Although most of my childhood recollections are pleasant, today I am sharing one which is not—my memory of that frightening shadow which touched down each year in early August as I was growing up, and mysteriously lifted weeks later with the first frost.
Our oldest child was born in 1954. A year later, Dr. Jonas Salk introduced the vaccine which would prevent devastating illness and save countless lives. Until the vaccine was released in 1955, polio was considered to be America’s greatest fear, apart from atomic bomb.
As a mother of 6, grandmother of 13, and great-grandmother of (soon to be) 14 children, I am eternally grateful for God’s intervention through medical science—and for the researcher, Jonas Salk, who enabled us to raise our children in a polio-free environment!
Summer until . . . .
Spilling from school, we scattered over sidewalks
like marbles rolling from a tattered pouch
and June days unraveled to “Moonlight, Starlight,
have you seen the ghost tonight?”
July exploded, with night skies draping color trails,
afternoons melting like ice cream in sticky hands,
while we believed that summer was forever—
summer until . . . .
August came quietly. Time awakened—
stretching, turning corners, whispering
ominous innuendoes of change.
And then September, unleashing terror
as the paralyzing hand moved among us
maiming, murdering, destroying illusions of summer–
summer until . . . .
Margaret Longenecker Been, ©2010
P. S. Although the paralyzing hand has been mercifully removed, reverberations go on. As a child growing up in the 1940s, one of my friends recovered from a case of polio—and she was apparently healthy for decades. But now in later life, this friend is stricken with PPS—post polio sydrome.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders, “Post-polio syndrome (PPS) is a condition that affects polio survivors years after recovery from an initial acute attack of the poliomyelitis virus. PPS is mainly characterized by new weakening in muscles that were previously affected by the polio infection and in muscles that seemingly were unaffected. Symptoms include slowly progressive muscle weakness and unaccustomed fatigue (both generalized and muscular)—and, at times, muscle atrophy is common . . . . According to estimates by the National Center for Health Statistics, more than 440,000 polio survivors in the United States may be at risk for PPS. Researchers . . . estimate that the condition affects 25 percent to 50 percent of these survivors, or possibly as many as 60 percent . . . .”
With love and prayers, I dedicate this entry to my dear friend with PPS. May God fill her and surround her with His comfort, and with better days! MLB
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