I guess I can talk about how I met Heinlein since he has passed away.
He was transferred to SUMC from an outside hospital where he had been for several weeks with an undiagnosed illness. When he arrived he was critical with a FUO (Fever of Unknown Origin). The local MDs had not been able to diagnosis the cause, and he was transferred to SUH from his hospital in Santa Cruz, CA. Truth be told, they held him way too long but I guess it is hard to tell a famous person they didn't know what was going on.
If we had CT at that time, his diagnosis would have been easy. Our tests showed he had an infection but we didn't know where it was. So he he had exploratory surgery where an abdominal abscess was found and drained. Since I took care of his surgical wounds, and saw him several times each day, we became close.
I had never read any of his books until I met him. He gave me a few of his paperbacks and then autographed them, and as I read them, I started to enjoy them and he eventually gave me every one of his novels. I even have a copy of Stranger in a Strange Land in Japanese, autographed to me in Japanese.
I think he was in the hospital close to 2 months, and I came to see him even after I left that particular surgical rotation. Heinlein was a joy to talk to. He was very smart and a great conversationalist. We would just talk about whatever came up.
As you know he graduated from the US Naval Academy, and his brother was in the army and rose to the rank of general.
I think I fit his idea of self made person.
Heinlein's illness is alluded to in his Wikipedia bio:
"The decade began with a life-threatening attack of peritonitis, recovery from which required more than two years."
Robert A. Heinlein - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia