Connie as writer and editor
Connie Anderson has edited books in many genres over the years—and in 2013, wrote her first two books. After telling clients what to do and how to do it, it was time to put all her advice to work for her own creative efforts. (See Books section.)
One year, Connie edited over 20 books, with topics that ranged from needing a heart transplant to oil fracking to speaking to the dead to selling and buying restaurants and bars—and a whole variety of topics in between. She learned a lot of interesting things with each new subject, which fits her curious nature. (Read the comments from the authors about what it is like to work with Connie.)
Remembering the Polio Epidemic, 60-Plus Years Later
Bloomington, Minn. (Dec. 2, 2013) – Polio reached the epidemic stage in the Twin Cities Metro area in 1952. Summer was the worst. Adults were fearful about what they allowed their children to do, especially when many people congregated. How did this dread disease spread? No one knew.
Starting in 1933, the number of cases nationwide rose each year, to 25,000 in 1946, 33,000 in 1950, and shockingly, 59,000 in 1952. The just-released book, When Polio Came Home: How Ordinary People Overcame Extraordinary Challenges, tells first how polio struck all kinds of homes, and second, once the children were diagnosed, hospitalized, and then returned home, many lives changed: theirs, their parents and siblings, and their community.
Starting in the late ‘90s, many who had polio as children in the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s, started having what became defined as Post-Polio Syndrome. The symptoms were similar to what they experienced when polio first hit. Before this, most people had lived a full and normal life.
In Minnesota, we had the treatment advantage of state-funded Gillette Hospital for Crippled Children, Sister Kenny (and her Institute), as well as fund-raising by Shriners and March of Dimes to help the families financially.
Available on Amazon—In the heart-warming collection stories of people’s determination and drive, edited by Connie Anderson, 41people (mostly Minnesotans) tell their very personal story of contracting the poliovirus. Some were hospitalized as young as eleven months, and a few spent four years hospitalized. Many also tell of having no aftereffects. May we never again experience such a national epidemic.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Ronny Dittbenner–“Look. I Can Walk” .15
Nancy Gosz–Mother and Daughter Affected on Daughter’s Birthday .19
Sue Mauren–My Sister, Nancy .31
Larry Kouhout–Polio–An Epidemic of Fear, Paralysis, and Stigma .35
Dennis Anderson–My Connection with Sister Kenny—and Growing Up in the 1950s During the Polio Epidemic .47
Margy Hull–Making Polio Work for Me 53
Janice Kretsch–Polio Hits Farm Family Very Hard 61
Adele Poindexter Evidon–Not Yet Two and Confined to an Iron Lung .65
Janice Norberg–Telling My Mom’s Story .73
Arlene Sanborn–What Doesn’t Kill You, Makes You Strong 79
Ruth Gensmen–“You Better Watch Out or….” .91
Ellajane Knott–Polio and Pregnancy 107
Lawrence Bigelow–A Bum Leg, But an Active Life 111
June (Kerkhoff) Alraid–My Post-Polio Is Much Worst Than When First Affected 119
Bob Beauchaine–I Was One of Kids Sister Kenny Used at Her Medical Symposiums 123
Sarah Crosby–An Iron Lung at the End of My Bed 129
Sue Peterson–A Daughter Remembers Her Dad 137
Clara Ries–Bulbar Polio Paralyzed My Throat 141
Kate Pettit–Polio—A Family’s Story 145
Vivian Houk–More Compassion, Understanding and Tolerance for Others 149
Lois Finke–“She’ll Never Walk Again” 159
LaVonne Grussendorf–Wife Tells of Her Husband’s Polio Challenges 165
Harley Greenberg–One of the Lucky Ones 173
Randi Luoto–I’m Very Grateful 183
Carol Lucas–A Small Community’s Love Story to a Teen With Polio 185
Linda Miller–A Scary Summer 193
Ernie Lapp–Two Perspectives 197
Jeanne Wiger–Having Polio Made Me a Classic “Over-Achiever” 205
Joan Schaefer–Polio Strikes a Family’s Three Children 209
June Fischer–From Active Teenager to Being Bedbound 24/7 215
Glen Hausfeld–My Polio Was Secondary to Other Life Challenges 219
Marcia Halfmann–My Halloween Memory 223
Nancy Wiggins–Teen-Age Memories of Having Polio 231
Kathy Hamers–Four-Plus Years at Gillette Hospital .245
Virginia Johnson–A Mother’s Advocacy Never Ends 231
Sharon Kroncke–A Love Story … From Care to Cure 245
Gary Rantala–Polio Hits Home on the Iron Range 253
Jim Jeselnick–Dr.Wright Changed My Life 257
Katalin Govrik Preisler–Polio Come to the Party 263
Lois Drill–My Children Never Saw Me as “Crippled” 277
Paul Johnson–A Lot of Kids on “The Iron Range” Had Polio 281
A: How long they were hospitalized, up to four years, and how children saw their parents only during visiting hours on Sunday. During the initial contagious phase of about four weeks, the parents could not touch their child, and see them only through the window in the door of the child’s room.
Q: Why did you collect these stories?
A: I think it is important that everyone today knows what it was like to have a nationwide (worldwide) virus people were contracting at random. It changed lives. I learned from working with the 41 people in the book that people changed them—but it is not who they are. These people, children of the “greatest generation,” where a determined lot—determined to live their life to the fullest, and be thought of “as normal.”
I grew up during this time as a farm girl, quite isolated as I attended school and church within 2 miles of my farm. Later I learned how mothers were so fearful, especially those living in the city, and would not let their children go any place where large numbers of people congregated, like movies, parks, swimming beaches.
