Camp Courage

Camp Courage – Here I come.

you're invited

How special do you feel when you get invited to a birthday party, wedding, dinner guest, or a reunion?

We all love to be invited.  I am looking forward to a 60th reunion on Sunday, October 11, 2015. It will be at a memorable place from my long ago past. It will be the 60th Anniversary of Camp Courage, Maple Lake, Minnesota. From 1955 to the present Camp Courage has been changing the lives of children and adults who have had opportunities available to them only by attending a camp stay at Camp Courage. Lives have been changes in dramatic ways. Mine was one of them.

My first time attending Camp Courage was probably in about 1958. I am not sure exactly and my parents are no longer here to ask. The age of 10 seems accurate. I do remember how excited I was and nervous at the same time. Being gone from home for two weeks is a long time for a 10 year old. I absolutely do not remember being home sick.  From that first summer, and for many following, I would look forward to renewing old friendships and enjoying myself doing all the things that everyone else was doing. My camping stay would be woven into my summer schedule around a surgery to help me walk better. I have revisited Camp Courage several times. Most recently when I was working on my memoir. It has changed with new cabins and updated facilities but what they do is exactly the same as when I was there.

On October 1, 1948 I was diagnosed with poliomyelitis at the young age of seven months old. There was no vaccine to protect me or thousands of other children and adults. The vaccine was not available until 1953. By then my siblings would be protected and thousands of other children and adults.

As we approach Friday, October 23, 2015, World Polio Day it is important to know that there are two countries that still have cases of Polio. When I wrote my book, All the Steps I Have Taken, there were four countries with cases of polio. India was declared polio free in 2012 with no new cases of polio. They celebrated in 2013. Now Nigeria has had no cases in 2015 and they will be able to celebrate Polio Free in 2016. In 2014 there were fewer than 360 cases of Polio in the world. Afghanistan and Pakistan are the two countries that Rotary International and Bill and Melinda Gates are still work to End Polio Now. Rotary has been working since 1985 in the Polio plus Campaign and I will be so happy to see that Polio will be eradicated in my life time.

The picture second from the left shows two small boys will braces and crutches. I learned to walk with crutches and braces just like those at the age of two. I have my crutches and show them when I speak to local schools and church.

Pictures of campers

Pictures of campers

So reunion here I come. In Minnesota fall leaves are changing to golden yellow, fire red, and tangerine orange. The prettiest time of the year to take a drive. I will enjoy watching the harvest along the way and I will definitely enjoy seeing people that I may have spent time years ago.

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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 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.