By Erastus E. Case
Success in the treatment of infected wounds has brought an unusually large number of them under observation. The employees of several markets send their friends to the doctor who cures without the knife. Seemingly desperate cases have recovered without the loss of even a portion of a finger. The dynamized homeopathic remedy and cleanliness have proved to be sufficient to cure them.
A plumber cut the back of his hand while repairing a galvanized water tank three weeks ago, and the cut healed easily. Yesterday the hand and arm began to swell and the surgeon told him that he would probably lose his hand. His employer brought him to the office asking if the hand could be saved. He was told that it probably could be. The patient slept very little last night because of pain. He has alternate chills and fever. The swelling is angry looking and has a bluish color. These symptoms point to the remedy. 1904, Nov. 30. Four powders Arsenicum album 1m B. and T., one powder every two hours. Dec. 2. The pain and swelling increased for awhile, then diminished. Since yesterday it has been growing worse. One powder Arsenicum album cm Fincke. Suppuration took place, but the recovery was so speedy that he was at work in one week.
A milkman cut his finger while cleaning a glass bottle, then put sugar on the cut, which closed it. Later in the day he sowed ground fresh bone fertilizer. That was ten days ago. He now has pain and swelling of finger and hand, with red streak extending to the axilla, where the glands are painful. 1892, June 8. Four powders Arsenicum album 2c B. and T. one powder every two hours. June 11. He felt better at first but is now much worse. Frequent chills, then feels feverish. Worse at midnight; so restless that he must walk about. Arsenicum album 2c in water, two teaspoonfuls every two hours. June 12. The cut has re-opened and is discharging freely. One powder Silicea 1M.
June 20. The swelling is nearly gone and the wound discharges an offensive pus. One powder Silicea 40m Fincke. It healed without stiffness of finger.
A German peddles fish through the country. Two days ago a customer asked him to kill her cat, and he obligingly undertook the job. In the struggle for life the cat bit and scratched his left hand savagely, and “he vill nefer again anoder voman’s cat kill.” The hand is much swollen. The inflammation extends up the whole length of the arm, and the axillary glands are swollen. He is weak and feverish.
1908, Jan. 17. Four powders Arsenicum album 1M, one powder every three hours.
Jan. 19. Yesterday he was chilly with general aching, and according to custom when chilly he took fourteen grains of quinine and a dose of physic. The hand has not changed very much and he is still feverish. One powder Arsenicum album CM Fincke, and he was commanded not to take any other medicine. Jan. 22. The fever has gone; the swelling is diminishing, and suppuration is going on. One powder Hepar sulphuricum CM Fincke.
Jan. 25. The abscess is open and discharging freely. It healed without further treatment.
A telegrapher, while his hands were sore from abrasions made by twisting off the tops of turnips, mixed putty in an old tin can that had contained green paint. That was two weeks ago. His hands and arms were soon covered with sores. An allopathic doctor cut and scraped them every day to remove the poison, then covered them with an ointment. He also took drugs internally, but is growing worse. A neighbor tried to have him go to see his doctor. He finally consented to do so.
1915, Oct. 29. the man is weak, feverish, has no appetite and very little sleep at night. The sores are black, filled with unhealthy granulations, and are discharging a dark, corrosive fluid. The lymphatic glands are enlarged and sore. One powder Arsenicum album 1M. He was directed to wash the sores with castile soap and water, but to put nothing else upon them excepting vaseline to prevent the dressing from adhering. He went home and told my friend that “he was up against it sure! for that doctor only gave him a little sugar and told him to keep the sores clean.” He was told to obey directions and see what came of it.
Nov. 5. The glandular inflammation is gone. All sores are healing, and he has resumed work. Saccharum lactis.
Nov. 22. He is well and only traces of the largest sores remain. Saccharum lactis.
