Pubdate: Mon, 08 Dec 2003
Source: Fort Pierce Tribune (FL)
Copyright: 2003 The E.W. Scripps Co.
Author: Nancy D. Bagley


Now it's my turn. I know where I was that day, Nov. 22, 1963. This letter 
is not about your politics or mine. Rather, I take exception to a phrase, " 
.. his physical pain, his addiction to painkillers," your comment on the 
dark side of President Kennedy.

Some time before President John Kennedy was assassinated in Texas, perhaps 
50 or 60 years ago, he was diagnosed with Addison's disease, which is sort 
of a silent, stealthy condition like high blood pressure and diabetes 
except for the pain. There are other serious symptoms, which unnerved me, 
in addition to the intractable pain. Addison's disease is life-threatening 
if not diagnosed and treated.

I know about Addison's disease, also known as adrenal insufficiency, as I 
was diagnosed 1 1/2 years ago. I suffered the worst kind of pain imaginable 
for two years, was treated by a pain management clinic and routine lab 
tests did not detect Addison's.

Several of my beloved doctors consulted and finally a STIM test indicated 
my adrenal insufficiency. Then I was prescribed the 2002 appropriate 
prescription medicine.

Previously, for two years while I suffered during the onset, I took 
painkillers for the first time in my life for the pain from my waist down. 
They barely helped me sleep or get relief. I howled.

I did not become addicted to painkillers.

A short time after my Addison's responded to the meds I am now taking, the 
intractable pain subsided.

Now, back to your editorial remark on Nov. 22. A half a century ago 
medicine and treatment of disease and illness was very different.

President Kennedy had war injuries and somewhere along in his young life he 
was diagnosed with adrenal insufficiency. He was treated by excellent 
private and government doctors with whatever medicine and painkillers were 
available for him at that time. He was not addicted to painkillers. He 
functioned and did his job very well.

Many people with Addison's disease, severe migraines, severe arthritis and 
cancer have to take pills for pain.

Please don't be so casual about glossing over physician approved painkiller 
use and an inference of painkiller abuse.

When my endocrinologist first told me my new diagnosis, I told him I knew 
President J.F.K. had Addison's disease. Personally, I think it is unwise of 
you to refer to President Kennedy's "dark sides" as you mention his health 
and meds intake.

He dealt with Addison's with his famous "vigor," good humor and Puritan 
work ethic, as history records.

So, dear editors, there are several thousand of us out here and we are 
paying attention.

Nancy D. Bagley, Fort Pierce
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