Heart Connection by Rowena J Ronson
This is an article that appeared in the ARH Journal, Homeopathy in Practice, in 2006 – I hope you find it interesting….. Photograph is called Transcendence by Rowena J Ronson
We know, as practitioners of homeopathy, that a certain distance is needed between us and our patients so that we practise professionally and appropriately. We abide by a code of ethics which protects both ourselves and our patients. If we find we over-identify with stories heard in clinic, we need to stand back and reflect, in order to own what is ours. And therefore we won’t project issues on to our patients that are not part of their case or central to it.
If we are holding on to suppressed anger in our shadow, for example, is it not so easy to see it in others, or imagine that we do? Professional and personal development is all part of our training and on-going CPD. This is an area that particularly interests me and I have written extensively about the subject. Encouraging students to look within is my passion and, for me, the key to building a successful career in homeopathy. I always recommend having eyes wide open to growth and progress – our own, our patients’ and our practice.
It occurs to me that sometimes there is a certain synchronicity about the way people can appear in our space and time, almost as if it is for a specific reason: perhaps to help us move on; to help us learn. Our patients regularly feel this way about discovering homeopathy and sometimes even about their homeopath. And for us as practitioners, it might be that we glean something more about a remedy, a disease, case management and occasionally even ourselves.
This is why I would like to share with you a recent sequence of events which for me, illustrates how profound a connection we can have with others. If we ever think the healing relationship with our patients is a one-way street, then I hope this story can serve as a reminder that, ultimately, we are all entangled and it is a privilege we can share with our patients when they come into our lives. Sporadically someone will knock on our door and something very unlikely will happen. We won’t just receive golden nuggets about homeopathy or insights into ourselves but we will be given a gift from the universe; our own guidance and healing.
It might seem self indulgent of me to write my personal story here, but I feel I have learned so much these last few months that I wanted to share it with you. So by way of introduction, for several years now, I have been trying to mend my emotionally scarred heart and retentive bowel with a plethora of complementary and alternative medicines, time, self awareness and reflection. All have played their part and I have been grateful for the process. But part of me had still been holding on to old love disappointments revealing themselves in repetitive unfulfilled dreams, painful emotional releases in empathy with characters portrayed in films and physical manifestations of not letting go.
This year I was determined to get to the core of it and make the shift required to move on. I had been visiting my homeopath regularly and had made some progress but September 2005 allowed my healing to step up a gear due to my inexplicable connection with an acquaintance who had become my patient this time last year.
We had met at a mutual friend’s house years ago and I immediately sensed an affinity with him even though our worlds were far apart. It was like a heart connection but not of a romantic nature. Eight years later having not seen him again and after a two-year stint on his waiting list, he started teaching me piano; he is a gifted musician and teacher. Last November he called me as I was about to leave home for my lesson and said to me, “You know you have been telling me all about homeopathy. Well I now need your help. Today I was diagnosed with Leukaemia.”
After the shock, of course I wondered whether I should treat him and so I weighed up the ethical issues. True, I had a great fondness for him already but felt I could be objective and that if I put my piano lessons on hold we could change the dynamic between us and start a homeopath/patient relationship. He had also made it quite clear that if he wasn’t going to have homeopathy with me, he would not seek it elsewhere. I felt my previous knowledge of him would not cloud my judgement for remedy choices and that we were not so familiar with each other that case management issues, such as boundaries, would arise.
So I took his case but no one clear remedy state presented itself; instead there was a multi-layered, multi-miasmatic picture. I could identify three highly active miasms – sychotic, syphilitic and tubercular and remedies for each were all strongly indicated but it was impossible for me to decide which one needed treating first. I do actually treat a lot of patients with cancer and most of the time one remedy is evident at the start of treatment but this really wasn’t the case with him.
So he commenced his homeopathic treatment alongside his allopathic and I prescribed according to the cancer protocol created by Dr Ramakrishan and written about in his and Catherine Coulter’s book A Homeopathic Approach to Cancer. For cases of Leukemia he recommends, from his experience, that the principal remedies are Hekla lava, Symphytum, Ceanothus americanus and Strontia. I chose Ceanothus americanus over the others because of the splenetic enlargement in this remedy.
