Dr. John Bonica
It may be hard to believe, but until the 1970's the global practice of medicine did not focus on pain management, and patients needlessly suffered.
But Dr. Bonica (1917 - 1994) so succeeded in convincing the medical community to treat pain, that Time magazine would later call him pain relief's founding father.
What follows is his amazing story:
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Dr. Bonica's story begins with him having two careers.
To pay for medical school, Dr. Bonica became a wrestler under the name Johnny "Bull" Walker."
As "Bull" Walker, and later as the Masked Marvel, Dr. Bonica became a world champion, while wrestling in such top venues as Madison Square Garden.
Meanwhile, a life changing event took place:
In 1942, while Dr. Bonica was an intern at St. Vincent's Hospital in New York, his wife Emma was giving birth there, to their first child.
As Dr. Bonica watched, the obstetrician asked another intern, one just three weeks on the job, to ease her pain by giving her a few drops of ether.
The ether was poorly administered and Emma began to vomit and choke and then turned blue.
Dr. Bonica shoved the intern out of the way, and cleared his wife's airway, which saved her and their unborn daughter.
After that ordeal, Dr. Bonica decided to devote his career to anesthesiology.
During World War 2, in charge of pain control at the 7,700 bed Madigan Army Medical Center, one of the largest U.S. Army hospitals, Dr. Bonica organized a team of surgeons, psychiatrists and others to treat the often horrific pain those soldiers endured.
He also read the medical literature and discovered that of the 14,000 pages he had read, only 17 ½ pages referenced pain.
Shocked by this cavalier treatment of pain, Dr. Bonica wrote those many missing pages and later wrote what became widely known as "The Bible of Pain."
He proposed new ways of treating pain, including nerve block injections and helped develop the epidural for delivering mothers, as well as treatments for patients suffering from arthritic pain.
He also proposed another new concept, Pain Clinics.
By the mid - 1970's, pain clinics had opened globally, and pain relief had become a high priority among doctors.
Today, doctors offer pain relief to millions of sufferers, including you and me, and all of us owe a huge debt of gratitude to pain relief's founding father, Dr. John Bonica.