Excerpted from : Hahnemannian Advocate – H. W. Pierson, M. D., Editor.
Volume XLI- January to December, 1902.
Probably the most trying cases to a conscientious physician are those where the actual needs of the case, as well as the insistence of “interested friends” of the patient, demand speedy amelioration. Eg. severe suffering, the patient being in great distress; hemorrhages from lungs, bowels, uterus or elsewhere; convulsions; zymotic states; collapse; cases where the vital organs are threatened, as a cardiac neuralgia and acute inflammation of kidneys, – these are disorders in whose presence one feels that if something is not soon done, the consequences will be disastrous and opportunity for help will soon be past.
Confronted with such cases the physician realizes a responsibility in his or her actions, and wishes most earnestly to make every stroke tell definitely in results that will relieve the distress and suspense. Friends and patient, if still able, demand that “something be done,” “something, anything for relief.”
If there is anything in a physician’s experience that wears on the vitality and saps the reserve strength, it is attendance on these cases. To be master of the occasion the physician must keep a cool, calm demeanor and to be master of the case, must keep clear perception and judgment, unprejudiced by overwrought sympathies.
Those not privileged in well trained observation are apt to deplore the attempt to find distinguishing symptoms by which to select an individual remedy. They are often heard to say “such patients have time to die, while you seek to discover their individual remedies.” But it is in such urgent cases, when the patient declares “I can’t stand it much longer,” when the friends exhort the speediest, possible relief, that the homoeopathic physician feels grateful to Providence and to his instructors for the God-given principles that lead to the selection of a remedy according to the image of the patient, the remedy which, when administered, subdues the severity of the whole case, giving respite, but strength, to the patient and rest to the anxious friends.
Those not trained to observe the patient are apt to be bewildered at the idea of using anything but “heroic measures” for these heroic cases. The greatest hero is the one who drives the sword deep to the heart of the dragon, not halting nor wavering till he gets close enough to bury the blade to the hilt and vanquish the foe bodily. While not ignorant of the terrors of the slashing tail and the sharp fangs and claws of the enemy that threaten the victim, the Slayer must penetrate deeper than these. Guided by the lines that determine the form, he must recognize every feature and aim at the center which keeps these all at play, the very heart of the dragon.
The lines portraying the clear image of the particular case are the symptoms of the patient. The iliac pain; signs of local inflammation and digestive system disturbances [swelling, fever, thirst, coated tongue] are found in appendicitis cases, generally; but the intense heat of the body; bright red face and skin; extreme sensitiveness to light, to touch, to jar, and aggravation of all symptoms from 3 p.m. to midnight; restlessness and < from exposing the body outside the covers, say Belladonna patient. Or the craving for quiet and rest; all pains < from motion; headache and nausea < raising the head; dull congested face; heat with chilliness especially on moving; thirst for frequent large quantities of water; > lying on painful side; irritability on being disturbed, and great drowsiness, say Bryonia patient. These groups of symptoms tell nothing of the nature of the disease action, but tell much of the patient, clearly portraying his characteristics.
No matter how severe the cardiac distress or the cholera symptoms, nor how violent the attacks of convulsions, a little attentive observation will detect peculiarities of the patient that in one case resemble Arsenicum, in another, Cactus, in another Argentum nit., in others Pulsatilla, in others, Cuprum, Camphor, Calcarea, Stramonium or Sulphur etc.
These symptoms of the individual patient serve as beacon lights to the physician. He quails not before the fury of the storm, he quakes not though surrounded by the rocks, [the violent features of the case]. When he can detect these symptoms of the patient, he knows his course and guides the patient to safety, assured that when the disorder within is turned to order, the patient in his inner parts firmly directed toward cure, all these violent manifestations will melt away and the sufferer will bask in the sunshine of restored order.
Assured, that guided by these symptoms of the patient and as by beacon lights and compass, he can apply his sudden and motive power so as to carry the voyage safely, promptly, into quiet waters and deep channels.
Why should this captain-pilot, the physician, devote his energies to pouring oil on the billows and dashing waters where they happen to be heaviest, now on this side, now on that? Why should he concern himself to measure the size or the distance of the rocks that threaten destruction? Why should he seek to change the character of the water dashing about, or seek to discover where lie the wrecks of other craft scattered beneath the surface? Why should he worry and bestow himself to parley with these evidences of violence [the symptoms that characterize the disease], temporizing for short respites, when there are guides by observing which he can escape the neighborhood of such damages.
It is the confidence of possessing a true compass and strong rudder and the presence of distinct signals to be sighted that cheers the homoeopathic physician and makes it possible for him to go serenely into the presence of urgent cases and undertake their management with favorable prognosis. Every time he does rely on these characterizing symptoms and the remedies they indicate, he has the satisfaction of sailing over quiet waters, while others attempt to deal with the individual urgent features, which leaves the victims floundering in the menace of hidden or perceptible dangers, battling till the storm has passed and they can only float exhausted, or succumb.