By Dr. Anke Zimmermann, ND, FCAH
Severe Migraines and IBS
In February of 2009 I saw a young girl regarding chronic irritable bowel syndrome as well as severe migraine headaches. The migraines would come on during the night, sometimes several times a week. She had been suffering from these symptoms for four years but was steadily getting worse over the past two years and especially the past few months.
The parents had taken the girl to a couple of other practitioners with some success, however, the child’s symptoms would only be temporarily relieved and would return with greater intensity.
Lisa was a pretty, full-faced and sturdily built young girl who looked quite mature for her age. I learned that she had not been really well since a week-long summer camp experience when she was eight years old.
Never well Since Summer Camp
While at camp she came down with an intense fever and flu-like symptoms, which at the time were attributed to a virus. At the time she was sick for 4-5 days with a 104 degree fever. The fever began on a Tuesday, she had abdominal pain and was vomiting by Thursday and taken to the hospital that day and again the next day.
The parents picked her up on Saturday. That night the fever broke at exactly 5 am. (Note, this is very important for the rest of the story.)
Ever since that time she has suffered from recurrent fevers, stomach aches and diarrhea.
The parents think that the child’s immune system was somehow compromised by the illness, as she has not been quite well since. (Note, this can happen. It is a well-known fact that a severe infection can weaken the organism and some people never fully recover from a severe flu, pneumonia, mono, etc. Homeopathy can be very helpful in such cases.)
Sick and Frightened
Also of note: The other girls at the camp did not believe that she was really sick. The child was also very frightened of the hospital at the time. They could not find her vein and only a 16-year-old girl was with her in the hospital. (Note, the fright Lisa experienced when she had this fairly severe illness far away from her parents may have also contributed to the lasting aftereffects. )
For the first year or so after the initial episode she would have ‘attacks’ of stomach aches and diarrhea about once a month or less often. Over the next four years this increased to once a week, then every two to three days. At those times she would wake up around 2-3 am and be doubled over in pain.
In 2007 another naturopathic doctor diagnosed her with parasites and suggested a parasite cleanse which gave some relief for about ten weeks, then the problem recurred. Another parasite cleanse was performed, but only gave relief for about six weeks this time.
Around that time she was also given a battery of medical tests, including an abdominal X-ray which showed that her bowels were completely impacted with feces. The child was sent to a specialist who told the family that there was nothing he could do, it was a case of irritable bowel syndrome and the family should expect good and bad days. He did prescribe Lancelol pediatric gel for ten weeks, though, and every morning the girl would have a massive bowel movement.
Migraines at 2-3 am
By that time the girl has also developed migraine headaches, which also come on at 2-3 am during the night. They last for 48 to 72 hours and affect her vision and balance. She is very pale with those migraines. Sometimes it seems that weather changes will trigger the migraines. Her hearing becomes very acute and she can hear people talking way down the street. She is worse with motion and wants to lie still.
Note: 2-3 am seems a time when both her GI and migraine symptoms are aggravated. She can wake up doubled over in pain with cramps, then will rock back and forth until by about 3 am she will have a bowel movement. She will push on her stomach as if it is dough to get the stool out.
Her IBS is worse if she eats junk food and a lot of wheat.
She has missed five days of school in the last month as a result of the migraines.
Fevers with Travel and Excitement
If the family travels and she gets excited she will get a fever. She has been like that since the summer camp in 2005; when she gets really nervous or excited she will become sick with a fever and vomiting. The mother tells me that she was also like that as a child. She would vomit and then be fine.
I asked the mother to tell me more about the girl’s personality. “She is a good kid, really funny. She has a heart to serve and loves to help out at summer camps for the less fortunate. She takes acting lessons. She is very logical and excels in math but finds the language arts more challenging. She is a pleasure to be around. Sometimes a bit lazy when it comes to homework”
She is miserable at school. The family moved and she is attending a new school since last September, which she says she hates.
Why does she not like her new school?
“It is too structured for her. It’s a private Christian school. The kids are not allowed to talk during lunch or in the halls. It is very strict with a lot of rules. The kids are not allowed to go to the washroom by themselves.” (Note: This may or may not mean anything.)
She enjoys physical activity like hiking or kayaking, can do a five-hour hike, has great endurance.
Neat, Tidy and Responsible
She is very neat and tidy, showers every day and “would die if her bed was not made.” She has her own bathroom at home and keeps it spic and span and even complains that her mother does not clean it as well as she does. She eats what is on her plate.
She is seldom late. She is very responsible. Last summer she decided to do dog-walking, got two daily clients and walked the dogs reliably every single day at only age 11.
