Skip Nav


A service of Post-Polio Health International

❶The research program has two broad objectives:

Bad gateway

What is polio?
You are here:
What happened?

Unless we actually stick with them long enough for them to acquire genuinely functional abilities, all they and we will get from all that equipment is a few badly made scarves that only a mother could love. One day I was running wild through the exhibits at the Thayer County Fair in Nebraska, a typical eleven-year-old shrieking uncontrollably as the Octopus ride tossed me hither and yon, winning a kewpie doll pitching plastic balls through embroidery hoops.

Someone deposited me into the polio isolation unit and left me there. Alone in a large, dark room, I was having trouble breathing. I could not utter a sound. I listened to the wail of ambulances through the open hospital window near my bed, and soon I lost consciousness. By the next August I had spent five months in the hospital, then seven at Warm Springs, had gone through all the therapies, been braced to the hilt, and was ready to rise from my wheelchair and dive back into life.

It took another eight years to train my body to function without the brace—and until today to fully understand what I had gone through. Life did go on. And I did all the stuff. Or nearly all of it. I went to school and ended with a masters degree. I began professionally as a high school English teacher and ended as an adult education administrator. I made friends, developed relationships, and ended with a super-boffo husband. When post-polio issues entered the picture, I began working for the cause.

I jumped into creating a state-wide polio survivor association that clicked. We were all caught up in a swirl of meaningful activity, carrying the message to thousands, shining light in the darkest corners. By the time I had to step down, I knew that Post-Polio Syndrome finally had me literally by the throat. Once again paralyzed, I started over, this time with extensive surgery, then bracing, a power chair, and using the ventilator.

As I age and my wasted body shrinks itself like a plum on its inevitable journey to prunedom, I recognize that more and more is quite truly out of my reach. And I hoped never to possess another wheelchair. Finally I had to face reality: I will never again be that other person, the one who walks two miles on the jogging path every day, who jumps into the car after a loaf of bread at the market, who pops in to see a friend and take her out to lunch.

What I am sure of is that from the moment I sat in my new power chair with its unexpectedly magic joy stick, I had what I had longed for.

I was lifted from the bonds of a stubbornly useless body by an ill-fitting brace and an unwieldy, jet-black chair. I can fly down the winding path next to the swans in the lagoon and bustle my way from store to store among the shoppers at the mall. Polio left me with a lot of advantages. I learned not only to be independent, but to insist on it.

I know what it takes to stand fast against the storm. And all the while, showering me with words of independence. An exceptional doctor there spent a great deal of time with me, explaining my condition and educating me in the ways of post polio.

Five years later, the overused muscles in my upper body gave out. I could not sit up or feed myself or control the movement of my head. There seemed to be no way out. I was scared to death. An orthopedist came to the house to examine me, and then a neurologist.

Both said they could do nothing to help. I felt abandoned, drowning in despondency. Then I remembered the Warm Springs doctor. I got her on the telephone and tearfully explained my situation. Suddenly a weight was lifted from that miserable body of mine. I was at peace.

It was a powerful moment, a lesson I hope never to forget. All I have to do is be willing to accept my circumstances, and I get to feel serene and happy. The mind trumps the body. My ace in the hole is my husband. He bathes me, empties my commode, takes me out into the sunshine. Just as I am. And the task is done with sweetness, compassion, and genuine care.

Who would I be without this amazing presence in my life? Would I be at all? This is a very special man. I think of railing against the fates, of devising ways to triumph over the odds. Not the way I feel. In truth, my life is much simpler than that. I wake up in the morning. I do what I can. I deal with today.

As a result, I try to give up my headstrong mulishness and merely let the day happen. I mean to open myself to the possibilities, to step back and allow the future to unfold. Yet, I cannot lie. There are days when darkness enfolds me and I am alone in the certainty of this disability. For a moment I am lost in despair. Then I remember the hope of tomorrow. If I can get through today, I tell myself, by tomorrow the pain may be gone. It could happen, I say. And frequently it does. Even so, and perhaps this surprises even me, I like where I am and who I am.

Nancy Baldwin Carter, B. Psych, from Omaha, Nebraska, is a polio survivor, a writer, and is founder and former director of Nebraska Polio Survivors Association. Breathing is fundamental to life. If we do not take in sufficient oxygen or get rid of carbon dioxide CO2 it affects every part of our body.

I had polio at about 18 months and at seven I started to have a curvature of my back that developed into a double curvature called kyphoscoliosis.

As I grew my muscles were weaker on one side than the other causing my back and rib cage curvature. This restricts my lung volume. Muscle weakness also affects my breathing.

The problem is worsened when lying down and I was not breathing deeply enough when sleeping. I was prescribed supplementary oxygen usage starting in after I had pneumonia.

