Thank you, Dan Eumurian for sharing your story with us. Here's Dan, in his own words:
It was September 1952. The summer polio season seemed to be over, which allowed my parents to breathe a sigh of relief. Neither I, their ten month old baby, nor my three-and-a-half year old sister, had caught the dreaded infantile paralysis, although two older children in our small village in western Wisconsin had.
Mom wasn't sure why I came down with a high fever. She later recalled that, as a pastor's wife, she had visited someone in the hospital, and I had dropped my pacifier. She had picked it up, washed it off in cold water, and given it back to me. That action haunted her for years. She used to say that if she could have, she would have given me her legs, but we agreed that the logistics would have been a bit difficult.
Our family doctor was dismissive. "You're just an over-worried mother. Take him home."
Over the next twenty-four hours, the fever raged. I couldn't keep any water down orally. Something jogged Mom's memory. Somewhere in her studies she had learned that the large intestine absorbs water. She gave me a cool enema every half hour, and I didn't lose a drop. The doctor later said Mom's action probably saved my brain, my life, or both.
At the end of those twenty-four hours, my parents took me back to the doctor. I was screaming. He doubled me over and put a needle in my back to do a spinal tap.
Housing had been hard to come by near Camp McCoy, from which Dad had been discharged with a Purple Heart at the end of World War II. Now the Korean War was still going on, but a three-bedroom house had come up for rent five miles from the army base. The phone was in the front room. Mom answered it. It was
the doctor. "You were right. He has polio."
"No, Lord! You can't have my baby!" she screamed as she slid down the wall.
By the time she hit the floor, the young mother who had formed a young atheists club in her central Minnesota high school some fourteen years before, told her Lord and Savior, "Your will be done."
The doctor's prognosis was grim. "If your son lives, he'll be a vegetable. He'll never be able to operate a wheelchair. Why don't you place him in an institution? They have trained nurses."
"How long have they been trained to care for polio patients?" Mom asked.
"Two weeks," came the sheepish reply.
Mom got mad. "Do you think a nurse with two weeks of training could take better care of my baby than I could?"
"No, ma'am. I guess not."
Thus began my two weeks of quarantine at the Camp McCoy hospital, since St. Mary's Hospital in nearby Sparta was full because of this last major epidemic before the Salk vaccine came out to the general public in 1954. Then came chiropractic treatment that may have been the reason my legs both grew, despite the medical doctor's prediction. My arm strength started to come back. The folks gave me a throw rug. Not only could I pull myself around, but I could eventually go up stairs--and down--head first. I could also shimmy up the inside of a doorway and walk on my hands.
Our small town school didn't offer kindergarten. As first grade began, the ilial-tibial band in my left leg began to shorten. I made it through the year crawling.
Despite the help from home, church, and classmates, I apparently felt it was me against the world. I became a little fighter. One boy would tease me. When I could reach him, I'd pin him, he'd apologize, and I'd let him go--only to see the cycle repeat itself.
The summer after first grade, Dr. Moe, an orthopedic surgeon at the University of Minnesota Hospital, cut the ilial-tibial band and cut away some excess cartilage from my left hip. After six weeks in the hospital, six more weeks in a full body cast, and shorter casts, my parents had to decide between braces or short crutches for me. They chose the crutches, which would make me work harder.
After piano lessons, the acquisition of a trombone and violin, and further struggles with some schoolmates, I graduated fifth in my high school class of 212 students. I attended a total of nine institutions of higher education for a total of twelve years, and have a music education degree, a master's degree in theology, and a diploma in piano tuning and technics.
My struggle against the world came to a head during my third year of college. The Lord and my dad finally got it through my head that I didn't have to fight by myself. Jesus was on my side. Shortly after that turning point, my creativity seemed to be unleashed. I've written around three hundred songs and poems, and six musical plays.
My first wife divorced me after nineteen years of marriage. My second wife and I are about to celebrate thirteen years of marriage. Like me, she's a musician and has faced some life challenges.
My website, www.lacrossepiano.com, offers some song lyrics and poems on a donation basis; two albums and several songs for sale, and a YouTube channel called "Live Armadillo." I'm working on a additional publishing projects, along with tuning pianos, teaching, and performing.
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