D is a domestic short-haired spayed female cat who was adopted from a shelter at five years old. She was presented to me at eight years old, having struggled with chronic asthma for the past year. Her guardians had tried everything from antibiotics to inhalers to steroids (short- and long-acting), including injections and transdermal patches. Nothing worked.
She was wheezing, coughing, and at times breathing with her mouth open, which is a sure sign of respiratory distress in cats. Her chest gurgled with each breath, audible even without a stethoscope.
I received her case and created a timeline, for as far back as was possible. Here is the resultant symptom list, which is remarkable for its numerous modalities. These are very helpful in narrowing down the best remedies.
Asthma (allopathic diagnosis)
cough – dry or wet
< heat of wood stove (but she likes to sleep in the toasty basement)
> rainy weather
< being picked up (pressure)
comes over to food eagerly, but eats less
Watching and listening, the best description of D’s likely sensation was oppression of her breathing. This fit Bryonia, as did the dry cough aggravated by coming into a warm room, as well as aggravation from pressure (being picked up). Here is the repertorization which helped focus my thoughts and narrow my choices: [newly created from Dimitriadis G. The Bonninghausen Repertory — Therapeutic Pocketbook Method from MacRepertory [computer program]. Version 1.0.5-SL Professional. Arcata, CA: Synergy Homeopathic]
As you can see, Bryonia is the only remedy covering all the rubrics. This was encouraging, and on reading materia medica for this remedy and comparing it to a few of the other possibilities, D’s picture emerged clearly.
Five doses of Bryonia LM1, given over a period of two weeks, did clear her lungs and enable her to breathe freely, but it was likely a partial match, because she was left with a lingering sinus infection. This is a common complaint for patients who have received allopathic interventions. These strong medications can change the symptoms enough to obscure the remedy picture, causing a zig-zag path towards cure.
Happily, sinusitis is less serious than asthma, as it does not lead to sudden death from asphyxiation. Therefore, her vital force had shown itself capable of coming out from under the non-similar medication and driving the disease more externally. She was no longer in a critical state, but somewhat improved.
Back to the drawing board. How had she changed after the Bryonia? What was the same, what was different, what was new? She now had fluent coryza which was worse while eating (her nose would “glop up” more then); she clearly was worse during the winter months, and she was also worse when running (which she wasn’t able to do prior to Bryonia).
She also had begun scratching her left ear, and her left eye was watering brownish tears. I added these new symptoms to her list, and returned to the repertory with certain selected rubrics: [from Dimitriadis G. The Bonninghausen Repertory — Therapeutic Pocketbook Method from MacRepertory [computer program]. Version 22.214.171.124 Professional. Arcata, CA: Synergy Homeopathic]
The truncated rubrics are as follows:
From Situation & Circumstance; Eating, before; during
Respiratory; coryza; Coryza, fluent [with mucus discharge]
From Situation & Circumstance; Exertion, mental; physical; quickly walking [running, dancing, etc.])
Calcarea, though known as a right-sided remedy, also has numerous symptoms on the left side. Hahnemann’s Chronic Diseases describes, “Smarting water runs from the left, reddened eye,” and “Stitches in the left ear.” Also, “Cough, excited by eating,” which fits her modality, even though not specifically her coryza.
“Anxious oppression in the chest” certainly describes D before Bryonia, as well as “Asthma….walking in the open air.” Then there is “Fluent coryza, with great lassitude.” Such jewels!
One dose of Calc-c 30C cleared up the infection. Her lungs stayed clear, allowing her to chase her beloved paper balls (during the night, of course), sounding like a “thundering herd of cats.” She was still well three years later.