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To General John J. Pershing
March 4, 1937 San Francisco, [California]
My dear General:
O’Laughlin was right about the goiter but wrong as to place.
I had had a slight swelling indicating goiter since about 1923, but tests— metabolism—always indicated it was quiescent. Last July my usual pulse of 72 grew irregular and rapidly worked up to from 90 to 105. Strange to say, I never felt better physically and gained, for the first time in my life, seventeen pounds between August and January. I took a thoro course of tests in Vancouver and Portland in December, had three wisdom teeth pulled, but still registered normal under a basal metabolism test. However, the leading specialist of the northwest believed that pressure of an enlarged thyroid was the trouble.
I came down here and they formed a similar conclusion. I was operated on three weeks ago, and a very much enlarged and partially diseased gland was removed.1 The day following the operation my pulse fell into the eighties; the next day it struck the seventies and by the third morning it was registering about 68. For some days it continued to miss beats, but less frequently each day. I was up, dressed and around, but they put me to bed Sunday and started a quinidine treatment Monday, to give the heart a chance to fall into a regular rhythm.
However, the electro cardiogram of my heart, taken as they started the first dose Monday, but not available to examine until Monday night, showed my heart as normal, having fallen into time on its own recovery after the operative effects had subsided. The succeeding daily cardiograms show me as normal and they have cut the dosage one third and will probably stop it today and allow me to get up tomorrow.
Meanwhile, I feel fine and have regained five of the ten pounds I lost during the operation.
Usually patients for thyroid operations are much underweight, highly nervous, short of breath and generally unstrung. I was fortunate to be in fine shape, and was told that I was farther along the fifth day than most patients were after several months.
That’s the state of affairs. I hope to return to Vancouver next week.
My fountain pen is out of commission, and I am writing in bed—hence this pencil.
I was to order you “Those Fatal Generals” in Portland, but left suddenly about that time. It will be along shortly.
I’m glad you are going to Hot Springs, but sorry you are not first heading in this direction. Hot Springs has a beautiful plant now and is rather a gentleman’s club.
Give my best to General & Mrs. Dawes, and believe me, as always,
G. C. Marshall
Document Copy Text Source: John J. Pershing Papers, General Correspondence, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Document Format: Handwritten letter signed.
1. Marshall was writing from Letterman General Hospital. Lieutenant Colonel Norman T. Kirk told Marshall’s Portland physician that he had performed a “subtotal thyroidectomy of both lobes” on Marshall on February 15, and that “his convalescence has been extremely mild." (Kirk to Dr. T. Homer Coffen, February 23, 1937, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Vancouver Barracks].)
Recommended Citation: The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, ed. Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens (Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 1, “The Soldierly Spirit,” December 1880-June 1939 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981), pp. 521-522.