The Best Kept Dental Surgery Secret Ever

This post was based on a secretive episode of U.S. history unreported in history books.

Oral cancer has always been devastating, even before it was known as oral cancer.

One reason it’s so pernicious is that the early stages of the disease are painless and often symptom-free. The sobering reality is that only half of people diagnosed with oral cancer live longer than five years.

In the late 19th century newspapers called cancer the “dread disease.” At the time there were no oncology centers, no walk-a-thons to raise money for a cure and no professional athletes who wore pink gear during games to raise public awareness.

On the contrary, people at that time avoided talking about it, including doctors. That is why one doctor examining his VIP patient in 1893 referred to it as “a bad-looking tenant” and recommended removing it immediately.

Public perception had also been shaped just 10 years earlier when several New York newspapers provided a highly publicized and morbid death watch of Civil War hero and former President Ulysses S. Grant as he lost his battle with the dread disease oral cancer.

 

Grover Cleveland’s Secret Emergency Surgery

Understandably the important patient was panicked at the diagnosis, but neither he nor the country could afford to panic in June, 1893. Unemployment was skyrocketing, stocks were in a freefall and even the famous Reading Railroad wasn’t worth $500 of Monopoly® money after filing bankruptcy earlier that year.

Historians say it was the worst economic catastrophe preceding the Great Depression in American history.

It was because of all that economic fear and uncertainty that six medical professionals were covertly recruited and sworn to secrecy before boarding the private yacht Oneida anchored in New York Harbor. Included in the group of six were physicians, surgeons, an anesthesiologist and a dentist. Reportedly some in the group were even unaware of the patient’s identity until Oneida had set sail for the patient’s summer home in Massachusetts.

Shortly after noon the following day the patient took his seat in a large chair bound to the yacht’s mast in the parlor. Weighing a NFL-like 300 pounds before that league even existed, the patient’s girth required the extra support and the chair was serving as an operating table for the procedure about to commence.

Oxygen, nitrous oxide, ether, digitalis, morphine and strychnine (in case of shock) were on hand. Two storage batteries would provide lighting and power the cauterization instruments. None of the ship’s crew was present in the operating area other than the ship’s steward.

The patient’s doctors were concerned about stroke, and there was a 15% chance in those days that the procedure they were about to perform could result in death.

During the 90-minute operation the doctors removed the tumor, five teeth beginning with the first bicuspid to just beyond the last molar, and much of the patient’s upper left palate and jawbone. Remarkably, the entire operation took place within the patient’s mouth, including extraction of the tumor.

“The large cavity was packed with gauze to arrest the subsequent moderate oozing of blood,”  wrote W.W. Kean, one of the attending physicians, years later. “With the packing in the cavity his speech was labored but intelligible, without the packing it was wholly unintelligible, resembling the worst imaginable case of cleft palate. Had this not been so admirably remedied by Doctor (Kasson C.) Gibson, secrecy later would have been out of the question.”

Keen later credited the ability of the team to do the procedure without external incision to a cheek retractor he’d brought back from Paris in 1866. This was important so as not to reveal the secrecy that all involved had sworn to keep.

Two days after the operation the patient was out of bed and two days after that he was dropped off at his summer home on Cape Cod. Two weeks later in mid-July the VIP was fitted with an artificial jaw of vulcanized rubber to prevent the cheek from collapsing and support it in its natural position.

The customized plate fit comfortably enough that when the VIP spoke publicly afterwards no one noticed any change to his speaking voice. The public was merely told that he had had some dental work done for a toothache while vacationing but had recovered nicely.

In 1975 the famous patient’s tissue that had been removed in secret was reexamined and determined to be a type of carcinoma that is usually cured by surgical excision. In short, the attending doctors had made the right diagnosis and successfully performed the recommended procedure – all on a moving boat and in considerably less time than similar procedures today.

This gentleman went on to serve a successful second term as president of the United States, and remains the only President to have served two non-consecutive terms: 1885-1889, and 1893-1897.

President Grover Cleveland lived another 16 years before passing away from heart failure at the age of 71 in 1908. News of the President’s secret surgery in 1893 was not publicly acknowledged until 24 years later, in 1917.

We have no need for such secrets here!  All of our dental plans are transparent and affordable!

The original version of this post was published at Dental Insurance Store July 15, 2014.

