I see auras: a case of Nabalus serpentaria
WW female, age 42
CC: Chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, memory issues
WW is a heavyset female in her early forties with a pleasant face and an air of stress. She pulls her hand back when I extend mine in greeting, explaining that she doesn’t touch people. “I have this quirk – I see colors and auras. Meeting people is hard for me because I feel what people think. I see things before they happen. With certain events, I’ll have the feeling that I’ve completely been there; it’s more than a premonition. Also, I can see in the dark.
“My life has consisted of long periods of stress. I was the youngest of seven children and abused by an older sibling. Shit rolls downhill. I had to learn to read other’s moods and personalities to survive. My sister was placed in control of the family at the age of thirteen, as my father lost his job working for an oil company and worked three jobs to replace the income. My mother was an OR nurse. My sister would lock me in the basement and told me there was a monster behind the furnace. I would knock at the door and no one ever answered.
“My sister fought constantly with one of my brothers. They both had explosive anger. I have a hard time with angry people; I’ll let someone lose it, and I listen and try to figure things out before I tell them to shut up. As a kid, I was angry for a long time, all the while knowing I had to wait until l was big enough to stand up for myself.
“I don’t have a lot of memories, but the ones I have aren’t good, though I can remember significant events. I do remember feeling wonderful when my next older brother left home and I was alone in the house. This was the moment I had waited for my whole life! I was a bookworm, and we were ten miles from my nearest friend so I spent a lot of time alone.
“I had mononucleosis at one point and was very sick for a long time. I remember I had a fever of 104 degrees for two weeks and my spleen was huge. In high school I smoked pot a couple of times, and drank occasionally, but I had blood sugar issues so I never felt well afterwards. When I had my wisdom teeth out I was allergic to codeine; I passed out and knocked my head pretty hard.
“At the age of 19 I left home to live and work on my own. I was attacked, hit on the head, and it left me not knowing what really happened. Then my family purchased a big farm and started an agency providing care for the elderly. We serviced a caseload of 600-700 homes. I managed that business and have spent twelve years in the field of care-giving seniors. I used to be able to multitask and remember details and specifics. I was responsible for handling a lot of information. Now if I don’t write everything down, I forget. I’ve had to deal with many crises; it seems like there’s always something happening that needs immediate attention, both at work and at home.
“I went for therapy to try to understand the family issues. All I knew was that I was on the shit end of the stick. My family history is unremarkable, but there is some OCD, some schizophrenia, and my mother had rheumatoid arthritis.
“My first husband died of cancer. He was sick or injured all of our married life. I worked two or three jobs to keep us afloat in addition to caring for him in his illness. I gave his meds every hour for two years; I never slept. He had been in the Special Forces in the service and had numerous and severe fractures after a sky-diving accident. For him, it was never about his health, it was always about the pain. He couldn’t deal with it and was addicted to morphine and Darvocet. He was abusive on some level. When I became pregnant with our daughter he wanted me to have an abortion. I refused and left him for a while. We never really had a solid marriage after that. His parents had gone through a nasty divorce, and he couldn’t believe that people could trust each other. I believed in marriage so much. I think I was put in that man’s life to show him what love is. I always loved him and I wanted him to understand that.
“When I finally made the decision to divorce him, he was diagnosed with cancer the day I served papers. It was on 9/11. At that point, I couldn’t leave him. I think he changed his attitude when he was faced with his own death. For the next three years, I commuted long distances for work and the kids were with him most of the time.
“I was in a severe car accident and it’s since then that I have all this pain. I spent six months in a body cast with multiple fractures: ribs, my left arm and leg, my pelvis and some vertebrae. I healed fine, but was left with pain. It was diagnosed as fibromyalgia, severe pain on the left side of my body. I have difficulty breathing, especially at night when it really flares up. It comes in my left leg and hand, a numbing pain which causes the muscles to seize. I can’t control it, I drop things, I have to concentrate on every movement. The sensitivity, especially my upper arms, is very intense. I can’t wear sleeves because the sensation is too much for me. I have constant pain and tension in my neck and shoulders.
“My daughter is 16 and has a lot of anger towards me. I let her vent it - it helps me understand where she’s at in her grieving for her father. I know she has issues and has never done well in school.
“I take Synthroid as I’m hypothyroid and I was on Premarin forever before having kids. I’ve always had a lot of tumors, always benign, in my uterus and bladder. I had major abdominal surgery for a tumor removed on my bladder, then two more were found against my spine. I then threw two blood clots within a week.
“I can have really smelly gas, but my bowels move okay. I have ridges on my nails when my fibromyalgia flares up.
“I don’t care for dogs but I love cats. I hate spiders, earwigs, any crawly thing. I’m afraid of basements, though I don’t mind closed spaces.
“I always sleep on my left side curled up, and can get hot flashes in my sleep.
“War is a big theme in my dreams; always battling and always bloody. There are also bears in my dreams. I can turn my dreams around.
“Hobbies are something I haven’t had a lot of time for, but I’ve always loved wood carving, wood burning. I see faces in the wood and just carve away the extra.
“My fiancé and I have a great sex life, a healthy bedside, though I experience some pain; on intercourse, it feels like everything’s dropping.
“I’m very superstitious. I also believe there is a real big picture and that I can control every decision. I’ll never give that power to someone else again. It leads to abuse. I don’t want to lose my ability to provide; I’m really afraid of being ill for that reason.”
In the Gold series, Osmium has the elements of control, responsibility, crisis management, and offensive flatus. The Lanthanide aspects of autoimmune disease and the need for control were obvious, as were the Asteraceae themes of trauma, high fever and aversion to touch. She was very much in charge of the consultation, providing a steady stream of information without being prompted, and I was aware of watching for cues for a snake remedy, especially after her comments of being able to see in the dark, and feeling others’ thoughts, but the aggression and intensity did not emerge. There was definitely a quality of anger in the case, but it was about control, rather than suppression or expression.
Lou Klein has taught that Nabalus serpentaria is a remedy for someone who had been pushed around by a caregiver. This remedy is also called “snake root”, and the essence of snake confirmed the remedy selection. What is interesting in hindsight is the understanding that developed for me, as a practitioner, of the Asteraceae family and their connection to the Lanthanides. This patient had established, through her symptoms, a strategy for insuring autonomy: "If I don’t allow you to touch me, you can’t hurt me." The plant qualities of sensitivity and a focus on other people were strong aspects of the case. It was difficult to elicit specific symptoms; the conversation would be deflected to another person or circumstance.
Plan: Nabalus serpentaria 30
Six weeks: “I feel really good! I feel really clear in my mind. All the fatigue is going away. I think my thyroid is functioning. I’m exercising almost daily, sleeping deeply, but not remembering my dreams, if I’m having them. My pain is less intense and the spasms are less frequent.”
Plan: Nabalus serpentaria 200c
Five months: “I feel like I’m processing and communicating on a whole other level. I couldn’t remember or process anything and it feels like I don’t have to push anymore. I feel like I’m getting back to being able to structure my life, like I have some wiggle-room to take a step back. The physical pain is very much under control. Now and then I have a slight burning in my left arm. My legs feel really good. My fine motor skills are much better, especially typing. I still have the sensitivity to others, but not as intense. I have no pain waking me at night. I dream of daily stuff, of my fiancée, nice dreams. I always feel clearer in the morning. I solve things in my dreams and have a lot of confidence. I’m wearing sleeves, did you notice?”
She continued to do well over the next year and never returned.
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