DEVOTIONAL GUIDE: McCann shares his bout with polio
The hospital's physical therapy department was a scary place. "I would walk into a huge room, past what seemed like a never-ending row of shiny, cigar-shaped tubes (iron lungs) with heads sticking out of one end. The heads were initially frightening. Over time I lost my fear and decided that they were safe to talk to. "
Mike McCann shared the following writing titled “My Bout with Polio”:
Just after my fifth birthday in the early fall of 1953, my family went to visit my grandparents. While the adults were visiting, the children were playing in the yard. Grandma McCann kept her eye on the kids and noticed that I was limping.
Grandma became concerned when I continued to limp throughout our visit. Grandma and Mom called me over and asked, “Why are you limping?” I didn’t know why, so they examined my thigh and found a marble-sized lump. At that point, they let me go on playing.
It should be noted that Grandma had a keen eye for illnesses, having survived the Spanish flu pandemic as a young married woman with “Irish twin” babies.
Later that day, my father was playing golf with his friend who was a doctor. Dad mentioned my limping and the knot on my thigh. The doctor mulled this over and decided to come to our house after they finished golf.
The good doctor came and examined me. It wasn’t obvious to me, but the adults were concerned. My dad was told that he needed to bring me in for an examination. That was the beginning of my polio story.
Polio typically attacks the brain and spinal cord of children, often causing temporary or permanent paralysis. A person could have a headache one day and wake up paralyzed the next. Parents lived in fear. Swimming pools were closed, and children were kept occupied at home.
My parents took me in for tests and discovered that I had polio. My parents both came from big Irish Catholic families, and I know that my 10 aunts, two grandmothers and my mother were all “spinning those beads,” as my father would jokingly say – intervening on my behalf, asking the Lord to send a cure from that day until I was free of the poliovirus.
I had just begun kindergarten that year and was taken out of school to focus on my treatment. Treatment consisted of daily trips to the hospital’s physical therapy department.
It was a scary place. I would walk into a huge room, past what seemed like a never-ending row of shiny, cigar-shaped tubes (iron lungs) with heads sticking out of one end. The heads were initially frightening. Over time I lost my fear and decided that they were safe to talk to.
My treatment consisted of being wrapped in hot, weighted wraps. The wraps were removed and therapists would rub and bend my limbs. Back home, mom would clear the dining room table and repeat the process.
This was my daily routine until just after Christmas, when I was OK to go back to school. Thanks to my keen-eyed grandmother, and the grace of God, I went on to live my life.
Scripture speaks about the “eyes of the heart” and to “see” means inspiration as well as sight. Mike’s grandmother had such inspiration as a direct result of the 1917 Spanish flu that she endured. God brings good out of evil, and our Lord is at work today just like he was for Mike in the early 1950s. I pray that this gives you peace as we face our pandemic today!