At Bible camp at age nine she washed the dishes three times a day for 100 people for 16 days. “Other kids would bugger off, but she didn’t,” the mother said. (Note: These personality characteristics are very important information for me. Anything that is unusual and peculiar is very useful to assist in a good homeopathic prescription. This child is responsible and even dogmatic beyond her years.)
Mature and Family-Oriented
Adults like talking to her, she is mature for her age. “We treat her like an adult and discuss many things with her, including finance etc. “
She may tell the teacher that the teacher is not doing a good job.
She loves here family, her family is very important to her. The family is very involved with their church and the girl enjoys that also.
Does she have any fears?
“She does not like to sleep by herself. She is afraid of heights, but okay being in the CN tower inside. If standing on a table or ladder would want to have her mother stand behind her. She has issues with her peers and will fret over them. She feels that she is being picked on.”
Her sleep is broken. She goes to bed around 10 – 10:30 pm, but naturally would like to stay up later. By 1:30 pm she may be up and asks Mom to come into her bed. Her mother has to speak to her 4-5 times a night, every night.
:Last night I spoke to her at 1:30, 3 am and 4:30 am.” (Note – this is an important symptom, the child never sleeps properly at all. )
She gets hot when she sleeps.
Around the time she first developed the stomach problem she developed difficulty in falling back to sleep – wanted to be cuddled. It is still like that.
Tell me about her perspiration?
“She perspires under her arm and on her hands when she is anxious – they become clammy and blotchy.
Loves microwave popcorn, coke, more savories than sweets, popcorn over cake. Likes ice cream, hamburgers and fries, steak and fries, loves olives very much (desire for olives - good symptom, once again, anything unusual is very helpful)
Does not like pepper and overly spicy food.
Analysis and Plan:
What is going on here and what needs to be cured? This is a young girl, mature for her age both physically and mentally, who developed an acute illness four years ago while away at camp and has not been well since. Her symptoms include bouts of stomach aches and diarrhea, likely secondary to constipation, as well as migraine headaches, all of which come on at about 2 am at night. She is better after a bowel movement which happens by about 3 am.
During the original illness her fever of five days broke at exactly 5 am.
From a homeopathic point of view the time aggravation is very important here. We need a remedy which covers the peculiar time aggravation of being worse from about 2-5 am, and which has digestive problem and headaches.
Her personality is kind of conservative and almost overly responsible, even dogmatic, for such a young girl.
The remedy which matched her symptoms, including her personality, best, was Kali-carbonicum. I prescribed Kali-carb 200CH based on the above symptoms, one dose a day for two days only.
Other remedies I considered were Calc-carb and possibly Sulfur in the future. The peculiar time aggravation was the most important factor in the prescription.
Follow-up email from mother on March 18/09 - one month later:
“We just wanted to let you know (and thank you so much) that Lisa is doing much better. After the first dose of the remedy she had a massive bowel movement and lots more elimination for 24 hours. She had some mightmares which is not usual for her. She has the start of a headache from time to time but is she takes a Tylenol it will go away right away (that did not work previously, she would be ill for 24 to 72 hours.) The stomach cramping is almost gone and she is sleeping better.”
Analyis: What happened? The remedy acted well, causing increased elimination which is not an unusual reaction as well as some nightmares. Suppressed emotions often come to the surface in dreams after a remedy. She is now doing better in all areas.
Follow-up on phone April 16, 09
“There was quite an improvement after the first dose of Kali-carb. Now the symptoms are slowly creeping back again. The headaches are still better. She may get some prodromal symptoms such as flashes of light but not full-blown headaches.
She has not missed a day of school since the remedy. Her sleep is till better. She is in a better mood, much more agreeable! (Note: The mother did not mention her mood at the initial consultation, but has noticed a change. This is a very good sign. It makes sense that she would be feeling better on all levels as her health improves.)
Plan: Repeat Kali-carb 200 CH and order Kali-carb 1 MK in case it is needed.
Follow-up, June 14, 09
She has been doing well in every way until two weeks ago. There were no headaches, bowels were functioning well. Just now the symptoms are coming back a bit.
Plan: Kali-carb 1 MK
She has not needed another dose at this time. This case was solved mostly due to the time aggravation from 2-5 am, a classic kali-carb time, as well as her conservative and mature personality. After four years of suffering and plenty of missed school this child was returned to health by a few doses of a homeopathic remedy costing maybe $12.00. The joy of homeopathy!
Dr. Anke Zimmermann, ND, FCAH is a naturopathic doctor with a special interest in developmental and behavioural disorders. Cases are all from her practice, names have been changed, they were published with permission and are intended for education only.
Dr. Anke Zimmermann, ND, FCAH, Naturopathic Physician
West Sooke, BC, Canada
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