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Troy

Cynique: Tell us about Polio

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There has been a lot of talk about Polio in the news recently.

My only experience with Polio was when I was a kid I had a counselor (white) that told me his older brother had polio and eventually died from it.

It sounds like the threat of contracting Polio was a very scary thing back then. I heard somewhere that ice cream was suspected as a cause, because incidences of Polio increased during the summer when ice consumption increased.

Was this a really that scary a time for us or did Black folks have more pressing things to be concerned with, like lynching, earning enough money to survive, etc...

It is also funny I’ve spoken with Black folks who will not get the children vaccinated against Polio?! That is crazy; but given our country’s history of treating Black folks the way Dr. Mengele treated Jews I can understand the aversion. I don’t agree, but I understand…

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It is also funny I’ve spoken with Black folks who will not get the children vaccinated against Polio?!

No surprise. When it comes to health, fitness and longevity, Negroes are at the bottom of the pole. Poor eating habits, ignorance of nutritional facts and often times groundless fear of doctors and treatment also attribute to shorter lifespans, higher mortality rates and overall poorer health. Often times Negroes are their own worst enemies.......

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Well let’s see, Troy, my recollections about polio are grounded in my Chicagoland environment. What I remember was that it was a dreaded disease that often reached epidemic proportions and when this happened the fear of catching it was rampant, a situation somewhat comparable to the way we currently react to flu outbreaks. Anybody who developed a sore throat or a fever, was immediately suspected of having polio, and would quickly seek medical attention. The masses knew nothing about this disease or what caused it, we all just knew that we didn’t want to catch it; black and white alike. All kind of theories abounded as to how you could catch it. The only treatment I can recall for it was a physical therapy regimen that involved massaging of the limbs. When the epidemic subsided everybody would pretty much forget about it until it flared up again.

During the summer, swimming pools would be closed and people were warned to stay away from large venues when polio was on the rampage. Public drinking fountains and bathrooms were taboo. Polio was also referred to as infantile paralysis and victims who didn’t die from it were left crippled or confined to wheel chairs.

I think the most famous victims of this plague was President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who contracted it when he was in his late 30s and did his best to conceal his infirmity all during his presidential campaigns and time in office. When giving speeches, he would be propped up against a podium supported by heavy leg braces. He was the inspiration for an organization known as the March of Dimes, a group which encouraged everyone, especially kids, to send dimes to the white house to help finance research for a cure, and little coin booklets were provided to insert your dimes in. At school we would have programs to raise money. This charity still exists today to combat other debilitating diseases.

Some victims of polio were kept alive by placing them in what was called an iron lung. This was a hyperbolic chamber like the one Michael Jackson supposedly slept in, and it helped the patient to breathe. A man who lived in a neighboring suburb was kept alive in one of these and he was a local celebrity. I personally knew a couple of people who contracted polio, and they are still limping around to this day. My brother had a newly-married friend whose bride died from it.

When a vaccine was finally developed for polio this was a great milestone in medical history and shots became mandatory for all children entering school. My kids got these sugar-sweet immunizations which were squirted in their mouths from eyedroppers, but - I never did. I, however, like most people of my generation, have a small pox vaccination scar on my arm. They stopped giving these in the 1960s.

Two other diseases that don’t get much attention anymore are diphtheria and typhoid fever. They killed a lot of young people in this country before vaccines were developed in the late 1930s. The same with Scarlet Fever which you just had to ride out in hopes of surviving it. I had a mild case of this as a child, and it weakened my eyesight. Today the DPT shots that are routinely administered to children are to prevent these sicknesses. The “P” in DPT stands for “pertussis” the medical term for whooping cough which is cropping up again because some parents are rejecting these shots.

Youngsters today don’t realize how up until the 1920s, a lot of children didn’t make it to adulthood because of such ailments. Most families lost at least one child to them. Many babies never survived past their first year. The life expectancy was about 60 years old back then thanks to sicknesses like tuberculosis, also known as consumption.

The medical profession has made a lot of progress but some people have started to believe that the cures are worse than the diseases. And so it goes.

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Once again a fascinating perspective Cynique.

During some genealogical research I'm performing. I discovered one of my aunts died of pertussis as a child. I had no idea what that was and had to look it up to learn it was whopping cough. I read more about it and learned it name came from the sound made by those afflicted.

