I've been reading about JFK's health, and it was bad; he was really in trouble. It started with a very sickly childhood. He had frequent infections, including scarlet fever (which takes months to recover from and often results in permanent heart valve problems) diptheria, whooping cough, measles, and more. Also as a youth, he was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, and that's what got him started taking steroids. He also developed duodenal ulcers. His color was bad; he had episodes of jaundice; and his mother described him as looking "elfin."
By the time he got to Harvard, he was six feet tall but only weighed in the 140's. He tried to stuff himself with ice cream and other fattening foods to force weight on, but it didn't work.
The steroids for colitis are believed to have triggered his back problems. They weaken the bones and cause osteoporosis, which he also had. They are also thought to have caused his Addison's disease, although some are now saying that he had primary, auto-immune Addison's disease. He could have had both.
He was diagnosed with hypothyroidism in 1955 and started taking hormone replacement for that.
He had chronic migraine headaches, and he believed that having sex relieved them.
His stomach problems led to atrophic gastritis which led to pernicious anemia. He eventually was given Vitamin B12 shots for that, but B12 wasn't discovered until 1951. At times, his blood count got dangerously low, and he was given transfusions. He suffered a severe transfusion reaction once and almost died.
One of his doctors in the 1950s was a woman, Dr. Janet Travell. She went on to develop a form of body work called Myofascial Trigger Point Therapy, which I recall became popular with chiropractors. She was aghast at all the drugs JFK was taking.
Besides his physical traumas from the war, JFK developed malaria in the Pacific and had to take strong drugs for it.
After college, and for most of his adult life, he was about 155 to 160 pounds, but by the time of his inauguration, he was heavier than he had ever been. He may have topped 180. But, some of it was apparently water weight. He developed a moon face, and he was aware of it, and he didn't like it. I had never thought about it, but I started looking for it in his images. This is probably an example of it. Notice how the lower part of his face looks round and puffy.
Taking testosterone may have helped him gain weight. But, during his White House years, he obsessed about weighing too much, and he traveled with a bathroom scale so that he could check it.
He also had chronic urinary problems which were believed to be related to some kind of STD. He also had chronic prostate problems.
During the 1960 campaign, his doctors lied for him, denying that he had Addison's disease. They cleverly claimed in a statement that he didn't have Addison's disease induced by tuberculosis. It didn't mean he didn't have Addison's disease at all. The truth was that he had already almost died from Addison's disease. It was diagnosed when he was England, and he almost died on the boat ride back to America. He got close enough to dying that the last rites were administered. He received the last rites three times before November 22, 1963. So, all together it was four times. He was hospitalized more than 3 dozen times in his life.
Now, for the drugs: He took two forms of cortisone. He took several anti-diarrhea medicines, one of which contained opium. He took phenobarbital to relax his nerves because sometimes he would get the shakes. It was widely prescribed before benzodiazepines came along. Today, it's considered a harsh drug for humans for which there are better alternatives, but it is still used quite a bit in veterinary medicine to control seizures in animals.
He was a very poor sleeper, and he became totally dependent on drugs to sleep: barbituates. Those are harsh, but that's what they gave in those days. They leave you feeling doped up, so he also started taking amphetamines in the morning in order to wake up. So, just think: he was in the same predicament as Marilyn Monroe. She, of course, officially committed suicide, although undoubtedly, she was murdered. However, if she hadn't been murdered, I wonder how much longer could she have lived because she was a mess too: physically and mentally.
Another celebrity who lived like that- oscillating between taking barbituates at night to sleep and amphetamines by day to function was Judy Garland. And she too was an absolute physical and mental wreck. She died of a barbituate overdose at age 47, but she probably would have died soon anyway because she had severe cirrhosis of the liver, among other problems.
What would have happened to Kennedy if he wasn't assassinated? They say he was a shoo-in to win the next election. But, could he have lasted 5 more years? And if he did last, what state would he have been in?
Woodrow Wilson suffered a massive stroke in 1919, and many say that it was his wife Edith who ran the country for the rest of his second term. But, I doubt that Jackie would have been up to that.
But, I have to think that his enemies must have thought that Kennedy was going to win handily because if they thought they could beat him at the polls in '64, wouldn't that have been preferable to killing him? It was only a year away. But, we don't have to wonder about it because if LBJ could thoroughly trounce Goldwater as he did, how easily would Kennedy have beaten him?
Here's an interesting piece by ABC News: 14 surprising facts about JFK. But, the most surprising one of all is about ABC News: they actually admitted- glibly- that two other plots to kill Kennedy occurred in the weeks before Dallas, one in Chicago and one in Tampa. What? Are we supposed to believe that they were unrelated to the Dallas plot? But, the Dallas plot was supposedly the work of just one man, Lee Harvey Oswald. So, by coincidence, there were, supposedly, two other unrelated plots to kill Kennedy around the same time? Really? Because it seems pretty unlikely. They just glibly stated it without providing any details.