What Ailed Tiny Tim

A literary diagnosis offers a footnote to a classic holiday tale

FOR YEARS AUDIENCES HAVE CRIED AT THE SIGHT OF the undersized lad bearing a single crutch who rides atop his father's shoulder. But Charles Dickens never revealed just what is wrong with Tiny Tim Cratchit, whose life is in chronic peril each Christmas. American pediatric neurologist Donald Lewis apparently couldn't take it anymore. After examining the literature, literally, on Tim, Dr. Lewis has come up with a professional diagnosis: distal renal tubular acidosis. According to A Christmas Carol, Tiny Tim lives to enjoy Christmases Yet to Come, thanks to a reformed Scrooge and his trio of conscience-raising phantoms. Dr. Lewis' analysis...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!