“Survivors”

“Survivors”

The definition of a survivor is “someone regarded as capable of surviving changing conditions, misfortune, etc.  A misfortune means a mishap, illness or calamity.

On May 30, 1966 Randy Krulish had a misfortune.  On October 1, 1948 I had an illness.  Randy was injured in a diving accident and fractured his neck leaving him paralyzed. I became very ill with poliomyelitis (Polio). Both were changing conditions. Both of us endured our changing conditions the same way. We became survivors.

Randy knew what it was like to be normal. He had twelve years to enjoy all the running and playing a boy should be able to endure. I became ill at six and a half months old. I was probably just learning how to crawl and perhaps walk around furniture holding on. I would never know what it was like to run, jump, skip or be normal.

Over the years, we both had families that were there supporting us in all we pursued.  We both grew up on farms in the Midwest, We both had careers that enabled us to make a living for ourselves.  We both have a very strong Faith to keep us going. Today we have both survived our changing condition.

Now many years later we have meet and made a friendship.  Recently we both spoke for our church Guest Day and shared our stories of inspiration. Challenges come our way every day. This day was no exception for Randy.  On the way to the church Randy had a flat tire on his van.  God placed him in the path, for repair, just in front of a young man that he knew from his home town who repaired his tire and sent him on his way. He arrived at church on time for his presentation. When it was time to leave to go back home the elevator did not work properly in the church. After much trying to repair it,  we decided that our best option was to call the Blooming Prairie Fire Department for a rescue.  Upon their arrival many men were working with Randy to find the safest way to carry his heavy wheel chair down the flight of steps.  Other firemen were working in the elevator to get it working. The elevator was working in no time and they did not have to carry that heavy chair down the steps. We were so grateful to the fire department for their assistance.

Randy and I with the Blooming Prairie Fire Department

Randy and I with the Blooming Prairie Fire Department

October 9 was anti bullying day in our school. Every one was encouraged to wear orange. School is back in session and we are looking forward to sharing our stories with the children. It is very important for them to see that because we are physically different, there is no need to treat us differently.  The #1 person bullied is a physically handicapped person. We share how we adjust to our challenges and make them positive.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. There are many survivors from breast cancer, thanks to early detection.  A good friend is doing all she can to fight cancer by joining forces with many in our community to raise money for the cause. As a survivor she will make a difference.

October 26 will be Polio Awareness Day. Rotary International has been working to eradicate the disease of polio by making sure that all children worldwide have their vaccinations. Please make sure that your children have their vaccinations.  Wee must all work together to “End Polio Now”.

Spinal cord injuries are making progress with research every day. There is always Hope.

 

 

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“I Love A Parade”

“I Love a Parade”

Parades have always been one of my favorite summertime activities.  During the summer you can find a Hay Days, Rushford Days, Buffalos Bill Days, Jesse James Days. Any kind of days anywhere within a 50 miles radius.  There is usually a Parade to go to along with lots of other festivities. Going to a parade is not a shared interest by many in my immediate family so I don’t enjoy as many as are available or as many as I would like to. I will get to as many as I can in the summer season.  Then wait for next year to start all over again. There is nothing better than the Color Guard leading the parade with the American Red, White and Blue so we can honor our Veterans and thank them for all they have given for our country.  Bands bring excitement to the parade and of course you must have clowns and horses.

Lonna and Linda at Albert Lea, Minnesot parade

Lonna and Linda at Albert Lea, Minnesot parade

Enjoying a pushup, with my sister Lonna, was taken at a parade in Albert Lea, Minnesota back in the early ’50.  The beautiful dresses that we are wearing were made by our mother. She made all our dresses and they usally matched. I really don’t know why were so dressed up with the darling hats to finish off the outfit, but we sure were cute sitting on the curb enjoying the pushups watching a parade. I am so grateful to my mother for teaching me the skill of sewing as it is something that I thoroughly enjoy each day. It is something that I can do sitting down. Something that I can do for my family and others and not make myself tired. There are some things that are difficult for me to do because of physical limitations so what I can do, I try to do it the best that I can.

If you look close beneath that adorable dress, you will notice two metal and leather braces attached to my legs.  They were a necessary part of my growing up with Polio to make my mobility a possibility. As a young infant I was stricken with Polio in 1948 at age six and a half months old. Thousands of children and adults were stricken before a vaccine became available in 1953. I wore braces until I was sixteen years old, a sophomore in high school. The next two decades I completed as normal as I could. My goal as a child was to keep up with everyone else and be as normal as possible. A limp and some deformities were visible but life was always great.  I completed an education, married, had three children and continued in a successful career.  Then the need to return to a brace on my left leg became a reality at age 36. My husband and three children were so helpful in helping me make the necessary adjustments. We all have adjustments to make and those adjust have to control our attitude. I try to end each day with a positive thought. No matter how hard today was and how things were, tomorrow is a fresh opportunity to make it better. I see my limitations as a motivational tool. I use those limitations as a strength –not a liability.

