28 October 2014

Dr Jonas Salk, had he lived, would be 100 years old today.

My father, Willard Albert William Maas, contracted the poliomyelitis virus in late 1939; seven other Iowa State University students did as well causing the University to altogether close down that quarter then.  There was at that time a University inpatient hospital; afflicted were within iron lungs, and five of the seven died.  Daddy at his age of 19, went home to his 98 – pound mama, Grandma Adeline, who also had at home within the rural Iowa countryside at the time five younger children, she not knowing if he, her eldest, would live or when he would ‘get better.’

He was paralyzed from the neck down.   It took Adeline two full years of her own home – therapies of physical exercises and other care.  He survived and thrived enough, although 4 F – classified, to volunteer for the Army – Air Corps and did.

One day in 1960, with a silage wagon underneath him, Daddy himself was on the outside of it astride its ladder at the very top of a silo.

Bilaterally and neuromuscularly suddenly, his arms failed him.

His life altogether that day … … changed. He managed to put his truncal thoracic anatomy forward onto the ladder and with his legs slither down the rungs to the wagon. And clumsily climb out of it. He went inside to talk with my mother; and within a month’s time therefrom, Daddy was re-enrolled in the next quarter’s agricultural economics curriculum ( a springtime one ) at that same University. We all moved away to its town.

Willard Maas never farmed again.

What did kill him too young ? far, far too young at only age 72 ? And the point of my post ? This: http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-polio_syndrome via the attacked muscle that is the heart.

A heart attack — mostly thanks to this virus' initial attack of it therein.

Dr Jonas Salk is a hero. As was … … Daddy.