2013 July August
Sucked into a vortex; a case of Bromoethane
The patient is a writer who first came to see me in 1999 at the age of 39. She has been an extremely loyal patient and has responded well to various remedies over the years, but it was only in 2009, when I discovered the hydrocarbon remedies, that she really experienced deep healing.
Initial Presenting complaint
When I first saw her, she was complaining of disabling back and neck pain, numbness of the right side of the face and right arm, and muscle cramps following two whiplash injuries. She was suffering from recurrent migraines, tonsillitis, chilblains, rosacea and severe travel sickness.
“My system is collapsing, my life is shrinking, my body feels so weak. After the whiplash everything fell apart.
“I get terrible headaches with numbness in my cheek, my head feels like an eggshell. I’m terrified of head injuries. I was born with a fractured skull. I have a big lump on my head in baby photos.
“At the change of seasons, I wake up with numb arms, I can’t lift them off the bed. It becomes pins and needles. I get cramps in my feet and toes, and my jaw goes very tight.
“At university, I became very depressed, I detested the place. I was put on Lithium but was never monitored, as I cannot abide blood tests. Both my legs went numb with pins and needles, I was really scared so I stopped the Lithium."
She loves animals and experiences extreme grief when she loses a pet. “When I was six years old, my cat died. It felt like the sky fell in, the sensation of the world collapsing. I was bereft. Innate shock.”
Remedy: Ignatia LM6
After Ignatia, she never got tonsillitis again, but it did not help the head symptoms.
Remedy: Helleborus LM6
She had an aggravation after the first dose of Helleborus LM6, after which she felt ‘blocked’ and could not write or concentrate. Since then she only ever takes one drop of LM potency per dose.
She had worrying symptoms which she described as ‘fits’, where her speech would slow and slur. She would feel very thirsty and distanced from others, with numb face and hands, and very slowed movements which she described as if “the connections in my brain are not happening.” These symptoms would happen after osteopathic treatment or dental treatment.
At this time, she accessed memories of two pregnancy terminations she had not wanted to have, which she had pushed to the back of her mind, because she felt “the alternative would have been to go mad.” She remembered being told off because she was screaming in the ward after the first termination, when she woke up with the sheets soaked with blood. The first termination was at university before her finals. The second termination was several years later, before the whiplash injury. She had been completely celibate since then.
She went to see a healer, which she said sent her “over the edge” and brought on one of the fits. She started to experience extreme feelings of guilt and torment that she could not atone for what she had done, and the fits were a punishment for having had the terminations.
Remedy: Conium LM6
Conium helped the headaches, but not her mental state.
She was seen by a neurologist and had a brain scan, which was normal.
She described long-standing feelings of revulsion while watching other people eating, and she found it disgusting if somebody was dirty. She had recurrent dreams of having to use disgustingly dirty toilets with no privacy, not wearing any shoes.
She had frequent fits, with slowed speech, numbness of her face, right hand and arm, nausea, palpitations, contraction of the pupils, and a feeling as if she was drugged or spaced out. She got much worse after having a tooth removed; she felt frozen inside, as if everything had drained through a hole in her head. She was afraid to go to sleep in case her soul would be taken away because she felt she needed to be punished. She thought she needed a priest to forgive her but if the priest said the wrong thing, she’d go over the edge and be a mad woman.
This helped calm her mentally.
She developed digestive symptoms, bloating, belching, vomiting while eating, right upper quadrant pain and aggravation from fats, but an ultrasound scan showed no gallstones. Eating wheat aggravated her symptoms and made her feel drugged.
She felt worse in the winter; it reminded her of cold dark winters at university.
She felt “stuck in a prison cell, so alone, cold, isolated, the depression would physically choke me. I felt the guilt of that happening because of what I had done. I felt like I was losing my soul, like being lost in space, everything completely black, no end to it, the deepest terror I can imagine. Falling into a horrible deep black hole, desperately trying to grab onto something for fear of disappearing, drowning, sucked into the vortex, like a black hole in space. Feeling utterly tiny, overwhelmed, matter and antimatter… my brain can’t cope with those concepts. The black hole would suck something in and it would disappear for eternity.”
Remedy: Positronium LM6, LM7 & LM8 helped her for 2 years.
After Positronium, she felt mentally clearer and more energetic. The toilet dreams became cleaner and the right upper quadrant pain improved. But she still had some fits.
