One Frightened Boy

In October of 1962 during the splint session [we were out of school to pick cotton], I had been in the cotton field all day and by way had picked my record which wasn’t much. We came in for supper and I got my bath and went to bed early because I was tired. I woke up about 9-10 PM because both legs had gone to sleep and I couldn’t get them to wake up. I found mother who had not yet retired and she said, “You are just tired from working hard but we will soak them in hot water and you will get your feeling back.” I put my feet in the foot tube and she began drawing water. After a bit, she said, “Son, get your feet out of the water”. She had been waiting for me to tell her it was hot but I had no feeling below the knees. She comforted me with words, she was really good at giving comfort when you were afraid and I managed somehow to fall asleep. First thing next morning, she had me in the car and on the way to see Doc Crutcher. He was an old guy full of wit and I guess a fair physician. He checked me out, drew a man’s face on my stomach and then called mother aside. Next thing I know, I am making the walk [last one for a while] between his office and the hospital. I was asking Mother 20 questions and she was answering as best she could.

 

Gone But Not Forgotten

In the next few days things were going to get worse. They had me in isolation and the only two people I saw for the entire week was Mother and Daddy. Mother basically stayed around the clock but Daddy gave her a break at night; just long enough for her to go home and come back. That tapped my spine three times and in those days, there were no sedatives and they did not put you to sleep. I was scared to death. I don’t know how Mother kept her sanity. I probably asked her a dozen times a day if I was going to die. She had a patented answer for that question. “You will die sometime son but not today.” Within a day of checking in to the hospital, I had no use of my legs and could not control by bowels or kidneys. Dr. Crutcher kept running test; I think mostly to determine if I was contagious but they never moved me out of isolation. I don’t think they treated me with medication just the spinal tapps. No one ever knew for sure what was the problem. Doc Crutcher thought it was either meningitis or a polo virus that got repelled by the vaccine. Thank God the older kids chased me down and held me so the school nurse could give me the vaccine. I think that happened while I was in 1st grade. After hearing Doc Crutcher talk about it, I was very thankful for the shot needle, probably first time in my life because I hated shots with a passion. I have to be honest, the entire experience frightened me and I have no idea what I would have done had it not been for my mother. I still remember the book she read to me while I was in the hospital. I’m sure she did whatever she could to keep my mind off of the problem. I was prone to panic and a chronic worrier. They sent me home after a week or so and I was in bed at home for a couple of weeks. Slowly all my feeling came back and I began taking a few steps. It wasn’t long until I could walk fine and I only missed a couple of weeks of school because of the split session. I even got to join the basketball team mid way of the season. There was some discomfort running and jumping but by my 9th grade year all symptoms were gone except some occasional pain in my feet. We never knew for sure what caused the problem.

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