[ Presented before the Connecticut Homoeopathic Medical Society May 10, 1932].
EDWARD S. SMITH, M.D.
Among the cases claiming the attention of the physician there are few that present a stronger appeal than children who are sub- normal, either mentally or physically. When both of these conditions are found in one and the same patient the claim on our interest is greatly augmented.
The case which I have the privilege of bringing to your notice is that of a boy, an only child, who, when first seen by the speaker, was subject of both mental and physical defects, and during his few years had suffered a greater handicap than falls to the lot of most beginners in the race of life. When I first saw him, on June 30, 1931, his age was three and a half years. He could neither walk nor talk, but lay on the bed, or cough, or floor, indifferent to his surroundings, and requiring all the attentions of a baby.
The father told me that up to his fifth month he was as fine a child as a parent could wish to have, healthy, vigorous and normal. At the fifth month he began to develop convulsions, which were of daily occurrence, often repeated, and very severe. While in the convulsion the child was unconscious for at least half a minute, the head was retracted, the eyes were rolled upward, and the extremities were in a state of clonic contraction, combined with tremor. This experience was repeated many times daily, the nurse, as she sat by the crib, observing as many as seven in a single night. The seizures occurred in the night more frequently than during the day.
So for three years the child continued in this condition, being attended at first by the family physician, and later be several pediatricians, all of the dominant school of medicine. Then it was decided to take him to the New York post-Graduate Hospital. The purpose of this change was to enable the laboratory experts to make repeated tests, to discover, if possible, the basic cause of the disease. He remained in the hospital eight weeks but all the tests made there were of no avail, for the report of the laboratory men was that the boy was one hundred per cent perfect by every test. No taint or infection, hereditary or acquired, was discovered, nor was there any enlightenment as regards the cause of the condition from other sources.
The sole result of his experience in this hospital was the development of a mastoiditis, for which he was treated by the usual operation, and from which he eventually recovered, though not till after his return to Bridgeport. In passing, it may be said that four days after the operation he showed signs of a collapse, so a transfusion was done, the father being the donor. Tests made of the blood of the father, preparatory to the transfusion, showed it to be without infection of any specific nature, and quite suited to the purpose in hand. After his return home he was again placed under the care of specialist and men in general practice, who tried in vain to stop the convulsions and bring him to a normal state.
One of these men believing the seat of the disorder to be in the cerebellar region advised that the skull be opened so that the cause might be removed. But the father demurred, fearing the procedure would end the childs life. Another physician in his despair at the repeated failures to relieve the patient of his incubus suggested the transference of the patient to the state hospital for epileptics at Mansfield, Conn. Again the father refused, declaring that he would never do this till every other reasonable means had been employed.
In December 1930 the boy was trained by his devoted nurse to make an attempt at walking. She succeeded in helping him to develop a partial ability to balance himself, and walk with a stilted, unnatural gait by holding on to furniture. He continued these efforts at locomotion for six months when the effect of the convulsions overcame him, and he could do not more. This was on June 10, 1931.
On my first examination of the patient I found him to be a well nourished boy, three and a half years old, weighing about forty pounds, and as well developed as most children of his age. He was quite unable to communicate by language with those around him, and he seemed but very imperfectly to understand what was said to him. His inability to walk was evident. At times there is a marked exophoria of the right eye. He is left-handed.
A case of so unusual a type, and with a history of so many experiences with various physicians, demanded care in the development of a new line of treatment. The first prescription was Cuprum cyanatum 6x trituration, which was given on the assumption that there was, at the base of the brain, the result of a chronic congestion, for which this medicine has been prescribed with effect. This remedy was given three times daily for a week, but as no improvement was observed it was discontinued.
After further consideration he was given Cicuta virosa 6x dilution on tablets three times daily. This prescription was made on July 7th. The basis for this prescription is found in Allens Handbook of Materia Medica and Therapeutics where the record of symptoms is convulsions with distortion of the limbs, opisthotonos, spasms of all the muscles, unconsciousness. Clinically Allen gives convulsions from various causes, injuries, epileptiform, tetanic, with insensibility, jerking of the eye balls, muscles of the face, and of the whole body.
