamating spots on neck and around left eye; itching spots on different parts of the body.
Weakness is a big theme for Olga. She talks about being sluggish, she needs a nap during the day and she has difficulty getting up in the morning. “Heaviness” is one of her most often mentioned words.
The mental symptoms from the proving are calmness, anger, powerlessness, nostalgia, exaltation and cheerfulness. She talks a lot about feeling calm when explaining her light and carefree sensations. Listening to her about her difficulties with her son (John), we heard that she gets very angry with him, to the point of being reprimanded by strangers in public. We also see that Olga is a cheerful person who tries to see the positive side of most situations. She likes to talk about spending childhood summer vacations at her Grandmother’s place in the countryside. Nostalgic feelings come up when she speaks of time with her grandmother.
Olga had told me in a telephone update that her nose is running in the morning her whole life. “It runs out over the day” as Olga phrases it. Her face sweats a lot.
Physical symptoms from the proving in the Female, Back Pain and Skin sections are part of Olga’s symptom complex. Sharp, muscular pain, or electric shock sensations. Menstrual pain, long periods, heavy periods. Dry skin eruptions, facial acne, spots along the body and neck.
We decide to give Olga the remedy Lava etna in the 10M potency. Initially she needs it every six weeks; we repeat when she begins to feel sluggish, tired in the morning, heavy and gets heavy periods with cramps.
At her last follow up in April 2015, I ask her what the remedy has done for her:
“I have many better days. I am more in the present moment. I felt that spark, I am more creative. I am in that specific moment. Feeling that spark is so important. If I don’t have that outlet I am bottling up inside.”
“Things are much better. I don’t have that constant anxious feeling anymore.”
“The period cramping pain which goes to the back is not consistent any longer. The back pain after standing for a long time is not there that often.”
“Still a little heavy, not that long, just 3 to 4 days. Just the first 2 days are heavier.”
“No flare ups.”
“Much better, I don’t need to take a nap. Sometimes I work a lot then there is low energy after that. I am not drinking coffee anymore but Yogi tea, I like that. Getting up in the morning is a little hard but nothing in comparison to before.