September 03, 2008

From Dale Allen Wood:

Re: Washington’s doctors absolved (Aug. 19): I think that your article “beat around the bush” and omitting a serious problem that people need to know about.

Washington had a serious throat infection that involved his trachea, too.

Back then, neither antibiotics nor sulfa drugs had been discovered, and they wouldn’t be for well over a century into the future! Why didn’t you say anything about this? Not one word was given.

There was no possible treatment for Washington’s throat infection back then, and it was going to kill him anyway, by suffocation, if nothing else.

They also didn’t have good trachea tubes back then, or anything else to keep him breathing.

Washington was also 67 years old, which was well-above the life expectancy back then.

Lots of wounded soldiers died during WW I simply because there weren’t any sulfa drugs or antibiotics back then.

In the next decade a son of the President of the United States died because he had been playing tennis on a court on the White House grounds, got a blister on his foot, and died from the infection that resulted.

In about 1928, my own grandmother’s 18-month-old first born child, her only daughter, died of an abdominal infection that I am convinced could have been treated and cured with antibiotics in about 1943. My grandmother was lucky that she gave birth to four more children, all sons, and they all lived to their late 50s or early 60s, and two of them, in their mid-70s, are still alive now.

Your failure to mention that the lack of any anti-bacterial drug back then caused Washington’s death by strangulation then.

It is interesting that I have also seen a painting of an ancient Egyptian doctor treating a patient with tetanus (lockjaw). He had inserted a tube (maybe wooden or bamboo) into the patients mouth, and he was feeding and watering the patient through this tube. That gave the patient a chance to fight off the tetanus himself in a matter of weeks. However, if the patient had had an infection that was closing his trachea, the doctor would have had no way to treat that. Back then, they didn’t have any kind of tough rubber or plastic that could have been made into a trachea tube.

Dale Allen Wood, M.S. & M.A.


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