In August of 1946, the Minnesota State Fair in Minneapolis was canceled for only the fourth time in its nearly one-hundred-year history. The previous cancellations had been due to this country being engaged in war: the Civil War and World War II. The Fair’s failure to open in the summer of 1946 was due to this country waging a different kind of war against an unseen, but deadly, enemy: poliomyelitis, a disease of the central nervous system which could cripple or even kill, mostly children. Polio had created a panic as its victims were so young, its transmission was unknown and there was no cure.
Four years earlier, a British nurse, known as “Sister” Kenny, had come to Minneapolis from Australia to open a clinic for the treatment of paralytic polio, as the area had a disproportionately high number of these cases. Elizabeth Kenny had developed her own techniques to treat unresponsive limbs, which had been shown to be effective in her work in the Outback. Even so, her techniques remained controversial and were not used elsewhere.
Jeannie Erickson was not yet two years’ old in the summer of 1946 and living with her family in Minneapolis when she contracted the virulent strain of polio during an afternoon outing. Days later, when the symptoms emerged, Jeannie was rushed to the hospital and placed in an iron lung in the Kenny Institute. Two weeks later she was removed from the ventilator but faced the dire diagnosis of permanent paralysis of her legs, to never walk again.
This is the story of Jeannie’s struggle against the disease, from her first hospitalization, through multiple surgeries and difficult treatments, to adulthood when she was able to live a full and satisfying life. In the telling, the book looks inside the children’s polio wards of the 1940s and 1950s, where the young patients spent months at a time, only able to see their families for two hours a week. It is an inspiring tale of courage and dedication of Jeannie, her doctors, and her family.
Genre: True Life Novel
soft cover (6×9, 196 pages) $12.00
Ebook $ 2.99