Today, Saturday August 3, I will be attending a Minnesota TWINS game at the Target Field. It will be a Polio-Plus Day at Target Field.  Watching a TWINS game is also a favorite summertime activity for me. After a 13 inning game last night and a win I am very excited to attend the game today against the Houston Astros. Many Rotarians will be attending this important event to help bring awareness to the “End Polio Now” campaign. There is still lots of work to be done to eradicate the disease completely and the task will keep moving forward until all countries will be free of Polio. Please make sure that your children have completed the necessary vaccinations. We do not want this dreaded disease to cripple anymore children or adults.

“Playing the Game of Life”

I love playing games. It can be a board game of “Life” or Monopoly, card game such as 500, Kings in the corner or going to or watching a Minnesota “TWINS” baseball game. I’ll play any game with anyone except Scrabble.  I don’t do Scrabble.

We all have adjustment and situations that we must deal with as we play our game of life. How many of you feel that you were dealt the “Lucky” hand for your game of life? How many of you are still looking for the “Full House” to play your game of Life? My life is no different than anyone else as I was dealt a hand for my game of life. However, with all sorts of adjustments, lots of medical attention and expense early in my life, it has been a successful life and I feel I was dealt a lucky hand. With bushels baskets full of love, much support, many caring hands and a very strong will to be “Normal” when I play my game of “Life” I have found many positive ways to make me the person I am today.

Since I was a child, I have worked extremely hard to be “Normal”. Being normal is being like everyone else.  I wear glasses like lots of other people so I can see better.  I have a stylish hair cut to enhance my appearance and I wear a smile on my face.  These things are the same as many people. You will also notice things that are different from everyone else. I use a cane to help with my mobility, I wear a long leg brace, under my pants, on my left leg to support my leg while walking and I have a distinctive limp to the left, my weaker side. These things make me different. How does one adjust to all these situations?

“Courage” and “Faith” are my strongest assets. When my life changed at the age of 6 1/2 months old, I was not able to understand what was happening to me. Through all the love, support and caring hands and my very strong will to be “Normal” I was able to adjust. The definition of Courage is “it is not the absence of fear”. “It is doing what it will take despite ones fear.” I have spent the last several months speaking to fourth through sixth grade children telling them the importance of treating some else that may be different, NOT differently. The #1 individual that is bullied has a physical limitation.  I am very differently abled and have learned to make my way in this world by doing everything that anyone else can do and do it the best that I can with lots of time and patience. Poliomyelitis, a highly contagious virus, has changed the way I play my “game of Life”. My Grand daughter, Emma (age 13), asks me almost ever time she is around me “Grandma, are you a perfectionist?”  No, but I have learned that doing something right is the right way to do anything.  With lots of Faith, Hope and Trust I make it through every day doing the best I can in whatever I am doing.

Linda at St. Mary's 18 months old

Linda at St. Mary’s 18 months old

Polio is three generations back from today.  You may have a parent who is living with the effects of polio. You may have a grand parent that lived with polio. Some of you reading this may not know what polio is.  Please read past Blogs to find out how a polio survivor can make their way with lots of Courage, and how I have over come a “Challenging dealt hand”.  My book “All the Steps I have Taken” was a dream I had my entire life.  It went live with Inspiring Voices in August 2012. When I retired from a successful career, as a Registered Dental Assistant, I took the time to write my memoir. This little book has lead me to find many polio survivors and we all have handled our dealt hand the same way with persistence and courage. Only with a strong faith could we have done this.  “Truly he is my rock and salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. (Psalm 62: 6-8)  Gods blessing to you all.

All The Steps I Have Taken

1

Inspiring, polioAll the Steps I Have Taken,” is a non-fiction novel that has been something I have had on my mind for several years.  When you live your entire life with poliomyelitis (polio), you have a somewhat different way of looking at the perspectives in your life. When I retired from a successful career as a dental assistant, I had time to finally put that dream into reality and begin writing my book.

My thought was that there are thousands of people out there that are the same age as me and I needed to get these words of encouragement completed for them. I also realize that a lot of people have challenges caused by other factors than polio.  These same words, in my book, can give them encouragement. I realized that I’m not getting any younger and neither are the thousands of people that lived with polio before a vaccine was available. I needed to get my words of inspiration in my book out for people to enjoy and be encouraged by.

