Will this thread get legs? Maybe not.
It's the birthday of the 35th president of the United States, John F. Kennedy (books by this author), born in Brookline, Massachusetts (1917). In 1960, he was the youngest person ever elected president of the United States, and many people saw him as a symbol of freshness and youth. Part of his personal story was that during World War II, he was serving on a ship that got torpedoed, and he saved several of his crewmen from drowning. He towed one man in the water for three miles to safety.
But something that almost no one knew about John F. Kennedy was that he had suffered from numerous medical problems for most of his life. He had Addison's disease, which required frequent injections of cortisone. He also suffered from mysterious digestive problems and terrible back pains. He had to wear a corset-like back brace at all times.
Kennedy was in terrible pain and didn't complain about his back or his stomach problems while he campaigned for a House seat in 1946. In 1952, he ran for the U.S. Senate, and he was one of the few Democrats to win a race in a year when Eisenhower swept a lot of Republicans into office. But soon after the race, X-rays showed that parts of his spine had collapsed. He couldn't tie his own shoes or walk without crutches. He finally decided to try a risky operation to fuse his vertebrae. He fell into a coma during the procedure and was given last rites. He recovered, but had to spend six months in bed.
The surgery made it possible for Kennedy to walk, but he could not bend his back forward or backward at all, and could barely turn himself over in bed or sit in a low chair. The media reported that he had recovered completely. During the election of 1960, Nixon operatives apparently tried to break into Kennedy's doctor's office to steal his medical records, but the records were stored under a code name, so they were never found. No one but his closest family members and his doctors knew of his true condition.