Talk about a hard life…

Meet America’s last iron lung users.
Once the most feared virus on the planet, polio was wiped out in the United States in in 1979 thanks to the success of the vaccine.
But while that’s good news for the world, a few polio survivors who rely on iron lungs to help them breathe are struggling to cope with their decades-old machines which are no longer covered by their insurance or serviced by manufacturers who stopped production in the 1960s.
Paul Alexander, 70, of Dallas, is one of just a handful of people around the world who needs the iron lung to survive.

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19 Responses to Talk about a hard life…

  1. singlestack says:

    When I was young (I was born in 1955) I there were several kids in school partially paralyzed by polio. In high school I dated a girl that had paralysis in her hip and leg from it.
    It was a horrible, tragic disease. The people of the world owe Dr Salk an unpayable debt of gratitude for wiping it out.

    • Exile1981 says:

      Sadly its started to show back up in some 3rd world shit holes…

      • pdwalker says:

        And the US is bringing in people from these third world shit holes.

      • crazyeighter says:

        It’s showing up again in places where the imam instructs people not to get the vaccinations because it is “the work of Shatan”. You know, those people that Obama and company were falling all over themselves to import to the U.S.

        • Winston Smith says:

          Plenty of anti vaccine kooks in the USA too. We sure don’t need any more of them.
          You want to live a short life in a hole somewhere, then I support your right to not vaccinate against shit like Polio. You want to interact in any way with society, then get the fuck vaccinated. And no, I don’t care if it kills your genetically deprived spawn.

  2. Rob says:

    Jesus, what a nightmare.

    1952 (I was 7 years old) was a very popular year for Polio; the epidemic reached such proportions that radio stations regularly ran PSAs warning parents to keep their children from public spaces like swimming pools, etc. When school started in the fall there were a lot of kids missing.

    Many of my classmates ended up in braces and iron lungs. I was lucky, but there’s still been a lifetime of back and leg problems, increasing over the last ten years or so in what is called “Post-Polio Syndrome.” Despite that I’ve managed to do a bunch of manual labor and continued to move around pretty good.

    Thank God no iron lung. What a nightmare.

  3. Mike says:

    Amen, singlestack. The anti-vaccination crowd today only thinks they can be complacent because the threat was minimized to the point of disappearance.

  4. Jim Collins says:

    Thank Elvis. Seriously. Getting the Salk vaccine on national TV is credited with making the breakthrough for popular use of the vaccine.

  5. Andrew says:

    Oh, just wait. Thanks to parents not vaccinating their children, it is staging a comeback.

    Reports from Madagascar are that the Black Death and Polio are on the rise.

    And the United States are dotted in ex-polio and ex-tuberculosis hospitals, falling apart slowly, haunted by the victims of those diseases.

  6. .45-70 says:

    My mother had polio. She was born in ’29 and had it at 2 or 3. The first person in our state diagnosed. There was very little known about it back then and under went many surgeries.

    She was on crutches her whole life. She taught jr. high school for 25 yrs. Never complained and raised 2 boys plus kept kids in line at a time when they have attitudes.

    The only regret she had was that she never got to go dancing.

    She was my hero and i have no tolerance for whiney people. The word can’t was not in her vocabulary.

    And yes … she nailed me many times with the crutch when I needed it. It gave her extended range and she had a helluva an aim.

    She taught me a lot about all things. I am grateful for being her son and I miss her dearly.

    • Judy says:

      ‘Can’t’ wasn’t in her vocabulary because ‘can’t’ wasn’t in her parents vocabulary.

      My brother had meningitis at 15 months old. The doctors told Mom-n-Dad they didn’t expect him to walk, again (It really messed up his knees). Nobody told him he couldn’t, so he was up and at it, in no time. Telling that pair “I can’t.” would get you knuckle-bumps.

  7. Michael in Nelson says:

    My Mom told me that when I had measles, I had terrible aches in my legs and she and my Dad were scared it was polio. She would stay up late massaging my legs. I got lucky and no polio. I was even luckier to have great parents.

  8. Rob in Katy says:

    ’58, there were still some around and met folks that had it. Must have been just horrid for parents to imagine their children being stricken. I cannot understand the anti-vaxxers. They don’t understand that immunization works as a heard, when the organism is more resistant then the individuals are also.

  9. anonymous says:

    That is very tough life indeed.

    Mom is dying from pulmonary fibrosis, a disease where the lungs lose their elasticity and they have to fight to breath. Eventually, the lungs refuse to function and you die likely from the heart induced stress of that. She has an oxygen machine with tube piping for now, but just walking 10 feet leaves her tired.

    Never smoked – drank – or did anything bad to induce this condition. It is what it is. She celebrated 80 years this past Sunday, outliving Dad by over 20 this past summer. She is a pretty tough nut to crack as well.

  10. MrTweell says:

    I got a mild case of polio from the vaccine – the Salk vaccine was a live vaccine and a batch was made too strong. It paralyzed me from the waist down for a few months. That’s still better than these folks!

  11. Rob says:

    I remember back in the early 60’s, my whole family & a lot of others standing in a line (a long line) at Maunawili Elementary School in Hawaii getting the oral polio vaccine on a sugar cube.

  12. bogsidebunny says:

    OMFG! 60 years in this contraption. And today’s snowflakes think “Trigger Words” make their lives beyond livable!

  13. wildbill says:

    I remember seeing people in these when I was about 5 (1963). There was a women in the office at my junior high that walked with a brace on one lower leg from polio, and the welder where I worked from 1978 to 1990 had had polio as a child and had occasional back problems from it. I was somewhere within the last 2 years (I think Vanderbilt Hospital) and saw an unused iron lung. First one I’d seen in 50 years.

  14. A Texan says:

    A client of mine who was one of the last people to get polio died earlier this year. He was in an iron lung for about a year in the ’50s, and managed pretty well after that…considering. He walked with braces until the last couple of years, and even held down a job at a radio station for quite a while. Alas, time and gravity never give up, so he ended up wheelchair-bound for the last 2-3 years of his life. While at first he was “just a client,” we later became very friendly. He was a good soul, and he’ll be missed.

    RIP, Bobby.

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