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
Sweet Romance, Humor, Suspense...and Dogs!
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