I Remember

by Carol Meyer, GBPPA Member

I remember that I got polio in September of 1952 when I was 7 years old and in second grade. My brother, sister, and I were pretending that we were camping just like The Little Rascals did in the movie we'd seen the night before. Even though it was a warm day, I felt cold and tired; and I wrapped up in a blanket out on the lawn and went to sleep.

I remember that even before I was diagnosed with polio, my mother told the doctor that I had it. I just wanted to sleep on the couch all day; and when I had a hard time swallowing my orange juice, I gave it to my little sister to drink. Then one day when I got up to go to the bathroom, I collapsed on the floor. My legs just didn't want to work anymore. That's when my mother decided that it was time to take me to the hospital.

I remember the big beautiful doll that my mother bought for me at the corner Woolworth's store on our way to the hospital. I thought that she was just about the prettiest doll that I'd ever seen.

I remember my mother crying when we found out after my spinal tap that I did have polio, and I remember being put in a dark room in a bed next to an older woman who also had polio.

I remember clutching my pretty doll tightly and burying my head in her when the nurse stuck an IV in my arm. As I choked back my tears, the nurse praised me for not crying.

I remember my parents standing in the hallway when they came to visit me because they couldn't come into my room. One day when they arrived, I showed them that I could raise my legs again. That made them very happy, and I felt pleased, too.

I remember crying because I had to leave my beautiful doll behind when I left the hospital to go home. The nurse told me that my doll had to be burned along with all of the pictures I had drawn and colored!

I remember my mother wrapping my legs in hot, wet, wool blankets when I got back home. The nurses had taught her how to do this.

I remember that my brother complained because everyone at school always asked him how his sister was, and he got tired of telling them.

I remember that when I went back to school, I fell down a lot during recess because my legs would suddenly give out. I had black eyes and skinned knees because of the falls.

I remember the exercises that I had to do several times a day. My mother helped me, and I was proud whenever I could reach a new level of achievement.

I remember that in fourth grade my participation in a weeklong marble tournament during recess was spoiled because in the middle of it I had started to wear a body brace. It was uncomfortable and stiff, and I didn't know how to move with it yet.

I remember how awkward and embarrassed I felt because I never was able to participate in gym at school.

I remember the summer that I agonized about my scoliosis and made the decision to throw myself into my studies once school started in the fall.

I remember when my body brace broke during my senior year in college, and I had to find a place in town where I could get it fixed. I also remember feeling embarrassed as I explained to my student teaching supervisor why I couldn't come to school that day.

I remember when I had my spinal fusion in 1978 and went home in a halo body cast for 9 months. Later I remember how thrilled I was to throw away my body brace after having worn it for 25 years!

I remember how grateful I was that an iron lung was available to save my life after my daughter was born in 1981.

I remember how overwhelmed I felt when I got in touch with all of the polio survivors on the Internet. I still enjoy corresponding with several of them all around the country.

I remember how thrilling it was to come to my first GBPPA meeting 5 years ago. I am grateful for all of the wonderful people I've met here and for all of the valuable information I've received.

I am certain that someday soon people all around the globe will be able to say, "I remember when there was a crippling disease called polio that killed many and dramatically affected the lives of others."

Back to GBPPA Homepage

Back to Member-Written Articles