I have been one of the fortunate few to have been closely associated with and learned Dr. Rajan Sankaran. Every day for the past few years I have sat and watched how closely he observes each patient and what he observes in them; I witness the minute details of how he works and converses with them with such ease as if a friend. It is really a huge amount of learning. He helps patients with not just homeopathy, but also gives life lessons and guidance on how to live the most healthful and happy life. There have been countless learning experiences I have had, and in this article I will share a few that have been very important in my own approach and practice. Even though my knowledge has grown leaps and bounds since I have been sitting with Dr. Sankaran, I truly believe that my journey with him has just started and hope to be a lifelong student of his.
I remember this case as vividly as yesterday. This patient came into Dr. Sankaran’s cabin with his wife and the first thing I observed was his clothing. He was wearing all white; a white shirt and white pants. As soon as he came in, he folded his hands in the prayer position, then touched Dr. Sankaran’s feet in respect. He sat down and said, “I have been to every single doctor and specialist in Mumbai. No one is helping me with this burning. I have seen a hematologist, a nephrologist and a gastroenterologist. No one has helped me. I beg you doctor. Cure me. I cannot breathe until I get better. Here is a list of my complaints.” The patient handed him a long, typed list of every single complaint that he had over his life.
Dr. Sankaran looked at me, handed me the paper and asked, “So what do you think”? I was numb. He continued as he pulled out his repertory, “This patient’s language is what we need to observe. Look how he is talking”.
He showed me the rubric:
He continued, “Look how the patient reacts. He says that he will not be able to breathe until the burning goes away. This can be taken as conscientiousness. We can see this symptom in the following rubric”. He pointed to me another rubric:
At the end of the case, Dr. Sankaran gave a pearl of wisdom about Arsenicum album patients, “Remember that Arsenic patients give lists of complaints. They write lists because this is how they think.”
Focus not only on what the patient says, but how they say it.
I remember a case of a woman whose case I had taken in great detail. I had proposed she receive the remedy Calcarea carbonica. She was the perfect picture: fat, flabby and fearful, with a need for support and typical cravings. When Dr. Sankaran took her case he began by simply asking, “What is happening”? She pointed to her heels and described the pain as throbbing, as if they would burst. At this moment, he showed me one rubric in Kent’s Repertory:
He proceeded with the case and asked her, “What fears do you have”?
She explained, “I am fearful of dogs, animals, darkness, night time, and ghosts, especially at night”.
Dr. Sankaran showed me his repertory chart:
We must focus on the presenting totality and not simply rely on drug pictures. We must be open to possibilities and adopt a detective-like approach.
I had a case of a patient who was in coma. She was admitted to a hospital in Pune and I had to travel there to take the case. Before I arrived, I got news that this woman was a revered cult leader. She was a guru to many followers. In the hospital, she was on a ventilator along with receiving IV fluids.
I asked the family for the history and they informed me that previous to her admission, she had fallen down and there was sudden stool and urination. She could not understand or relate to anyone. After this, she became quiet and those around her would tell the family that she would snore very, very loudly. I asked about her nature and they informed me that she is a modern guru who has no fear. She has gone bungee jumping and scuba diving at 45-years-old. She is fearless. She has a desire to do continuously for others. When I discussed the case with Dr. Sankaran the next day, he showed me a few rubrics that summarized the case:
You must check to see if the individualizing symptoms match with the pathology. Then you can be sure of your prescription.
I had a case of a 45-year-old male with psoriasis. He was a government officer by profession and so I went to his house for a home visit. I was late to the appointment because I did not have the correct address. When I got in the house, I sat calmly and waited for the patient to come in.
As soon as he came in he asked, “Who are you”?
I replied, “I am the doctor.”
He said, “Do you know who I am? I waited for you, but I do not wait for anyone. I will tell you my problems…”
After five minutes of talking, he suddenly said, “I have to go, I do not have time to answer all of these questions. Dr. Sankaran knows me”. With these words, he rushed out of the house.
I was shocked so I went directly to the clinic to speak with Dr. Sankaran about it. When I explained to him the situation, he looked at me, smiled and opened up his computer to his repertory.
He picked out the following symptoms:
Everything that the patient does is important. Even if they insult you or speak rudely, you have to understand that this is all part of the state.
This was one of the toughest cases I have done and I remember it vividly. I was treating a well-known public figure who had gastric cancer with metastasis. He came to me with a lot of pain. Initially, he did very well with Iodum, but took a turn for the worse and started to deteriorate. During this time he did a follow-up where he described a dream that he had. He was in Arabia and was imprisoned. He was being punished by the people there and felt as if he could not do anything. He felt those people were choking and hitting him, and he was rendered powerless. He felt trapped and restricted.
These were great characteristic symptoms but I was lost in translating it to the repertory. Dr. Sankaran showed me his repertory sheet:
I did not even recognize the remedy (Taxus) that came up first and this was a lesson in itself.
Focus more on the unknown and what you do not know.
Then search for the medicine with an open mind.
This was a case of a patient from Surat who came with the chief complaint of depression. He began by telling me, “Doc, I feel lost and confused. I don’t understand anything that happens around me. I am lost, bewildered in fact. I think to myself very often, where am I – even though I should know”.
Keeping this in mind along with a few other characteristic symptoms, I came to the remedy Nux moschata. When the patient saw Dr. Sankaran for the first time he asked, “What is the problem”. The patient paused for a very long time and finally said, “I feel confused. When I talk to people I get confused.”.
Dr. Sankaran asked, “Describe this”.
The patient responded, “Even now when you are asking me this question I have to focus my mind. I feel confused even when I was reading your case intake form. I was getting a dull confusion. Now I have a headache and it only feels better if I look cross wise”.
With this, Dr. Sankaran revealed his repertory analysis:
Oleander was the remedy that covered every small aspect of the patient, including the peculiar symptom of headache ameliorated by looking crosswise.
Zoom in on the patient’s complaints to see if you can find deeper characteristics there. Take the totality of one part and see if you can delve deeper to reveal more individualizing symptoms. If you find a rare remedy, read through it thoroughly using a reverse repertory function in your computer software.
This was a case of a young, 14-year-old-boy that I will never forget. He was diagnosed with Chorio Carcinoma with hydrocephalus and travelled from Lucknow for the appointment. He was dull and did not talk very much. The only thing he spoke about was how he developed skin eruptions, but they got better by cold in general. I asked him about his dreams. He explained that he had a recurrent dream of trying to catch honey bees and put them back in the hive or send them far away. Not knowing how to take it further, I finished the case-taking and went to Dr. Sankaran. He spent ten minutes speaking with the patient about this dream, asking him to focus on the dream more, to go deeper and deeper into the experience.