you remember about the fear surrounding polio epidemics:
It was 1952 in western Ohio,
and fear of polio made for a really boring summer. I was not allowed to go
swimming nor to attend the county fair. Despite all this, when I got the “flu”
that fall, our doctor came to the house, looked me over, and sent us
immediately to Dayton, Ohio to a specialist. Turns out the flu was a mild case
Tell us what you
remember of the impact of polio:
I went immediately to the Barney Rehabilitation
Center in Dayton
where I was put to bed in isolation for two weeks. My symptoms were that my
muscles had so retracted that I could barely sit up without pain. The physical
therapist told me I could not go home until I could touch my toes again...and
the thought of touching my knees brought me to tears. Some muscles in my right
foot and leg completely disintegrated, never to return.
At Barney, they were called “hot packs” and they were applied three times a
day. I was also taken to a heated round tub and the PT would do exercises with
my legs and feet. She taught my mother how to do the exercises as well.
I remember having to eat everything they served us. I found out that I actually
liked spinach and liver!! I had big boxes from both school and church with a
present to open each day--and there were lots of books. It was shortly after
this my father refused to allow any more Nancy Drew books in the house.
After the two weeks were over, I was moved into the general ward (still hot packs)
and learned to walk again, very tentatively and holding on to first my wheel
chair and then the wall. I had a tutor--never did learn to divide fractions. My
half leg brace was fitted and I would wear it day and night for the next two
years. I was home for Christmas--and back to school by March.
My brother was in Korea
on the front line at the same time. When he returned on the train a year from
then, his little sister clomped across the station to greet him.
reaction of your family and others you knew to the development of the vaccine:
The live vaccine in the sugar cube was given to us in the rehabilitation
center. When I asked why I had to take it, the nurse explained there were three
levels of polio and I had the least serious; she pointed across the hall to the
teen-age boy in body, arm, and leg braces who had to sleep in an iron lung. “This
vaccine is so you won't get that kind of polio.”
Then later back in school we all had the shots. I remembered the young man and
didn't complain too much.
General Comments :
Strangely enough there were no other cases in our school or in our rural
area. My young nephew and toddler niece had been around me before and during my
illness, and of course everyone worried about them, but they were unaffected.
Now that I'm an old lady, I'm noticing some minor post polio syndrome symptoms.
Medical wisdom seems to agree that this is when the muscles that had to
compensate to replace others begin to wear out from their duties. But how lucky
I was to have such a minor case, as I am reminded every time I think about the
boy across the hall.