White House Physician

Mamie Eisenhower

There was a frequent rumor during Dwight Eisenhower’s long service as military commander and as president that his wife Mamie was a drunk. Mrs. Eisenhower was often seen as unsteady on her feet when standing up and walking, and as a result, it was concluded that she used alcohol to pass away her time. However, the cause of her unsteadiness was medical, not alcohol. Mamie was a long term sufferer from Meniere’s Disease, a chronic condition that affects the balance center of the inner ear.

First Ladies

Ellen Wilson, the first wife of President Woodrow Wilson, died in August 1914, less than two years after her husband became president. Mrs. Wilson developed chronic kidney failure then known as Bright’s Disease. Some medical historians now consider its cause to be her toxemia during pregnancy. Dr. Cary Grayson, both the first lady’s and the president’s physician, as well as many doctors who had treated her symptoms previously, diagnosed her illness as psychologic in nature. In addition Dr. Grayson viewed the well being of the president as his priority, and as a result, downplayed¬† condition in order not to upset Wilson.

First Ladies & White House Physicians

Several physicians to the US Presidents also treated their First Ladies. Many of these doctors were United States Naval officers. The first White House Physician who had a dedicated assignment to the White House was navy doctor, eventually Admiral, Presley Rixey. His initial responsibility was the care of First Lady Ida McKinley who suffered with petit mal epilepsy.

White House Physician