Dr. Krichbaum: I thought I would not discuss another paper today. But I would like to ask if anyone here can tell me why they cut and slash those septic wounds all to pieces. I remember cases, hands and arms, cut all over. I have had any number of cases cured by Arsenicum. I recall one distinct case of septic condition where the little finger had been opened many times, I believe they said there had been thirteen or fourteen operations. The bone has gone down to the first phalanx and one prescription of Sulphur controlled that whole process within a very little while. No more operations.
Dr. Case: I would like to answer that question – why they cut? If they can’t cure anything they must do something, so they cut. We find that among Homeopaths, – they are cutting too. I had a case, about a year ago, in a little town about fifteen miles from where I live. Operative methods had been employed and the patient was, for about three weeks, under the care of the man whom I suppose did the work. When I saw her first she looked as though she had had typhoid fever for about three or four weeks, at least. The face was peeling, and the tongue was dry and almost black – that blackish condition which we all know so well. Temperature 104°, and I had a mind to back out and say that nothing could be done, but I always hate to shrink form duty and I said I will try this and do my best, and if I lose out, and lose my reputation, all right, I will have done my duty anyway.
I gave the patient Echinacea, 1m. for an hour or two, I have forgotten which, and I was a little afraid, because of the symptoms, that it would not re-act, so I gave the patient about five drops, and the third day I had the satisfaction of seeing the re-action complete, and in about ten days a large abscess presented itself in the vagina and ruptured itself. I expected to open it if it had not ruptured itself. I am saying this to show the action of the homeopathic remedy, even in surgical cases.
In cases like this, vaccination would have done no good whatever. The only thing that I could see was the elimination of the poison from the system by some remedy, and the cure of the case by the indicated remedy.
Dr. Close: The disposition to cut and slash is very much in evidence. The disposition to do things which are analogous to that in the way of local treatment of these septic conditions is also found among our homeopathic practitioners. This has been illustrated to me in a case which I have under treatment at the present time. Ten days ago there came to me a man seventy-four years of age, with an infected hand. He told me that he had slightly injured the hand on the palmar surface about seven weeks previously. He used some simple application, and it apparently healed. Then he had occasion to trim his hedge. He took a pair of pruning shears and worked vigorously with them for about two or three hours. The result was that the wound broke out again and took on a very serious character. The hand became very much swollen, – there was great pain and fever. This was the history he gave me. He had called in an old-school physician who diagnosed septicemia and made two incisions, each about an inch long, on the palm of the hand and one on the palmar surface of the finger, well down to the tendons, and applied dressings of Bi-chloride of Mercury solution. To prevent anchylosis, the patient said, the physician used very forcible extensions in order to break up the adhesions, or to prevent adhesions from forming, and caused him a great deal of pain. At any rate, the extension was so forcible that the sheath of the tendon of the middle finger was ruptured.
Analysis of the urine was made and the patient was found to be diabetic. Ulceration extended from the points of incision and large areas sloughed out, the hand remaining badly swollen. When he reached that point he left his old-school physician and went to a homeopathic physician who prescribed for him and reduced the swelling of his hand at first, so that it looked pretty well; but regarding the exuberant granulation which was beginning to take place as “proud flesh,” he daily destroyed it with acid so that there was no progress. After a few weeks, both the doctor and the patient became discouraged, and the patient came to me. Upon removing the dressings I found this sloughing gangrenous condition going on; there was copious and very foul pus. The hand and fingers were swelled to double their size and very hard. The fingers were rigidly flexed by contraction of the tendons. The edges of the ulcerating tissue showed no signs of granulations at all; the “proud flesh” had been very effectually removed. Not considering exuberant granulation in such cases as necessarily evil I do not believe in destroying it as fast as it is formed. I simply cleaned the wound, put on a wet dressing saturated in normal salt solution, straightened the finger and applied a splint, and gave him Arsenicum 6x.
At the end of three days, healthy granulation began to appear on the edges, and at the end of six days there was no discharge except a normal serum. The opening has filled in about one third with healthy granulation. The swelling of the hand and finger is reduced about one third; no pain whatever. Previously he had had considerable pain with great anxiety and restlessness. He walked the floor half the night and feared loss of his hand and death. Here is a man seventy-four years of age, diabetic, with a septic hand, gangrenous ulceration, and edema, who in the course of ten days has made this rapid progress under the action of Arsenicum the 6th. Pretty good evidence that homeopathic treatment should supplement surgery, and pretty good evidence that unless surgery is properly done, it is better left undone.
