JFK's Medical Saga

Hosted byIan Punnett

JFK's Medical Saga

About the show

Over his forty-three years, John F. Kennedy was continually plagued with a wide array of health issues. Pain management expert Dr. Forest Tennant joined host Ian Punnett (Twitter) to discuss JFK's odd medical saga, including the rare genetic disease called autoimmune polyglandular syndrome that led to adhesive arachnoiditis and terrible back pain. "Exactly why [JFK] ever survived infancy and childhood is a miracle," Tennant said, noting "his charm, his personality, his vigor to live and to provide excellent leadership probably came from his experiences overcoming death one time after another."

The Kennedy family's wealth and influence allowed JFK to have the best doctors in the country and gain access to the finest clinics, Tennant continued. "If he'd been born into a normal family... I don't think he would have made it," he suggested. Tennant estimated JFK's hospitalizations are almost uncountable as he would have been admitted in those days even for diagnostic tests. JFK suffered from typical diseases of the day in infancy and childhood, including Measles and Mumps, but he was also plagued by infections, Whooping Cough, and Scarlet Fever, he explained. Tennant expressed shock at how JFK's doctors were able to successfully treat his Scarlet Fever given there were no antibiotics in those days and thousands of children in better health than JFK succumbed to the disease.

According to Tennant, autoimmunity may have led to JFK's deteriorating health, and may be the greatest threat to public health now in the years after Covid. What is being called Long Covid is a post-viral autoimmunity with destructive elements in the body eating away at healthy tissues, he disclosed. For JFK, this autoimmunity led to the destruction of his adrenal glands, then thyroid, and testicles later in life. At 30 years old, JFK was officially diagnosed with Addison's disease, Tennant reported, noting his early doctors should be given credit for treating his symptoms by instinct with very little in the way of diagnostic tools. They were astute clinicians, he asserted.

Update on The Cowsills

First-hour guests, Bob, Paul, & Susie of The Cowsills, shared an update on gearing up for a 62-city Happy Together Summer Tour and their new LP release of Rhythm of the World (Get the CD or Digital MP3). The Happy Together tour starts May 31 in Clearwater, Florida, and runs until September 3. It's six nights on, one night off, and we essentially live on a bus, Bob revealed, noting the 62-date tour is a record for the band. The group talked about their single, "Hawks On The Line," from their latest album, Rhythm Of The World. The new album will have a vinyl release on April 22 for Record Store Day. "There's only two days a year they put albums out to produce the volume wanted," Bob said, adding you have to be chosen to get vinyl into stores that day.

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