Dr Hall wrote: "It was a rather hot day in August, late in the morning when I got
a phone call to tell me a patient with scurvy had been admitted to my medical
ward. I was so busy at the time that I put off seeing her for a while. Scurvy,
after all, was due to a chronic vitamin C deficiency. She had taken at least a
month of improper eating, free of fruits and vegetables to get that way. It
would take her a week of drinking three glasses of orange juice a day to get
back to health. She didn't need immediate emergency care!
It was eleven
o'clock at night when I was heading for my quarters for a badly needed shower,
when I remembered the case. I hesitated. Should I let her go till morning, or
should I give her a short glance before retiring? I'd give her a glance. I took
the elevator to the fourth floor medical ward. There were six beds on each side
of the room. The new one was the fourth on the right. "You
won't miss it! The curtains are drawn around her." explained the nurse at
the desk as she gave me the chart. She wrinkled her nose and pointed to the
left. I really needed a shower. I took the chart and rushed off to see the
I wondered why the curtains were drawn. A frown knitted over my eyes. I turned on
the lights on the ward. Everybody groaned and put their arms over their eyes. I
zeroed in on the curtained bed and pulled back a corner so I could see.
Something about the picture made me pause. I just stood and stared for about
twenty seconds. The patient looked like she was in a coma. Was she that far gone
with scurvy? Was she dying? There were bud red blotches all over her body and
face. Scurvy?? I glared at the patient and flipped open the chart. The
temperature was one-hundred and five! I dropped the chart at the foot of her
bed, and slipped inside the curtain to her head. I slipped my hand under the
back of her head and pulled. Her body came off the bed like a ram-rod.
Scurvy?? I repeated half aloud and ran for the nurse. "I need a spinal needle tray
and your help," I ordered. "Oh, all right!" she responded
irritably. She was hot and overworked, her cooperation was reluctant.
one way, and I ran back to the patient, and began to position her for the
spinal tap. She was difficult to move. She groaned as I pulled her around in
the bed. I began sponging her back with alcohol. The nurse got there with the
spinal tray and pulled the patent's knees and neck together. The patient
the spinal tap. The spinal fluid, instead of being water clear, was more like
thick cream. I replaced the stylus into the needle. This stopped it from
leaking. I explained to the nurse I was going to the laboratory and that the
patient must not roll onto the needle. The nurse glared at me. "I have a
lot to do and I can't stay here holding this patient," she was already red
in the face, "get some help!"
off to the desk and phoned the emergency nurse to come and relieve the floor
nurse. I hung up without explaining. I then ran downstairs to the lab. I
smeared some of the spinal fluid on a glass slide and put the rest in the
refrigerator with the patient's name on it. Stain was applied to the smear. I
hastily dried it holding it over a Brunson burner, and placed it under the
microscope. It took about fifteen seconds, meningococci were all over the field
phoned the night supply nurse and ran to meet her at the supply room. We ran
together to the refrigerator praying that we had some meningococci serum. We
did! We paused a moment to contemplate the fact that it was out of date by two
days. "What the heck!" I said as I palmed the vial and headed back to
the emergency room nurse with the patient. The supply nurse ran to get a couple
of bottles of intravenous glucose and water.
arrived, the emergency nurse was truly red-faced and sweating. "Why didn't
you take all night?" She exclaimed. It had been quite a struggle keeping
the patient from rolling onto the spinal needle. I drew the serum into the
syringe, inserted the syringe into the needle, injected it into the patient,
and withdrew the needle. Shortly after, the intervenouses arrived and I got one
started. I took a blood culture which later turned up positive for
had just become available to the profession, and I got the patient to swallow
two tablets every four hours. I didn't know if it would help. The literature
didn't mention meningitis, but it was a logical try. I spent the rest of the
night with the patient. By morning her temperature had dropped to one hundred
and she was sleeping restfully."
spent his early childhood in Europe. Later, in America, he was in C.M.T.C.
Signal Corps and was an Eagle Scout while in high school and ROTC Signal Corps
while in college. He received his BS degree in atomic physics and mathematics
at the University of Michigan. He graduated from Syracuse University in New
York State with a Medical Degree. He was treasurer and recording secretary in
the Alpha Kappa Kappa medical fraternity, was tapped for the Knocker's Society,
and held membership in the Hutchinsonian Psychiatric Society.
months before Pearl Harbor he joined the Navy. He joined because he didnt like
the way the Germans were treating the Jews. The world had not yet learned of
the holocaust. He was wounded during the Normandy Invasion. While convalescing,
he received a course in photographic chest X-ray at St. Albian's Hospital on
Long Island. He was then sent to Hawaii where he read 1,500 chest X-rays daily.
He received the highest commendation for accuracy in his performance. After the
war he began his own medical practice.
dedicated to promoting the study of nature. He was responsible for building a
Public Planetarium in New Jersey where he fostered courses for public
instruction. He was responsible for assembling one of the most comprehensive
geological exhibits on the east coast from his own collection.
Hall was born into an exciting point in history where fantastic scientific
discoveries were being made every year. When he began Medical School
anti-biotics and anti-histamines were just on the verge of being promoted to
the public. By the time he had begun his practice, these were commonplace
items. Dr. Hall witnessed the growth of the automobile, the commercial
airplane, the television, and the computer. All through his life great
advancements through science were made to improve the well being of the general
public. And, at the same time, the philosophy of the age of enlightenment of
the nineteenth century was still fresh and accessible.
Dr. Hall resumed College in retirement and wrote A Measure of Truth until his
death in 1994. Although it was never published till now, it became the basis of
this website: The Realistic Idealist. I was fortunate to have his
blessing to contribute a small part in the development and continuation of
these ideas. I wish he had lived to know about the internet, I think he would
have loved it.