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The Face of Polio- World Polio Day

Grandma2

Oh 80s. You were so awesome. Anyone remember these modular dresses?

When my grandmother and grandfather were dating he told his parents of his intentions to marry her. They discouraged him from doing so because she was handicapped and that would be a lot of work for him. I don’t fault them. It was a different time and generation. And thankfully he ignored them and married her anyway.

Her handicap was one leg that was shorter than the other. She walked with a limp, had to wear these awful orthopedic shoes and I can only imagine that she spend most of her days in pain. Yet she birthed four kids and raised them, alone a lot of the time, because my grandfather traveled a lot for work. She had a quiet strength about her that I marvel at now that I am a wife and mother.

When she was young she was separated from her family for a while and put in isolation. I don’t really know how long, but when I think of being separated from my kids for any amount of time I can’t fathom it. She was raised in a time when polio was a very real disease. And she was one of the unfortunate ones.

Grandma1

braces, home perm and mullet like hair. Jr. high was awesome.

I saw the face of polio in my grandma. We don’t see it today and so we forget what a horrible disease it was. We forget that children were separated from their parents and ended up with life long health complications. But there are countries on the planet that still deal with polio.

Today we are 99% polio free on our planet. Ninety- nine percent. There are only three countries left that have cases of polio. We are so close to a world where children don’t have to suffer like my grandmother did. It is a critical time to wipe this disease off the planet.

Listen, I get vaccines are controversial. I myself am conflicted about them and have done alternative schedules with my kids. But honestly the fact that we can even have a conversation about “should we or shouldn’t we” is such a first world luxury. Because most families chose to vaccinate, we can chose not to vaccinate with a relatively low risk allowing us to weigh the risk of vaccinating with the risk of not.

But those diseases are a plane ride away. I personally would like to see them gone. Shot at Life provides four vaccines to children in third world countries for $20 a pop. That is one of the best bangs for the buck in the world of world health. Polio, measles, pneumonia and rotavirus. Children are dying from pneumonia and diarrhea and it is preventable with a shot. One every 20 seconds.

Reposted from last year in honor of World Polio Day on Oct. 24th. Please consider donating to Shot At Life so they can continue their amazing work eradicating polio.

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