Medical Miracle in Panama III

Lead: Sanitation made possible the construction of the Panama Canal.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In the years following the Spanish American War, Army Surgeon Dr. Walter Reed had transformed the city of Havana, Cuba, virtually eliminating the tropical diseases of malaria and yellow fever. He did so by rejecting the common medical wisdom of the time that such illnesses were caused by bad air or swamp gas. Reed went after the mosquito which, some scientists at the time believed, transmitted the diseases when it fed upon a victim. Reed cleaned up the city. Malaria and yellow fever were almost completely eradicated.

Medical Miracle in Panama II

Lead: Before they could build the Panama Canal, American engineers had to eradicate malaria and yellow fever.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Attempting to duplicate their triumph in the construction of the Suez Canal, French engineers were defeated in great measure by two deadly diseases. Malaria and yellow fever had for time immemorial been the curse of the tropics. Thousands died before the French gave up the quest in the 1880s.

Medical Miracle in Panama I

Lead: Before breaching the Panamanian land bridge, the builders of the Isthmus Canal knew they first had to deal with disease.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: After his brilliant construction of the Suez Canal, Ferdinand de Lesseps set out in the 1870s to duplicate his achievement by crafting a shipping canal across the Isthmus of Panama. He failed. De Lesseps underestimated the enormity of the task, his technology was much too primitive, and the French design for a sea-level canal was fatally flawed, but much of the failure can be attributed to a deadly pair of diseases. Malaria and yellow fever took thousands of lives and put many more in bed for weeks of convalescence and depression. Engineers freshly graduated from the École Polytechnique in Paris would arrive in Colon filled with enthusiastic anticipation and die within a week. Thousands of manual laborers recruited from Caribbean islands fell victim in this grim harvest of death.

Miracle of Anesthesia II

Lead: Until 1846 the work of the medical surgeon was a gruesome, often brutal exercise in torture, but for seventy years the solution had been just a giggle away.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: With the invention of the ligature - the stitch - by a French military surgeon in the sixteenth century, the practice of surgery began to take on a certain scientific respectability. No longer was the stump of an amputee dipped in boiling tar to seal the blood vessels nor were wounds cauterized with hot irons. They were sewn up. With the ability to close a wound as well as open it, a surgical operation might actually save someone's life on occasion. However, the strongest block to successful surgery was the pain it inflicted on the patient, or better said, the victim. Yet, after 1772, the solution, even though unrecognized for years, had at last become available.

Miracle of Anesthesia I

Lead: The practice of surgery was a brutal affair and lagged behind other sciences because people could not stand the pain.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: The scientific revolution kicked into high gear during the years between 1500 and 1800. Galileo popularized the work of Copernicus the Polish scholar who insisted that the sun rather than the earth lay at the center of the solar system. William Harvey described the circulation of blood and Sir Isaac Newton, one of history’s greatest thinkers, gave the universe a philosophical order and contributed to the development of calculus and higher mathematics. Botany, biology, and chemistry also enjoyed a time of advancement and new fields related to medicine, including bacteriology and nutritional science, emerged from this period of intellectual ferment. However, the practice of surgery lagged far behind its companion sciences. There could be little regular exploration or cure of diseased living human flesh until there was invented an effective pain killer. Most people would rather bear the illness or die than endure the torment associated with a surgical cure.

The Doctors Mayo

Lead: On December 12, 1879 the Rochester, Minnesota "Record and Union" announced that the first telephone line in town had been set up between Dr. Mayo's farm and his office above Geisinger and Newton's Drug Store. Another innovation by the founder of the most famous medical family in United States history.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: William Worrall Mayo was born in 1819 at the beginning of a decade of great political and social discontent in Manchester, England. While serving as a medical apprentice in Glasgow he met a young post-graduate physician from Philadelphia who re-enforced in Mayo the desire to seek a future in the United States rich, and distant with room to spare for an ambitious young man.

Patrick Henry’s Personal Trauma

Lead: At the time Patrick Henry gave his famous speech at St. John's Church in Richmond in March 1775, few people knew of the personal tragedy through which his family was going.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

At the moment the patriot leader was calling for arming the Virginia militia, his wife was at home suffering a severe mental illness.

The son of Henry's physician later wrote that while Henry was arousing a nation to arms, "his soul was bowed down and bleeding under the heaviest sorrows and personal distress." Mrs. Henry's dementia was so acute that she had to be restrained in a basement room and placed in a strait dress to prevent her from taking her own life. Each day, Henry opened the trap-door in the hall near the entrance to the house and went down to feed her himself.  

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Abuse of ADHD Drugs II

Lead: The increase in the diagnosis of children with A.D.H.D. has led to an increase in the abuse of the drugs used to treat the disorder.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: During the first two decades of the twenty-first century, children and young adults have presented Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (A.D.H.D.) in increasing numbers. The abusive use of those drugs used to treat A.D.H.D has seen a parallel increase during this period. Adderall, Adderall XR, Ritalin, and Vyvance are the primary medications in combatting the disorder as well as being the drugs of choice in enhancing recreational pleasure, academic and athletic performance. In the 2012 Stolz study almost 5% of eighth graders, 8.5% of tenth graders, and at least 10% of twelfth graders have used Adderall with or without a prescription. An estimated 25% of college students admit to an illicit use of the drug to help them focus on their academic work, particularly as they face end of semester deadlines. Often in the past students accessed University health clinics which were easier to engage than an outside psychiatrist, but as abuse has grown, Universities have become much more restrictive, making students undergo a lengthy process prior to prescription and including contracts promising not to sell or share their pills with friends.