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by Dr Angela Jones(more info)

listed in anxiety, originally published in issue 19 - April 1997

Like the majority of my patients, Lisa came to me because she had found that her doctors could not help her any further with her problems. Her story began the previous year when she had been sent to a gynaecologist because her periods were getting heavier and heavier. She had also been experiencing a niggly pain in her left lower tummy which had bothered her but which she assumed was something to do with the periods.

However, the gynaecologist had bad news for her. He had detected a left ovarian cyst and recommended urgent surgery. Lisa ended up with a total hysterectomy and both ovaries were also removed. The histology results showed a cancer of the left ovary and the specialist recommendation was chemotherapy. Lisa underwent several doses of a very unpleasant treatment known as cis-Platinum and lost her hair. She felt it had all been worthwhile, though, when her follow-up scan gave her the all clear.

Now clear of cancer, Lisa was keen to get on with her life. However, she found, to her dismay, that she was increasingly troubled by attacks of terrible anxiety. She could not go out alone and when shopping with her family would be unable to continue as she felt her legs were buckling under her. She would wake in the middle of the night with a frightening, choking sensation, sweating profusely and terrified. Most recently, the panic attacks were hitting her even at home when she was thinking about or planning going out. Lisa was worried that, if this continued, she was heading for agoraphobia.

Her doctor felt that the symptoms Lisa was experiencing were due to a rapid onset of the menopause caused by the radical surgery which had removed both ovaries. Unfortunately, the only treatment he could offer was tranquilliser therapy such as diazepam (or Valium). She was not able to take hormone replacement therapy because of the risk that it could encourage a relapse of her cancer.

Lisa was totally opposed to tranquillisers as she knew that there was a risk of addiction and, in any case, did not want to live the rest of her life on constant sedation. She felt that there must be another answer, and decided to try homoeopathy.

As usual, when I met Lisa for the first time, I tried to find out as much as I could about her. She told me that she had always suffered from her hormones – her premenstrual tension had been quite severe but would always clear up as soon as her period started. She hated tight clothing, especially around her neck and felt too hot most of the time. Strangely, she had noticed that perspiring often made her feel better.

Her homoeopathic history gave few clues – she bad no particular cravings, her sleep position was not unusual, she was neither thirsty nor thirstless and she had no particular preference for any kind of weather. Her mother had died of a stroke and her father of a heart attack. She had no information about her extended family. I therefore had to make my prescription based on the picture of Lisa's presenting complaint alone plus the small amount of past medical history that she had given me.

To recap, Lisa had had a left ovarian cancer and was now suffering from anxiety attacks. These were often present on waking and were associated with overheating. They would be relieved by sweating. She had a past history of PMT relieved by the onset of the period. She was generally hot and disliked tight clothing. To a homoeopath, this combination of symptoms and in particular the left-sided pathology in combination with complaints relieved by a discharge (whether of blood or of siveat) could point to one remedy alone – Lachesis.

Lachesis is a fascinating remedy. It is the venom of the bushmaster snake, a massive and vicious serpent from South America. The toxicology of this venom gives the picture of Lachesis on which we prescribe and as well as terrible fear and heat, the unfortunate victim may develop sepsis at the site of the bite and blood disorders leading to haemorrhage and eventual death. There is a certain type of character which is said to respond particularly well to Lachesis. These people are said to be over-talkative, jealous and vindictive, sometimes even psychotic.

What is so interesting is that Lisa's character did not correspond to the Lachesis character at all. She is kind, caring and very sympathetic, a private person who tends to be reserved and hold back her feelings. She is never jealous, rather tending to be glad for other people's good fortune. Yet, despite this, Lisa responded wonderfully to Lachesis.

I gave her three doses of the 30c potency and explained carefully that if she experienced a worsening of her symptoms while taking the medication, not to worry, but to take no further tablets. It was as well that I explain this as a routine to all my patients because Lisa had a most unnerving experience after taking the first tablet. She took it in the evening and went to bed as she was tired. An hour or so later, she had a terrible suffocative panic attack and experienced horrific visions of faces with huge white teeth. These lasted for several hours, but Lisa was determined to battle through and eventually fell into an exhausted sleep. She took no further medication but since then, began gradually to improve.

Since that time, she has had no further panic attacks and has been able to go out alone and to shop in a supermarket without problems.

She is absolutely amazed at what has happened to her and delighted at the progress that she is making. Her flushes are still troublesome but she regards these as the least of her problems. We may try some Amyl nitrite in a month or two, if the flushes fail to settle.

It is a pleasure and a privilege to treat people like Lisa who have no prior knowledge or preconceptions about homoeopathy and whom one can therefore trust absolutely about their accounts of their reactions. Lisa's response to Lachesis suggests that she had been in a Lachesis state as a result of her sudden change in hormonal status after the removal of her ovaries and womb. This state had occurred previously during her premenstrual phase resulting in PMT. However, Lisa's lack of the typical Lachesis personality could have led one away from the prescription that eventually benefited her so greatly. Her case certainly taught me a valuable lesson and reminded me also of the importance of instructing patients correctly in how to deal with an aggravation of their symptoms during treatment.


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About Dr Angela Jones

Dr Angela Jones works in NHS general practice and also privately, using homeopathy alongside conventional medicine. Dr Jones can be contacted via the Faculty of Homeopathy on Tel: 020-7566 7800.

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