In 1861, after a horrible fall down a flight of stairs, he's forced to face the repercussions of the injury that's now snowballed into a lifelong problem. In agony, riddled with anxiety and unable to walk, his family search for treatment, unfortunately with the main goal of placating him rather than helping him. With little understanding of chronic pain and the conditions that cause this, debilitating drugs are prescribed, much to the dismay of the family members under the impression this situation is no more than an over-dramatization and want to save face.
Albert Hughes is a versatile and much loved character, and while I use him much like a doll, putting him various worlds under various stressors, his original story, and origins lay within the Victorian era.
The condition Albert is suffering would not have a clear name until 1993, leaving him, his family and his doctors much in the dark as to what he was actually afflicted with.
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome is a tough condition to treat even now, but in this time period there would've been little answers in the way of diagnosis and a heavy emphasis on painkillers being the answer. Laudanum is a tincture of Opium, and was used by thousands to "relieve pain...to produce sleep... to support the system" The limited understanding of chronic pain and other conditions meant that opium derivatives were among the most effective of available treatments, so laudanum was widely prescribed for ailments from colds to meningitis to cardiac diseases, in both adults and children.
The views on disability during this time are also immensely important to this character and story. While charity was always available for the disabled, the discrimination and alienation was rife and intense, with many segregated and kept away from the rest of society, some locked up in institutions, workhouses and asylums and disabled relatives kept a secret by their families to save pride and face.
The lack of understanding and the solitude caused by attitudes was overwhelming- and it is no surprise that the Hughes family treat Albert's matter with either hostility or walking on glass, both trying to salvage the situation and sweep it under the rug at the same time. The fact Albert becomes anxious, nervous and irritable is not shocking, and surviving his adolescence will be a traumatising ordeal.