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Jun 4, 2012

Plumbum Metallicum

Published in THE TORCH OF HOMOEOPATHY, Vol III, No. 3, July 1961.



Frederica E. Gladwin, M.D.
Adapted and Arranged by Mollie Ray Carroll

Mr. Plumbum lives in a poor but respectable neighbourhood. A painter by trade, he was a hard worker throughout his early life. Later, he became a mental and physical wreck. Now he is so emaciated that his wrinkled, shrivelled skin is drawn over his bones. He is so sensitive to fresh air that he goes around well wrapped up, even in the summer time; but he never perspires.

Mr. Plumbum is discouraged, but that is not surprising, for his wife is almost sure to have a hysterical attack whenever he most needs her help and sympathy. All the neighbours are sorry for him and are very kind to him, but they have no use for so deceitful a woman as Mrs. Plumbum. Mrs. Plumbum often pretends that she is sick, even that she is unconscious, when anyone is around to see. Although they have no sympathy with such nonsense, the neighbours often go to Mr. Plumbum’s assistance. Mrs. Arsenicum, Mrs. Ignatia and Mrs. Carlsbad, who like rye bread, often carry some of their baking in for Mr. Plumbum. However, Mrs. Arsenicum always seems so anxious and restless while she is there and Mrs. Ignatia is so evidently trying to suppress her sobs that he is suspicious of both of them. He is so sure that they have put poison in the rye bread that, much as he wants it, he is afraid to eat any.

Indeed, Mr. Plumbum often has the notion that everyone around him, except Mrs. Carlsbad, is murderer and wants to assassinate him. She is talkative and very sympathetic and always ready to weep over his woes. He hates conversation, for he often can’t find the proper word, but Mrs. Carlsbad good-naturedly saves him from having to say much. She understands how hard it is for him to talk, for she experiences the same difficulty when trying to write, and she often forgets names. Mr. Plumbum eats Mrs. Carlsbad’s rye bread and wishes that she would bring him some cakes and fried food. She herself, however, is not especially fond of cakes and fried food and so the thought never enters her head. His thoughts come so slowly that she is gone before he has time to ask her.

Mr. Plumbum is exceedingly slow in every way. Even his bodily functions are slow. He is slow to comprehend an idea and slow to respond after he has finally comprehended. To have to wait for him is enough to send Mrs. Plumbum into some kind of hysterical spasm. Sometimes she sticks a pin into him, just to see if she can make him move a little faster; but it does no good. He is as slow to feel the pin as he is to comprehend the idea.

One day, Mrs. Plumbum sat down to the piano to cheer him with music, but she found that she couldn’t lift her fingers fast enough to play. That made her discouraged and melancholy, thinking that she had sinned away her day of grace. While she was feeling dejected, Mrs. Curare, a forgetful stupid, lazy woman, hurried in to sympathize, for she, too, knew just what it was like to have her fingers and wrists give out at the piano.

Mrs. Plumbum really deserves the neighbour’s sympathy instead of their scorn, for her children are a great disappointment and care. Most of those who were born alive are epileptics or idiots. The neighbours contend that their condition resulted from drugs which Mrs. Plumbum took to induce an abortion, but they are mistaken.

Mr. Plumbum wasn’t always the wreck that he now is; nor did this plight come upon him suddenly. While he was slowly drifting into this condition, he frequently had the colic. He endured excruciating pain and a feeling as though his abdomen was being drawn in toward his back. During these attacks, Mrs. Plumbum usually became hysterical and the neighbours would go to his assistance. Mrs. Colocynth would come running with a cup of hot coffee, and Mr. Nux Vomica, with a hot water bottle. Mr. Nux Vomica, seeing the hot coffee would scold Mrs. Colocynth because hot coffee made colic worse. When she saw Mr. Plumbum bending backward with the pain, Mrs. Colocynth would say, “Double up, Mr. Plumbum,” and Mr. Nux Vomica would say, “Yes, double up and put this hot water against your abdomen.”

Mr. Plumbum knew that colic was sometimes relieved by bending forward; so he would obediently double up and put the hot water bottle upon his abdomen. Sometimes bending backward ameliorated his colic and he would stretch back again. The hot water bottle made him feel a little better, but it wasn’t heavy enough to give him relief; so he cast it aside for the rubbing that Mrs. Colocynth suggested.

About this time Mrs. Magnesia Phosphorica would come in, expressing her opinion that the hot drinks, hot applications and bending double might help, but that hard pressure would relieve the pain. So, along with the hot coffee and the hot water bottle she called for Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary and for the Family Bible to place upon the hot water bottle for added pressure.

