The case of (the fictitious) Lady Gwendolyn Ponsonby-Blythe
There are certain attributes to this case (details given again at the end of this post), some reflect prescribing symptoms, and some must be noted with care….
- the patient is haughty
- chief complaint – pain on turning the head to the left and to the right
- aggravation from drafts
- coughing and sneezing
- susceptibility to neck pain since childhood
- hot bath amel
- brandy amel
- agg mortification
The mortification this patient felt in not getting an invitation to the wedding does seem to be part of the trigger for the flare-up and I would include it in repertorization. So too aggravation from drafts and turning the head, the amelioration from brandy and from a hot bath, and even the weeping. But although I would not include haughtiness in my repertorization as it is part of her personality, not part of her pathology (although some would say it is the inbred pathology of many aristocrats…), I wouldn’t be surprised if haughtiness was found in the chosen remedy’s proving. The spring allergies will probably show up in the proving as well.
Possible remedies are easy to see here. But I didn’t post this small fictitious case as an exercise in choice of remedy. It’s not particularly complex, and there aren’t even any interesting a-ha moments in it.
The important thing to note is that this case is an acute flare-up of a chronic condition. This kind of case can be very muddied by dosing as if it is a completely new acute. Often, less doses are needed, and greater care must be taken that the patient won’t aggravate.
Very often patients come with an acute complaint which turns out to be a flare-up of a chronic condition. In such cases I have found patients to be more susceptible to remedies and more likely to aggravate on frequent dosing. This is also a logical expectation. For example, if someone is chronically susceptible to insults, and usually gets sick after any mortification, any remedy which can cause a feeling of offense in a person will be treading directly on the thin ice of a large frozen lake of existing sensitivity to this. Sensitivity is increased, and so dosing must be carefully monitored.
In addition, because this is really a chronic, not an acute, there is more likelihood that changes in the symptom picture during treatment, both in resolution of the acute flare-up and subsequently, will make it necessary to switch remedies.
In these cases, the patients can be difficult to work with. They often find it hard to believe that they aren’t being told to take a remedy three times a day for a week, and some will even be convinced that the instructions for minimal dosing were wrong, and will take more of the remedy “just in case”. In these situations, a slew of old and new symptoms may appear, and case management becomes far more complex than it should be.
More on case management in a future post.
Lady Gwendolyn Ponsonby-Blythe sat condescendingly in my consulting room. I have never seen anyone sit condescendingly before, but Lady Ponsonby-Blythe’s sitting had an expression all of its own. She looked around and sniffed, clearly unimpressed by my simple chairs, desk and unadorned walls.
I asked how I could help.
“It was the royal wedding, you know,” she confided. I must admit, I was impressed.
“You were invited?” I asked.
“One’s television screen in the main hall of one’s castle is set at the most inconvenient angle,” she continued, ignoring my question as an expression of plebeian ignorance. “Since the royal wedding, one’s neck hurts, every time one turns it, so,” and she turned her head to the left and to the right, wincing with the utmost gentility. I thought for a moment that she was about to wave to imaginary courtiers.
“It’s dreadfully cold in the big hall, impossible to heat, you know, and one cannot stand drafts.”
I asked about other complaints.
“Spring allergies, you know, most people have ‘em,” was the response. “One still suffers from the occasional cough and sneeze,” and she withdrew a small square of cambric and patted her nose.
“And does one – er, do you get neck pain often?”
“Oh yes,” she responded. “Since one was a child, always the drafts, one just can’t abide ’em . One asks Tompkins to draw one a hot bath, that and a small brandy, for medicinal purposes, you know.”
“Does that help?” I asked.
“Of course,” the lady snapped, clearly impatient with so many impertinent questions.
And suddenly, the small square of cambric emerged again as the lofty Lady Gwendolyn Ponsonby-Blythe dissolved into tears. I don’t know which one of us, whether it was “one” or myself, was the most surprised.
I handed her a glass of water and waited.
She sipped the water with a grimace, as if it was not sufficiently well-bred. When she spoke next, her voice was uneven but controlled.
“It was that damned wedding,” she explained. “Obviously Cedric and oneself must have been invited, but without the invitation there would have been a fuss, don’t you know, and one does not like fuss. So common, you know. So one watched the event on the television – and now this!” she ended, turning her head gently but painfully from side to side.
“It’s just all too much!” The tears threatened again, but were subdued into silence by “one’s” iron will.
I asked some more questions, gave a remedy and instructions, and Lady Ponsonby-Blythe sailed, galleon-like, out of my consultation room into the masses of the great unwashed, cambric handkerchief held gently to her nose for protection.
As others greater and wiser than myself have said of this kind of story – it didn’t happen but it could have done… in a parallel universe or somewhere equally exotic…
What remedy would you give – and why?
How would you dose? And why?
What results would you expect?