Tuesday, April 12, 2011  
   Volume 81 - Issue 15 Website:www.passherald.ca   email: passherald@shaw.ca   $1.00   
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Quote of the Week
“The talent in this community is unbelievable.”
- Michele Dobek-Koinberg  
  
   

 

Sparwood man killed near Crowsnest Lake
The "Frank Sanitorium” sat on the site where Turtle Mountain Playgrounds Used to Be".
Looking Back - John Kinnear

Between 1922 and 1962 over 9,000 people died in this province from all forms of tuberculosis. The seriousness of this disease in Canada really came into focus during World War One. During these war years Canada lost forty to fifty thousand people to the disease, almost as many as were lost in the war itself. As soldiers developed the disease and returned home they soon overtaxed what few sanatoria there were in Canada and the federal government had to react. In Alberta two small, exclusively military sanatoriums were set up- one in Wetaskiwin and a more important one in the mountains right here in Frank.
The san at Frank was the old converted CPR hotel and was opened in the fall of 1917. The superintendent of the Frank Sanatorium was Capt. A. H. Baker who was eventually memorialized by the renaming of the Central Alberta Sanatorium to the Baker Memorial Sanatorium, an isolated structure which sat directly opposite Bowness Park in Calgary.
 Baker had his share of problems with the Frank san including reams of government red tape, supply limitations, constant thievery of goods out of the building and trying to keep well trained staff around. The Central Alberta san came into being in early 1920 and was specifically designed to handle TB patients, unlike its predecessors which were merely modified buildings. When it opened, Baker and many of the Frank medical and domestic staff plus 52 soldiers moved in.  The Frank san was torn down in 1920.
Treatment for tuberculars people was designed to build up the body so that it could fight the bacteria that could attack any part of the body but usually the lungs.  TB was once the leading cause of death in the United States. Say didn’t old Doc Holliday have it? Why, yes he did. They called it consumption back then. Doc survived the OK Corral but the TB finally took him. Of course the alcohol didn’t help.
The recipe for recovery was basically supposed to involve plenty of fresh air (man have we got a lot of that here), good nutrition and rest. Canadian soldiers being treated for TB in England were given a whopping 6,150 calories a day.
It was similar here. The following is a typical Monday menu at the Frank san:
Breakfast: pears, cream of wheat, cornflakes, shredded wheat, veal cutlets and raspberry jam. (veal cutlets for breakfast??) 
Dinner: grapes, cream of corn soup, roast goose, vegetable marrow, mashed potato, apple sauce, mince pie, bon bon, nuts and coffee.
Supper: oysters, sweet potato, celery, fresh peaches and cream, and fruit cake.
By the 1940’s the days of the rest dietetic regime were being abandoned for newly developed therapys, some of which will leave you literally aghast.   I’ll kind of bleed you into it. (bad word choice!)
Firstly there was Lobectomy and Pneumoectomy where doctors surgically remove infected parts of the lung and sometimes even a whole lung.
Then there was Phrenicotomy or Phrenic Nerve Crush. I called my dear Aunt Jean in Calgary about this one as she spent two years in the Saskatoon san from 1926 to 1928. Yes she said: “They did the crush therapy on me.”  This is a jaw dropper.
In 1902, two American physicians showed that the phrenic nerve could be paralysed without the patient necessarily dying as a result. (The phrenic nerves control the diaphragm which is two muscles (left and right) that separate the chest from the abdomen. As you breathe in, both muscles contact and are pulled downward thus increasing the volume of the chest and drawing air into the lungs. At the end of a deep breath the muscles relax and rise pushing the air out of the lung.) 

 
If the nerve supply to one diaphragm is cut off, that diaphragm is paralyzed and remains in a relaxed phase, that is, higher in the chest. In this way not only are the respiratory movements of the lung diminished but also, due to the rising of the diaphragm slightly in the chest, there is a small decrease in volume of the lung.
The idea is to let the lung rest so the lesions can heal. The crush’s effect is not permanent, in fact about 4 to 6 months later the diaphragm normalizes again and a recrush was usually done.  If too many recrushes were done the scar tissue made the operation too difficult to do but usually (hopefully) the TB had been beaten back by then. 
Hang on folks, I’m just getting started!
Next up was something called Thoracoplasty. This term refers to the surgical removal of several rib bones from the chest wall in order to collapse a lung. In the time that this surgery was commonplace, the average patient required the removal of 7-8 ribs. Most surgeons preferred to remove only 2-3 ribs at a time and thus patients had to endure several procedures before the entire thoracoplasty was finished.  Yikes! 
Work n Play
An "X-Ray Image Showing
Lucite Balls in Chest Cavity"
Yet another procedure was known as Artificial Pneumothorax.  This was a method of treatment which consisted of the introduction of air into the pleural cavity (the body cavity that surrounds the lungs) which collapses the diseased area, finally leading to complete recovery. This method was used in the Frank san but they used nitrogen gas. Released patients used to come back to clinics for periodic refills!
Hang in there guys I still have two more. This next one paints an unusual picture in my mind.
Another treatment for patients who had infections of both lungs is the "shot bag" method. A bag containing one pound of shot is placed on either collarbone of the patient and the amount of shot is increased 4 or 5 ounces each week until the patient is carrying 5 pounds of weight on the upper part of each lung. This restricts the excursions of the lungs, makes them quiescent, teaches correct breathing and produces partial rest for the lungs.
Okay now, here is the piece de resistance. Last but not least is what is called Plombage.  Plombage was a surgical method and refers to the insertion of an inert substance in the pleural space.  The technique involved surgically creating a cavity underneath the ribs in the upper part of the chest wall and filling this space with some inert material. A variety of substances were typically used and included air, olive or mineral oil, gauze, paraffin wax, rubber sheeting or bags and Lucite balls. The inserted material would force the upper lobe of the lung to collapse.  Guess what? They sometimes used ping pong balls!  Don’t believe me? Talk to Millie Theirrault, a semi-retired x-ray tech at our hospital. She has come across plombage patients in her job. Imagine finding evidence of ping pong balls in an x-ray, some thirty or fourty years later.
You know if this column had run a couple weeks ago most would have thought I was up to my old April Fools tricks again but I swear, every word of this is true! So I say thank God we invented streptomycin.
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   Volume 81 - Issue 15 Website:www.passherald.ca   email: passherald@shaw.ca   $1.00   
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