This little kid has polio. See the calliper splint on his withered leg. He has his whole life ahead of him. And while he’s already endured more than his share of pain…he has a whole lot more in his future. Long lonely nights flat on his back strapped to boards, painful corrective surgeries, limbs immobilised in plaster and warm sunny days inside confined to bed.
And the thing is, this little kid isn’t alone. Thousands of adults and young people and tens of thousands little kids suffered…many died..and many of those who survived learned to function as best they could with their withered limbs. They rarely complained. Complaining wasn’t part of the program. They ignored the pain and embarrassment. They sucked it up. Many will be confined to wheelchairs, iron lungs, their bodies will be twisted and deformed with multiple limbs affected. They will bare the pain, the suffering and difficulty of this ailment. They will not cry. They will not shrug their shoulders in the school’s physical education class and say they can’t do that. They will duck their heads and try. They will swallow the pain and their pride and try no matter how awkward their attempts. They were trained like that…chin up…head down.
Cripple is an ugly word but a word far uglier for them. For some even the mention of their ailment would make their faces burn with shame as if for some reason it was their fault that they were afflicted.
They knew a special kind of horror, a special kind of pain that stretched them flat on on their backs, tied to boards, limbs imprisoned to keep them straight, as they passed the long lonely nocturnal hours of pain and darkness. An electric pain that shrieked and crackled in a continuous stream of raw inflamed nerve endings.
For some like this little kid these memories would return in a rush of panic decades later…insomnia and claustrophobia…an apoplexy of horror of even the restrictive threat of a watch band…a cast or bandage would become unbearable. And like the repressed memories, forgotten for so many long years…the pain, the fatigue and immobility will also return.
A quote from Joan London’s novel about a polio ward in Australia during the 1950s, The Golden Age, sums it up nicely:
“Polio is like love, …years later, when you think you’ve recovered, it comes back.”
This message is not from the old man…but from this little kid within the old man. And this little kid inside this old man is thankful for loving supportive parents. Parents who weathered the Great Depression and World War 2, parents who were forced by the economic forces and heartless economic system to forsake their education in order to make a living, in order to survive…yet parents who were smart enough to recognise the intelligence of science. Had a vaccine existed at that time there was no way they would not have vaccinated this little kid.
And now in our modern internet age there is a host of those who would defy reason, ignore the history and challenge the science in favour of poorly researched, badly written articles that inflame unfounded panic and suspicion about polio vaccinations. Proper science is supported by rigorous testing, research and more testing. It comes with the imprimatur of other scientists and without corporate motivation for profit. What kind of parent would risk their children’s health and future on anecdotal nonsense, pseudo science and ignorance?
Believe all the conspiracy theories you will. Believe that the Moon Landing was faked and produced by Hollywood with Disney sponsorship, scripted by Arthur C. Clarke, directed by Stanley Kubrick and performed by Snow White, Goofy and the Seven Dwarfs. Believe that Elvis is still alive and living as a recluse in a back of the bayou fishing shack in Podunk, Louisiana. Believe that Marlin Monroe was actually Lon Chaney Jr in drag because by and large even though it’s pretty much bullshit…it’s not a fantasy that hurts anyone.
But seriously question the false flag moronic bullshit that comes from some batshit crazy loud mouth living in a bomb shelter in Texas who claims that the Sandy Hook Massacre was staged so Obama can come for your guns. Because that is hurtful, that is damaging and that is a total insult to the babies who were massacred and the teachers who died trying to protect them and an absolute slap across the face to their parents. And question the motives of those who claim that the Holocaust didn’t occur in spite of the overwhelming weight and volume of archival evidence. It was a shameful horrid act, perpetrated by madness and fear and hate. There is no redemption or truth in its denial.
To put it simply, if you’re going to question history or question science, play by the rules. Do rigorous research, consult real data from credited sources not anecdotal bullshit…and most importantly: Don’t make shit up.
Finally ask yourself one question: How would you feel if your child was stricken by polio because you refused vaccination?
And even more importantly, how do you think your child would feel?