She described feeling as if “I was sinking in the chair, falling into darkness, my brain getting clogged up with sticky fog, like the black pit darkness, the outer space, my mind veers off and away from me – terror that I will go veering off into the void, what’s holding me down? Once you’re off, that would be it, the feeling of the infinite, other galaxies, pulled off by a more powerful force, this endless nowhere, lost forever.”
Assessment: with the sinking and brain fog, I felt she needed an organic carbon remedy, based on Roger Morrison’s teaching on the carbons.
Remedy: Carbo vegetablis didn’t help, Carbo animalis helped a bit.
She continued to experience fits. “Sudden inertia, lack of speech, feeling as if I’ve been turned to stone. I’m completely immobilised, parts of me are shut off, like being frozen mid-action. This ‘shut-off’ is in my brain. Then I drop down, I’m removed from everything, I don’t know if I can speak or not. Like if you were dead, you can’t react; I can only blink, as if things have been shut down. The terror of flying off into space, dropping into the void, utter aloneness, shot off into space like a little lone rock that is made to orbit and goes off into another galaxy and another and another that hasn’t been discovered ... Cast out, consigned to the outer darkness forever. I try not to think of space, it makes me feel so un-rooted. I like my feet to be on the ground, I don’t like to be on a boat, or at the top of a mountain.”
I searched Reference Works for a remedy made from a meteorite, and was delighted to find Fax Caelestis Allende, made from a meteorite, and containing a lot of carbon.
Remedy: Fax Caelestis Allende LM6 then LM8
This helped for a year. She felt physically more stable, her dreams became less frightening, and she had fewer fits.
Then, she had more dreams of snakes, decay, rubbish, rotting, dirty toilets, and she felt angry and dissatisfied with herself and with her long-term partner about her feeling of his role concering the terminations. Her right hip started to become painful. Two fits “came out of nowhere”.
Remedy: Vacuum and (getting desperate here ...) Black Hole did not help.
She had symptoms of waking with a limb “completely numb, dead, feeling it would go completely white, like frostbite, useless, starved of oxygen, blighted, cut-off.”
I discussed the case with a colleague and she suggested another hydrocarbon related remedy.
Remedy: Camphora bromatum LM5.
Analysis: the hydrocarbon themes of sinking, feeling completely shut off, unable to react, alone, are very clear, along with the Bromatum issue of guilt.
This remedy was effective for about a year. She felt mentally clearer, safer, although she did have a frightening dream of giving birth to a dead baby. She was contacted by the man with whom she got pregnant the second time, and she felt very vulnerable, fearful to go out. She felt extremely angry with her mother for forcing her to stay at university when she was so unhappy.
I looked for another remedy in the hydrocarbon group that contained bromium, and discovered the remedy: Aethylum bromidum.
Aethylum bromidum or bromoethane H3C-CH2-Br was used as general anaesthetic, but due to respiratory irritation and cases of cardiac arrest, the practice was discontinued. It is still used as a topical anaesthetic. Its major use is as a refrigerant, and significant amounts of bromoethane leach out from landfills where refrigerators and heat pump units are discarded, entering the atmosphere and groundwater.
The main effect of bromoethane on health is neurotoxicity, secondary effects are liver toxicity. I was very interested to read the mental symptoms: speech disorders, slurred speech, drowsiness, unconsciousness, weakness. Other symptoms include redness of the face, nausea and vomiting, hepatitis, paralysis of the limbs, spasmodic paresis, staggering gait, tremors of the fingers. This matched her symptoms very well.
Response to remedy
We started with Aethylum bromidum LM5 in December 2010. Two and a half years later, she described the remedy as having given her a great sense of stability. She married her long-term partner, she was able to work on her PhD, she processed difficult feelings towards her mother, realising that the biggest reason she had had the terminations was to save her parents from shame.
Despite being forced to leave her flat by the landlord, she had long spells without fits. Tension around her right hip (direction of cure downwards) responded well to acupuncture.
She took one drop of LM5 once a week, then progressed to LM6. She had fewer digestive symptoms, cramps, and menopausal flushes, and less disturbing dreams.
Follow up May 2013: “Essentially I’ve been OK since taking a drop of bromoethane once a week. It’s a wonderful remedy – I feel that I never want to be without it as it has made me feel very safe and stable, at a good level. It has taken away a lot of the turmoil inside. I am more self-aware, I feel able to be more considered in my actions instead of reacting angrily.”
This is clearly a very complex case, in a patient who is very sensitive to life’s experiences. Without the support of homeopathic treatment I fear she may have become psychiatrically ill, or may have gone on to develop some form of atypical epilepsy.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
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