Former TB Patient On Time In Local Sanatorium: 'I Look Back On It Very Sweetly'

Mar 24, 2014

Alice Brannman was diagnosed with bone TB in 1947. She spent two years at Firland Sanatorium in Shoreline.
Alice Brannman was diagnosed with bone TB in 1947. She spent two years at Firland Sanatorium in Shoreline.
Credit Courtesy of TB Voices Project

Some people may think tuberculosis has been wiped out, but the disease still infects one third of the world’s population.

Closer to home, tuberculosis is on the rise in Washington state, after years of decline. There were 209 tuberculosis cases reported last year.  

These days the disease is treated with oral medication.

But there was time, not too long ago, when TB patients were quarantined in sanatoriums, sometimes for years.   

Alice Brannman, 84, was diagnosed with bone tuberculosis in 1947 at the age of 17. She was sent to Firland Sanatorium in Shoreline, Washington, where she spent two years in treatment.

Much of that time she was in a body cast from her knees to her chin so that her spine wouldn't move.

It was at the sanatorium that she met her husband, Clarence Brannman. They were married for over 60 years until his death four years ago.

In a small space of 84 years, it only occupied two years, but it was pivotal.

"When somebody would say, how did you meet your husband? It was the greatest adventure of our lives to say, 'Oh, we met in bed,'" Alice Brannman said with a chuckle.

She described her experience as one that matured her from being a 17-year-old boy-chaser.

"I look back on it very sweetly," she said. "But that of course is hindsight. In a small space of 84 years, it only occupied two years, but it was pivotal. It was pivotal."

March 24 is World TB Day. You can hear more stories like Alice Brannman's on TB Voices Project, a local website to promote better understanding of TB.