First published in Homeopathy Today – July/August 2003
My friend Mary’s daughter called recently and said, “Help. My mom’s all swollen up, and she keeps saying she’ll be OK in the morning, but she’s been swollen for two days now and she isn’t OK at all. I’m very worried about her.”
Mary was suffering from a terrible case of urticaria, with huge hives covering her whole body…like dozens of fried eggs as she so eloquently described them…to get across the idea that they were lumpy and all of different shapes and sizes, and had raised, yellow centers!
Her lips were so swollen they looked like a couple of sausages stuck to her face, and the rest of her face was so swollen that her eyes had disappeared. She could put the palm of her hand on the tip of her nose and feel the whole of her face up against the her hand and fingers. The skin over her head and face felt stretched tight.
Her ears, neck, feet, and hands were all horribly swollen. Her hands looked like rubber gloves that had been blown up. Her neck was so swollen she couldn’t turn her head. Her scalp was so swollen it felt like a tight cap.
in and out of the ER
She’d been in and out of the ER three times over the previous two days. The first time because it came on so quickly and she was scared and wasn’t sure what it was or what to do. The second time because her tongue had swelled up and she was frightened she wasn’t going to be able to breathe. She was sent home with aspirin for her headache and terribly painful throat. The next morning she felt unwell and so weak she could hardly get out of bed. She somehow managed to get to the bathroom where she fainted. Luckily, her daughter heard her fall and called the paramedics who found her blood pressure dangerously low. Mary was diagnosed with angioedema and prescribed various medications including antihistamines, painkillers, and steroids, and was told to go home and wait it out. The doctors told her it would clear up within the week.
I talked to her and elicited some more symptoms. She had a ton of itching which came and went like screensavers…fading in and out and moving around her body. The hives felt burning hot and stung at times, especially after she scratched the itchy spots. Her feet itched like crazy and were better from cold applications. She felt nauseous, but thought that might be a result of the medications.
She kept saying she was OK…and it was this more than anything else that was both worrying and extremely annoying to her daughter who was trying to help her. Mary couldn’t have been less OK if she’d tried. She admitted to feeling restless and somewhat irritable (but resisted showing it) and admitted that her mind was racing, thinking of all she had to do. She said she’d been “busier than a bee for weeks and weeks” with various projects, all of which had deadlines.
She’d taken Apis 6C in a halfhearted kind of way over the past couple of days. I suggested she take it in a 200C potency (as did several other of her homeopathic friends), and within hours the swelling went right down and the itching and burning dramatically improved. She continued to take Apis 200C every 2 to 4 hours for about 6 doses, and the improvement continued. She took a while to fully recover as you might imagine…needing more rest and sleep than usual for her vitality to return.
pinning down the culprit
After it was over, she tried to work out what had made her so sick. She knew she had a tendency to react badly to insect bites and shellfish. But this was more than anything she’d ever had in her life…except one time when she was a young kid and had something similar. She had completely forgotten that she’d reacted to aspirin that time, the memory surfacing only after her current problem was all over. She remembered telling the ER docs the first time she went in that she wasn’t allergic to aspirin. And then she remembered taking aspirin for a couple of days before falling sick because she had heard it was good for the heart. Then she remembered the ER doctors giving her a dose of aspirin for the pain at her second visit. And then, of course, she remembered fainting the next morning. Mystery solved! The culprit must have been aspirin. What a relief to work out that the problem hadn’t come out of the blue.
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