My close friend's grandmother was sent to a sanatorium for years after contracting tuberculosis. When her husband was sent overseas to fight in WWII their children (my friend’s mother and siblings) were forced to go to an orphanage -- can you image?

I guess my generation's knowledge of such diseases being limited to label on a vaccine is truly a blessing.

Coincidentally, there was a program on NPR yesterday which talked about the dangers of mercury use in vaccinations. The speaker argued that Autism which apparently was not chronicled in any medical journals before the 1930's now effects 1 in 100 children -- this is hard for me to believe, but I can certainly understand why folks without the perspective Cynique just related would refuse to take any vaccinations.

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Xeon, I hear you. But regarding vaccinations, you really can't ignore the fact that the US experimented on Black folks throughout our history. You have the administration of bogus treatment of Syphilis allowing Black to go untreated -- just to see what would happen. Can you blame folks for being a little skittish -- especially today when some scientists are running around saying Autism is being caused by vaccinations containing Mercury.

And since you brought it up; Xeon have you ever shopped in a poor neighborhood? It is not all that easy to get good food -- fresh produce, meats and other things necessary for proper nutrition.

One incident comes to mind. After visiting the Stax Museum (home of Issac Hayes, the Barkays, Rufus Thmoas, etc) in Memphis, TN a couple of years ago. My family and I went into a super market across the street.

We went into the "supermarket" in a predominately black neighborhood to buy some bottled water. We could not find any! They had a big lottery kiosk near the checkout line. The had a whole section of gallon sized "juices" in every conceivable color -- we were like my God what it this?! I went into the meat section (now I'm curious), there was not "real" meats neck bones, chicken wings and feet, boxed sausage and hamburger -- nothing look fresh, no fish, steaks, veal, poultry.

I travelled the entire country whenever I visit a city I go into the 'hood. The story is the same though not usually as extreme as the one I just mentioned.

To get good food one would have to travel out the community and pay much more -- it is really not that easy -- especially if your are 3, 4 generations deep into poor eating habits, and everyone around you is doing the same thing -- you just don't know any better. People wonder why poor Black women are generally obese -- this is part of the reason.

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No surprise. When it comes to health, fitness and longevity, Negroes are at the bottom of the pole. Poor eating habits, ignorance of nutritional facts and often times groundless fear of doctors and treatment also attribute to shorter lifespans, higher mortality rates and overall poorer health. Often times Negroes are their own worst enemies.......

"You're probably tickled pink about it. Fewer Negroes crowding up to lick Massa's boots.

Admit it. You don't care about what happens to them really. It just gave you another opportunity for some self loathing and putting down.

Hey, what do you think about all the bright young healthy things growing up in Appalachia?"

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There has been a lot of talk about Polio in the news recently.

My only experience with Polio was when I was a kid I had a counselor (white) that told me his older brother had polio and eventually died from it.

It sounds like the threat of contracting Polio was a very scary thing back then. I heard somewhere that ice cream was suspected as a cause, because incidences of Polio increased during the summer when ice consumption increased.

Was this a really that scary a time for us or did Black folks have more pressing things to be concerned with, like lynching, earning enough money to survive, etc...

It is also funny I’ve spoken with Black folks who will not get the children vaccinated against Polio?! That is crazy; but given our country’s history of treating Black folks the way Dr. Mengele treated Jews I can understand the aversion. I don’t agree, but I understand…

"Why did you address this question to Cynique?

Inquiring minds want to know!"

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"Why did you address this question to Cynique?

Chris, if you must know it's 'cause the rest of y'all kneegrows don't know what the hail y'all takin' 'bout. ;)

Seriously, I knew if Cynique responded it would be a well thought out and crafted response, which is what I was looking for, so I was really interested in reading what she had to say. I also new she was old enough to be able to speak about the period from personal experience. Besides I knew if anyone else had something to say they would not hesitate to supply a response.

I did not mean to preclude anyone else from responding. That was definitely not my intent.

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I mean, I got in at the tail end of it. Had a few school chums who were crippled and wore braces and that.

That ain't what I meant though.

DON'T READ THE FOLLOWING IF YOU ARE SOMEBODY NAMED CYNIQUE.

We all know how Cynique just loves to play doctor. I don't think we should encourage her--before you know it she's prattling about poltices and charms and selling those wonder electric cures and using that fake Jamaican accent again.

OKAY CYNIQUE. YOU CAN START READING AGAIN.

How you doing, honey? Kissy kissy.

xoxoxoxox

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