You are here

A pneumonia case

One evening, a few years ago, my 15-year-old son began complaining of a headache. Checking his temperature, I found he had a fever over 101 degrees and deduced he was coming down with some kind of "bug." He complained of cold hands and feet, and that his head was throbbing. I gave him Belladonna 30C, one dose at 7 p.m. and another at 11 p.m. He had a rough night and awoke with a fever of 101.4, seeming very irritable and extremely noise sensitive. I then decided to try Nux vomica 30C and gave a dose at 8:30 a.m. and again at 12:30 p.m. By 1:30 p.m. the fever was higher, up to 102.8.

At this point, I felt I wasn't even close to getting the correct remedy and called for help from my homeopath who lives out of town, 2 1/2 hours away. By this time, a little cough had developed and was becoming annoying, occurring more often, in groups of three little coughs. He said it didn't hurt to cough, but grimaced whenever he did cough. I remember thinking the cough was weak and wimpy, and rather difficult to describe. He complained about being hungry, and actually said he was "starved and ached for food" but no food sounded good to him. He mentioned that soda pop sounded good, but also said he felt he would throw up if he ate. He complained of overall dryness and dry lips which caused him to bite the skin on his lips in the night. He said he ached all over but at the same time didn't. He said there was a "nagging all over, nothing good, nothing helps, always there just nagging."

At some point he mentioned water tasted sour too. He was still feeling cold, noise bothered him a lot, he didn't want to be in his bed but instead hung out on the sofa all day. He mentioned his bed being too "confining." He also didn't want to be alone but was wanting company and someone to talk to. This seemed unusual to me, considering he could spend hours alone on his computer and had always very much liked the warmth and comfort of his own bed. My homeopath suggested Bryonia 30C every 2 hours for 3 doses. She also said if he wasn't better by bedtime, to give him one dose of Sulphur 200C (Sulphur had been his constitutional remedy for several years).

After the first dose of Bryonia, he began to peel off his clothes, until he was wearing just shorts and a T-shirt. He even said he felt a bit better after the first dose, but after the third dose, his temperature was over 103. By 9 p.m. that evening, his temperature shot to 104 degrees so I gave him the Sulphur as suggested. Strangely enough, with a temperature of 104 he was still downstairs on the sofa and not acting terribly ill which surprised me. He also complained about wanting to eat, being hungry, even with fever— so he did eat a bit and then complained of stomach ache. After the Sulphur and with a cold wet cloth on his forehead, his temperature fell to 103.3, and by 5 a.m. the next day, it was down to 102.5, and then by 7 a.m. down again to 101.6. But with the lower temperature, also came more restlessness. He began to complain about wanting to sleep but not being able to. Going on what new symptoms I could gather, I decided to try Rhus tox 30C. I gave him several doses but his temperature hung fairly steady above 102.

On day three, his temperature was down in the 100 degree range. He still insisted on being up all day, and was coughing consistently with his little tiny coughs that seemed to be stuck in his throat. By bedtime the temperature went back over 101 and I gave him one final dose of Rhus tox 30C. He slept fairly well that night, as he was able to find a position that didn't cause him to cough. I took him in to the chiropractor on the fourth day, who listened to his lungs and said he didn't detect anything in the lungs and said they were clear. His cough, however, was getting worse and occurring more frequently and becoming much more of a problem. On day four his temperature hovered at 99.2 for the day.

On day five (a Sunday), I decided I needed expert help once again and called my homeopath. My son's temperature was over 100 again, he was very tired from lack of sleep, sad and depressed at missing school, and had no energy to begin his school make-up work. He still complained of being starved (wanting to eat Subway sandwiches or soda pop and processed-type food which we normally do not eat). He was having just a touch of diarrhea for the past few days and complained of lots of saliva in his mouth and some on the pillow when he awoke. There was some dizziness, and a little stuffiness in his nose. He was not especially thirsty. His mucous membranes were very dry, and he was still coughing and had kept me awake past midnight with coughing—two coughs at a time now. He had coughed so much his stomach muscles were getting sore. He simply couldn't get comfortable enough to sleep, and pillows and lying on his back seemed to make it worse while lying on his right side was somewhat tolerable but still not good.

The picture seemed vague to me so I turned it back to my homeopath. My son hadn't had a remedy since Friday night (over 24 hours ago) and I thought perhaps someone else could see a picture I couldn't get a handle on. My homeopath suggested Arsenicum 200C, three doses every three hours. The coughing seemed to get a bit worse. And between the 2nd and 3rd dose, I thought I overheard an almost wheezing-like sound from him. He ate a homemade hot tunaburger, some sloppy joe, a pear and drank water, once again showing a fairly strong appetite for a pretty sick young guy.

Another night of not sleeping, more coughing and not being able to return to school left all of us extremely frustrated. I gave my son the option of seeing a physician and he said he would like to go and was tired of missing school and feeling lousy. The doctor immediately suspected pneumonia in his left lung and after an x-ray, gave a prescription for antibiotics and said it was important that he take all of them and gave me the definite impression this was a serious illness.

Once again, I called the homeopath to inform her of the doctor's diagnosis and she prescribed Bryonia 30C, 3X/day for 3 days and then once a day for 5 days. I talked with an answering machine to leave my message, and then to an assistant for my response and I remember questioning the remedy, thinking left lobe pneumonia sounded more like Phosphorus, but I was reassured by the assistant that Bryonia was a very good remedy for pneumonia also. I followed through and began the Bryonia. The coughing worsened after the first dose, and after the second dose I definitely heard some wheezing going on. The word from my homeopath had been: if he wasn't improving by early evening, he was to start the antibiotics.

