E. is a nine year old girl who suffers from congenital malformations, which affect her whole body. She has a tiny build, hardly as tall as a four year old, and most of her bones are deformed: extremely severe scoliosis, club feet, and a caved in chest, which has pushed her heart to the right side and barely leaves room for her lungs. Her forehead is large and misshapen, with a network of veins evident just under the surface, and her genitals are not properly formed. She has been under specialised care all of her life and her parents have sought help and advice worldwide. Her immune system is severely compromised; every sniffle results in a high fever and a cough, and because she is unable to spit up phlegm this usually leads to more antibiotics and often a prolonged hospital stay due to pneumonia. She has been hospitalised about 20 times in her short life and has needed antibiotics at least six times per year, as well as oxygen. Her parents have been fighting for her life all these years; they have had to keep her away from school or shopping centres, and have not been able to have visitors who might be harbouring a cold or ‘flu.
On seeing E. for the first time I was taken aback, not because of her deformities, for which I was prepared, but because of the image which flashed through my mind; the hell-fires of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Another striking element was a distinct yeasty odour.
E. has the look of an old wise person in a tiny body. Her parents confirmed that she is in many ways much older than her age. She was early in learning to read and write, and she has drawn three-dimensionally ever since she learned to draw. Her comments are often far beyond her years and she seems unperturbed by her condition despite her limitations. She is known to “guide” her mother when there is stress, as though she is able to see through the situation and find a solution. For example, E.’s mother scolded the dog for coming in the house with muddy paws and soiling the carpet. E. came to the dog’s defence, saying that it was not the dog’s fault; it is just what dogs do. Seeing that her mother was upset by this, E. apologised and consoled her mother, explaining how best to deal with the dog so that no one would be upset!
It turned out that E.’s only great fear was that of fire; she could not tolerate any open fire in the house, including a gas hob, and would panic if a candle was lit. Fire sirens and reports of fire would greatly upset her. She is highly concerned about the welfare of others and can be very upset if she hears of any cruelty, especially to animals. The only behaviour problem that she displays is anger at not being allowed to play with her friends, when one of them has a cold.
Due to her severe deformities, in combination with her “wise old person” presentation, I chose to prescribe an actinide: Uranium 200C. The following two days, she was unusually sad, crying and clinging to her parents. Several weeks later, she began to cough again but was this time able to spit up phlegm. She developed a high temperature and become very hungry and restless. The symptoms looked like Iodine (hot, hungry, and restless), and I would have liked to prescribe Uranium iodatum, but this is not yet available, so I gave her Uranium 200 at the same time as Iodum 200. It was E. who led the way: “I will need this a few times and then I will be alright.” She placated her mother, who would otherwise have called in the doctor, with the usual recourse to antibiotics and possible hospitalisation. For the first time ever the fever and the cough abated and E. recovered without any other medication. Since then, she has had the occasional snuffle, which has been relieved immediately with a dose of Uranium. For the first time in nine years, E.’s mother has felt confident enough to go away for a week.
Ten months later, E’s health has improved so much that her mother has started to be more aware of her own health issues: “since I don’t have to worry about E. anymore.” And here E. takes the lead as well: “Oh Mom, you just worry too much. You need to learn to trust.”
Interestingly, besides the improvement in her general health, E.’s fear of fire has disappeared. She now likes to light the candle before dinner, blow it out, and then light it again. She is still concerned when she hears fire sirens, saying how dreadful it must be for the people whose house is burning, but she is not longer in a panic. Meanwhile, instead of being the worry of the family, E.’s is able to ward off colds and coughs, bouncing back immediately; her immune system seems to be the healthiest of the family!
Photos: Wikimedia Commons
Atomic bombing of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945
Candle flame; Loadmaster, David R. Tribble
Keywords: congenital deformities, recurring pneumonia, wise old child, fear of fire, Hiroshima
Remedies: Iodum, Uranium