Wednesday, September 15, 2010


The year was 1953. My parents had been married for 13 years. My brother was 6 and I was 4 when my Dad had what appeared to be, pleurisy. Actually, it was much worse. My Dad had polio. It was discovered that my brother also had the virus. Dad ended up completely paralyzed from the polio, which attacks your muscles, including the heart and lungs. My Dad was in one local hospital because they had an iron lung and had sent nurses to Boston to learn how to care for patients needing it.

My brother ended up in another hospital for 1 year. His leg was the most affected. He endured physical therapy, including boiling hot pieces of wool laid on his body, whirlpool baths and manipulation for several years. He has walked with a leg brace and crutches his entire life.

This pic is after polio. Notice the leg size of my brothers pants to cover the brace. He could stand only without his crutches.

John is now a 63 year old Father of 3 and Grandfather of 7, that worked his whole life. He suffers from results of polio that get worse as he ages but he just keeps on doing, as he can.

My Father died on September 27, 1953, he and my Mom's 13th wedding anniversary. We have no idea where my Dad and brother contacted the virus or why my Mom and I didn't get it. This was the last polio epidemic in our area.
The Salk vaccine was developed in 1952 and announced in 1955. Human trials began in 1957 and the vaccine was licensed in 1962.
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Becca's Dirt said...

I have known a couple of people who had polio when they were children. Both have struggled throughout their lives with handicaps. It is a terrible disease. Lucky that you and your mom didn't contract it. Is that you in the photo?

shannon i olson said...

My great uncle had a brace his whole life from polio as a child. So sorry your dad died so young.
Very scary, we are blessed to have this terrible disease gone now.
That treatment for your brother must have been terrible, does he remember much of it?
Thanks for sharing your story. I know hard stories help us be thankful for many things, even if we remember through tears.

Suzanne said...

What an amazing story. I'm so sorry for your loss at such a young age. We are so blessed to live in an age when so many illnesses and diseases have been eradicated! Thanks for sharing.

agreenearth said...

I remember the polio epidemics and what a relief the vaccine was.

So sorry you have family members who have and are suffering from the results of polio.

Dawn said...

I remember taking the vaccine in school....and a few that struggled with the disease.

Brownie said...

Thank you for this story. I remember a teacher that walked with a limp as a result of polio that shriveled his leg.

I also remember receiving the vaccination - I think I remember it on a sugar cube? could that be right?

I am grateful for the vaccinations that we have available. I wonder about those that refuse them for their children.

Sherry said...

Thank you for sharing your story. We forget how many lives were changed by the polio epidemic. It reminds me to be thankful for the vaccine we have to protect our families from this virus. When I was young I did know someone who had survived polio but lived with the results and did her best to be active in every way possible.

Rosemary said...

What a touching story.

Cortney said...

I love the photo's with the story, I like to see the people and it makes me feel connected. I just can't imagine what would have happened if the polio vaccine hadn't been created...and all the other advances in the medical feild. That was a beautiful story, I'm so glad you shared this week.