Monday, January 18, 2016

My Dad and Albumin Blood Poisoning

In about 1938, when my dad was in the seventh grade, around 12-13 years old, he got very ill. He was told it was albumin blood poisoning. I have been unsuccessful at researching this illness for the term is not used today. Also, I have been unable to match an illness with the symptoms he told me he suffered. However, I did record what he told me.

His illness had to do with the kidneys, and he had great difficulty urinating. His right arm and left leg were paralyzed. He had no idea how he contracted the illness, only that one other girl in the small town of Redmond, Utah, had it, and she was ten years older than him.

The town had no doctor and depended on travelling doctors who made house calls. There were two who treated my dad and the other ill girl, and they had differing opinions about how they should be treated. One doctor said they should have spices, the other said no sugar. The two finally decided to treat each child differently. The girl couldn’t have sugar, and my dad couldn't have spices.

Dad was sick in bed for around eight months. His sister, Maxine, brought his school work home to him each day, and he had to lie in bed to do it. He was not allowed to sit up, get out of bed or leave the house. Frustrated by being bed-ridden, my dad threw a ball against the wall with his left hand, driving his mother crazy.

His father stayed up with him many nights, watching over him. By the end of eight months, the doctors had given up hope for both children. My dad was severely ill—unconscious with a fever. His father was certain he would die. He was inspired to take a silver ladle full of cream and pour it down my dad.

The cream made Dad horribly sick. He vomited and poured diarrhea. He finally urinated a black tarry substance. Later that night, his fever broke. The doctors were informed and the treatment prescribed for the girl. She survived too. Dad's paralysis eventually went away.

On one fine summer day, my dad was finally allowed to sit up and then go outside. The doctor told his mother not to let him get wet or chilled. My dad was so happy to see the sky, the trees, the birds, the whole of outdoors that he went out, leaned over the bridge, got dizzy and fell in the spring ditch. We are so much alike.

My dad was a wonderful, honorable man who loved the land and respected it. His life was filled with illness, much like mine. He served in World War II in the Navy and contracted an illness over in the Islands that doctors could never diagnose. It never stopped him from raising a family, running a farm, becoming an electrician and holding a job. I will forever admire and respect him. I only hope to handle my life of ill health with as much dignity as he demonstrated.

Cindy A. Christiansen
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  1. This information was provided from a reader on Facebook:
    My guess Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome which is usually caused by an E. coli infection. The paralysis was likely due to the severe hyperkalemia (high potassium levels) that often occurs with renal failure. I was a renal nurse for about 7 years and just did some research on causes of renal failure (reason for high albumin levels) in children and renal failure and paralysis. Since the other causes for renal failure in children were chemical poisoning, renal obstruction, and renal trauma, I went with an infectious cause to account for the girl who had it as well. They may have both gotten E. coli from contaminated food.
    The thick dark urine was something I have seen in patients with renal failure. The vomiting was a classic symptom due to the high levels of a multitude of unfiltered metabolites and electrolytes in his bloodstream.
    As for the cure, I think that was a correlation without causation. I would say God and his immune system battled the infection and he was lucky enough to maintain just enough kidney function to survive. In acute renal failure once the causative agent is gone, the renal tubals will (most of the time) rebound and renal functionality will be restored.
    This is all educated guess work based on the story, my time as a renal nurse and a bit of research.

    1. Thank you very much for this information. It is fascinating!


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