Thursday, May 29, 2008

A victim of polio: 58 years later

There are still people out there living with the effects of polio, I've known a few who were damaged by the paralysis, and it turns out there are a few dozen left who have had to use iron lungs their whole lives.

One of them, Dianne Odell of Tennessee, died yesterday when a power outage and a failed generator stopped her iron lung from breathing for her. Although she was able to get out of the lung for a few hours at a time when younger, she had lived in it for 58 years.

In 1951, the year after Odell, I came down with polio. I was six and spent a few days unable to speak or swallow, three weeks in hospitals and missed the first month of first grade. My parents were terrified but I was extremely lucky: if the virus had migrated a few millimeters into my brain or spinal cord I'd have been paralyzed; or dead.

You just never know. Seize the day.
(Via Knoxviews.)


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