My entire life has been made different due to contracting polio at the young age of six months. I never knew any other way of navigating my day. As a young child I was a “happy-go-lucky” kind of child. I always had a smile on my face. I never really noticed that I had to wear braces on my legs to walk and use crutches to help me get around. It was just the way I needed to get where I wanted to be.

As the years went on and my life was enjoyable, I realized that I had done a very good job of piecing a wonderful life together. I have a lot of color in my life just as I do with the quilts that I make.  All of the things I was able to accomplish made me realize that I have made a fulfilling life for myself. I have no regrets with anything that I have done. When I see someone else who is struggling with their day to get around it always makes me so grateful that I can do all the things I want to do, it just takes me twice as long to do it.

My journey begins everyday with the same thought; how I can better my life or the life of someone else .It’s a wonderful way to begin each day. My motto is live life to the fullest!

My father found it difficult to read my memoir. He said “he couldn’t complete that task”.  It brought too many memories to surface that he didn’t want to remember. He passed away January 18, 2013 and I can only hope that he read some of those pages.  I told him “he needed to see from where I had come to get to where I am now”.  He said “I see that everyday, I don’t have to read it”.  God Bless his memory.

“Do it”

“Do It.”

just my dad

My Dad

It is time to make sure that your New Years resolution is in place and you’re not going to let the year go by without following it through. It is almost the end of January 2013 and have you taken action yet? Have you put the foot forward to begun to work your plan? If not, now is the time to “Do it”.

I am a great fan of Dr. Peale and he always encouraged people to take action 365 days of the year. It was his idea that consisted of just these two words “Do it”. “These two words can generate enormous energy” he said.

I have some words that mean a lot to me. Integrity: it means completeness; to be sound. Competitive: it means rivalry in business. Hardworking: it means energetic, effort exerted to do or make something. These are words that describe my dad. He was laid to rest this week, after a long battle with cancer. His children of four took care of him for about 10 weeks 24/7. He was proud of his kids as he would talk to the hospice nurses and say “I wouldn’t be here at home, if it weren’t for my kids”. They thought it so cute since we are all in our 50’s and 60’s and still considered us his kids. I guess “Kids” has no age limit. As the pastor described him these words were used. He was always stepping ahead to “Do it”. Taking a risk to improve upon what he had for himself and his family.

Dad and me

Dad and me

I was only six months old when I contracted polio and from that day forward I just had to “Do it”. It would be necessary for me to gain courage from my parents, since I was so young, to learn to “Do it”. I doubt that I or my parents every thought of it as a New Years’ resolution. I think I just learned that to get ahead and be normal I would just plain and simply have to learn to dig in hard and “Do it”. I know it was a great financial burden to have my health to take care of. I never heard a grumble. I know I caused worry with all the surgeries I needed to improve my mobility. I never heard a grumble. Now as people read my book “All the Steps I Have Taken” I am hearing comments like “from what I know of him from Linda’s book, he was a man of faith, a man who shouldered work and responsibility, a man who loved his family and friends, and a man who put service above self.”

My dad told me he could never read my book. It had too many reminders of things he didn’t want to remember. I responded “that at age 87 all you have are loads of memories”. He said he could see who I was each and every day. He didn’t need to read it in a book. He carried many secrets with him that he just couldn’t express. He will be missed and I will thank him for making me the person I am today. He “Did it”.

The secret is to just tell the people that you love that you love them. Just “Do It”.

Living with Polio

It could happen at any age, it didn’t matter if you were 10, 20 or 30+. The virus would attack the body with a fever, headache, fatigue and sore throat. For many a full recovery was made and nothing went beyond this point. Since I was so young when I contracted the virus I couldn’t tell my mother what was wrong when I was so ill at 6 months.  My mother visited our local Doctor every day for a week before he directed my parents to take me to St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, Minnesota. From that day to now I have lived my life with the effects of infantile paralysis (polio).

polio, crutches, all the steps,

Linda at the age of 4

As a young child I learned to navigate my way around with the use of braces and crutches.  I learned to walk after being admitted as a patient for therapy and taught how to use braces and crutches. I was so young that I don’t remember this process, I’ve only been told and shown pictures. When I look at pictures from the past, I’ve noticed that I always had a contagious smile on my face and was always happy despite my challenges!

Polio, crutches, survivor, all the steps

Linda at the age of 10. In the background you can see a small remaining section of the fence.

