Terrible anxiety before surgery allayed with Gelsemium
Filed under Clinical Cases
She came in weeping, face drawn, obviously frightened. “I’m scheduled to have extensive periodontal surgery tomorrow,” she said, “and I am panicked.” She had been my patient since 2006 when she and her family lived in Houston. Subsequently, they moved to Scotland as her husband got transferred. No dentist in Scotland had been able to arrest her periodontal disease and, in a last ditch effort to resolve it, she came to Houston. I had known her as a strong, independent woman who could set goals and make them happen. She had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when she was fifteen and it was in remission. I had treated her successfully with Phosphorus for recurrent coughs and once for rectal bleeding. Later, she did well on Ferrum phosphoricum. When I saw her she was beside herself with fear. She was desperately worried the procedure might not be successful. In a week she and her sons were scheduled to fly to Angola to join her husband and she knew there would be no state of the art periodontists there. “I’m also worried about the sedation–that I won’t wake up,” she said. She was having diarrhea she was so scared. “I feel little,” she said.
“What do you mean, ‘little,’” I asked.
She held her thumb and forefinger slightly apart. “Little, like I’m little,” she said. “I’m also angry at myself for being this way.” In less than twenty-four hours she was to have a three to four hour surgery on her mouth and, in the state she was in, I wasn’t at all sure she would go through with it so out of control was her anxiety.
I needed a medicine that had strong anticipatory anxiety plus one that covered diarrhea from being scared. I used the following rubrics in the repertory:
• Ailments from anticipation.
• Anxiety from anticipation.
• Fear of impending danger.
• Fear something will happen.
• Diarrhea from fright.
Gelsemium was the first choice. I remembered I had prescribed her Gelsemium for influenza that, after ten days, was still not clearing up. That was six months ago in January and Gelsemium had acted rapidly, restoring her to health overnight. Yes, I know. There is no connection between influenza and extreme anticipatory anxiety. But, in the world of homeopathy, where symptoms always trump logic, indeed, a connection is there. Gelsemium is, perhaps, the most famous medicine we have for influenza and it is one of the leading medicines for stage-fright and anxiety before major events such as examinations, operations, etc. In influenza, patients needing Gelsemium are usually dull, drowsy and often dizzy. They are apathetic and complain of general muscular weakness. A keynote symptoms is that the body, including eyelids, feels heavy. She had been in that state in January. Now, however, she was showing the other side of Gelsemium, the one that panics before ordeals, imagined or actual. I gave her two doses plus sent her off with Acetic acid and told her to take the latter immediately on coming out of the periodontist’s office. Acetic acid, prepared by diluting and succussing vinegar, is known to antidote the effects of anesthesia.
Two days after the surgery I saw her again. She seemed a different person.
Her first words: “It brought all that emotion to a halt. There was a sense of ‘It’s all right,’ and I became calm. The crying stopped.”
“How long did it take before you felt calm?”
“Within two hours.”
I asked her to rate her anxiety before Gelsemium and right after. “Before it was 10/10. After it was 2/10.” When I entered the periodontist’s office the next morning, I was not looking forward to it, but I was composed. I no longer had that empty, clutched feeling in my stomach.” I asked about how she did post-op. “I took the Acetic acid right away and I was definitely not groggy. When I had a colonoscopy in 2009, it was very different. I was way out. I don’t remember leaving the office, getting in to a car, anything. After this surgery, I remembered everything.”
For the swelling and pain she was feeling in the area operated on, I prescribed Belladonna 10 M. Within a day there was neither pain nor swelling. A week post-op, she went to the same surgeon to have the stitches removed. Prior to the surgery, he had told her it would take four to six weeks to recover. When he looked, he was visibly surprised and said he had never seen such quick healing. “Your healing is a month ahead of schedule,” he said.
Pre-op, post-op, homeopathy can make everything a whole lot easier. Gelsemium won’t solve all pre-operation angst. And Belladonna won’t solve won’t solve all post-op pain and swelling. As always with homeopathy, the specific symptoms rule.