Sources: healthmedialab.com, neatorama,com, pbs.org, doctorzebra.com, oralcancerfoundation.org
Photo source: neatorama.com

 

Thanks for reading Dean Riffs. For those who love American liberty, free enterprise, and who believe God has blessed our country, welcome. For those who believe in open borders, safe spaces, and who tolerate everything but free speech and conservative ideals, move on – there’s nothing here for you to see. 

This original version of this post was published at Dental Insurance Store on July 15, 2014

 

Copyright 2017, Dean A. George©

She “Bearly” Contained Her Excitement

Once upon a time there was a young woman named Goldie Lockes. A native of California, she had graduated from a local high school where she had perfect tooth brushing attendance four consecutive years. Goldie also gained some local notoriety after getting 5,000 signatures on a petition suggesting a granola …

They Live and We Live Because He Lives!

Losing friends and family to death is heartbreaking; losing a parent or spouse is devastating.

As Christians we enjoy the promise that if the deceased was a believer, we will at some point in the future see them again face to face. It’s that promise that comforts us in our grief, acts as a spiritual salve for our suffering and gives us endearing hope that however bleak our loss may seem, we can anticipate joyfully reuniting one day with lost loved ones.

Our family lost its patriarch Easter week last year, and despite the knowledge that his warrior’s heart was growing fainter, we clung to the emotional life buoy that he would thwart death’s advance one more time. We believed it because he believed it.

The day before he passed, our 83-year-old Dad told my sister he honestly thought he wasn’t going to die, that he just had to rest awhile, regain some weight that he’d lost and he’d be back to work soon running his concrete finishing business.

Dad loved to work, and everyone that knew him respected him for his work ethic. Sadly, there was no working around two heart attacks that night. With the aid of a ventilator his heart was still working the next morning, but he had no pulse.

His instructions had been clear in such an event: he wanted nothing to do with life support or hospice, no postponing the inevitable if his once tireless body had finally worn out.

Dad was at peace with dying because he knew what millions of other faithful servants before him had known: because our Lord beat sin and death through His selfless act of love on the cross at Calvary, there was no reason to fear death. Nor was there any reason to dread it or run from it.

Somehow it seemed appropriate that the funeral services celebrating Dad’s life were held at 11 a.m. on Good Friday. It was at that hour over 2,000 years ago that Jesus hung in agony from a wooden cross on behalf of an unbelieving and undeserving humanity. A few hours later the blameless one who had been mocked as King of the Jews was carefully removed from that cruel Roman cross, wrapped in donated linens and mournfully placed in a borrowed grave.

After Jesus fulfilled his Father’s plan to offer humanity a spiritual life buoy by reconciling us to Him through the forgiveness of our sins, what happened next demonstrates why our Dad didn’t fear dying. On that third day following his scourging and crucifixion, Christ’s rising from the dead is why none of us have to fear dying – today, tomorrow or ever.

Easter is a joyful reminder that though we shed involuntary tears when losing loved ones, the seemingly insurmountable abyss separating us from them is temporary. The promise of seeing them again isn’t a fairy tale or a mental illusion meant to give us temporary solace in our grief.

God’s love for us is greater than anything in this world. Mercifully, even the inevitable sting of death isn’t permanent to anyone who trusts in the risen Christ.

Thanks for reading Dean Riffs. For those who love American liberty, free enterprise, and who believe God has blessed our country, welcome. For those who believe in open borders, safe spaces, and who tolerate everything but free speech and conservative ideals, move on – there’s nothing here for you to see. 

The post was written Easter weekend, 2016 while returning from Dad’s funeral in Florida

Copyright 2017, Dean A. George©

Hillary’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Election

I’m bummed because I didn’t earn a mention in Hillary Clinton’s fantastical autobiography “What Happened.” For those who aren’t following Hillary’s pathetic 2017 Exculpatory & Exoneration Tour, “What Happened” is her unplugged biography of how she lost the 2016 presidential election. In this over-the-top whine fest she listed no fewer …

The Dental Plan Price is Right

(Announcer) “Here it comes from the Samuel Smiley television studio in Los Amalgam, California – it’s the Dental Plan Price is Right!” “Freddie Fluoride, come on down!” “Candace Crown, come on down!” “Maxine Mandibular, come on down!” “Peter Pontic, come on down!” (Announcer) “You are the first four contestants on …

Diversity Supporters Need More Diversity

Diversity. How liberals love it. To liberal minds diversity is the greatest thing since sliced non-white bread. If Dr. Seuss were alive he might write that liberal perversity demands civil diversity. To liberals diversity and its twin inclusivity are the hallmarks of American goodness. They love all kinds of diversity: …

The Dentist, the Doctor and the Denture

As a devoted non-devotee of graphic autopsies, facial reconstructions and DNA swabs,  I proudly count myself as one of seven people in America that has never watched an episode of CSI.  If it’s still on the air in one of its many spin offs (CSI Mayberry? CSI Beverly Hills? CSI Nineveh?), I also have no intention of doing so.

