THE TAFT STORY
Taft's sleep apnea was related to his
weight. Just under six feet tall,
he weighed 225 pounds in college. He was then healthy.
Signs of sleepiness and sleep apnea
appeared in his 40s, as his weight neared 300 pounds.
For example, he slept through a thunderous
typhoon in the Philippines,
despite terrified pleadings from
his wife. And as Secretary of War, he snored in meetings with
President Theodore Roosevelt.
Yet, he claimed to sleep "very well" at night.
After a spectacularly successful
diet in his late 40s, his weight
again neared 300 pounds. Soon after, during
his campaign for the Presidency, he publicly slept
on speaking platforms, in cars, and while dining out.
Taft weighed over 300 pounds his entire Presidency.
He could sleep anywhere, anytime.
He fell asleep during conversations with the Speaker of the House and with the
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He publicly slept in church, at the
theater, and at a funeral. He fell asleep while playing cards, while signing
documents, and while eating. He became sleepy playing golf.
He could sleep standing up.
It was years before Taft's
aides realized his sleepiness was a sign of
sickness. Taft refused their advice to see a physician.
Taft's heart started giving out.
People saw his "mind and expression" deteriorate.
Some felt he was "ripe for a stroke."
so many political errors that he was called "Taft the Blunderer"
and "Mr. Malaprop."
The election of 1912 took the Presidency from the 55-year-old Taft, but saved his life.
Free from the strains of the White House, he dropped his weight from 340 pounds
to 264 in a year.
He stayed there, approximately, for the rest of his life.
His decade-long sleepiness vanished. His blood pressure fell.
In the last nine years of his life he was extremely effective and
productive as Chief Justice on the Supreme Court. He died at the age of 72.