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Jon Meacham , Podcast on Polio Epidemic

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    Jon Meacham , Podcast on Polio Epidemic

    Episode 3 | The Polio Epidemic

    “Tuesday, May 5th
    From the late 19th to mid 20th centuries, the nation lived in fear of the polio virus. Often handicapping or paralyzing its victims, sometimes resulting in death, the disease was made all the more frightening by the fact that it preyed on young children. Generations of Americans were affected by this incurable illness until a brilliant young medical researcher, empowered by the coordinated efforts of public and private institutions, developed a miraculous vaccine. The expert knowledge and first-hand experiences of Walter Isaacson, David Oshinsky and Geoff Ward, assist Jon Meacham in telling a story which begins with debilitating fear and ends with everlasting hope.”

    also available on Apple Podcasts
    Last edited by ChesBay; 24 Aug 2020, 10:11 PM. Reason: Edited for a misspelling

    I have a family friend who was one of the last people to get polio before the vaccine was widely available. She lost the use of her hands and arms at an early age, probably around 5 or 6, which must have been the mid-50s right when the vaccine was being distributed in higher numbers.

    Honestly, she made me a really good cripple. For my entire life (she must be 30ish years older than me) she's been under strict orders from doctors to not lift anything heavier than a pencil... she doesn't always follow that, but probably physically couldn't lift anything heavier than a can of coke, and that's using two arms. Despite that, she raised a child, with her husband at first, and then with full custody when they split up. She went to college and had a career for a while before settling down and having a daughter who was about the same age I was. She worked off and on while she was raising her own daughter as well as spending a large amount of time raising me and my sister. She drove a van with a custom footpedal setup that didn't require the use of her hands.

    So since I was old enough to have memories I recall someone important in my life who I saw on a weekly basis if not more often who had to do things an "atypical" way, but was still out there living life and doing things. She routinely wound up in the hospital because she broke her shoulder or some ribs or tore a rotator cuff or whatever, most of the time she had barely noticed because she was already in pain all the time so a slight increase barely registered for her. And she is to this day one of the three or four most positive people I have ever had a chance to meet: always upbeat, always happy, always asks about other people, never complains, never has an unkind word for anyone (except those "damn yankees", but I think even her feigned-hatred for northerners is pretty mild as her best friend is from New York).

    So when I had my injury at 24 I was just like... Well okay. Guess I gotta get a wheelchair now and figure out how to drive with my hands, and figure out what to do for work and where I'm going to live on my own. Better get back to school since I can't do what I used to do for work now that I can't walk.

    It still sucked ass, but I had full expectations for living a real life with friends, family, work and hobbies. And I never once thought about "giving up"... whatever that means, because she was still doing her thing at twice my age with a more severe disability, raising her daughter and granddaughter who intermittently had to move back in with her.

    Sorry, super off topic... I just love that lady.


      Originally posted by funklab View Post
      Sorry, super off topic... I just love that lady.
      A beautiful tribute to your friend Funklab and a great attitude adopted by you after your injury. ( I would think about sending a copy of what you wrote to her.)

      I am an old-timer born in 1953 injured SCI @ 25 and can remember a classmate who had contracted the poliovirus. He had a lot of grit and went on to become a family man and a college professor.

      I know there are many people who have soldiered on (some here on CC). Many polio survivors went on to become active as early disability rights leaders paving the way for those who came after.

      In this podcast, “Hope, through History”, Meacham covers four different times in history when the U.S. and other countries were faced with adversity and how we strove to meet the challenges presented. I am finding it to be good listening in these unique times.