New England School of Homeopathy

An Encounter with a Moose

The New England Journal of Homeopathy
Spring/Summer 2001, Vol.10, No.1

by Carleen Johnson

I have shared this case with a number of colleagues and many felt it would be of interest to others. The severity of the injuries, the eventual outcome and the need to integrate homeopathy with conventional medical practices have made this case one of the most memorable of my practice. I would like to thank Amy Rothenberg for her emotional support when I needed it, and I would also like to thank Paul Herscu for his input on this case and for the similar case he presented during the NESH course that helped give me courage to treat this patient.

Tom, a forty-eight year old man, had had a head on collision with an adult moose when he was returning home from work at 5:15 PM on the evening of November 1st. The first passersby found him unconscious and bleeding. He regained consciousness and became belligerent as the arriving EMTs tried to transport him into the ambulance. It took four men to restrain him enough to put him into the helicopter where he was sedated and transported to the closest trauma unit. He was in a drug induced coma and had multiple facial fractures. It was not clear whether his teeth were still intact and it was thought that his right eye might be lost. The trunk of his body was unharmed, he suffered minor abrasions on his hands. The neurosurgeon stated that he was the worst head trauma case that he had ever seen. Tom was as close to death as any patient he had had.

On November 2nd I visited the hospital to help support this wife. She, as well as one of their three children were friends and patients of mine. I offered to help and she was enthusiastic. My first encounter with Tom in the Intensive Care Unit was to see him motionless and essentially not at all present. The machines had taken over all bodily functions. The nurses and various therapists mostly paid attention to the numerous monitors to gauge any progress or decline. The tubes and the tape securing the tubes prevented any access to David’s mouth. The remedy Arnica 200C was put in his armpit and moistened with some water. His arm immediately twitched, subsequently squeezing off the monitor for his pulse. The buzzers started to sound and nurses arrived to check in on him and adjust the tubes. I was silently encouraged with his response and after spending another hour there suggested that his wife give him another dose that night. There was no drop in the intracranial pressure (ICP). During the night the sedative was increased because of increased brain activity. Fluid was being drained from his brain once every hour.

November 3rd – The next day there was again increased brain activity. Visitors were limited and his wife did not redose him.

November 4th – I visited in the morning and gave him another dose of Arnica 200C and watched as the ICP decreased. I gave him Arnica 1M and the numbers continued to come down. He was drained at 2:30 and 3:30 and then not again until 7 pm.

On November 5th one of the sedatives was eliminated. I treated again with Arnica 1M and 10M but saw no change in the ICP pressure.

On November 6th he was taken off all of the drugs in the afternoon. By this time his extended family was starting to arrive including his father who was a retired surgeon. I was asked to discontinue homeopathic treatment. I continued visiting in order to support his wife and also so that I could continue to watch his progress. He did not come out of the coma despite the fact that he was not on any drugs.

On November 8th a decision was made to anesthetize him for the operations needed to repair the facial fractures, wire his jaw and examine his eyes. The night following surgery, his ICP reached its highest point. He was heavily sedated again even more so than right after the accident to slow the brain activity and the cranial fluid was drained. During the next six days Tom was given strong antibiotics for pneumonia and meningitis. A special bed was flown in from Boston that constantly rotated him to keep the fluid in his lungs moving.

By November 14th there were again encouraging signs. His eyes were opening, his legs and arms were moving even though he was sedated.

On November 15th he was waking up. The biggest concern was his temperature and the state of his liver. With a tracheotomy and his mouth wired, communication was difficult. He was able to mouth names and motion enough that the medical staff knew that he recognized his family and understood commands. He was able to stand and take a few small steps. There were still things that eluded him, some people he just did not remember. He was still in ICU at this point but there was talk of moving him to a rehabilitation floor.

On November 23rd I was asked by his wife to treat him homeopathically again, against his parents wishes. He had been in the rehab unit for just a day and I had sat in on the physical therapist’s evaluation, the occupational therapist’s evaluation and had watched him walk the corridor (with a lot of support). I noticed that some of his old mannerisms had returned such as the way he positioned his body. His facial expressions that I remembered from before the accident had returned, but he was extremely weak. The day before he had had his first meal in over three weeks. He was attentive but when asked to perform any kind of mental function like math he would give answers that just did not make sense. His orientation was off, he did not know where he currently lived, he thought he still lived with his parents. This total confusion made me feel that everything had still to be reorganized. I gave him Helleborus 200C.

Tom made quick progress with his rehabilitation team. His weight gain was extremely slow as his only intake was fluids because his mouth was wired shut. Mentally he accomplished all tasks that were put before him. I visited him a number of times during this period and he continued to progress. His conversations with other visitors assured me that his cognitive abilities had returned. I knew that physical therapy was very tiring still for him so when he told me that he had been given free reign to walk anywhere in the hospital and in fact had gone out for a walk down a side street from the hospital I thought he was delusional, but the story was true.

He was released on December 8th with the hospital staff claiming that he was a miracle. He continued with different outpatient therapies for brief periods of time. He never regained complete hearing in his right ear. He eventually got a hearing aid and he has ringing in that ear without the hearing aid. After his jaw was unwired, it took him a few months to regain his weight. He returned to work full-time in the beginning of March without any trouble. Other than not remembering the accident he suffered no loss in memory or in his cognitive abilities.

He has been left with a decrease in his ability to both smell and taste due to nerve damage associated with the facial fractures. Low back pain and some neck pain have been helped by visits to the chiropractor. I hope that at some point I will be able to offer a remedy to help address some of these lingering concerns but in general, he is quite well.

The biggest challenge for me in treating this man was working very much alone within a foreign setting. As I listened to the various hospital therapists and doctors marvel at Tom’s progress, I better understood how homeopathy can impact the long-term prognosis of a seriously injured patient. I learned that there are still many problems to face along the path to full recovery but that there is the possibility of recovery. As a result of the notoriety of this case in the community, stories of others who have suffered similar accidents have affirmed for me that Tom’s future could have been very different indeed.

Carleen Johnson practices in Thorndike, which is in central Maine. She completed the three year NESH course in 2000.

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