All The Steps I Have Taken

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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.

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.

” 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.

All the Steps I Have Taken

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 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 there 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!