Friday, November 8, 2013

Firsthand Accounts

As part of "Researching the Miracle" we are seeking out those who dealt with polio firsthand.  It has been a distinct honor to sit down with our first two interviewees and talk about their experiences.

Jack Williams contracted polio at 13 and went undiagnosed until Dr. Glenn R. Frye examined him.  His condition is one of the reasons, Dr. Gaither Hahn saw the need for a hospital in Hickory. Forced to lay still for three months in quarantine without a single visitor, he remains grateful to the work of those who made the "miracle" happen.

Shilda Berry Burns was only 5 when she contracted polio in the late spring of 1944.  Thought to be residual tiredness from a case of the measles, she got worse until her condition was finally diagnosed correctly.  She was taken to Charlotte Memorial Hospital.  Her situation as an early case allowed her to remain in Charlotte for her entire convalescence, thus she did not go to the 'miracle hospital'. Shilda though was nonetheless part of the reason for the Hickory facilities construction.  Charlotte quickly filled with patients like Shilda and needed another treatment source for the many who came after her.
These two brave people provide much insight to what it was like to have polio, discussing the fear, the treatment (both in the hospital and after).  Their discussion about the life lessons they learned are instructive to all of us.  All of it is among the discoveries we are making about the 1944 epidemic.

We hope to add to these interviews with more as well as make more exciting discoveries as our learning community continues its research.

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