And that's because thankfully polio today is a footnote of history here in the US.
Monday night I met up with an old freind, PBS for a few drinks, some catching up and American Experience: The Polio Crusade. (What? No it isn't cheating! Look, PBS.org is still my main squeeze. But I can have freinds, right? And it was just drinks. Nothing serious. Besides, I hang out with other educational channels all the time and PBS.org is totally cool with that.)
I considered just calling this post Uh oh! Polio! But as funny as it is when it's on an Aqua Teen Hunger Force episode, it just isn't after watching this program.
People, I didn't stitch during this. Just think about that. Turn it over in your head. How riveting this must have been to warrant my complete attention at a time when i'm working hard to finish a UFO.
I knew a few things about Polio and the efforts to create a vaccine for it, but I did learn a lot from this program. For one thing I didn't know that The March of Dimes was started for the purpose of treating and preventing Polio. I didn't know that the iron lung was a permanent home for only some victims of the disease. I didn't know that many people spent months or years in one until they could relearn to breathe using their neck muscles. I also didn't know that some people were able to regain the use of their paralyzed limbs. Sometimes, not always.
I was of course gobsmacked by the irony that Sabin was fucking convinced that Salk's dead virus vaccine would kill people when his own live virus vaccine would of course end up with a higher chance of someone actually getting the disease. And I was confused why this simple concept was lost on a brilliant scientist such as himself.
But what sticks with me most are the images. The images man. It's been said many times that one reason parents today are so easily freaked out by minor concerns about reactions to vaccines, and to the completely untrue, disproven, paranoid, autism not-a-link-at-all-you-dumb fucks is because they've never seen a kid suffer with these easily preventable diseases and I think there really is something to that. After seeing all these videos of pitiful children in leg braces and iron lungs, disabled for life at such a young age, I wanted to get the cats vaccinated! You know, just in case.
I think if people today really knew how bad Mumps could be, that Whooping Cough can take months to fully recover from, had seen Timmy across the street in leg braces or an iron lung, or even seen a child buried from an easily preventable disease they would appreciate the modern wonder of vaccines and thank God that we have them. They would be pushing their kids to the front of the line for the shots just like they were when the Polio vaccine was finally available. I certainly was that night and I don't even have children.
So in summation: Polio is bad. This episode of American Experience is good. It's playing on my totally wonderful educational boyfreind PBS.org now and is well worth the hour of your time. Even if you have to tell a little white lie to your educational boyfriend about where you were and with who for that period of time. What he doesn't know won't hurt him. Right? RIGHT?