I was called, November 28th, 1862, to visit D. K. M., fifty-three years of age, married, of sanguine temperament and good constitution. Although somewhat inclined to alcoholic drinks, he did not abuse them and his manner of life was excellent.
Some two months before, he had bought a large glazed earthen vessel, which was filled with equal parts of peppers and the strongest vinegar. One month afterwards, thinking the peppers fit to be eaten, he took a moderate quantity of them together with some of the vinegar. Two days passed without any change, but late in the afternoon of the third day the patient began to feel general uneasiness, and a dull pain in the umbilical region, which radiated over the whole abdomen, especially in the direction of the recti muscles. This pain gradually increased during the night, becoming lacerating in its character, and causing great restlessness and moaning. It was accompanied by attacks of vomiting of a bitter, bilious, slightly green matter, constant nausea, metallic taste, anorexia, lack of thirst, chilliness, cramps in the lower extremities, sleeplessness and anxiety.
Next day an allopathic physician was called in, who stated that the sick man was poisoned by lead, and that the cure would be difficult and tedious. He arranged his battery, consisting of purgatives, enemas, cataplasms, ointments, potions, etc., with all of which he began to attack the disease. After a transient relief, all the symptoms except vomiting were aggravated; the purgatives, cataplasms, etc., were changed, but without benefit; the suffering of the sick man steadily increased, especially at night. Thus passed six or eight days, at the end of which the physician retired, notwithstanding the entreaties of the patient and his family, alleging as an excuse his numerous engagements and the length of time necessary to care this case.
Another Allopath followed. He employed a treatment similar to that of his predecessor, confirming his diagnosis, and especially insisting upon the use of belladonna ointments, and flax seed poultices over the abdomen. Some relief was obtained, but it was as transient as the first, and seemed only to add fuel to the flame. The abdominal pains, the sleeplessness, the cramps and chilliness increased still more. A muscular numbness began to invade the upper and lower extremities, together with a slight trembling of the upper limbs and some difficulty in the movements of the tongue. Thus passed ten days more. The disease would not yield to the varied means used, and the patient seeing himself in no ways relieved, but rather getting worse, at last requested his physician to apply some other remedies to diminish his sufferings. In reply he was (told that there were no others to be prescribed, that, all the means indicated in his case had been used, and the best he could do would be to go to Valencia for a while, where, perhaps, he might find some relief. This opinion plunged the sick man into a state of great despondency; and his mental condition only aggravated his previous sufferings.
Before taking the journey, however, he determined to try homoeopathic treatment, and I was accordingly summoned. I found him in the following condition: he lay on a sofa, on his right self, having his legs flexed upon his thighs, and these, in a slight degree, upon his abdomen; his skin was of a yellowish hue, not like jaundice, but like that which obtains among the workers in red or white lead; and his flesh was soft and wasted. His countenance was more emaciated than the rest of his body, and showed profound despondency. He complained of pain, in the abdomen, acute and lacerating, not continuous in the region of the umbilicus and relieved only by pressure of the hand. The tongue, covered with a yellowish white coat about the base, was otherwise clean, and partly paralyzed on the right side, impeding the promptness and clearness of his utterance. The taste was metallic, the breath fetid, with dryness of the fauces; there were anorexia, lack of thirst, pain in all the abdomen, especially in the umbilicus, accompanied by a burning sensation in the intestines during an attack of pain, which frequently changed to a species of insensibility of the abdominal walls; weight in the rectum, constriction of the belly, and a stool only once in eight or ten days of scanty, blackish feces, whose expulsion caused acute suffering. Pains, though not so acute, were felt in the extremities, and cramps in the legs, which at times; were intense; the numbness increased day by day, and there was an incessant trembling, worse at times, especially in the upper extremities, in which the paralysis of the extensor muscles was manifest, particularly in the right hand, which could not grasp or hold any object. Add to all this a general coldness with frequent shiverings, which obliged him to be warmly clad and remain near a fire.
All these symptoms were aggravated at night, and particularly by lying in bed, and they produced such a continual agitation and anxiety as to compel him frequently to arise and walk about the house. In this mode he passed the nights until the light of a new day saw him lie down on his couch, worn out by fatigue and exhausted by suffering. These nightly walks always needed the aid of another person, and he retained, when walking, the same bent position as in repose.. Finally, his mental condition was sad enough; given over to thoughts of life-long pain, he imagined his disease incurable and gave way to the gloomy thoughts which the fear of death excited, and to repinings caused by the dread of his journey to Valencia.
From the totality of these symptoms, I was convinced that this was a case of lead colic, complicated with paralysis and incipient cerebral affections. It is well known that the potters generally employ for glazing purposes a preparation composed of six parts of protoxide of lead and four of argil or white clay; with this they wash their wares after they are sun-dried and then bake them. In the baking temperature, the protoxide of lead or litharge attacks the silica, forming a fusible silicate of lead, which on cooling produces the glazing on the earthenware. In the case of which we are writing, the vinegar attacked this salt of lead and formed a neutral acetate of lead which was taken into the stomach of the patient, and caused all the above symptoms.
In selecting the remedy I decided upon Opium to diminish, if possible, the abdominal sufferings. Before administering it, however, I repeatedly asked if the sick man had taken any Opium during his allopathic treatment, and was always answered in the negative. I then dissolved five globules of Opium 200 in half a glass of water, one spoonful to be taken every four hours, and ordered no food to be given but pot broth and no drink but water.
December 1st. Patient much worse; a very decided aggravation. The pains and cramps have increased wonderfully, and the whole surface of the body is icy cold. I now learned that the patient has had Opium prescribed for him on several occasions previously, which, however, he did not recollect on account of its being called by another name. This then explained the fleeting benefit received from its attenuation. I now prepared and administered in the same way, every four hours, Platina300.
5th. The coldness has entirely gone and the trembling scarcely shows itself; the abdominal pains are felt in the evening, but more lightly and briefly; the appetite is returning. His moral state, although sad enough still, is relieved from these terrible attacks of desperation and anguish, and he begins to entertain a hope of being cured, which causes him unspeakable comfort. His nights are passed tranquilly in bed, though still without sleep. I allowed him to take a little soup, which he greatly desired, and continued the Platina200 once every eight hours.
7th. the improvement continues marked; the trembling and pain have entirely disappeared, and he has a blackish stool with much tenesmus and heat in the rectum. The appetite increases, the tongue pronounces more distinctly, and its base is perfectly clean. His cheerful countenance shows how he is gaining, and he had had a tranquil sleep which lasted almost all night. Under these circumstances, I gave him Sacc. lactis, and allowed him some chicken and chocolate.
21st. Up to this time the patient has steadily improved without anv drawback. His skin is losing, little by little, its yellow color which can hardly be perceived, even in the sclerotica; he can walk alone, though with difficulty; his extremities have began to recover their natural movement and sensibility, and his hands can grasp and hold objects; his tongue is entirely free from any signs of paralysis, and every word is uttered clearly, and promptly. His appetite is fully restored, and his bowels act regularly. Hope glows in every feature, and his eyes sparkle with new life. At his request, I allowed him to walk out, though leaning on another's arm, during the middle of the day, and continued the use of Sacch. lact.
I did not see him again until January 12th, 1863, when he was apparently restored to the full measure of his natural health and strength. I was called at this time because he had been over-indulging in alcoholic drinks, which caused some return of his abdominal pains. These, however, were quickly removed by Nux vom.200
|The American Homoeopathic Review Vol. 04 No. 12, 1864, pages 551-555
|Case of Lead Colic.
|Opium, Platinum metallicum, Nux vomica
|errors only; interlinks; formatting