|"From attendance on persons in high political positions, spare us, O Lord."|
|-- Medical News, 20 years after the death of James Garfield 1a|
After the 1980 election Nancy Reagan's father, Dr. Loyal Davis, was in charge of finding the White House physician:He asked me to take the job, and I said "Well, what you want is a bright young internist, somebody who wants to make a name for himself." He hit the ceiling and said, "That's exactly what we don't want."
-- Daniel Ruge, MD2a
Before antibiotics became available in the 1940s, people lived in fear of infection. Infections could (and often did) kill a completely healthy person in a few days.
Taking a temperature is today a familiar step to determine whether an infection might be present. But in ancient times thermometers were not available. Instead, people checked for a fast pulse rate.
Near the end of his reign (first century A.D.), the Roman emperor Tiberius was old and ill. To conceal his illness he continued his daily routine, which included various banquets. Upon leaving the dining table at one banquet, a physician named Charicles kissed the emperor's hand in farewell. Tiberius suspected a covert attempt to feel his pulse.
To give evidence of his health, Tiberius bade the physician to sit down again. He continued the banquet "until very late" and at the end of the evening stood in the middle of the banquet hall (with a bodyguard) giving a personal goodnight to each departing guest. 3a
Trotter was asked to consult after the King's pneumonia developed into the rare but potentially lethal complication of empyema. Other physicians had treated the empyema with various less aggressive -- and less proper -- treatments, but Trotter rightfully realized that biology is no respector of rank.
Nardell tells the story with verve and energy. 4a