When we’re introduced to Colum MacKenzie, it’s clear that he suffers from a disability. There are a lot of questions about his legs. What is the disease he has in Outlander?
There are plenty of questions about the world of Outlander. One of them is about the disease Colum MacKenzie suffers from. We immediately see what the disease has done to his legs, but it takes some time for Claire to figure out what it is.
The truth is that at the time, the disease doesn’t have a time. It’s not for another 100 years that the disease will end up with a name, and that’s because of its most famous sufferer. It was only in 1996 that the defective gene was found, so Claire wouldn’t have known this part in the series, which is why we don’t get to know the full details.
Colum MacKenzie’s disease in Outlander
The disease is called Toulouse-Lautrec Syndrome. It is also known as Pycnodysostosis.
In the books, it is blamed on Colum’s fall from his horse when he was a teenager. That’s when the symptoms start to appear, and it makes sense for people of the time to blame it on that fall.
However, it is a genetic condition. The degenerative disease causes the legs to become immobile, and the sufferer is in a great deal of pain. The condition causes the bones to become abnormally dense. They can also break a lot easier than most people’s bones
The pain is why Colum uses so much strong wine because it’s the only way he can dull it. However, he also uses massages. While Colum’s initial doctor massaged his spine, Claire went lower to around the buttocks as she’d read in her own time that it would help better—spoiler: it does!
The pain does get worse, though. Initially, Claire offers Colum opium for the pain but then realizes that he wants to end his life so offers cyanide. In the book, Dragonfly in Amber, he dies before he can take it. In the series, we see that Colum has used the cyanide to end his life on his own terms.