He prescribes the indicated remedy in a 200C potency plussed and alternated weekly with generally either Carcinosin 200C or Scirrhinum 200C, the cancer nosodes. This method involves one dose of the remedy to be taken over a period of a week at fifteen minute intervals for two and a half hours per day. So my first prescription for this patient was Ceanothus americanus 200C plussed and alternated with Carcinosin 200C weekly and I saw him for follow-ups every month to check his progress.
He progressed until the summer of 2005, as if he were not ill at all. From the very sick place in which he originally came to see me, his vitality grew stronger and stronger. He was extremely responsive to the remedies and on the rare occasions that I prescribed acutely – a dose of Arsenicum 30C for a tummy upset, a dose of Aconite 30C on the nights he couldn’t sleep due to his fear of dying and Propolis in tincture for coldsores – good results were always obtained.
In July his Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia expressed itself in a more acute form and his white blood cell count became out of control. He had not been responding so well to the chemotherapy and the new ‘wonder-drug’ Gleevac. Its role was to switch off his Philadelphia gene which created his susceptibility to the Leukaemia in the first place, but unfortunately it had been unsuccessful. I realised too that my remedies had probably been providing only palliative support. However the hospital commented that they had never seen anyone with that level of the disease looking so well and still carrying on with life as normal.
In September he was booked in for a bone marrow transplant, a desperate measure but the only allopathic option available for such a serious condition. In his last appointment with me two weeks before his admission to hospital he told me that he was disappointed. He had really wanted to work with a psychic healer he had recently heard about, who was running a course in October on spiritual awareness and personal development. Coincidentally I had also been looking to join a psychic circle in order to improve my skills of intuition so I decided to follow this lead and explore the course for myself.
I attended my first meeting of the psychic circle on a Friday afternoon and I left feeling completely exhausted. After an unsociable couple of days in which I cancelled all my arrangements, my children returned to me from their weekend stay with their father and I immediately felt overwhelmed. I wanted to be left alone; to shut away from the world in the peaceful stillness of my purple bedroom and not talk or listen to a soul.
By the Monday morning it was clear to me that an old wound had opened up during the psychic circle and had left me lost in a black hole. I felt I needed a repeat dose of Natrum muriaticum 1M that my homeopath had prescribed nine months earlier and, as I could not get hold of her, I took on the responsibility of self-prescribing, not something I normally do. I responded to the remedy with a restless, sleepless night and an unexplained fever which lasted four days. George Vithoulkas, one of master practitioners, would certainly say this is a good sign of a return to health. Other than my temperature, physically I was asymptomatic.
My children took care of themselves and me when they came back from school and I enjoyed being able to let go of all responsibility and just sleep. Time, and a dose of Sepia 30C prescribed by the Homeopathic Helpline, as my homeopath was still unavailable, and I started to recover. And much to my total amazement, so did my retentive bowel. Finally I achieved the letting go I was looking for and my heart breathed a sigh of relief. Whether this would have happened had I not attended the psychic circle, I will never know but I had tried everything up until that point; homeopathy, herbal medicine, nutrition, acupuncture, aromatherapy and colonics.
In the meantime, in hospital my patient started his two week preparation for his transplant – intensive chemo and radio therapies. When I was well again I visited him and saw he was in such agony that he actually wanted to die. The radiation had burned his entire GI tract and he felt as if he were on fire. He was vomiting every twenty minutes due to the chemo and couldn’t swallow the thick saliva he was producing because of his ulceration. I looked at this lovely young man lying in this hospital bed, his boyfriend by his side, and my heart went out to them both.
At that time the hospital did not allow me to prescribe and I didn’t want to either. The purpose of these strong drugs was to knock out his immunity; to kill off his white blood cells and to make him neutropenic in preparation for the new graft cells, and I wasn’t going to interfere with that process. I had spent the summer researching thoroughly how to treat this patient. Because of the book I am writing, Looking Back Moving Forward, I am regularly interviewing very experienced homeopaths and I asked all their opinions to gain insight. Unfortunately I didn’t get any definitive answers and in fact I felt more confused than ever and disappointed that we have little shared experience in this field to draw on.
