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Time to grab the stethoscope; Tiny Tim needs to be diagnosed today

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    Southwest Shakespeare Company production of A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Pictured: Jared Sakren as Scrooge and Reno Lock as Tiny Tim. Credit: Southwest Shakespeare Company.

    Today's question:

    In Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" Tiny Tim is crippled. They never say much except that it will shorten his life considerably. What kind of an illness could he have had that would damage him so bad?

    It seems there has been quite a bit of study on this question by medical researchers who must have a lot of time on their hands.

    And it looks kind of grim for Tim unless Scrooge really did come through with the cash.

    In an article in the "American Journal of Diseases of Children" in 1992, researcher Donald Lewis suggested Tiny Tim might have suffered from renal tubular acidosis.

    That's a kidney disease that makes your blood too acidic. Untreated it can cause kidney stones, stunted growth, bone weakness and kidney failure.

    Or the kid may have had rickets, according to PennLive.com, where I read all this stuff.

    Rickets leaves you with soft bones, muscle weakness and joint pain. It's caused by deficiencies of vitamin D, calcium or phosphate. It was common in big cities during the Industrial Revolution.

    Have you ever heard of Pott's disease? Neither had I. It's a form of tuberculosis that affects the spine. It usually hits children under age 10 and causes deterioration of the spine, weight loss, fatigue and pain. A back brace and some time in a sanitarium would have helped Tim. Or he may have had polio.

    Scrooge might not have been the best of health, either. It is suggested that what he took for food poisoning was a form of dementia that can cause hallucinations.

    Whatever was going on, God bless them, everyone.


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