After over 20 years in practice there are cases which remain in my memory as being striking or remarkable. I refer to many of these as I teach, to illustrate case management points or Materia Medica, or just to illustrate the excitement homoeopathy can bring to a practice. After all, the theory in the classroom should be reinforced by real examples.
I originally thought that many of the striking cases would be from my time in Kolkata, where of course full attention is on the extraordinary, the weird and the wonderful. It’s a place where the senses are on full alert until they become saturated. These cases would therefore not be ‘mine’, but rather those of my husband. However on reflection, I have decided to include some from my own practice too. It is wonderful to marvel at others’ work, but when it is your own hand it is striking! My intention is to share a few simple cases which stay memorable for their simplicity.
This is a case from the Kolkata Charity Slum project and I include it because of the many lessons I learnt about waiting for the prescription to act and fulfil all it’s potential. It also illustrates that a few prescribing points can lead to a medicine, especially if there is a full command of Materia Medica.
A woman had travelled from South India (India is either North or South except if you are in the middle which is usually North) with a debilitating, painful disorder called Scleroderma. The word “scleroderma” means hard skin in Greek, and the condition is characterized by the build up of scar tissue (fibrosis) in the skin and other organs. Her face was withered and she complained of pain and stiffness both in her hands, feet and face. Her face expressed a lot of pain, which was accompanied by itching that was only ameliorated by application of hot water.
She reported shortness of breath with oppression and an irrepressible restlessness. During here difficult long journey, she felt the need to pace along the train carriage. She also had excessive thirst.
Within a few moments Rhus Ven was selected.
In those days I had no idea why, but with the benefit of Clarke’s Dictionary and a lot more Kolkata experience I can now tell you….
Rhus Ven is justified by the following prescribing points but more importantly on her follow up 2 weeks later she received no repetition of the remedy. She was 65% better and her face was indescribably different.
Face-dry, thickened and indurated.
I was just beginning to learn the value of not spoiling the case by an injudicious repeating of the remedy. My keen sympathetic self, questioned the fact that this woman had travelled so many miles, over several days and did not receive medicine. Now of course I do realise that the sustaining benefit of the original dose can only be maintained by no interruption.
An everyday medicine which gives relief, both long and short term.
This was a child with recurrent hayfever. The child was permanently cured because he was, Arnica. He had been battered by his parent’s hostility towards one another, and subsequent acrimonious divorce and battered by bullies at school. ‘Easily bruised’ is a tubercular miasmatic taint . This child bruised easily, both physically and emotionally and also had the allergy to pollen of the tubercular miasm.
Throughout the consultation he repeatedly expressed that ‘nothing was the matter’ and although we recognise the value of the patient’s words, in this case I also included the words of his mother : frequent , mild fevers, tendency to bruise easily, complaints about the bed being hard, and never wants to leave the house (agrophobia). His breath never smells fresh and he has frequent nose bleeds.
Arnica Montana was selected on the basis of Tubercular taint, frequent fevers, allergy, bruising easily, nose bleeds.
Keynotes of the medicine
Hard bed, ‘battered’, halitosis, says “nothing is the matter”
Arnica – Case B
A lively young dog was running at top speed along a beach and misjudged his leap over a solid wooden breakwater. His painful yelp was heard right across the beach and several other dog owners ran to see if they could help. The dog lay stunned for several minutes and from the force of the impact looked like he’d broken a leg or rib at least.
After a while he gingerly stood and cautiously tottered off.
Arnica 200 was administered immediately (first aid kit in the car, good idea) and remarkably, several hours later he was bounding around as usual.
Impact injury combined with shock, was the basis for the selection.
A simple medicine with two or three symptoms. Remembered from Allen’s Keynotes as being compared with Causticum in the ‘stiffness’ section. ‘Contraction of the flexors and stiffness f the joints; tension and shortening of the muscles’ This young adolescent had pain in the hamstrings and had a lot of difficulty putting his feet flat to the floor. After extensive case taking it was established that his sweat was indeed musty with a concomitant of constipation. A single dose of Cimex 200 was given and the patient cancelled the follow up because he was 100% better.
An aggressive, angry adolescent was a tyrant in his home. His parents were almost afraid of him and he was so egotistical that he would argue black was white if he thought to. His teachers were challenged by him and one became quite shaken by his overt disgust for her, after she made a spelling mistake when illustrating on the board in class.
Hs constipation and almost obsessive tidiness led me to think of Nux Vomica and after several ascending doses, 200, 1M and 10M over a period of a year or so, he became a more balanced and open minded person and an cooperative member of the family.
Back to the slums of Kolkata. A youngish woman in her mid thirties had pimples with itching and really quite advanced rheumatism in her hands which were visibly swollen and consequently rigid. She was observed slowly walking to the Dr’s desk, almost as if her limbs were heavy. The final prescribing point was the burning heat described in her fingers. 30C was prescribed to avoid any aggravation and a follow up 3 weeks later confirmed that the prescription was correct with over 60% improvement in both appearance and pain.
A stubborn case of cracked skin both on the hands and feet which would not yield to the apparently well chosen Graphites.
The skin was dry and itching, worse at night and from open air.
A dose of X Ray 200 was given and left to act for 10 months without interruption.
Finally in step by step stages the patient’s skin recovered and was discharged.
A man was carried into the rural medical camp, in West Bengal, just this January 2014. He was covered in 4-5 blankets, had a hat on and had three layers of clothing on with a woolly hat. He was sweating profusely and the pain in his chest was relieved by this sweating. Once the blankets were moved there was quite an unpleasant odour. I do not know the outcome of this case as yet, however once this scene has been witnessed, Psorinum can never be forgotten or mistaken.
 Scleroderma is an uncommon disease that results in hard, thickened areas of skin and sometimes problems with internal organs and blood vessels. There’s no cure, but most people can lead a full, productive life. It is an autoimmune condition, which means the body attacks its own tissues. In the case of scleroderma, the connective tissue underneath the skin and surrounding internal organs and vessels is affected. This causes scarring and thickening of the tissue in these areas. Depending on the type of disease, the skin may be affected by a few thickened oval patches that can occur anywhere on the body, or there may be lines of thickened skin across the face, scalp, forearms or legs.