A truly bizarre story unfolds in San Francisco, 57-year-old Lynne Spalding gets admitted into a local hospital in late September 2013 after suffering complications from an infection for which she was being checked every fifteen minutes. Chronic alcoholism.
Last checked at 10:15am on September 21 she mysteriously vanished. When hospital staff went to check on Spalding at 10:30 a.m. on Sept. 21, she was not in her room and could not be found. Flyers went up everywhere in search of this 5-foot-6, 105 pound brunette with a heavy UK accent.
Then, the mystery takes a twist. Spalding, who was missing for two weeks, is found dead in a stairwell at S.F. General, where she initially went missing. The Sheriff’,s Department spent nine full days conducting a full search of the hospital and there was no sign of Spalding. But, on October 8, a hospital engineer found Spalding dead.
So, what happened to Lynne Spalding and how did it happen? Alcoholism my friend, alcoholism. The San Francisco medical examiner said Spalding died several days before she was discovered due to an electrolyte imbalance likely brought on by complications due to chronic alcoholism and infection-related delirium.
Delirium Induced by Alcoholism
A diminished awareness of one’s surroundings is a classic way to describe delirium. Delirium falls into four basic categories: medical, chemical, surgical, or neurological. According to the results of Spalding’s autopsy, her death was related to her chronic alcoholism.
Alcohol is the most widely used and most well-known drug whose withdrawal symptoms may include delirium. However, infectious diseases can also cause delirium. Commonly diagnosed diseases such as urinary tract infections, pneumonia, or fever from a viral infection can induce delirium.
Alcohol withdrawal delirium typically appears in alcoholics with many years of heavy drinking and is caused by cessation or reduction in alcohol consumption. 10%-15% may develop delirium while in the hospital, even complicating Spalding’s situation even farther.