Friday, October 24, 2014

World Polio Day - a personal perspective

Lois Smyth

World Polio Day – October 24.   For as little as 60¢ a day a child can be protected from this disease for life.  Thanks to Dr. Jonas Salk for his work in developing the Salk vaccine back in the 1950s.  And thanks to the Rotary Clubs for their continued efforts in eradicating this dreaded disease.

I was 10 years old when I spent six months in bed, most of the time unable to sit up or roll over. When I did get up, I quickly realized that my legs no longer worked and I could not stand on them.  For the next many months I crept on the floor like a baby.  I was 10 years old – learning how to walk.  My parents were firm believers in positive thinking and would not allow me to give up or feel sorry for myself.   With their encouragement, my own determination and the support of the wonderful people in our local service clubs, my future began to look brighter.

I owe so much to the joint efforts of the Rotary, the Kiwanis and the Lions clubs who provided a taxi for me, morning and night, to and from school.  We were living in Northern Ontario at the time and they made arrangements for me to travel by train to the Sick Children’s Hospital in Toronto on two separate occasions for surgery.  Not once was my family ever approached for money to cover these travel expenses or any of the surgeries.

Polio does not return, but the results of it do, and the muscles that have had to work so hard over the years are now saying “enough.”  I’ve had to learn to do things in different ways and to worry less about the dust on the coffee table or the cobwebs in the corners.  Accepting an invitation or going anywhere causes me to stop and give it serious thought.  Is the entrance at ground level?  Are there stairs to climb?  Is there a railing on the stairs?  Should I use my cane?  My walker?  My wheelchair?  Or should I just stay home. I’ve had to learn to swallow that big lump of pride in my throat and accept or even ask for help.  I am reminded of the blind man who became very depressed over his loss of sight until he sat down and made a detailed list of all the things that he could do, and he realized what a lucky man he was. We’ve just celebrated Thanksgiving.  What were you thankful for?  Did you thank God that you can walk?

I am so blessed to have so many friends and neighbors who are a wonderful support to me.  Small town Pincher Creek is a great place to live.  Thank you, thank you Rotarians for the work you are doing in obliterating this disease from the face of the earth.

Related story: Rotary World Polio Day October 24

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