I grew up on the family farm. My parents put a fence around the yard to keep me safe from machinery and other farm equipment.  It didn’t take long for them to realize that they were not going to be able to fence me in, because I used my crutches to reach the latch and undo the fence and I was off. They later took the fence down, and decided to let me try and do anything I wanted to do, without limitations.  As an adult I am so grateful that they let me exceed my boundaries. I have never been afraid to try anything I thought I could accomplish.

Each summer entailed yet another surgery to improve my mobility. Every summer I would have surgery shortly after school was dismissed and I would spend the rest of the summer healing so I could return to school in the fall. Sometimes I would return to school still needing to use crutches. When I was 15 I had my last surgery to get rid of my last brace.  I was so excited to finally be able to go without braces on my legs.  Forrest Gump said. “If God wanted us all to be the same, he would have made all of us wear braces on our legs.”

polio, survivor, crutches, all the steps

Linda at the age of 15 with her grandpa Reimann and cousins Cheri & Barb

My journey has made no significant change. It is  still the same challenge everyday.  This is an update with a  corrected address for wordpress.

The Brace Shop

“The Brace Shop”
It happens every once in a while that I need to take time to have an adjustment to my long  left brace. It becomes a part of me everyday as I get dressed and plan my day activities. It matters what brace I wear for the amount of activity I will be doing. The choice is always mine as to what brace I will wear. One will allow me to be very busy and give me the support I will need to address that tasks that I plan. The other will wait for another day to help me with less strenuous tasks. I am fortunate that Prosthetic Laboratories, my brace shop, is in Rochester, Minnesota only 45 miles away. They take care of all my needs.

Linda Age 10braces and crutches

Linda Age 10
braces and crutches

God knows that I always need strength, courage, endurance and creativity to navigate through my day. He helps me start everyday as I enjoy my cup of coffee and prayer.

Strength: Physical strength is important because my upper body helps my lower body. My arms, at the end of the day, are extremely tired from all they have to do.

Courage: “Courage is not the absence of fear. It is what we do despite our fear.” It takes a lot of bravery for me to put that brace on everyday to support my left leg that was paralyzed by poliomyelitis in 1948. But, without it in place, I would be unable to walk unassisted without my crutches.

Endurance: For 64 years I have had to use all the strength and courage I have to make my day a better day. I was only 6 months old when I contracted the polio virus that made my life more challenging. It has been a way of life for my entire life. I never walked a step without a limp and have worn braces for all but 20 years of my life. From age 16 to 36 I was brace free. At age 36 my left knee could not support me because of lack of muscle and tendon strength.

Creativity: There isn’t anything I can not accomplish. It always takes me longer, but the task will be completed. I just have to figure out the best way to accomplish the undertaking. It might take 3 trips to transport groceries into the house instead of one. It may mean I have to take a break after I vacuum for half and hour. I simply revolve tasks until the day is done and I feel convinced that I did the unsurpassed I could do for that day.

All this and more are detailed in my recent book “All the Steps I Have Taken”. It is my journey through life with polio. Enjoy a short read and be inspired.

Then and Now

                                                Then and Now

Then: 1948.

Linda at St. Mary's 18 months old

Linda at St. Mary’s 18 months old

It was hard to know what to do.  They did the best they could with what anyone knew. This was happening to my parents. Imagine a small child, 6 months old, very sick with a fever that wouldn’t go away. I was a crying baby needing help and parents not knowing how to help. In the fall of 1948 I became very sick and my mother took me to the local Doctor for advice every day for a week. Sulfur was administered for an ear infection, but the fever didn’t go away. The day came when my mother lifted my legs to change my diaper, I cried so hard.  At that point my parents were told to take me to St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, Minnesota.  Do not call, just go. The Doctor feared that I might have Polio, poliomyelitis or infantile paralysis. He also feared that if they called they would say they were too full and send me to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Polio was a very contagious disease that crippled thousands of children in the late 40’s and early 50’s. I spent 14 months at St. Mary’s before I could go home. My older sister didn’t get to play with me, my parents didn’t get to hold me, and I became attached to the nurses that were taking care of me. It was very frightening for the nurses, as many had children at home and did not want their children to get polio.

Now: 2012

Because Jonas Saulk began his work at the University of Pittsburg in 1947 to find a vaccine for polio many children have be spared. In 1952 Salk first tried the vaccine on kids who already had polio and were recovering and found that their antibodies increased. In 1954 more than 1.8 million school children in 44 states participated in the filed trial of the new vaccine. It was the largest controlled study in the history of medicine. A vaccine became available in 1955. Rotarians by the thousands are working so hard to eradicate polio world wide so we will never have to see children affected as I was as a child. By 1964, only 122 cases of polio were recorded in the United States. The World Health Organization certified the Americans were polio free in 1994. But, polio is still crippling children in three countries today.  They are Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. Polio can easily jump the borders. India will soon celebrate that they are polio free. By 2008, Rotarians had contributed more than US $700 million and countless volunteer hours to immunize more the two billion children in 122 countries.  Rotary is still working today to “End Polio Now”. We can’t stop. I wear my “End Polio Now” pin every day. I will share my story in  Schools to help children understand that some children are different than they are, as I was growing up.

