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Polio was the most dreaded disease of twentieth-century America. Whenever and wherever it struck, hospitals filled with victims of the virus. Many experienced only temporary paralysis, but others faced a lifetime of disability. Living with Polio is the first book to focus primarily on the personal stories of the men and women who had acute polio and lived with its crippling consequences.
Writing from his own experience as a polio survivor, Daniel J. Wilson shapes this impassioned book with the testimonials of more than one hundred polio victims, focusing on the years between 1930 and 1960. He traces entire life experiences of the survivorsfrom their alarming diagnoses all the way to the recent development of post-polio syndrome, a condition in which the symptoms of the disease may return two or three decades after they originally surfaced.
Living with Polio also details each physical and emotional stage of the disease: the loneliness of long separations from family suffered by hospitalized victims; the painful rehabilitation as survivors tried to regain the use of their paralyzed muscles; and the return home and readjustment to school or work with the aid of braces, crutches, or wheelchairs.
Poignant and gripping, Living with Polio is a compelling history of the enduring physical and psychological experience of polio straight from the rarely heard voices of its survivors.
[Daniel J. Wilson] has done an admirable job of assembling more than 150 first-person accounts into a coherent narrative. . . . In the America of 2005, new cases of polio are extraordinarily rare; the World Health Organization hopes to eradicate it completely by 2008. But Mr. Wilson reminds us that more than half a million Americans are still living with its consequences. Gordon Haber, New York Sun
For readers who . . . did not live during the prevaccine period, Living with Polio provides an excellent survey of the stories of those who had the misfortune of being struck by the disease. Mark Pallansch, Science