Greetings poetry lovers!
And what does poetry have to do with homeopathy? For your information, the latest fad in homeopathy is learning materia medica through poetry! Here is my contribution. Ahem!
I Wish I Was A Sulphur
by Elaine Lewis
I wish I was a Sulphur
They seem so self-assured
Their confidence is what I lack
Their knowledge wins awards
They read at an amazing rate
From Marx to Ezra Pound
Their thoughts alive with enterprise
Their musings know no bounds
But in their haste to learn of space
And all that dwell therein
There’s little time to dance and dine
And share a loved one’s whims.
And as his projects grow in scope
And research claims his day
He doesn’t stop sufficiently
To sleep nor bathe nor play.
And maybe many years from now
If you should see your friend,
Once all esprit and joie de vivre
You may be puzzled when
A bearded man with thread-bare clothes
Comes hobbling ‘cross the floor
And says he’s much too busy now
And briskly slams the door.
Thank you very much!
And now for someone whose writing is less challenged: Homeopath and author, Alan Schmukler! Alan, welcome; you are our first “Homeopath in the Hot Seat!” Please relax while I tell you about yourself: You graduated Summa Cum Laude from Temple University in Philadelphia (gee I wish I had done that!), you went on to become a Certified Inhalation Therapist and for several years worked in the Emergency Room at Einstein Hospital here in Philadelphia before discovering homeopathy. You’re the former editor of Homeopathy News and Views, you’ve taught courses in homeopathy, written articles in newspapers, you had a Wednesday night lecture series at Jefferson Medical College, and of course, you’re in private practice. This sounds like a very full life.
Alan, I’m dying to know what it’s like working in an emergency room, what has it taught you about the medical profession that most of us might not know, and do you ever look back and say, “That patient needed Aconite, and that one needed Carbo veg”?
The first six months that I worked the emergency room and ICU I was really impressed! I thought “This is a very efficient operation!” Every day and night came the auto accidents, heart attacks, burns, suicides. Doctors and nurses rushing about in starched white uniforms, we had high-tech machines, alarms going off, lives miraculously saved. I helped resuscitate several people a week. They were dead and we brought them back to life. It’s the stuff of TV!
Over time I learned that many of those people we “saved” never left the hospital!
They had kidney failure, got septic infections, got pneumonia, hemorrhaged or arrested again. Many of the ones who did leave kept coming back, a little worse each time. There was a lot of “saving”, but not much healing.
It turned out that modern medicine was good at bringing people back from the brink, but didn’t know what to do for them after that. Four years later I left, realizing that, on the whole, this medical system does more harm than good. I had seen the mistakes, the carelessness, the indifference. Patients got the wrong medicine, too much, at the wrong time, or none at all. Two drugs were given together that shouldn’t have been, or the right medicine killed them. There were doctors and nurses touching open wounds with unwashed hands or contaminated gloves. There were the botched lab tests that led to the wrong treatments. There were the bad surgeons who everyone knew about except the patients.
There was massive miscommunication. A modern hospital is a Tower of Babel and listening skills are primitive. A lot of wrong information gets into the charts, (or right information that nobody reads.) Patients are listened to least of all. There’s the implicit assumption that if you are sick and in a hospital bed, your opinion is worthless.
I once collapsed at my desk after taking the antibiotic Keflex. My co-workers rushed me to an emergency room. I’m lyng there and the doctor asks me, “Do you have any idea what caused this?” I said, “Yes. It’s a reaction to Keflex.” “No, Keflex doesn’t do that,” he said. A moment later another doctor walks in, points to me and says, “What do we have here?” The first doctor says, “We don’t know.” I’m admitted to the hospital and a couple hours later a nurse hands me a pill to take. “What’s this?” I said. “It’s your Keflex, sir.” True story!
I watched an old man, a retired engineer, complain to his cardiologist about leg pain.
“Nothing wrong with your leg!” barked the doctor. “But could you look at it?” the old man implored. “It’s okay,” the doc says. “But I think there’s a problem,” the old man says. Feeling his opinion challenged, the doctor said, “How many medical schools have you graduated from?” The old man was silent for a moment and then said, “None, but I built a few.”
Back then all I had were my subjective observations. But new research confirms what I saw. A study which appeared in the The Journal of the American Medical Association (4/15/98) showed that properly prescribed drugs kill 106,000 Americans a year. That number is probably low because so much goes unreported. But even at that figure, prescription drugs are the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.
Another study concluded that an additional 98,000 people die every year from medical errors. Other research showed that thousands more die from hospital-acquired infections. If you add it all up, you find that conventional medical treatment is the leading cause of death in America.
As I learned homeopathy, I had these little flashbacks to my hospital days.
