Not quite dead
Maybe I'm falling out of love with this journal-blog thing.
Anyway, here's a pleasant pre-Thanksgiving treat for you: The Strange Fate of Eben Byers.
Eben Byers died from drinking bottles of water with radioactive radium in solution -- three bottles a day, for three years. If this sounds like a weird thing to do to yourself, back in the 1930s it really wasn't. At the time, we knew very little at all about radioactivity, except it was new and weird, the latest fascinating scientific discovery. That was enough to convince people, including doctors, to think of it the same way that they thought of electricity when it was first discovered: as a miraculous new phenomenon that might be able to solve every imaginable ailment.
Byers' death was a horrific one; he lost most of both jaws as the radiation destroyed his bones. Unfortunately, the FDA had almost no power at the time, and couldn't ban radioactive cure-alls. Ironically, it did go after some sellers of "radioactive" tonics because their products didn't actually have anything radioactive in them.
He had to be buried in a lead-lined coffin because his corpse was intensely radioactive.
Thankfully, his gruesome death led to government hearings, legislation to give the FDA more powers, and the collapse of the radioactive medicine industry. It's a wonder more people didn't die, really.