About the Author

Ralph Arthur Hall, MD.

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 patient.

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.

She ran 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 groaned loudly.

I make 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!"

I ran 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 of view.

I 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.

When I 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 meningococci.

Sulfanilamid 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."

Ralph 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.

Six 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.

He was 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.

Dr. 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.

In 1975 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.

Copyright©Alden Bacuzmo

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