Mr. Nux Vomica was so sure that hot coffee would make the colic worse that he grew angry and would have nothing more to do with the case. He would rush out of the house banging chairs and slamming doors on his way, and, that morning, at the office it wouldn’t be safe to ask him an unnecessary question or to make the least noise. Mrs. Colocynth was inclined to be angry because Mr. Nux Vomica had made such a fuss about her coffee. Then she remembered that if she permitted herself to become angry, she, too, would have the colic; so she controlled herself and went for the family Bible and Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary to pile them on the hot water bottle as Mrs. Magnesia Phosphorica had suggested.

Mr. Plumbum felt a little better but still had severe pain when haughty Mrs. Platina walked in to direct the treatment. To oppose the arrogant Mrs. Platina required too much mental effort for Mrs. Magnesia Phosphorica; so she walked off and left the patient to Mrs. Platina. Mrs. Colocynth indignantly followed. Freed from the interference of the others, Mrs. Platina lost no time in curing the patient in her own way.

Mr. Plumbum is much emaciated, but his emaciation has not come suddenly. His way of growing thin is peculiar to himself and he has taken plenty of time to do it. It started with exceedingly painful neuralgia, with burning, and shooting pain. Then the part would wither. Meanwhile he became constantly more emaciated, all over, until his skin seemed to be drawn over his bones. Of course, he is numb, stiff and partly paralyzed.

He has had a variety of pains, sometimes simple pricking and sometimes tearing and crushing, mingled with violent darts. At times the bones felt as though they were being broken, or scraped; then the pain lessens, only to begin again. The pain may be superficial or deep seated and quite impartial as to location, attacking anywhere – skin, muscles, bones and nerves often wandering from one part of his body to another. If he moves or is cold, it usually brings on the attacks; yet though motion increases his pains, he frequently changes position.

Mrs. Plumbum broods in melancholy over Mr. Plumbum’s slowness. She wishes he would hurry, for, when he goes out on an errand, it seems as though he would never return. But if poor Mr. Plumbum does exert himself out of doors to hurry all the way home, it hurts his head, and makes his mental and emotional symptoms worse. His head gets hot, while his hands and feet become cold as ice. His face grows as pale as death and the neighbourhood boys call him the walking corpse. He doesn’t dare to go to the theatre, to a political meeting, or to church for a crowd often causes him to faint. That frightens people into thinking that he is dead, until Mr. Ammonium Carb who is usually present, understands and revives him.

Mr. Plumbum has suffered from constipation almost all of his life. It began spasms when he was a child. Then his mother physicked (To dose with medicine especially cathartic or laxative) him and he went from bad to worse. His stools were little hard balls, sometimes ash-gray, but generally black or dark green.

The constipation brings spasms of the rectum, constriction and retraction of the anus and excruciating pain. It is accompanied by an exceedingly painful drawing back from the naval toward the spine, when he isn’t constipated, Mr. Plumbum is likely to have diarrhea, from which he suffers as much as from constipation. His diarrhea is accompanied by violent colic, spasms of his abdominal muscles, long lasting tenesmus and convulsive drawing up of the anus. His stools are involuntary profuse, offensive, watery, bloody and slimy yellow or dark. At the same time he vomits violently.

Mr. Alumina sympathize with Mr. Plumbum in his attacks of constipation for he, too, has the difficult, hard, knotty stool. He, too, has the constriction of the rectum and tenesmus; also the colic. Mrs. Platina also sympathizes with Mr. Plumbum when he has these attacks. She knows just how colic and obstinate constipation feel and considers her shooting pains in the rectum before stool quite as bad as Mr. Plumbum’s painful retraction of the anus. Even the stupid Mrs. Opium sympathizes with Mr. Plumbum in his bowel trouble.

The Plumbum children have terrible convulsions. Unlike most children whose one convulsion causes a commotion, Mr. Plumbum’s children will have four or five paroxysms a day. They utter frightful shrieks, bite their tongues during the paroxysm and sometimes remain unconscious for an hour after the paroxysm is over. Occasionally they moan deeply toward the end of the convulsions. At times the convulsions alternate with pains in the limbs, stomach or bowels. One child’s limbs have been paralyzed since an attack of convulsions. One child, injured at birth, has suffered the effects of too depressed occiput, followed by lock-jaw.

Mrs. Opium is very sorry for the Plumbums. She thinks she understands all about convulsions, for her own children have both tonic and clonic spasms, often caused by fright. During convulsions, which often come during sleep, her children lose consciousness; their pupils become contracted; their breathing is heavy and spasmodic. Their faces and bodies become deadly pale. Sometimes they sob and their throats rattle. The spasms begin with a scream and end in a deep long-lasting sleep. Mrs. Opium is too stupid to see any difference between her own children’s convulsions and those of the Plumbums. If she could see a difference, she wouldn’t admit it.

Mr. Plumbum is emaciated, paralyzed and old before his years as the result of great suffering. His is a history of disease going from bad to worse, and so it will continue as long as he remains in this world.

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