Describe what you remember
about the fear surrounding polio epidemics:
to young to worry about any of it.
Tell us what you remember
of the impact of polio:
It all started with a severe headache on August 15th of
'51. The doctor on a house call suspected polio and had
a spinal tap done at the local hospital which confirmed the
worst. I was in Mercy Hospital, Council Bluffs IA for
about 6 weeks. The hallway had the iron lungs on one
side always making that slow rhythm of the pumps and being only
4, I couldn't look at the person lying there, I could only see
them thru their mirrors...and the awful smell of those hot
packs...and a very crowded room!!! No visitors but I was
fortunate in that my aunt was a Catholic nun with the Sisters of
Mercy. She was head dietitian for the hospital, so I
got to see a familiar face on a frequent basis.
I was lucky as I had no after effects. I played every
sport as a child then high school. Went in the army
with all that physical environment, had a civilian job for 28 yrs
requiring physical work plus passing a flight physical every
year. Then 49 yrs later after the initial onset of the
disease I started developing symptoms which has turned into
post-polio sequelae or PPS. To have this happen to me is one
thing as I have lived many normal years, but to think of the
people who have had to deal with the physical after effects for
all these years only to get this PPS added later on is like being
bitten twice by the same vicious dog!!!
PPS is a different animal in that the people don't appear to be
ill. They will complain about new muscle weakness, or
be fatigued to the point of several naps daily. Their friends and
relatives think they are just feeling sorry for themselves but
let me tell you...this is NOT the case!!!! These problems are
real and debilitating and the only cure appears to be "rest and pace, rest and pace." I
have known PPS sufferers that have had to have almost total bed
rest for 2 months before some of their pain subsided.
The worst part of this PPS problem is that doctors really aren't
going to do much about it since the problem will be eliminated in
another decade or so.
Describe the reaction of
your family and others you knew to the development of the
I remember being down at the armory building with a line snaking
outside. I was cocky since I really didn't have to take
it, but I took it anyway to calm my mother's fears, not knowing
at the time that there were two types.