This allows me to get sufficient oxygen with less effort, but this can compound the problem of my lungs not getting rid of the CO2 build up in my blood. In I ended up in hospital about 10 days in January, another 10 days in early February with worsening respiratory condition, and then back in hospital with respiratory failure from high CO2 in my blood later in February.

High CO2 leads to being incoherent, then unconscious, and then to death. I had been getting more incoherent over the previous weeks and was slipping into unconsciousness. I ended up with a tracheostomy and on a respiratory ventilator to help keep my CO2 level under control.

I was there recovering until mid-April. I improved quite well and was able to go back to work part time by June. I still have a trach and use the ventilator at night to improve my breathing while I sleep. Follow up tests show that my CO2 level is still under control. For this reason I have continued using a respiratory ventilator at night to keep a proper balance of oxygen and CO2 in my system. It is called a volume ventilator because it gives a measured volume of air on each breath.

At night it is connected through a hose to my trach tube. It is set to give me 0. The first picture shows with me in bed connected to the old PLV ventilator.

The ventilator is on a bed side table with a lamp sitting on top of the ventilator as seen in the picture. I used this same model of ventilator each night for five years starting when I was in the hospital in The PLV ventilator model is out of date and no longer supported by the manufacturer.

It is a simple and reliable machine, sometimes with a few clunks, honks and rattles, but it just keeps puffing along. The family says I sounded like a steam engine when using it. It is a pretty rugged machine and I told the respiratory therapist it looks like it was designed to mount in the back of an army truck.

Then earlier this year we got the news that the provincial health department had approved the purchase of new ventilators. The respiratory therapist brought mine in mid-May to get me going using it. The second picture shows me in bed connected to the new PB ventilator.

The heated humidifier behind the ventilator is the same one I used with the old machine. When I used the new ventilator for the first night, I woke up after sleeping one hour and then had some trouble getting used to it before sleeping and waking several more times. After being used to the feel and sound of the old machine it takes some getting used to sleeping with the new one.

The old ventilator we called a "steam engine" with the sound of a large piston cycling back and forth with each breath. The new machine has a variable speed micro turbine like a tiny "jet engine" that has a varying higher pitched whirring sound with each breath. The feel of the breathing cycle is different as well. The following nights were still more difficult sleeping and I would wake feeling like I was not getting my breath.

But night by night there was some improvement in being more relaxed and comfortable to sleep with the new ventilator. Now I have been using the new ventilator for about 5 months and I am getting used to sleeping with it, although it still takes a little while at the start of each night to relax and not think about the sound or feel of the machine.

One big advantage of the new ventilator is that it is much lighter to take with us when we travel. It just has a zippered soft case with a shoulder strap for carrying. The old one had a large heavy steel framed shipping case. The PLV machine weighed The new PB ventilator is only 4. Not having to take the old heavy ventilator in and out when we travel made my wife Elaine very happy. We did try out traveling with the new ventilator when we went away for some weekends as well as a 10 day trip and all went well.

It took some time to get used to my new ventilator. But I am thankful I can sleep comfortably at night now with my "hi tech" breathing assistance. July, My mother drove to the hospital to visit almost every afternoon and both parents came in the evening. I was their youngest child, and I was very, very ill with bulbospinal polio, the most severe form of this disease.

I learned later that, in addition to polio, I had a life-threatening case of pneumonia. It was probably more difficult for all the parents. Imagine entering a room filled with these huge metal tanks. The tanks are making their whooshing sound. All you can see are heads sticking out one end of each tank, and you know that one of these heads belongs to your child. My father began a daily journal of the events surrounding my illness and hospitalization. I believe this journal was his way of coping with the strain and sadness he and my mother must have endured.

Hershey examined him and gave us an order to take him to the CD building at the General Hospital. They asked us a lot of questions and gave Richard an examination. Arrived at the hospital at 2 p. He showed us the difficulty he had moving his arms. We returned home somewhat apprehensive. Miller called and said Richard developed some difficulty breathing and they were planning to put him in an Iron Lung later in the evening.

He called again about He explained they put Richard in the Lung as a precaution and to save his strength. We went home feeling pretty low. Called the hospital at 9 a. The nurse said Richard had a quiet night and that we could see him. We went right over and visited with him for 10 minutes. He seemed in good spirits, under the circumstances, and was comfortable. Talked to one of the Drs. After that they can determine the extent of nerve damage. There is nothing to do but wait for two or three days for the answer.

They will be anxious days for us. Went to the hospital again in the evening. Richard is a very sick boy. I left work at noon. Went home for lunch and we went to the hospital. The nurse was working on Richard when we saw him. Still a very sick boy. We returned to the hospital at 7 p. We were rewarded with the first hopeful sign. Richard seemed in good spirits and the nurse said his temperature was down a little.