So I kept in touch, observed but did not prescribe. Ten days later and a week after his transplant, while we were waiting for his white blood cell count to kick in but at the same time not reject the donor cells, I attended a course run by Jane Wood for homeopaths to learn supervision skills. Early in the day I received a call from my patient’s mother requesting aid for his radiation-induced ulceration; the hospital were now allowing homeopathic treatment again. I had known this was coming and a selection of remedies was waiting for him by his bedside.
The symptoms she described seemed to match his constitutional picture Phosphorus – burning, a great thirst and a desire for coke. He had started to take it in an LM1 potency, one dose daily, in the summer and had responded well. But I was really unsure what this remedy would do and whether, if it were too deep, we were in any danger of boosting his immunity in such a way as to instigate a rejection of the new graft cells. My research had indicated that prescribing constitutionally when a patient is very sick can sometimes aggravate their condition. I was also told there is a 70% chance anyway of fatal graft-versus-host disease within the first ninety days post-transplant and we were only a week in.
I opted for advice I had been given in supervision – a group to which I regularly took this case – and prescribed Borax 30C and Hypericum 30C both alternated every hour. I was hoping that they would work superficially to aid relief of the pain and ulceration but not interfere with the overall process. We were in touch throughout the day and his mother reported back that the Borax made him feel more nauseas and the Hypericum didn’t seem to help so they stopped both by the evening.
I used the day in supervision to process and reflect on the issues that were coming up for me around this case. And there were many as I found myself in a very charged place having also taken on some of the mother’s projected fear for her son. In the afternoon Jane asked for a volunteer to demonstrate a particular technique that she wanted to teach the group so I put myself in the hot seat. The other homeopaths sat in a semi-circle behind me and had to comment, when prompted, what feelings they were experiencing during my piece of supervision. I was to take their feedback and work with them as part of the process.
So I went straight into my patient’s case and Jane guided me deeper into issues of why I chose to work with him and why I choose to work a lot with cancer patients generally. Input from the other homeopaths indicated that the energy had suddenly turned very heavy and morbid, not a feeling I experience working with these patients, but interesting to note nevertheless. I realised that maybe I had got so used to grief that I had become immune to it.
I reflected on my own grief issues and the part of me that hadn’t really wanted to let them go and suddenly I felt that I had achieved one of those gestalt moments when things fall into place and insight is gained. I sat back down next to a fellow homeopath and dear friend, and whispered to her, “I think I need Aurum for my aching heart and addiction to grief.” But I wasn’t going to self-prescribe.
A week later I was booked in to see my homeopath again. The possible virus that I had had a few weeks earlier, I had gifted to my son who had then given it right on back to me in the form of a niggling cough and a weakened voice. Despite this, my homeopath noted, just by looking at me, that a major shift had occurred. Drawing on her background of Chinese Medicine she used tongue diagnosis and acupressure to assess the state of play of my bodily systems and organs.
I recalled for her my visit to the psychic circle, my downward spiral, the Natrum Muriaticum and the fever that ensued. But for her the cough was incongruent to everything else that was going on. She asked if I would be receptive to her using her new skills in reading Tarot to gain some insight. I was not totally open-minded to this as I prefer to keep my psychic/spiritual and homeopathy support separate but I agreed, intrigued to take part in what my trusted colleague had been learning recently.
She placed a card centrally on the table with the intention of ascertaining what was going on for me right now. Having observed the shift she half expected the cards to reflect some deep and as yet unresolved issues from perhaps childhood or early relationships. The central card was meant to represent a guide and she asked me who this young man might be; he was younger and had a slightly feminine energy. I wasn’t sure. She then placed another card on the first and said that he was unwell and that the card indicated that he needed the remedy Arsenicum in low potency, perhaps a 12C.