On July 12th, five days after the prescription of Cicuta, the convulsions stopped, and so far as is known there has never been a return of them. The child has been under the observation of his nurse day and night, with trifling exceptions, from that date to the present time, so it is believed if a convulsion had occurred it would have been noted.
On July 22nd he began to make attempts at walking, imperfect at first, but with increasing success, as the days passed, till now he runs and walks as well as a normal child of his age.
About this time it was evident that the boy had a clearer understanding of what was said to him, so the nurse began to encourage him to make efforts to talk. the response was slow at first, the vocabulary consisting of nouns, some of which he pronounced distinctly, but others quite imperfectly. However, progress has characterized the case in this respect also, for now verbs are appearing in his speech, and we hope soon there will be qualifying adjectives to join other words in his talking outfit.
In November 1931 he was given a few treatment with the actinic ray which has an excellent record in the treatment of similar cases, but his fear of the overhanging lamp was such as to cause a stopping of the treatment.
In January 1932, because of the inconsiderate demand on his resources by one who should have shown better judgment, he exhibited slight nervous twitchings, but these soon disappeared under the use of Agaricus 2x in tablet form. Later he was returned to the remedy Cicuta which he took twice daily.
On February 11m 1932, his medication was changed to Baryta carbonica 6x in tablets twice daily. This prescription was made on the basis of his backward mental state, and his general slow development. This is his medicine at the present time.
In seeking for the etiology of this case much difficulty has been encountered, but in the absence of a specific heredity, or symptoms of intestinal parasites, it is believed that the cause may be found in repeated shocks to the brain during the early months of infancy. For example, it is known that the patient was placed on the rear seat of a car, and was thrown from this place to the floor of the car when the car went over a sudden rise. It is known that he fell several times from a dressing table to the floor of the bedroom.
There were many other evidences of carelessness and neglect, all without excuse, and due to the indifference of the person who had the responsibility of his care. These experiences must have resulted in repeated shocks to the developing brain of the child, and it is believed that the etiology of the case is to be found here.
Meanwhile under the direction of his physician, and the care of his nurse, the entire attitude of the patient toward his surroundings has undergone a decided change. From being merely a living thing with no interest in objects and persons about him, and unable to walk or talk, he is now mentally alert, keenly interested in play, either when alone or with other children, and demanding the co-operation of his father and his nurse in his play and in his entertainment. His mental development at present is that of a entertainment. his mental development at present is that of a child about a year and a half old. However, the development of his mentality has been so consistent and constant that there is much cause to expect he will eventually show the development of a normal mind in accord with his age.
The report of this case is made because it serves as a cogent illustration of the advantage which the homoeopathic system of medicine offers in the treatment of most disorders, especially those which are obscure in their origin, resistant to the methods of treatment practised by the dominant school of medicine, and so chronic in their course as to threaten the continuance in life of the unfortunate patient.
If I could present to you a picture of the unhappy father of this boy, pacing the floor of my office, almost overwhelmed with mental suffering as he related his disappointments with physicians who had endeavored to relieve the case, “in the last ditch with the enemy upon him,” and by contrast show you the condition now, when the boy waves him a good-bye as he departs to his daily task, and greets him when he returns at the close of day, with all the expressions of joy and delight which characterize a normal winsome child, you would, I am sure, agree that such a result affords a reason to be for the homoeopathic system of medicine.
So here is my report, fellow members, and as Ripley says “Believe it or not,” but in any event this is the case as I know it to be.
Hahnemann taught us that the common symptoms of diseased conditions were of little importance in making up the drug picture of the remedy for the disease that would do the most effective work. At first thought this truly seems an unreasonable statement.
That we should throw out such symptoms as pain, fever, chill, inflammation, suppuration, tumors, and all the common features of diseased conditions as practically worthless, and take up those which were peculiar to the individual, and perhaps have no reasonable bearing upon the case from a pathological standpoint seems an unwarrantable position for one to hold. But years of homoeopathic practice from this Hahnemannian standpoint has proved the truth of the statement, and we do not lack for ample evidence to substantiate the position. H.P.HOLMES, M.D.1892.