Friday, October 25, 2013

Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio by Peg Kehret

With only six of us in attendance (Thanksgiving maybe threw some people off we wondered?) there was mutual agreement we all loved the book. 

In my opinion, I loved the book.  It was one I would have NEVER GRABBED OFF THE SHELF.  But guess what?  I am pretty glad that someone in our group knew Peg Kehret and recommended it, because it made me think about how polio affected people so many years ago.  I have seen stories of the iron lung where polio patients stay in to help them breath, but Peg Kehret description of what she went through made it very real.  She also shared a story about a boy Tommie, who was in one of these iron lungs.

We talked about since 1979, the western hemisphere has been without a polio case, but how countries in the middle east are being affected.  November 30, 2013 NBCNews posted an article about 13 children having polio in Syria.

Martha  Ann Lillard, now 65 is quoted in the article
"If my mother would have had the opportunity to give me the vaccine, she would have done that,” says Lillard, who was a kindergartner in 1953 when she woke up with a sore throat that quickly progressed to something much worse — a life-threatening infection with polio virus. “To let somebody go through what I went through and what other children went through. What if people had to do that again? It would be just unbelievable.”

Published by WHO organization in the middle of November 

"Seven countries and territories are holding mass polio vaccination campaigns with further extensive campaigns planned for December targeting 22 million children. In a joint resolution all countries of the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region have declared polio eradication to be an emergency and called on Pakistan to urgently access and vaccinate all of its children to stem the international spread of its viruses."

Seven countries will work to immunize children through WHO and Unicef in December.  What an undertaking this must be, but to read what Peg wrote in this book, it would quickly become a fear not only in the Middle East, but world wide.

We reflected on what we had for immunization years ago.  One person said the whole area was immunized.  They had three different times of immunization.  I found some Minnesota history at the MN Dept of Health.  The first Salk vaccination was May 20, 1955 to 1st and 2nd graders, only 112,000 given to students in Mpls, St. Paul, Duluth and Rochester.  This site also shows data charts about the virus which is interesting.

We talked about how children at that time, were treated differently then we do now.  They were told about their diagnosis, and like Peg, were very, very scared.  Parents weren't there with their children because of how contagious it was. Peg's parents were wonderful to connect with the girls in Peg's room.  Sad that they were so far from home and didn't get visitors often, but that is how times were.  We also talked about when Peg got back home someone commented about how their hair looked so bad, and Peg's thoughts were far from how her hair looked.  Life's perspective had changed.

We liked Dr. Bevis.  In the Epilogue of the Anniversary edition, published 10 years after her book, she shared that she was able to get in touch with Dr. Bevis.  We felt that Dr. Bevis believing that Peg will walk again gave her the hope to drive her to walk again.

In the anniversary edition of the book, Peg Kehret has written "More About Polio."  She shared that March of Dimes started in 1938 by then President Franklin Roosevelt to combat polio.

Life has changed our world as many people died and were affected by polio.  Having this eradicated disease return is a scary prospect that many who suffered years ago and to this day with Post-polio syndrome hoped never to hear of again.

Great book, would highly recommend it!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe

October's book was perfect for Halloween, a story about witches, both in old colonial times and more recently in 1991.  It was a story about subtle witches, using their "craft" for good purpose, more so to using it in healing.  Most of us, 11 out of 12 liked and enjoyed the novel, to different degrees.  One person said they just couldn't get into it, and struggled reading it.

The book, going back and forth through time periods stretching hundreds of years on US soil, illustrated the connections between Mother/Daughter and then lineage through time. ***see the end of article***  Some liked the character development and could definitely see this book as a movie.  Some of us didn't know the Salem Witch time period so wanted to delve more into that after reading this book, some liked the history of the book.  Some members wished the book would have been "scarier."

Our leader shared with us that the book is published in 20 some countries.  We talk about the mother/daughter relationships in the book, and how women have been perceived over the centuries.  We talk about the women's influence as midwives.  What has changed for us women in these 300 plus years, included the right to vote.

We talked about being a preservationist like Sam, or a historian like Connie.  Both are important, and some of us were more inclined like Sam, wanting to preserve history, but some said you can't save it all!  We agreed they complimented each other in this novel, glad she weaved that part into the storyline.

We had quite a discussion about Arlo.  In Ch 2, Connie talks about how she came to have Arlo with her at Harvard.  Some noted this with interest, while others, just flew over that information.  At the end of the book, the last chapter, we see an older couple sitting and observing a dog, sitting by a tombstone, which is revealed to have started with the letter "D."  Someone thought that maybe Deliverance came back as a dog, and someone else suggested, that the dog was the same dog through the years for the family lineage, and the tombstone, marked "D" for dog.  Fun that she wove that part into the storyline.

One question in the discussion was whether Christianity is contradictory or complementary to magic in this story.  In this story it is complementary, but we don't think it has been in the realm of Christianity.  You choose, someone said, what side.  Another said it was fascinating to read that the witches in this book found it important to have that connection with God.

We also talked about magic -- what does it mean?  It can mean many different things, there is magic that is spiritual, magic that is dark, magic that is fairy tale and optimistic, like a leprechen.  We even recognized we have the Magical Kingdom, so there is "magic" in the real world!

I found this story to be an easy quick read, one I personally did not want to put down.  The "witches" of the colonial days used their gift for healing, obtaining herbs to help along with their spells.   Having the book weave around Connie working on her doctoral dissertation while at Harvard and going back to her mother's family home near Salem is enticing, leaving us to wonder how these two worlds will combine.  We find out when she finds a key in a Bible.  Like someone said at book club, I can easily see this as an interesting movie.  Someday. 

Thanks to one of our members, here is the lineage
Deliverance & Nathaniel Dale, dates mentioned 1681-1692
Mercy & Jedediah  Lamson, 1715-1763
Prudence & Josiah  Bartlett, 1741-1798
Patience (Patty) 1747
Sophia & Lemuel
Grace & Leo Goodwin
Constance  Goodwin