Wednesday, November 13, 2013

To be or not to be HEALTHY!

Last night I watched the PBS American Experience special, JFK. Of course, John Kennedy is immortalized, or rather frozen in time, as one of the great presidents of the 20th Century. The times were much different than today, when all, and I mean ALL, is revealed by social media.

There was great mention made in the TV special, that Kennedy was never truly a healthy individual, beginning from childhood. He was considered rather puny, suffered infections, bouts of sickness. And then, he was diagnosed with Addison's Disease, an endocrine disorder. The medication he was given had terrible side effects including destroying his bones, which led to his chronic back problems as a adult. In fact, when he met with Nikita Khrushchev at the famous Vienna Summit, Kennedy was shot up with amphetamines and various pain killers in order to make the appointment! No one knew too much about this side of his life. These things were kept mostly hidden, and he, when he ran for office, made the great effort to appear young, strong and vigorous. I wonder if he would have gotten elected at all if these problems were truly made known at the time.

It got me to thinking about our first president, George Washington, and what I may find out about his health. Granted, more people suffered various diseases and illnesses more commonly as there were no real medications to work with. It was just a fact of life that people lived with maladies. But, I did find an interesting chart that shows Washington's age and corresponding illness and year. He is shown to have recurring bouts with malaria, tuberculosis and dysentery. We all know he suffered from rotting teeth, eventually having to use dentures. As they say, bad teeth can be a sign of bad health.
Age Year Disease
--- ---- -------
 ?? ???? diphtheria 18
 17 1749 malaria
 19 1751 smallpox
 19 1751 tuberculosis
 30 1752 malaria
 33 1755 dysentery (+)
 35 1757 dysentery (*)
 35 1757 tuberculosis (*)
 39 1761 malaria (**)
 39 1761 dysentery (**)
   Age Year Disease
--- ---- -------
 47 1779 quinsy
 52 1784 malaria
 57 1789 carbuncle
 58 1790 pneumonia
 59 1791 carbuncle
 66 1798 malaria
 67 1799 epiglottitis[?]
+ = multiple episodes
* = simultaneous illnesses
* * = simultaneous illnesses

It was lucky for us that Washington's health was comparatively good during the Revolutionary War (1776-1783)!    


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