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There Once was a Man Who was a Dwarf and Later a Giant

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for more on Adam Rainer

The man was Adam Rainer born in Graz, Austria sometime in 1899 (the exact
date isn’t known). Rainer’s parents were neither tall nor short for the
time, with his father measuring in at 5 feet 8 inches (1.72 m) and his
mother at 5 feet 5 inches (1.65 m). He even had a brother who matched
his father’s height at 5 feet 8 inches. This wasn’t the case for Adam.

Thanks to the fact that Adam attempted to join the army when he was 18
to participate in WWI, we know that at that age Rainer had reached a height
of just 4 feet 6.3 inches (1.38 m), and then at 19 he measured in at 4
feet 8.3 inches (1.43 m) when he tried to join up again. Both times he
was considered too short and also too weak to be able to join the military.
For reference, the cutoff for someone being classified as a dwarf is usually
considered to be an adult height of less than 4 feet 10 inches (1.47 m).

While he was short, according to the medical report, he actually had
exceptionally large feet for his height, with his shoes measuring in at
a European size of 43 at the age of 18, which is about a size 10 in U.S.
sizes. According to Rainier by the time he hit 21, while still barely
classified as a dwarf in height, his shoe size had gone up to a European
size 53, which would be about a size 20 in the U.S. (for reference, Shaquille
O’Neal wears a size 22-23).

Although his feet were continuing to grow at a remarkable pace, Rainer
himself was staying at more or less the same height. That’s when something
even more bizarre than his clown-feet happened. For a reason unknown at
the time, Adam started growing again… rapidly.

What must have initially seemed a blessing to the short Rainer, soon
turned into a curse. From his 21st birthday to his 32nd, Rainer grew from
just under 4 feet 10 inches tall to 7 feet 2 inches tall (1.47 m to 2.18
m). It should also be noted that his height would have been greater than
this, except by his 26th birthday he started developing a severe spinal
curve, which continued to progress as he grew. This, and later difficulty
in eating, had the negative side effect of leaving Rainer bed ridden for
the majority of the latter half of his life.

If that wasn’t bad enough, he also went blind in his right eye and his
vision diminished in his left. His hearing also started to go and he became
deaf in his left ear.

So what caused this extreme shift in height? After a medical exam done
by Doctors F. Windholz and A. Mandl, they discovered a tumor on his pituitary
gland, which not only explained his rapid growth but his partial blindness
as well. As far as the growth is concerned, this tumor resulted in a condition
known as acromegaly, where the pituitary gland produces excessive
amounts of growth hormone during adulthood. His vision loss was due to
the compression of his optic chiasm, which is where the right and left
eye nerves cross near the pituitary gland.

To try to fix the problem, in 1930 doctors removed the tumor, but he
still continued to grow, albeit at a much slower rate that seemed even
slower than it was because of his spinal curvature continuing to increase.
For instance, from December 1930 to May of 1931, his standing height stayed
the same, but his spinal curvature increased.

Over the next and final 19 years of his life, Rainer’s spinal curve would
continue to increase and he’d grow another 6 inches, dying at the age
of 51 in 1950 at a height of about 7 feet 8 inches (2.34 m), making him
the only known person to spend time officially classified as a dwarf and
then as a giant.

Bonus Fact: The word "giant" ultimately derives
from the name of a Greek mythological race of giants defeated by the gods,
with the help of Heracles, when the giants tried to free the Titans. This
race were called "gigas" and were the children of Gaia and Uranus.
They were produced when Kronus castrated Uranus, with Uranus’ blood fertilizing
Gaia. Once the giants were defeated, they were buried deep underground
to imprison them. According to Greek mythology, earthquakes and volcanic
eruptions are caused by the race of giants struggling to free themselves
from the depths of the Earth. The Greek word "gigas" evolved
into the English word "giant" via Latin and then the Old French
"geant", which by 1350 had been adopted into English as "giant".
It was first used to describe a person who is exceptionally tall in 1559
and before that simply as an adjective to describe some attribute that
a person had that was exceptional.

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October 29th, 2012

Stranger to the World


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