We came home clinging to that slim thread of hope. Came home for lunch and went to the hospital. The nurse was working on Richard so we had to wait in the hall a few minutes before we could see him. He is very sick but the Dr. He also told us that Richard has a better than even chance to pull through. Returned to the hospital at 7 p. Richard was asleep when we went in but the nurse awakened him. He seemed glad to see us. I treasure this journal.

My parents always encouraged me in whatever tasks I undertook. Living with them was certainly to my advantage.

Not just because they could provide the assistance I needed in daily activities, but because we enjoyed doing so many things together. I know I would not have traveled as much, nor had as wide a spectrum of experiences, if it were not for them. In this respect, I have been blessed. My parents were also responsible for how I dealt with polio. My father had a positive, no-nonsense attitude. After all, she was my mother.

But even she expected that I live my life positively. I have been so fortunate. The county had the resources to give the best medical care possible. With additional funding from the March of Dimes, the county built Rancho Los Amigos, the largest and most up-to-date treatment facility for respiratory polio patients in the nation.

Rancho gave me the finest rehabilitation available and continues to monitor my pulmonary health. I was asked once by a television reporter what I thought my life would have been like had I not contracted polio. You make decisions based on the information you have and the circumstances at the time.

I find this statement embarrassing. It took me by surprise. Now I tell them, as politely as possible, that bravery has nothing to do with it. Bravery is when a person consciously puts their own life in danger to save or protect someone else. A person who happens to have a disability has not made a conscious effort to be disabled.

They still have the desire to live as full a life as possible. Just like everybody else. They feel that they were encouraged, even pushed, to go out and make an active life.

They feel this is why they are having trouble now. On the evening of November 3, , three year old Carol Rosenstiel, her braces hidden under her pant trousers, her wooden crutches digging into her underarms, stood on the platform of Grand Central Terminal in New York City, a huge suitcase by her side.

Her father, Iz, gathered Carol into his arms and held her tightly. Crying, Carol clung to Iz as he handed her over to her Aunt Mary, who had volunteered to accompany her, and the two boarded the train. Warm Springs, Georgia, home to the nationally renowned polio treatment center founded by Franklin D. Carol was my mother, who contracted polio in at the age of two, leaving her permanently paralyzed from the waist down. The first inhabitants were Native Americans, who believed a great spirit lived in the earth, stoking the fires that warmed the springs and healed their battle wounds.

Most people who came to Warm Springs had nothing but fond memories: But for Carol, her most cherished memories were of her special friendship with FDR, who helped shape her personality and remained a source of inspiration to her throughout her life. A few days later, on November 8, he traveled to Georgia where nearly a thousand townspeople greeted him at the train depot. As his train pulled into the station, he stood on the platform, both arms clenching the railings, as a sea of onlookers proudly welcomed him to his home away from home.

Although his visits always engendered excitement, as the newly elected governor, Roosevelt embodied the notion that a disability is an obstacle than can be overcome, fueling the optimism that engulfed Warm Springs. Carol met FDR in the pools a few days later. She recounted their meeting, handed down as family legend by Aunt Mary, in a series of journals she wrote in the decade before her death in Our exercise tables were next to each other and, being the new girl in town, he greeted me with a warm hello and asked my name.

Yet what struck her most was here was a man who seemed to not feel a hint of self-consciousness about his impairment. As a result she found her own spirits were lifted.

Devastated by the thought of raising a disabled child at a time when society viewed people with disabilities as outcasts, Evelyn spent days on end secluded in her room, leaving the care of her daughter to hired help. Thus, at an early age, Carol learned that others retreated in the face of her disability, and soon she began to believe, like her mother, that she was somehow flawed and deficient as a result.

Circumstances were such that Aunt Mary and Carol were renting a cottage across the road from FDR, and soon Aunt Mary began spending her evenings playing cards with the governor-elect and his social secretary Missy LeHand.

Carol often spent time at his cabin at the start of the evening, and noticed how FDR, never short of words, drew others in around him. Family lore has it that Roosevelt became quite fond of Carol, probably getting to know her better than most of the children at the center because of the proximity of their cottages.

As other patients gathered around, FDR peppered them with questions, and engaged them by throwing balls and playing other games. As he ventured from the side of the pool, a swarm of children, including Carol, followed, climbing up on him, pushing him under water, all the while laughing with delight. Later that afternoon, after talking to local farmers in the area, FDR stopped in town to buy ice cream for Carol and all the other children, who rushed in their wheelchairs and braces to greet him as his hand controlled car climbed its way up to the Meriwether Inn, the central meeting place at the center.

