General Comments :
I was only one year old when my mother found out she had polio. I
grew up knowing her story as I learned to walk when she was
relearning how to walk. My mother, Marj Carroll, knew she was
sicker than she had ever been in her life. She had to have a
spinal tap to be sure, and the doctor cried when he told her - it
Marj was hospitalized for three months in Minneapolis, where
there was room at Sheltering Arms. She was in isolation for two
weeks. She felt like the top half of her body was sliding off the
bottom half. She couldn't breathe right, but there were no iron
lungs available. They were all in use. They did use the "Elizabeth Kenny method" of stretching her
limbs daily and wrapping them in hot packs.
Finally, they brought a wheelchair. She bawled. She used it,
however, and eventually graduated to"sticks".
At Sheltering Arms, they taught her how to make her steps, how to
go up and down steps, and how to fall.
My mom had three little boys to come home to. We all adjusted.
Some of the rungs on my crib were removed so I could crawl in and
out myself; she could not lift me. At three years old, my older
brother was tied to the clothesline so he could run free in the
wind but not run away. My oldest brother started kindergarten at
There were good things Marj focused on. First she was so thankful
our grandmother and the neighbor helped by watching us and
bringing meals. Secondly, none of us kids came down with polio.
Thirdly, my dad had insisted we take out polio insurance. He did
just that a couple of days before my mom was diagnosed. Finally,
she felt lucky to come out of it as good as she did.
Daily, she tried to see something good or beautiful to give her
the steam to get through.
My mother died of a heart attack at age 84 on the day she was to
be fitted for a wheelchair due to her debilitating neuropathy.
She never ever wanted to be back in a wheelchair.