A Day of Celebration and Remembrance

mlk_day_2013_handson_logo_3Monday January 21, 2013.  A Day that will go down in history.

Millions of Americans will come together today in a national day of service, dialogue and observance to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. King had a dream that one day all people would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as called for in the Declaration of Independence. Dr. King called for social justice and opportunity. He asked that we bridge differences and come together in unity.  With the election over and in the aftermath of a year of significant weather events and senseless tragedies, today provides a unique opportunity to unite Americans in volunteer service. Let’s  do what we, as Americans, do best – lend a hand, help our neighbors and build better communities.

inauguration 2013Millions more, in America and beyond will watch as America swears in its 57th President.  But before the pomp and ceremony begins, the Obama family’s will kick off with the President asking Americans across the country to organize and participate in service projects in their communities to honor our shared values and celebrate the legacy of Dr. King. The Obama’s are driven by the basic values that make our country great and will remind us that hard work pays off and responsibility is rewarded, and when everyone—from Main Street to Wall Street—does their fair share and plays by the same rules.

monica-lewinskyBut while the Obama’s celebrate, a certain past president may want to forget all about Jan 21. For it was that day, in 1998  that news of the Lewinsky/Clinton affair was  published. Although President Clinton vigorously denied all allegations at the time, the history books will go on to tell a different story.

bobbitFour years earlier, history, of sorts, was also made when Lorena Bobbitt was found temporarily insane of chopping off her spouse, John Wayne Bobbitt‘s penis and tossing it into a field.  Incidentally, that particular field is less than one mile from my house and the surgeon who subsequently performed the reattachment is someone run into on a regular basis. Aside from that, the case gained worldwide notoriety for its shock value. But it also brought public attention to the subject of marital rapedomestic violence and the realization that men as well as women can be the victims of such violence.

Other notable January 21st events.

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  • In 1986, 100 brave souls participated in a Nude Olympics race in 38 degrees F in Indiana.
  • In 1978, the Bee Gees “Saturday Night Fever” album went to #1, where it stayed for 24 weeks
  • Boeing 747In 1970, the Boeing 747 made its first commercial flight
  • In 1949, the first inaugural parade was televised
  • In 1908, New York City made it illegal for a woman to smoke in public
  • In 1903, the Wizard of Oz premiered, also in new York City
  • In 1799, the smallpox vaccine was introduced, which is kind of ironic given that on Jan 21, 1677, the first ever medical publication in America was a pamphlet on smallpox

And finally, on this day in 2010, SRxA’s Word on Health was founded. In three short years our readership has grown from 7 views per day to close to 1,000; for which we thank you immensely.

Whatever, you are doing today, we wish you a happy and healthy one.

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Fit to be President?

President Barack Obama knows a thing or two about fitness. Photographers have snapped him playing golf in Hawaii on Christmas Eve, doing impromptu pull-ups before giving a speech in Montana, and even playing a game of pick-up basketball on Election Day. His love of these sports, coupled with his well-documented gym habits and disciplined diet, has led the media to herald Obama as the new face of presidential health.

But, as SRxA’s Word on Health has learned, not all American presidents have been such model specimens of health. Some of them, far from it.  In fact, disease, injury, and destructive habits have run rampant in the 43 commanders-in-chief.

To mark this President’s Day we decided take a look at some the least healthy presidents in American history.

James Monroe, the Fifth President (1817-1825) was shot with a bullet during the Battle of Trenton.  To save his life, a doctor stuck his index finger into the wound to stop Monroe from bleeding out. In 1785, Monroe contracted malaria while visiting a swampy area of the Mississippi River. Sporadic feverish flare-ups plagued him for years afterwards.

In August 1825, Monroe suffered a severe seizure. Though the cause was never pinpointed, it’s speculated that it was triggered by either mushroom poisoning, a stroke, or cerebral malaria.

In 1830, Monroe developed a chronic lung illness that crippled him for several months, leaving him with labored breathing, fever, night sweats, and a nagging cough that sometimes had him spitting up blood. Though never officially diagnosed his symptoms are strongly suggestive of tuberculosis.

Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President (1901-1909) was a frail and sickly child. In the hope of alleviating his asthma and other ailments Roosevelt was encouraged to do lots of physical activity. Boxing became one of his favorite hobbies. However, after being elected to the White House, he suffered a blow to his left eye resulting in a detached retina which left him blind on that side. Later he also lost the hearing in his left ear as a result of surgery necessitated by a middle ear infection

Roosevelt then contracted malaria and suffered an infected leg wound during an expedition into the Amazon rainforest. These injuries resulted in chest pains, high fever, and delirium. Though he didn’t die, he returned to America in a decrepit physical state, and was often unable to leave his bed for years afterwards.

Ronald Reagan, the 40th President (1981-1989) had many well documented health problems. Just like Roosevelt, these included hearing and sight issues. Reagan was so nearsighted that he was disqualified from serving during World War II. Later, when he got glasses, he was surprised to see that trees had leaves – something he’d never known before.

Reagan used a hearing aid in his right ear early in his presidency but later started wearing one in his left ear. It’s been speculated that his hearing was damaged during his early years as a Hollywood actor, when he was exposed to repeated loud gunshot during the filming of his Western movies.

Other health problems included multiple urinary tract infections, prostate stones, colon tumors and skin cancers.  Finally, though he was famous for having a near-photographic memory during his prime, Reagan’s memory deteriorated when he hit his 70s, and he would sometimes forget the names of key staffers and visiting dignitaries. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in 1994.

Woodrow Wilson, the 28th President (1913-1921) suffered from hypertension, headaches, double-vision and multiple strokes throughout adulthood. His third stroke, in 1906, left him blind in his left eye. Finally, in 1919, the president suffered a massive stroke that paralyzed his left side and forced him into a wheelchair. Wilson decided to keep his condition a secret from the public, so isolated himself in the White House, where for the last 3 years of his term his wife Edith made all presidential decisions for him.

, the 34th President (1953-1961) was a four-pack-a-day smoker. He also suffered from Crohn’s disease and gallstones, both of which required surgery. In 1955 Eisenhower suffered a heart attack so severe that his cardiologist advised the president not to run for a second term. Eisenhower ignored his advice, ran, and was reelected. His second term was marred by even more heart trouble: during a five-month span in 1968, he suffered four heart attacks and 14 cardiac arrests. These weakened him to the point where he could only be out of bed for 45 minutes a day, and he died the next year.

John F. Kennedy, 35th President (1961-1963) is remembered as a glamorous, tragic playboy, assassinated too young. What’s less well know is the litany of health problems he suffered throughout his life.

Kennedy’s childhood was riddled with health issues. At 2 years old, he contracted measles, whooping cough, chickenpox and then scarlet fever, which almost killed him. Later in his childhood, he frequently had upper respiratory infections and bronchitis, as well as allergies, frequent colds, asthma.

During his teens, Kennedy underwent an emergency appendectomy, had his tonsils removed, suffered a severe case of pneumonia, and two episodes of jaundice.

While studying at Harvard, Kennedy contracted urethritis, an inflammation of the urethra that results in painful urination. As he failed to seek immediate treatment, this became a chronic problem for many years.

After years of suffering back pains, Kennedy was diagnosed at age 30 with Addison’s disease, a rare endocrine disorder that generally results in fatigue, muscle weakness, nausea, and bronzing of the skin. Kennedy was so ill that he was given the last rites and physicians speculated that he would die within the year. However, steroid therapy and experimental medicinal implants of hormones, animal organ cells, vitamins, enzymes, pain killers and amphetamines and kept him alive. Then in 1966, he was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. The presence of two endocrine diseases raises the possibility that Kennedy had autoimmune polyendocrine syndrome type 2 (APS 2).

We wish all our readers a Happy and Healthy President’s Day.