Dr Terence Campbell Butler was a distinguished Hobart physician from a well known Tasmanian family. He passed his LRCP and MRCS in 1912, in England, as there was no medical school in Tasmania and his father had decided that he should do his medical training in England. When he came back to Tasmania, he practised as a general practitioner for some years and then decided he would like to specialise as a physician. He was not invited to join the Association of Physicians, but sat for, and passed the MRACP at the age of 50. He was attached to the Royal Hobart Hospital for many years, as a physician, and physician in charge of the electrocardiography department. He was a very keen College man and attended meetings annually; this was hard to achieve during war time, and the immediate post-war years, because of the relative isolation of Hobart from the rest of Australia.
I did not meet Dr Butler until after World War II. My first contact revealed a genial man wearing a tweed suit, excitedly holding up a test-tube of coloured liquid which turned out to be a sample from a patient with porphyria. Dr Butler was always on the lookout for new ideas and uncommon diseases. I recall his management of endemic goitre in Hobart; for years he used an inunction of iodine for this condition and there is no doubt in my mind that it was successful in reducing the size of the large colloid goitres which were very common in the community. If this method of treatment was unsuccessful, he used injections of manganese, probably on the surmise that manganese was deficient in the soil in Tasmania.
He was keenly interested in the management of coronary artery disease; for this condition he gave injections of intramuscular magnesium presumably because of the softness of the water in Tasmania. He had an enormous collection of electrocardiograms, and wrote frequently to interstate and overseas experts for their interpretation and opinion of difficult arrhythmias. When the Royal Australasian College of Physicians met in Hobart for the first time, Butler presented a paper on Wolf-Parkinson-White syndrome.
Apart from his interest in medicine, he was a keen golfer on a low handicap, an excellent fly fisherman, and a successful gardener. He fished the famous Shannon Rise every year in early December, with great success. It is reported that he once saw a bunyip, and following this episode, he would never venture out at night in the Great Lake District!
He had suffered from a myocardial infarct from which he made a good recovery, but unfortunately had a severe stroke resulting in hemiplegia and dysphasia for the last few years of his life. Terence Butler was a kindly cheerful man who enjoyed his work and the company of his colleagues; his infectious, happy disposition will always be remembered by those who were fortunate enough to have worked with him.
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