I would visualize a patient’s face and I knew in retrospect what remedy he or she needed. The heart patients in particular came to mind . The ones who needed Carbo veg were pale and cold with bloating and belching. They were always trying to sit up because Carbo veg breathes better that way. The patients who needed Arsenicum were very scared, wouldn’t keep still and kept asking for water. The Lactrodectus patients complained of extreme pain running down the left arm. They would get morphine pretty quickly.
Post-operative patients often had to suffer because they were only allowed pain medicaiton so many times a day. Hypericum, Arnica and Staphysagria would have brought welcome relief.
I often wonder how many of the stroke patients would have recovered with remedies like Arnica, Lachesis, Opium or Belladona. Instead they lay in a vegetative state for weeks, months or longer.
Of course it goes without saying that Arnica 1M should have been given to all the trauma victims. Thousands of lives would have been saved and a lot of suffering avoided.
It’s astonishing to realize that in the year 1900, there were 100 homeopathic hospitals in the U.S. Homeopathic physicians got to train in those hospitals and go on grand rounds. They were highly skilled and nothing was beyond their reach. They routinely treated pneumonia, heart failure, sepsis, tuberculosis and gonorrhea.
Alan, let’s talk about your book, which I have in front of me. The name of the book, as you may have heard, is Homeopathy: An A to Z Home Handbook.
It can easily be purchased at Amazon.com and for a very reasonable price, I might add! Here’s what I like about it–you’ve provided remedies for over 175 conditions, including conditions most homeopaths don’t want to write about, like cancer pain, side-effects of chemotherapy and radiation, heart attacks… you’ve got a section on fears and exhaustion; you’ve got an Ailments/from section–ailments from anger, ailments from antibiotics and so on, you’ve even got a list of professions and what remedies might be needed for them; for instance, people in sales might need Lycopodium for loss of confidence or Staphysagria for suppressed anger from frustration! You’ve got a mini repertory in here and sample cases. Good heavens, you’ve thought of everything! We have a book called The Complete Repertory, I think you should have called this The Complete Therapeutic Guide! (Why am I never consulted on important matters?) What made you take on such a vast project?
One wouldn’t ordinarily offer lay people information about treating diseases like Anthrax or Cholera. But these aren’t ordinary times. In the next decade the medical system could easily be overwhelmed due to epidemics of antibiotic resistant infections, outbreaks of exotic diseases, extreme natural disasters (due to global warming), bio or nuclear terrorism, power failures, or mass illness arising from genetically engineered food (now that the species barrier has been violated).
Many people already are trying to survive outside the the medical system. Thousands of people are allergic to the drugs they need to survive. They exist in medical limbo unless they are given an alternative. Also, there are forty three million Americans without health insurance. They routinely put off medical treatment and end up seriously ill later on.
I wrote this book without medical jargon, so anyone could use it. I went through all the disease descriptions and translated every word into plain English. I took pains to make each remedy description clearly distinct from the the others. I wanted a book that you could use in an emergency, without having to dig for the information.
Reading it won’t make you an expert in treating Anthrax, but most doctors are not experts either. One of the postal employees who died from Anthrax had gone to an emergency room and was sent home with treatment for flu!
This book is meant for lay people who are not trained in diagnosis, so I included a section on what to do if you don’t know the name of the illness.
Let me ask you something, do you have any advice for homeopaths on solving cases; anything you’ve picked up in all your years of experience that you’d like to pass along to us, any myths, for example, you’d like to dispel?
Well, Elaine, the toughest part is taking the case. Everything else is a snap. Reality is subjective, language is ambiguous , people forget things, remember them wrong or simply don’t want to reveal. How do you get past all that?
The simplest way is to listen with empathy. Just relax and let go of judgement. Forget about remedies for the moment. Don’t have any other motive than listening and understanding. That’s the secret. That lets your patient relax and feel safe. People can feel when you’ve made it safe for them. They stop feeling embarassed or having to defend. They think more clearly, remember better and talk more openly. That’s when you get the symptoms that lead you to the correct remedy.
In closing, Alan, I have to tell this funny story, which proves, I think, that you really are the Dana Ullman of Philadelphia! (By that I mean that you’ve been a one-man-parade for homeopathy, far exceeding average expectations.) I was in South Philly, 9th Street–the street Rocky Balboa ran down on his way to the Art Museum steps in the movie “Rocky”, eating in an outdoor cafe, when a strolling accordion player, dressed in turn-of-the-century garb, came strolling up to my table, no doubt playing “Lady of Spain”! “Oh geez,” I thought. “Why do I attract people?” He stopped at my table. I tried to look appreciative. When the song ended he said, “What are you reading?” I thought, oh no! How am I going to explain this!? “Simillimum,” I said, hopelessly. “It’s a homeopathic journal,” I added, even more hopelessly. He said, “Do you know Alan Schmukler?”
Ha! See, he had been to one of Alan’s lectures at Jefferson Medical College!
Well, thank you for talking with us, Alan, and thank you for taking the time to write such an all-encompassing therapeutic book; I hope it finds it’s way onto many desk-tops.