Roosevelt cheered me on loudly and lustily through the race. You can do it. Come on — I know you can do it — try harder. She soon began to believe that the power resided in her to ease the awkwardness of others, most importantly of her parents, and gain the acceptance she most needed, by hiding her own self-consciousness around her disability. Like FDR, she learned to conceal all feelings related to her disability, never once speaking about the emotional and physical challenges she faced, not even to those she felt closest to.

And like FDR, she adopted a very gregarious demeanor, deflecting curiosity about her disability by focusing on the needs and wishes of others. Although both Carol and FDR paid a high price for appearing as if their impairment was nothing more than a minor impediment — including bouts of depression and a lack of intimacy with those around them — it helped them both to be accepted in society at a time when most people with polio rarely ventured outside of their homes.

Fortunately, FDR not only provided a model for how to ease the emotional side of having a disability but also the physical. Practicing his walking on the grounds of the rehabilitation center, Carol noticed how he always walked alongside somebody else, holding on to his or her arm with one hand and carrying a cane with the other, thereby giving the appearance of only slight impairment. With his legs held in place by his braces, he shifted the weight of his body onto his arms and slowly hitched each leg up and forward, smiling broadly while keeping his head up.

Although this was no doubt a tiring and burdensome way to walk, - one that would unknowingly come back to haunt patients years later in the form of post-polio symptoms - seeing FDR made Carol realize that the rewards were worth it.

For not only was FDR totally accepted into society, but he was able to achieve the unimaginable. She became a concert musician who performed at Carnegie Hall and recorded with Igor Stravinsky. Carol returned to the rehabilitation center in December , where she stayed for 5 months. She eagerly anticipated seeing her old friend, asking Aunt Mary every day when he would come. On a bright sunny afternoon, the two of them joined the flock of patients in front of the Meriwether Inn, awaiting his arrival.

When FDR pulled up — behind the wheel of his Plymouth roaster, a long convertible with the top down — Carol and Aunt Mary rushed to greet him. Carol giggled as he exited the car, trailed by other patients. These would be their last days together, as he was not at the center during her two subsequent visits as a child. Roosevelt was my hero, as indeed he was to all children and undoubtedly adults as well who were crippled.

The world will not easily forget the special tilt of his chin and all the resolve, courage and determination that made it so unforgettable. That tilt, I believe, had a very special meaning to those of us who shared his personal fate of living with substantial physical impairment, determined to meet the considerable challenge of living our lives fully and well, despite our physical limitations.

Their relationship, however short, impacted Carol throughout her life. Although while I was growing up my mother never uttered a single word to me about her disability, she proudly displayed the photo and letter from FDR in her music room, where it continued to serve as a source of inspiration for her.

When I think about my mother — her gregarious personality, her ability to put others at ease by never mentioning her disability, and her ability to draw other people to her — I think of our former president, who had such a lasting influence on a little girl. According to WHO, one out of every cases, polio virus passes to the spinal cord where it can destroy the nerve cells which activate the muscles.

This damage is irreversible. The nerve cells cannot be replaced, the muscles affected no longer function and the outcome is life-long paralysis. This disease mainly affects children under three but older children can catch it too.

Adult cases are rare. Main casual agent of polio is virus of three types i. All the three types cause paralysis and the disease is highly communicable. People started to send their dimes and for the first three days the White House collected As a matter of fact, Franklin D Roosevelt whose portrait is still on the dimes was also a polio victim Showed next characters. For your convenience Manyessays provide you with custom writing service. All papers are written from scratch by only certified and experienced writers.

Please contact our custom service if you have any questions concerning our service. Please enter a valid e-mail address. Please enter your password. Get instant access to over , papers.

Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals

Main Topics

Privacy Policy

- Polio Virus Introduction The polio virus which causes poliomyelitis in humans is an enterovirus which belongs to the picornavirus (small, RNA) family. Polio virus is rapid, acid-resistant, stable, highly tissue specific and consists of a single-stranded, positive RNA.

Privacy FAQs

Polio (or poliomyelitis) is a disease that can cause lameness among children. It can cripple a child for life. According to WHO, one out of every cases, polio virus passes to the spinal cord where it can destroy the nerve cells which activate the muscles.

About Our Ads

POLIO Essays: Over , POLIO Essays, POLIO Term Papers, POLIO Research Paper, Book Reports. ESSAYS, term and research papers available for UNLIMITED access. Free Essays from Bartleby | talks about Roosevelt had polio; (2) Axelrod quoted multiple sources to help the audience to further understand what Roosevelt.

Cookie Info

Polio essaysBefore the development of the Salk and Sabin vaccines, polio was a serious infection that affected the central nervous system; however with proper vaccinations it can be eradicated in the United States today. There are different kinds of polio. They include spinal polio, non-paralytic. Free Essay: Poliomyelitis (shortened to polio) has been around for thousands of years, and there is still no cure, but at the peak of its devastation in the.