The thought of putting antibiotics in my son was very upsetting, after working so hard to keep him off allopathic drugs. As an 11-month-old baby, he had tubes in both ears, and had numerous ear infections and later strep infections as a youngster that led to many prescriptions of antibiotics. As I anxiously pondered what to do, something inside me kept telling me to use Phosphorus. It was listed under the Materia Medica as a left-sided pneumonia remedy and I began to see other symptoms jump out at me, but the one in particular that I couldn't let go of was the symptom: "lack of thirst, but unnatural hunger" during fever. This had been a prevailing symptom all through the six days of this fever and even at its highest, he complained of hunger. I also believe he was to the point that he could not lay on his left side at all, this really provoked his coughing and made him terribly uncomfortable. Then I added to that the unnatural need for company, (i.e., staying on the sofa all day long to be near me) and not wanting to be in his room alone—a pretty clear Phosphorus picture. At the time, however, I was beginning to get very anxious, into a near anxiety attack over the whole situation. Do I go against my homeopath's advice? Do I trust this inner voice telling me Phosphorus? Do I go with the doctor and give the antibiotics?

My son decided he had had enough and took the first antibiotic at supper time. I decided I'd had enough also, and found some Phosphorus 200C in my medicine chest and gave it to him. I combined it with prayer and a nice backrub and told him, I thought this remedy was going to heal him. I remember him asking how I knew that, and I could only respond, "I just have a feeling about this one." It was about 8:45 p.m. when I gave the first dose of Phosphorus 200C and his temperature was up to 102 degrees again. By 11 p.m. his temperature had dropped slightly and then he slept. The whole night went by and at 5 a.m. I heard the first coughs begin. I went up to check him and gave him a second dose of Phosphorus 200C and I didn't hear from him until 11 a.m. Upon awakening, his temperature was 98.6 degrees, he had actually slept, and the cough was beginning to improve. I gave a third dose of Phosphorus 200C at 1 p.m. on day 7 and his temperature continued to come down to 97.6 by that same evening. His cough very gradually became looser and over the period of several days, he began to expectorate and cough gunk up and out of his lungs. Somewhere along the line, I was advised to give him back massages and to gently pound on his back to help clear the lungs and we began to do this regularly. I agonized for a bit about continuing the antibiotics, and since my homeopath was now out of town and unavailable, I called my osteopathic physician and he said to forget the antibiotics. He explained that having one pill wouldn't cause a problem, but if he had been on them 2--3 days, then it would be more crucial to continue, because of what the antibiotics would be doing to the bacteria. I trusted his advice and my son had no further antibiotics after the first one he took before the Phosphorus.

My son made a gradual recovery from his pneumonia over a period of weeks really. His body had really taken a beating, and he continued to struggle with mild colds and even a few coughs throughout the remainder of the winter, but he never went into a pneumonia again, and never encountered fever again. At the time of his illness, several students in his high school were diagnosed with viral pneumonia. Many of them went on antibiotics one, two, and even three times to try to beat the pneumonia/coughs and many refused to stay home and out of school during the duration of their illness. I felt confident in the fact that my son would be stronger having fought off the illness with his own immune system and not using allopathic drugs. I have to admit, being a non-professional, I felt very guilty going against my homeopath's suggestions, but so relieved when I found the remedy that cured. Looking back and putting all the information together from this side, it seems to me that Phosphorus symptoms were there all along but I just couldn't put it all together and obviously couldn't relay an accurate picture to my homeopath over the telephone.

I see now from hindsight that my son was evolving from his Sulphur constitution to a Phosphorus constitution. He had grown approximately 4--6 inches in the previous six months or less and went from a pant size 34-inch waist to 32-inch waist. He went from a chubby medium size boy to a tall and slender young man within a matter of months. He also went from being more of a loner (computer addict in his bedroom) to being a playful adolescent, sparring with his siblings, and hanging out with his folks in the living room more often than not. He still likes his computer, but he also likes to be with friends more. He loves to have backrubs and has developed a seemingly unquenchable thirst for orange juice (pulp-free!). He has enjoyed excellent health so far and is proud to be able to stay off allopathic medications that he sees most of his classmates quite helplessly using.

I am totally amazed at the power of homeopathy to heal almost miraculously overnight a rather intense and lingering case of pneumonia, especially after the numerous remedies we put into my son's body over the period of six days. Even after my blundering and using many incorrect remedies, when the correct remedy was given, the cure was there.

Editor's Note:
There are several points I would like to comment upon. First, this case shows how the correct remedy, based upon the symptoms unique to the case, can be curative—while the other remedies, which are close, but based upon a single indication, do not work.

I am concerned that a chiropractor was consulted to "listen to his lungs." The act of doing that might be against the state codes of chiropractic practice—which generally limit the practice of chiropractic to manipulation of the spine.

Similarly, it is OK to ask another physician, in this case the osteopath, for advice. But if the osteopath said "forget the antibiotics," he was behaving in an unethical manner—giving you advice about a prescription made by another doctor. He can give you his opinions and you can decide what to do, but it is not ethical for him to say you can forget what another has done.

Finally, was the homeopath informed of all this? As it was a growing lesson for you (who found the right remedy), it could be a growing lesson for the homeopath— who prescribed four remedies, one of which (Bryonia) had not been effective the first time. —JW