It all started clicking into place. A possible option for a remedy for this patient was being given to me during my own consultation. I had not been allowed to visit him while he was so ill so perhaps he was communicating what he needed from me through this spiritual opportunity, rather than the conventional observing of symptoms.
Unprofessional, it may seem and if I were reading this I would have almost certainly thought so had I not experienced it myself. I was visiting my homeopath for my own treatment; my patients have never come up before and I have always been very clear that issues around my patients should be taken to supervision, which I have regularly.
However, the Arsenicum made perfect sense as it is an acute remedy related to Phosphorus and had the burning symptoms that he was experiencing. As an acute and in low potency I suspected that it would work more superficially and not interfere with his deeper level process but of course we can never be sure and I was aware of that. I hasten to add, if the remedy had not fitted his picture, I wouldn’t have prescribed it. Had my homeopath not mentioned Arsenicum specifically perhaps I wouldn’t have even recognised him as the so called ‘guide’ for the cards.
Incidentally, the rest of the Tarot deck didn’t actually show deep issues from my past but light, happy times ahead; a letting go of grief addiction, a healing of my heart and a clearing of the waters within. And then my homeopath turned to me and said ‘Now you can have Aurum (1M); I have wanted to give it to you all year but you just haven’t been ready.’ Amazing, I thought, as this was the remedy I felt I needed in supervision the week before! And by way of some heavenly miracle my cough disappeared when I left her clinic and my voice returned on my way home.
I sent Arsenicum 12C to my patient that night and even though he didn’t receive it the following day, he did start to pick up from the very poorly, almost deathly place he had been in. When he did take it he didn’t notice an immediate improvement on the burning so only took a dose or two but within a couple of weeks he was out of hospital, three weeks ahead of the proposed schedule if he were to make it at all.
I saw him soon after his release and prescribed for him Phosphorus LM2 constitutionally which makes him feel better in himself. He also takes Nux Vomica 30C after every meal, which has fended off the nausea and vomiting symptoms he was experiencing, and a Bach flower remedy combination for symptoms from radiation. We speak regularly and he certainly feels the homeopathic remedies are helping him alongside the heavy allopathic drug-load that he has to take for the time-being.
These last few weeks have been an emotional roller-coaster of a ride. And a question that came up in supervision that I needed to ask myself I will answer here. Was it appropriate that I take his case in the first place? As I said before, normally I do not take friends’ cases. I have tried in the past and even though I could be objective, case management issues, including boundaries, did arise. For example, patients wanting to give feedback to me on how they were doing when we were both in the middle of a business meeting! So I had decided well before this incident that I would refer my friends and their children to colleagues and I have done so ever since.
But it felt right to take on this young man’s case. My previous experience with professional conduct issues made me feel confident that our connection so far was still comparatively superficial and would not interfere but would actually enhance our homeopathic relationship. I knew he would feel safe with me and I knew I could be objective and provide what he needed. I discovered the connection I always felt with him was all part of his case – Phosphoric personalities tend to attract and shine the light, don’t they?
And the times that I have struggled with his treatment, but not through lack of trying, the answers have been there for us both. They were sometimes unorthodox, to say the least. As I said before, taking a suggestion for a possible remedy for a patient during my own homeopathy consultation is something I would have never considered doing and it is unlikely the circumstance will ever arise again but who knows? I plan on staying clear with my boundaries and those of my patients and will always try and be aware of my projections and issues. But ours is a curious profession and we need to stay receptive to the wonders of it all otherwise we can miss the point.
And I know we absolutely were meant to meet for a reason. I know that we were destined to go on this journey together and that it has been a two-way process. On some level I must have recognised it when my heart first connected with his all those years ago. How lucky we are to work in a profession that is congruent to universal consciousness and connection, in which, if we allow it and stay open, we can learn so much, help so many others and develop and heal ourselves at the same time.
And yes it may all seem strange and wacky to some degree but at the same time the most real and profound experience I have ever had.
Rivendell, Bushey Heath, Hertfordshire
Ramakrishnan, Dr, A U and Coulter, Catherine R (2001) A Homeopathic Approach to Cancer. Quality Medical Publishing Inc, St Louis, Missouri, USA