It’s not that I thought the show was lame, but I get nauseous just spelling “formaldehyde.” In high school biology class I recall breaking out in a cold sweat dissecting Peeves the frog.

But enough about my pet Peeves. In my day job I once blogged about a medical doctor who was serving as a military volunteer. Though he was commissioned second in command of his unit, he insisted on fighting side by side with the infantrymen. Tragically, he was killed by an enemy solder while surrendering before being laid in a common grave by the enemy.

His remains were only identified  when his dentist confirmed the deceased doctor’s denture was the same one he had placed the year before.

Riddle: guess the time period described above? Was it:

a) Before World War I
b) Before the Civil War
c) Before Dolly Madison baked her famous Zingers at President Madison’s second inauguration
d) Before Harry Met Sally

If you correctly guessed none of the above, you are smarter than the 64% of Americans who can’t name the three branches of the federal government – which isn’t saying much since even Peeves could croak out one of the three.

But I digress. The deceased was Dr. Joseph Warren, otherwise known as The Hero of Bunker Hill. The doctor was posthumously hailed a hero and after a positive identification his body was brought to Boston with full honors.

The dentist that identified Warren was…well, more on that shortly.

The Rest of the Story

Dr. Warren’s dentist was a multi-tasker before multi-tasking was invented. After his father died when he was just 19, Warren’s friend took over his father’s goldsmith business and also expanded into silversmithing and copper engraving to support his mother and siblings. Three years later he had his own family to care for, eventually fathering eight children.

From 1768 to 1775 he took up dentistry to help provide for his expanded family. In addition to cleaning teeth he also crafted dentures carved from walrus ivory or animal teeth. When his first wife died unexpectedly in 1773, he remarried and fathered eight more children. Talk about multi-tasking!

Once the Revolutionary War began the part-time dentist and around-the-clock patriot manufactured gun powder and cannon for General George Washington’s Army, printed America’s first currency and oversaw the protection of Boston Harbor.

After the War he opened the country’s first copper-rolling mill, ran a hardware store and later a foundry.  He worked until the age of 76 in 1811 and enjoyed a few years of much deserved retirement before his death in 1818.

All those accomplishments notwithstanding, this multitalented colonialist and part-time dentist is best known for a midnight horse ride throughout the Massachusetts countryside immortalized by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:

“Listen my children and you shall hear, of the midnight ride of Paul Revere…”

Thanks for reading Dean Riffs. For those who love American liberty, free enterprise, and who believe God has blessed our country, welcome. For those who believe in open borders, safe spaces, and who tolerate everything but free speech and conservative ideals, move on – there’s nothing here for you to see. 

The original version of this post was published at Dental Insurance Store on Sept 23, 2014

Sources: biography.com, nps.gov, foresthillstrust.org
Photo sources: youtube.com, picturingamerica.salemstate.edu, fanart.tv

 

Copyright 2017, Dean A. George©

The Transgender Toilet Tirade of 2016

Have you heard this one?  President Richard Nixon’s legacy – man walks on the moon. Former President Barack Obama’s legacy – man identifying as a woman walks into the women’s restroom. Until Obama the thought of a man walking into a women’s restroom for the purpose of answering nature’s call …

Trumping Political Correctness

Every significant episode of history has a watershed moment. At the beginning of the Revolutionary War it was “the shot heard round the world” at Lexington and Concord.  Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream Speech” defined the Civil Rights era. Ronald Reagan’s entreaty to Gorbachev: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear …

Clueless Posers “Bust” Up Statues

Watching the history-challenged millennials going mano to metal with the Confederate statue in Durham, North Carolina recently was like watching open auditions for MTV’s old show, Jackass.  Remarkably, these clueless posers arrogantly posed for videos and selfies after joyously whooping up on an inanimate hunk of metal. The Durham County Sheriff’s Department …

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