Describe what you remember
about the fear surrounding polio epidemics:
In October of 1953, I was 5 years old and just 2 months into
kindergarten in Angola, Indiana. My parents do not remember any
other cases of polio in the university housing community where we
lived, but polio was on everyone's mind in those years.
My mother was a nurse, and had experience with polio. She was
also familiar with the Sister Kenney method of treating paralysis
with hot compresses.
I came home from school complaining of pain in my legs and a
fever, both of which became acute within hours. A visit to the
local physician in the early evening rendered an immediate
diagnosis of the dreaded polio, with a high fever and severe pain
in my legs.
The polio wards in Indianapolis were discussed, but they were
overflowing with victims. The physician was a proponent of the
Sister Kenney treatment, and offered to give a quick refresher
course. My parents decided to take on the daunting task of
administering the hot compresses on a 24/7 basis, 2 hours on and
2 hours off. They carried on the treatment around the clock for
There was a brief remission; then the pain progressed into my
abdomen, an ominous sign. The treatments continued for another 24
hours, at which time the attacks ceased.
Tell us what you remember
of the impact of polio:
Fortunately, I have no memory of the polio attack. As far as I
know, I suffered no permanent damage. Over the years, I have
heard the story of my parents' heroic efforts to save me from
this dreaded disease, and my appreciation for their loving care
has increased as my understanding of the peril I faced has
It was only on reading Splendid Solution that I came to
appreciate the super-human efforts made to eradicate this
disease. How heartbreaking for those who became victims in the
years before the vaccine became available, and how amazing that
this scourge could be overcome through a massive national
mobilization of funding and science.
Describe the reaction of
your family and others you knew to the development of the
It is a miracle that the scourge of polio was virtually
eliminated within a few years. The memory of those days in
October of 1953 is quite vivid to my parents, and I know that
they were most grateful that the vaccine became available for my
brother and sister.
I learned a great deal from Splendid Solution. The drama of the
scientific battle to unlock the mysteries of the polio cure was
truly a revelation. I had not fully appreciated the utter
helplessness of a world threatened by the polio epidemic. I also
had not realized how controversial yet amazingly effective the
Sister Kenney method of treatment was.
I am profoundly thankful. Despite the circumstances, and thanks
to the care I experienced as a polio victim, I was allowed to
live and be a healthy child. My heart goes out to the millions
who were not so fortunate.