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January 30 , 2014

A Polio Memoir

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Captain Bob Axtell fought in battles in the Pacific during WWII and survived, he also survived fifteen months in the Korean Conflict, but he didn’t fight his toughest battle until he returned home. In a matter of days, he went from being a healthy man to the isolation ward at William Beaumont Army Hospital — he had become one of the early polio statistics and the only Army officer to be infected in the 1952 Texas polio epidemic. He was confined to an iron lung, and remained there for six months.

This is the story of how he, along with his family, struggled to overcome the many obstacles Polio caused in their lives, and how they made life as normal and as happy as possible. The prevention of Polio is possible now, but Post-Polio Syndrome is still a relentless factor in the lives of its victims.

“… Broken things like hope, love bonds, and dreams can be reshaped into something meaningful. What can't be mended can be changed to new forms. The disintegrated pieces can be reassembled into a different beauty. … It's all right now. I know what to do with broken things. You build a life out of them. Bob showed me that. — Agnes Axtell

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