I was at the Opthomologist with my daughter for her to get an exam. Next to me was a sweet older woman who noticed my daughter, and commented on her beauty. She also noted that daughters are precious, and in the next 15 minutes, I came to learn that she had lost her daughter in the Polio epidemics in the mid-nineteenth century. She lost her husband 6 months later from cancer, and had been alone ever since. She told me her daughter had stayed for a year at Shriners of her day, was placed in an iron lunch, and that they were only aloud to see her for 1 hour every Sunday. They would bring her a gift every week and talk with her. She didn’t live more than a year.
I would never have known this by just looking at her. But I learned a lot about a condition I had just learned the day before had revolutionized what we knew about ventilating patients. It was the beginning of what we cal l ICUs, and started us into intensivist medicine(medicine for the seriously ill and in need of ventilation management and multi-organ treatments). Also, it was a time when medical philanthropy was started to blossom, as it was expensive to have an Iron lung and harder to get to them.
It was a disease that has been recorded for millenia, and that when we started to become a more sanatized society, we actually decreased the exposure for children, and made them more succesptible to the disease’s devestating effects. Hence the need for immunizations.
Poliowas a devastating disease and it killed a lot of people. It affected millions and killed thousands. If you contracted the disease, you were most likely to get better, but many had debilitation limb issues, and few lost the ability to breath or move. Amazing how such a small thing could cause so much change-societal and personal.