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A Subtle Cuttlefish Case

by Dr Angela Jones(more info)

listed in homeopathy, originally published in issue 29 - June 1998

The name Eira means "snow" in Welsh. The brunette in front of me in my consulting room explained that she had had white hair as a baby, hence the appellation, which had subsequently become less appropriate as her hair transmuted to its present colour during childhood. The problem which she presented with was one of troublesome urinary frequency and urgency.

Two years previously, she had developed horrible low abdominal pain which doubled her up and led her to consult her general practitioner. He had suggested that she may have a urinary tract infection and gave her a course of antibiotics. However, when the test came back from the laboratory, it was dear of infection. The pain continued and was accompanied by distressing urgency She would have a nasty sensation on beginning to pass water which, at times, stopped her from passing any more, such was its shocking severity. However, during and after the stream of urine, there was no further pain. Particularly disturbing was the fact that her sleep was interrupted by these episodes, often several times per night.

Eira was understandably upset by these symptoms and her doctor referred her to a specialist for help. She was diagnosed as having urge incontinence and also a prolapse of womb, bladder and bowel. She underwent vaginal hysterectomy, anterior and posterior repair surgery and urethral dilation but, sadly, her symptoms did not resolve. Even more regrettably, since the surgery, she had been unable to make love to her husband due to pain.

From the menstrual point of view, Eira was in the menopause. She had been without a period for a year but had flushes and sweats for thirteen years previously. These continued and were tiring and debilitating. She had tried hormone replacement therapy four years earlier but had developed phlebitis, an inflammation of the veins that is considered to be a bad feature when on hormones, signalling a possible increased risk of thrombosis. She'd had the same problems when on the contraceptive pill years earlier and had decided that she did not wish to take the risk of taking HRT. Topical oestrogen creams had been prescribed to treat the urethra and vagina following surgery. Sadly these had not given her any benefit either.

As regards her other systems, Eira had a lifelong tendency to constipation which had worsened in the last two years. She took a regular bulk forming laxative and a mild stimulant aperient to keep her regular. If she failed to do this, the urinary symptoms would worsen. She also suffered from migraine headaches, left-sided with a prodome of tingling on the side of the nose, nausea and impaired vision. These took the well-known pattern of weekend migraines, occurring mostly when she had time off from her busy job as a graphic designer. Her periods used to be regular though quite scanty and she suffered from mild premenstrual miserableness on one day only.

In general she was not especially sweaty, tended to be chilly in cold weather and enervated by the sun. Thunderstorms did not worry her; in fact she rather enjoyed them. Food preferences were for spicy, salty food and she loved pickles. She was averse to fat and moderately thirsty. Her favourite pastimes were walking, swimming and most of all, dancing!

As a person, Eira came over as a sweet, gentle person, very neat and polite but warm and caring. She admitted to a tendency to excitability especially in the context of her work, when she would rush around in a flap being somewhat less than productive at times.

She was saddened by the effect of her problem on her sex life with her husband, although she admitted that she had never been highly-sexed. She was not especially keen on comforting and consolation when upset and saw herself as fairly self-sufficient emotionally.

The psychological profile presented me with a little difficulty in terms of choosing a medicine for Eira. She had been through the standard diagnostic and therapeutic procedures for her problem and, indeed, homoeopathy seemed to offer her hope where all else had failed. Many of her features were those of the medicine Sepia, which is cuttlefish ink prepared homoeopathically. In particular, the history of prolapse, the left-sided migraine, the pain on passing water and on intercourse, the craving of salt and pickles, the love of dancing and the tendency to constipation, fitted well. Against Sepia were her lack of obvious emotional reaction to hormonal changes.

Sepia women are generally very susceptible to severe premenstrual syndrome. The archetype is described by Tyler in her Drug Pictures as an exhausted mother, worn out, hating everyone, especially her children and husband and just wanting to run away and escape. These drug pictures, although a useful aide-memoire can be a little dangerous if taken too literally.

I overcame my doubts and prescribed Sepia 30c for three doses separated by twelve hours. On review a month later, Eira had made remarkable progress. She had had a terrible migraine two days after taking the medicine but absolutely no headaches thereafter. The soreness had gone from the vagina and abdomen and was now localised to the urethra itself. The urgency had improved and she now slept all night. She could also resist the urge to pass water on occasion and in general felt less as if her life was being ruled by her bladder. However, she was feeling emotionally generally depressed and weary.

I felt that the Sepia had definitely had an action as evidenced by the aggravation in the form of the migraine headache. Undeterred by the low mood, I repeated the dose and arranged to see Eira again after a further month. Good news again! She'd had a minor headache this time after the dose but no other ill effects. The low mood had lifted and she said that she felt generally calmer and better able to cope in her job. The bladder symptoms, though not completely resolved, were better again and she was slightly less constipated. She'd had no weekend migraines at all since starting the treatment and, amazingly, had managed to make love with her husband on two occasions, for the first time in eighteen months.

We were both delighted and encouraged by this process and agreed that the best thing to do at this stage would be nothing. The Sepia was probably still acting in Eira's system and it was best not to give any more until the action of the last dose had ended. Eira understood this principle well and I was able to send her off with another three tablets to take when appropriate. I feel confident that she will continue to improve steadily It is, of course, possible that she may require further doses or a different potency in the future, but we will cross that bridge when we come to it. What is important at this stage is that the subtle cuttlefish had once again acted, and in a person who would not have struck one instantly as a "Sepia type".

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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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