Q: How is the March of Dimes tied to polio?
A: President Roosevelt was instrumental in starting the March of Dimes after he got polio at age 39. The “Mother’s March” was part of this when mothers went door-to-door with a March of Dimes. These donations were used for research as well as paying medical expenses for polio patients’ hospitalization—and some other at-home expenses.
Q: What role did the Shriner’s organization play?
A: For over 90 years, Shriners did major fund raising efforts and the result was free care for anyone in their hospital. Many a family sighed huge relief when they received an invoice marked, “Paid in full—the Shriners.” This happened whether the patient was there a few days, weeks, or even years.
However, starting in 2011, this is no longer true, and Shriner’s Hospital is now charging patient’s insurance.
Q: How did the poliovirus spread?
A: Peak times of new cases was summer and autumn. Time between contact with the virus and first symptoms is usually six to twenty days. Primary transmission of the virus was by ingesting contaminated food or water—and enters the body through the mouth. Between seven and ten days before and after the first symptoms appear, polio is most infectious. As long as the virus remains in the saliva or feces, transmission is possible. That is why when first hospitalized, polio patients were in a contagion ward isolated for up to a month before they could enter the regular wards.
Q: How many cases did we have in the United States?
A: Brooklyn, New York was the site of the first polio case in 1916. In the U.S. during on the epidemic years of 1949, we had over 2,700 deaths. Family members were quarantined and their name and address was published in daily newspaper.
The following list is from http://www.teachspace.org/personal/research/poliostory/fear3.html
|Year||Cases ofParalytic Polio|
|19501952*||33,00059,000 (3,145 died, and over 21,000 had some mild paralysis|
*The polio epidemic of 1952 is notable because serious outbreaks occurred in all of the forty-eight states, and in the territories of Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico.
In 1957, immediately following mass immunizations promoted by the March of Dimes, the annual number of polio cases in the United States were dramatically reduced, from a peak of nearly 58,000 cases, to just 5,600 cases
Q: What stopped the spread of polio—and finally eradicated it in the U.S.?
A: Polio cast a cloud of fear over the entire country, the people demanded something be done, and research was at the forefront of that demand.
Others tried earlier, but finally two vaccines were developed to combat polio. After Jonas Salk had tested his vaccine I 1952, it announced it publically on April 12, 1955. Jonas Salk first tested his vaccine, which consisted of an injected dose of killed poliovirus, in 1952, then announcing it on April 12, 1955. The field trials became the largest medical experiment in history. His vaccine. In 1954, the vaccine was tested for its ability to prevent polio. Once the vaccine was licensed, nationwide vaccination campaigns were launched, and by 1957, mass immunizations began, promoted by the March of Dimes, which had provided the major funding for the research.
The annual number of polio cases was reduced, from a top number of nearly 58,000 cases, to just 5,600 cases.
Eight years later, Albert Sabin’s oral polio vaccine was licensed in 1962, further reducing the number of cases. By 1961, only 161 cases occurred in the U.S.
Ask anyone who was young then. They remember the shots (Salk) and standing in line for the much-preferred oral, given on a sugar cube.
Interesting, 1979 saw an outbreak among the Amish in several Midwestern states.
Q: How did the polio scare change how families lived and what their children did?
A: The 1916 epidemic that started in New York City caused widespread panic. Meetings were cancelled, theatres were closed, and large public gatherings did not meet. Many fled major cities to feel safer, away from crowds. Mothers told their children not to drink water from public fountains, or the water hose at home, and everyone avoided amusements parks, swimming pools and pubic beaches. The Minnesota State fair was cancelled in 1945 because of fuel rationing, and then again in 1946 because of the polio epidemic.
Q: How did polio affect the body?
A: Bulbar polio primarily affected the nerves in the upper part of the spinal cord, which caused difficulty in breathing, swallowing, speech, and for some, facial movements. The nerves in those areas affect the muscles in the chest wall, diaphragm, and upper extremities as well as in the face and throat responsible for chewing and swallowing.
Often those with bulbar polio ended up in an iron lung, which kept them alive by doing the breathing for them. They were captives in that contraption, with only their head sticking out. Over their head was a mirror tilted so they could see who was around them. More deaths incurred to people with bulbar polio.
Spinal polio primarily affects the motor function in the person’s trunk and arms and legs, causing the person to need braces and sometimes body casts on the full chest area or one or two arms and legs.
Spinal polio was more common, and those were the people who needed crutches, braces, lots of corrective surgeries requiring body casts and being bedridden long-term, first at the hospital and then at home.
Q: If their child was hospitalized with polio, how did that change a family’s life?
A: The parents had to juggle home life, other children, visiting their child in the hospital. Farmers, especially dairy farmers, had to be home for milking in the morning and the evening, and sometimes they lived a few hours away. These trips took time, and money.
They had to deal with the emotions of leaving their young child alone, surrounded by strangers. At least initially, they also had to deal with their community as they were now branded a “polio family,” as fear about catching the virus was rampant.
When their child finally came home, they might have to make different sleeping arrangements as most often the children slept upstairs—and this ne could not make the steps. The mothers, who usually had several other young children, now became the at-home therapists, required to help their child do exercise for several hours each day.
Q: Did everyone who contracted the poliovirus have some lasting aftereffects?
A: Many of the cases the people had only temporary symptoms, and if paralyzed, it was often also temporary.
Q: What is Post-Polio Syndrome?
A: In the mid 1990s, some people who had polio as a child, and had lived full and active lives, started to experience weakness in their muscles as well as extreme fatigue. These new symptoms, along with aging issues, have caused the people to rely more on motorized wheelchairs and cart to ensure they can get around safely.