Describe what you remember
about the fear surrounding polio epidemics:
I was under a year old when I contracted Polio the summer of
1952. So therefore, I only know what has been told to me. I was
at Blank and was never in an Iron Lung. Polio affected my right
May of 1952 my biological mother passed away leaving me at 4
months old and 3 older children. My father's mother came to stay
with us at that time and that summer is when I contracted Polio.
None of my other siblings or family contracted Polio.
At Blank, my biological father didn't know what to do with a
handicapped child as he had 3 other children to raise, so he was
going to give me away to a nurse at the hospital who wanted me. I
have a few pictures where she took me home with her. My
grandmother on my mother's side didn't want me to go to strangers
so she persuaded my mother's sister to adopt me. She already had
3 boys of her own but I fit in and without her and my adopted
father, I never would have had the medical attention needed.
I remember mom taking me to the newspaper office in Bayard, Iowa,
to meet Ken Robinson. He was in a wheelchair and he put mom in
touch with Crippled Children.
As I got older, I remember car trips to Iowa City and sometimes
the car would come out to the farm and pick my mom and me up and
take us with other people to Iowa City. I remember waiting for
hours for the appointment and many doctors watching me walk.
Tell us what you remember
of the impact of polio:
When I was little, I wore a build-up on my right shoe and a night
brace. In I think 1963 or 1964 I went to Iowa City and had the
first of two surgeries. I was told that I was one of the first to
try this new procedure. Before a growth spurt, the doctors
estimated my height and stopped the growth in my left leg by
scraping the cartilage in my left knee, giving the right leg the
time to catch up. After the surgery and as my right leg caught
up, I never wore a build-up or brace again. Unless I got very
tired, no one ever knew I had polio. Things were great and I was
just as normal as everyone else.
I remember one time in college when I was carrying my book across
campus with a couple other students. When I would get tired I
would start to limp a little and one student asked if something
was wrong. I told her about having Polio and she immediately
stopped, backed away, and asked it if was catching. Needless to
say I had a different perspective of her and wondered it all
Polio survivors went through things like that.
Describe the reaction of
your family and others you knew to the development of the
I remember getting my first dose on a sugar cube at Dr. Peace's
office in Redfield, Iowa. Dr. Peace said that there were
different strains of Polio affecting different areas and that I
still needed protection.
To date, I still get people asking why my family didn't get me
the vaccine before I contracted Polio. I tell them that it was
developed but not out to the public when I contracted it. You can
see that by the numbers who contracted it in 1952.
As the years have gone by some of us are now being affected by
Post Polio Syndrome. I now have trouble with my left knee and my
right leg/ankle, right hip and back. I am now wearing a brace on
my right leg which makes me feel like Polio finally got the upper
hand. I HATE the feeling. I won all those years and now feel
defeated by it. However, in a way we must have come a long way
because I remember doctors telling me that I would probably be in
a wheelchair by the time I was 40 with arthritis. I am 55 and
still walking on my own two feet.
The surgery was a Godsend and I thank him every day for the
opportunity to come out on top when so many were affected. I
don't pity myself because there are people out there who are more
worse off than me. I have been very lucky.
There is a reason for everything in life.