As I write this blog, I have the feeling of deja-vu. A sense that I have written about similar things in the past. But who would have believed that a story that took place in the 1950’s would be repeated albeit in a new variation and with a different name, in 2020. In the 50’s the virus causing havoc was called poliomyelitis, polio for short, Today the new virus is referred to as COVID – 19. (originally referred to as the coronavirus).
Having written and researched the polio story, not to mention having experienced some of the symptoms of polio myself, I too, find it hard to believe that today we are experiencing something of what the characters in my story did.
Again, we would miss using the free ticket we got each year the last day of school, to go to the Royal Canadian Exhibition in Toronto. Most of us cared more about that ticket than we did about our report card so you can imagine the disappointment- after all it was summer holidays, but we weren’t allowed to be in large crowds. Interestingly, my husband and I just cancelled our holiday as people are being asked not to travel outside the country for recreational reasons due to the coronavirus Social events are being discouraged, cruise ships no longer offering cruises, libraries, churches etc. are being closed. Conferences, even the NBA games are cancelled or games are played without an audience. We are hearing words like pandemic, quarantine, epidemic, contagious, words also familiar to the characters in my story.
While shopping last evening, I sensed a mood of urgency with shoppers rushing to fill their carts. I was also aware of many empty shelves. I cringed as I watched a lady take the last three bundles of water off a skid and place them in her cart. Ironically, that evening there was an advertisement on television reminding us not to use plastic water bottles that in time, there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans. Toilet tissue has also been in huge demand . At the pharmacy earlier in the day when inquiring about masks, these, too, were sold out.
As in the story, we are being asked to look out for those under quarantine by dropping off groceries to door steps, placing phone calls instead of visits etc.
Each day, Marie and her family watched the news on their little black and white television, eager to hear the latest news about the polio virus. We too, are anxious to know what is happening at home and around the world relating to COVID -19 so are also watching the news with interest and concern.
There is also the rush today for a vaccine to be developed as there was for the polio virus. But vaccines take a long time to be developed. And then they have to be tested to be sure they are safe. It took eight years for Dr, Salk and his team to develop a vaccine that was safe and that worked. But what a day of celebration that was!
It had been many hot summers of waiting, but finally the swimming pools and movie theatres were open and children could once again return to doing what summer holidays are meant for – having FUN. And parents could finally relax knowing their children were safe from contacting the virus. Unfortunately, for some it was too late. For others, lives were changed forever because of the effects of polio. Maybe that is you reading this blog. If so, I would love to hear your story.
Although there are no iron lungs, wheelchairs or crutches in the 2020 story, there have been deaths due to COVID -19 just as there were deaths as a result of polio before April 12, 1955 when the polio vaccine became available. As of yet, we have no vaccine for COVID -19, so we need to follow the rules laid down by Canadian Health Agencies to protect ourselves, our families and those around us, especially the most vulnerable.
To learn more about my book Grounded and the activity book that accompanies it, go to www.authorsmhartung.com
May you and yours keep safe and healthy. SH