” The Final Inch”

The Final Inch

“The Final Inch”

                                                “The Final Inch”

The polio vaccine has been around for 50 years yet we are still trying to eradicate the disease polio. Poliomyelitis is a disease that had three actual types of virus. One of them caused vomiting and flu type systems. Children and adults usually recovered from this type with no ill effects. The second type caused paralysis to arms, legs, shoulders or in combination of places. The third type is Bulbar and this is the one that can kill. It is the one that tells our heart to beat and our diaphragm to push and pull air. Polio is a virus the spreads by drinking contaminated water. One must wash their hands.

Uttar Pradesh, India has 187,000 million people and has the largest concentration of polio.  The World Health Assembly, Unicef and Rotary are working very hard to “End Polio Now.” India has had 4 million volunteers to work to eradicate polio and in January 2013 they will celebrate no new cases for 2012.  It will be a Celebration.  It hasn’t been easy but the work has been completed there.  Now Nigeria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan still are in need of volunteers to get the job of vaccination completed. It is down to the last 1%.

Rotary is today the quiet army that is working so hard to finish “The Final Inch”. We are this close. The foot soldiers in the war to end polio, have become the largest non-military organization in human history working toward the final goal of ending polio cases world wide.  We must reach the poorest areas in the world. If not, polio will be just a plane ride away.

The History of the Polio Timeline reported from 1945-1949 that there were 20,000 new cases each year in the United States. In 1952 the largest number, 58,000 cases of polio were reported in the United States. The following year in 1953, Dr. Jonas Saulk started his field trials. In 1955 the vaccine became available to the public and we all remember lining up to receive the vaccine at local schools nation wide.

We must keep working until the last 1% is reached so that no more children will have to live a life of challenge, with the effects of poliomyelitis, as I have since 1948. I live each day with prayer, patience, prioritize and persistance to make my day as normal as possible.

End Polio Now “We are this close”

Polio, or poliomyelitis, is a serious disease caused by a virus the affect’s a person’s nervous system, by causing paralysis and death. Polio is mainly spread by ingesting items that are contaminated by an infected person. Polio can also be spread through, water, and uncooked food.  It mainly affects children younger than 5 years old, but all unvaccinated people of any age are at risk.

In the late 40’s and early 50’s polio crippled around 35,000 people each year in the United States.  It was the most feared disease of the twentieth century. By 1979 the United States became polio free.

Because Dr Jonas Salk knew he had a highly effective vaccine in 1953, he vaccinated his wife and sons against the disease. It became available to the general public in 1955. Dr. Salk and the March of Dimes brought relief to the nation. When  President Franklin D. Roosevelt founded the March od Dimes in 1938, he could not have imagined that on the 10th Anniversary of his death, April 12, 1955 it would facilitate a medical miracle that was to reduce the incidence rate of polio in the U.S. by 96 percent.

“We are this Close.”  This is the campaign for Rotary International.  Now the polio vaccine must make it to those who are hardest to reach in Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan where the disease still exists.  In 2010 India reported forty-two cases. In 2011 only one case was reported. If India makes it to December 31, 2012,with no cases, it will be celebrated as having irradiated polio.

linda at Rotary meeting

Linda at 11th Rotary Foundation Celebration District 5960

Polio vaccination campaigns take place about every six weeks in Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan.  More than 50,000 teams fan out across 60 districts to inoculate millions of children.  It is the most remote villages in the world.  The vaccine travels primarily by jeeps until the road runs out. Then donkeys, horses and boats and the teams take it to the children to give doses of the vaccine every 3 to 6 months.  The vaccine is kept cold in ice filled cooler for transportation.

Eradication of polio is a global goal.  The entire world must receive the vaccine to “End Polio Now”.  “We are this Close” to reaching the last 1%. Please help the Polio Plus program, sponsored by Rotary International, to make this happen. Polio is only a plane ride away until all children world wide receive the vaccine.

Vaccine recommendations: Infants and Children. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends that all infants and children in the United States should receive 4 doses of inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) administered at 2 months, 4 months, 6-18 months, and 4-6 years of age. This information is current as of October 18, 2012. Vaccinated adults who travel to an ‘at risk’ area should receive an adult booster dose before departure. Unvaccinated adults should consult their doctor before departure.