Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Meet the Caloriemeter -- It's Not What You Think

Columbus Berry Bailiff was the first cousin four times removed of my nephew's wife. He was born in September 1879 in Tennessee and died in Nashville of typhoid fever in 1915, suffering for three weeks before death. He was 35 years old and known as Lum to family and friends.

Lum married Beulah Grooms sometime after 1900. They lived on 1305 Greenwood Avenue in Nashville, Tennesse. Their marriage produced no known children. Beulah never remarried and lived with her mother, who was also widowed young, the rest of her life.

Lum was working for Harvester Company of the Americas in the Collections Department as a commercial trader when he died. Typhoid is a bacterial disease transmitted by the ingestion of food or water contaminated with the feces of an infected person.

In the same year Lum died, the Alumnae Association of Bellevue, Pension Fund Committee, published a short history of Bellevue Hospital and of the training schools, which included information about treating various diseases.  The guide had this to say about the new, "modern" methods of treating typhoid:
The old treatment of typhoid fever was to supply food very sparingly to the patient, leaving him weak and emaciated at the end of the fever. Fatal results were feared if the patient was given much nourishment. The most modern treatment, however, is that with extreme care and expert knowledge in the selection and administration of food, it is safe to provide enough nourishment to keep up the patient's weight and strengh. Scientific knowledge of foods, combined with understanding the bodily requirements, is essential.
The respiration calorimeter was invented to monitor the heat the typhoid  patient's body produced.


The respiration caloriemeter consists of a big box, in which a patient is placed for two or three hours, with a set of instruments that will record every vestige of heat produced inside the box. Arrangements are made to keep it at an even and comfortable temperature and to supply good ventilation. The record will show the heat production at the rate of a certain number a calories a day, weight and size making much difference between normal individuals.

Thankfully, the incidence of typhoid fever in the United States has markedly decreased since the early 1900s and is no longer treated using the respiration caloriemeter!

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