Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Kennedy's Back Problems

On the same issue of EHT's posts from yesterday are Kennedy's constant health issues, which were also hidden from the public. This is an interview with Dr. Jeffrey Kelman on Kennedy's health issues:
John Kennedy was sick from age 13 on. In 1930, when he was 13, he developed abdominal pain. By 1934 he was sent to the Mayo Clinic where they diagnosed colitis or it was called colitis. By 1940 his back started hurting him, by 1944 he had his first back operation, by 1947 he was officially diagnosed as having Addison's Disease.

And he was basically sick from then on through the rest of his life. He had two back operations, in '54 and '55, which failed. And he needed chronic pain medication from '55 through his White House years, until he died in Dallas. He was never healthy. I mean, the image you get of vigor and progressive health wasn't true. He was playing through pain most of the presidency.

By the time he was president, he was on ten, 12 medications a day. He was on antispasmodics for his bowel, paregoric, lamodal transatine [ph], he was on muscle relaxants, Phenobarbital, Librium, Meprobomate, he was on pain medications, Codeine, Demerol, Methadone, he was on oral cortisone; he was on injected cortisone, he was on testosterone, he was on Nembutal for sleep. And on top of that he was getting injected sometimes six times a day, six places on his back, by the White House physician, with Novocain, Procaine, just to enable him to face the day.

This ends with the interviewer (Ray Suarez) asking Dr. Kelman about why the record were released:
One of the reasons it's said that the records were released to you and Bob Dallek was that there was some feeling that this would demonstrate what a heroic thing this was, not that he had deceived the public by giving a false impression of health, but that it was just pretty hard to be John F. Kennedy day after day. After looking at everything that you looked at, which impression did you come away with?

Dr. Kelman responded:
That was my impression. It's funny, I mean, the lesson that I got out of it was that this guy had a real disability, I mean, he was living with a disability which probably would get him federal disability or retirement if he was around today, and it was known. He was on enough pain medications to disable him. And he survived through it. He came out of it, and he performed at the highest level.

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