Todd was two, nearly. His mother brought him in to discuss options, if any, to scheduled surgery for his anal fistula. Todd had had a boil right next to the anus, and had it lanced by a doctor. As is often the case, the drainage of pus left a pocket, which opened into a crevice. Nice talk, isn't it.
Well, it's true. A surgical resident told me so, as he was just about to lance the ugliest boil I could ever imagine. It was an inch long at least, half an inch wide, and immediately above the anus of a man, lying face down on an examining table, whose legs and butt were the only things protruding from under a white gown. At the time, I was a student observing at the emergency and outpatient surgical section of a local hospital. I rotated among several house staff, who showed me the ropes, among other things.
The resident put a beige plastic cup between the guy's legs as he lay there, spread-eagled. A few jabs of lidocaine, and then a single stab with the knife. A fountain of white pus gushed from the incision. It was several teaspoons, easily. Gross.
The resident matter-of-factly said that the man would probably develop a fistula there, which would need to be dealt with when it happened.
My mind came back to the present, where Todd was wandering around my office, hauling a few toys out of the box full I kept handy for bored kids. He looked over at his mother, smiling.
Had Todd known what
was in store for him, he wouldn't have smiled at all. He was to travel
"I doubt it," I said. "It is asking a lot of a vitamin to close up a fistula without suturing it."
"What about the trickle of pus that keeps oozing out?" the mother asked. "This has been going on almost daily ever since the boil was drained."
"Perhaps there is something that might help that," I said. "You could try a homeopathic remedy called silicea. It is a harmless, over-the-counter preparation that has been used for pus-producing conditions for over one hundred years.
"Where do I get the medicine?" asked Todd's mom. She was holding Todd, who was trying to lie down all over her lap.
"It's not really a medicine; it is actually a microdilution of the main mineral in common sand, silica."
"A mineral? That sounds safe enough. Where would I buy it?" she said. Todd wiggled a bit to sit up.
"Any health food store. I have usually used the 6x potency with my kids. The "X" is like the Roman numeral; it stands for ten. The "6" means it has been diluted six successive times. That's less than one part per million."
"Your kids had fistulas, too?" asked the mom.
"No, but they've had a boil once or twice elsewhere, and so have I," I added. "The silicea cleared it up in a day or two. Never had any medicine or needed lancing."
"Do you think is will help Todd?" she asked.
"Maybe," I answered. "As long as you're waiting for the surgery anyway, it's worth trying it in the meantime."
Because of the number of time I'd seen silicea work, I was actually pretty confident that it would stop the pus problem. And, because of what I'd seen of fistulas, that's all I expected.
An excited, joyful woman was on the phone a week later.
"The fistula is gone!" said Todd's mother. "Not only did it stop the pus, the fistula closed up! Could the silicea have done all that?"
"Can't argue with success," I said. "Take Todd into his pediatrician and have her have a look."
"Already did that!" said the mom. "We canceled the surgery!"
Calls like that make my day. Calls like that make surgeons mad.
I'm reminded of
Alonzo J. Shadman, MD. Dr. Shadman was a surgeon, and ran his own 150
bed hospital in
Being a homeopath, Dr. Shadman used remedies like silicea. That alone is often enough to get you kicked out of the AMA. But Shadman went a big step further. In his 1958 book Who is Your Doctor and Why, he narrates how he'd make the rounds and give homeopathic remedies to patients on the eve of their scheduled surgeries. So many of them got better, so fast and so completely, that operations were being canceled left and right. Shadman made a lot of enemies among the surgeons.
When he did do surgery, Shadman used no blood. He said, "I never gave a blood transfusion and I never had a patient die from lack of it." Dr. Shadman gave IVs of essential fluids, such as Ringer's solution or other electrolyte solutions, but never blood. He said that foreign substances like whole blood tax the recovering patient, making complications and death all the more likely. Since the body makes new red blood cells so quickly, restoring a person's counts to normal in just days, Shadman believed and demonstrated, literally thousands of times, that transfusions are inadvisable.
When I was a boy, a kid my age that lived down the street was a Jehovah's Witness. He and his family were very nice people and we became friends. Among the things that had always puzzled me was the Witnesses' refusal to accept a blood transfusion. Still puzzled as an adult, I asked for and promptly received a copy of the Witnesses' booklet explaining their reasons. I admit that I was surprised at the quality of scholarship and research that supports their views. No, I did not convert. But I do think there is much to be learned by not closing our minds . . . or our doors. You do not need to change your faith in order to consider that maybe you do not need to change your blood, either.