Dr. Burgess-Webster: I had an experience this winter of which I am not particularly proud. One of my old patients, who had interstitial nephritis, had an infected finger. I prescribed to the best of my ability but the bone became rapidly affected. I called in a surgeon and he removed the first phalanx, and later thought there was need of removing the entire thumb. I urged delay. The patient’s blood pressure at this time reached 260. After much study I finally prescribed Kali-iod. 200 which saved the thumb.
Dr. Becker: I used to do much surgical work but now I do as little as possible. I think though we should not turn the minor cases over to the surgeons. An old-school physician, a boyhood friend, talks about circumcision constituting with him a major operation. I think every homeopathic physician should be able to do surgical work of this kind. If we will only feel that we are competent to attend to the little things with simple methods and simple dressings I think we will get good results in minor surgery. I have not the fear of septic infection that I used to have. When I was a student I read a two-volume book on surgery by a man named Ericksen. It was full of the most common horse sense that I ever read on surgery, – simple treatment, when treatment was necessary. He pictured meddlesome surgery just as Playfair depicted meddlesome midwifery.
Four years ago, coming back from England, I got acquainted with the surgeon of the ship. He asked me in to see the Captain’s back from which he had removed a large-sized wen. I looked at the wound and seeing no signs of inflammation, I said “You have union by first intention there; that will be all right in a few days.” He took a probe and dipped it in Tincture of Iodine and said: I am going to see what it is like in there.” I said “Oh don’t do that. You are going to break down the first process of healing.” “Oh no” he said, “I just want to see if there is any serum there.”
There was no elevation of temperature, no sign of any trouble whatever, and yet this surgeon was meddling there. Erickson deprecated this sort of thing. Now, I take the temperature, look at the wound, and if it is healing nicely, no sign of redness, no elevation of temperature, I say let it alone. Often I leave the wound covered up several days, trusting to the thermometer and the pulse to show that everything is right. But if the temperature goes up, I take a look at it. I like that paper extremely well. It shows us surgery without the use of the knife.
There are many cases where old-school men fail, where homeopaths, who should know better, try surgical means when homeopathic prescribing will do the work a thousand times better. That is the way we want to make the effort to help keep our school abreast of the times that we may be better Homeopaths, and get the results that Dr. Case gets. There are cases where the knife would be needed very shortly were it not for good prescribing.
A short time ago a patient pricked her finger with a needle. A very sharp pain followed and she rang me up and thinking she was unduly nervous I advised her to bathe the finger in hot water. Next morning I went to see her and the red line up the arm to the axilla showed the trouble. Temperature 104; pain very severe. The temperature was high until a large abscess formed and discharged in the axilla and recovery was uneventful. A well-marked case of septic absorption, one remedy given, as Dr. Case has illustrated, and when we treat according to the homeopathic indications we get good results; treatment by prescribing and not by means of the knife.
A little boy some time ago was treated in the out-patient clinic in Toronto Hospital for an indolent ulcer on his hand which showed very slow progress. When he came under my notice the temperature was high. He was told to put the hand in hot water frequently and in a few days it was nearly well. I have seen women after childbirth showing signs of septic absorption. The temperature went higher daily and there was much distress. The uterus was irrigated with plain hot water. There was a marked chill immediately after in some cases which I presume was due to the dilution of the pus. The temperature came down very shortly and stayed down though sometimes in twenty-four hours it rose again. Another irrigation, of plain hot water, gave the same good results. In one case I had to repeat it several successive days and in another it had to be done twice a day. Another woman, after childbirth, had a well-marked septic infection. Chill and high fever. She was in a filthy home; she was filthy in person, her clothes were filthy and her surroundings were filthy. I gave her a dose of Sulphur. The next morning she was normal.