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Bubonic Plague Didn’t Stop Former Lawyer

Posted Jan 10, 2013 6:30 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Lawyer John Tull nearly died after his diagnosis with bubonic plague during a visit to New York in November 2002.

Tull fared worse than his wife, Lucinda Marker, who recovered in a few days, the New York Times reports in a story on their once high-profile medical mystery. Tull was put in a medically induced coma, and surgeons amputated his legs to curb a raging infection. “At one point, I was on a respirator, I had a tracheotomy and a feeding tube, I was unconscious, I was on a dialysis machine,” he told the Times. “Hell, I was hooked up to every damn machine in the hospital except the vacuum.”

Authorities soon dispelled fears that the plague was related to terrorism. Tull and Marker were likely infected from fleas carried by a pack rat found on their property in Santa Fe, N.M., that summer, the story says. Today 63-year-old Tull drives his own car and goes on a yearly fishing trip, though he can’t resume his hiking. In the interim, Tull and his wife appeared in documentaries, spoke to medical researchers and dealt with journalists.

“Lucinda and I surrendered our privacy to the press and the people who make documentaries,” Tull told the Times. “But you know what? That didn’t bother us a bit. Lucinda had been an actress and I had been a trial lawyer. We were used to it.”

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