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Peg Kehret reported in Small Steps about her experiences with polio.

"I fell asleep and woke three hours later with a stiff neck. My back hurt even more than it had earlier and now my legs ached as well. Several times I had painful muscle spasms in my legs and toes. The muscles tightened until my knees bent and my toes curled.

Dr. Wright took my temperature.  'Still one hundred and two,' he said. He tapped my knees with his rubber mallet; this was supposed to make my legs jerk. They didn't. They hung limp and unresponsive. I was too woozy from pain and fever to care.

'You have polio,' Dad said as he stroked my hair back. . . .Panic shot through me. I had seen Life magazine pictures of polio victims in wheelchairs and wearing heavy iron leg braces.

Later that morning, I walked into the isolation ward of Sheltering Arms Hospital in Minneapolis and went to bed in a private room...I fell asleep. When I woke up, I was paralyzed.

I tried to bend my knees, but my legs were two logs, stiff and unmoving. I was too weak even to lift my head off the pillow...Each time the doctor asked me to move a part of my body and I could not move it, my terror increased. I could talk, I could open and close my eyes, and I could turn my head from side to side on my pillow, but otherwise I could not move at all.

The doctor said, 'Diagnosis is acute antior poliomyelitis. The patient is paralyzed from the neck down.'  

I couldn't move anything!


A child In an iron lung
(Children's Hospital in Boston)
I was rolled down the hallway to my new room which I shared with a little boy in an iron lung.  His name was Tommy and he was eight.  All I could see of Tommy was a head which stuck out from one end of the iron lung and rested on a canvas strap, much like a hammock.  A mirror over his head allowed him a limited range of vision, but he was unable to see me.
I welcomed each breath I took, grateful that it could enter my lungs without assistance."

   ~ Peggy Kehret