Friday, February 22, 2019

It Could Happen To You

Editor's Note from MeAndMyDoctor:  In "Polio- A Personal Story," Kim Taylor, executive director of the Wichita County Medical Society, wrote about her father, TMA physician member Thomas Taylor, MD, and his life with polio. Shortly after being diagnosed (and before he went on to medical school), young Mr. Taylor penned an article about his experience for the Pasadena Citizen newspaper  titled “It Can Happen to You.” We thank Kim for sharing that article, first published by the newspaper on Jan. 27, 1955. 

By Thomas Taylor, MD
Dermatologist, Wichita Falls, TX
Member, Texas Medical Association 

Editor’s note from the Pasadena Citizen: Here is one of the most heartwarming and touching stories the Pasadena-North Shore Citizen has ever had the privilege of offering. Written by a young Pasadena polio victim, the story describes the life of a happy, ambitious young couple before polio appeared to spoil—at least temporarily—the high hopes and dreams of a typical American man and wife. It’s the story of the victim’s battle with the disease and his refreshing and wholesome outlook on life despite the tragedy which still handicaps his living. Read this and we’re confident your gift to the March of Dimes campaign will be doubled if not tripled. We hope you enjoy this remarkable story by Tommy Taylor, 2602 Morningside Lane. His wife, Kay, teaches a second grade class at Red Bluff Elementary School.

There is a period in my life that I shall always remember. Even yet it seems as if I might have dreamed it all a horrible nightmare from which I would awaken—yet, when I reached for my crutches it is all there again, very much, for it do happen to me. I had polio.

My wife Kay and I had wonderful dreams and plans for our future as does every young couple just starting out. I wanted to be a dentist, and we decided I would study at the University of Texas Dental Branch in Houston.

The summer prior to our college graduation and subsequent marriage we had both worked and pooled our savings for our educational fund.

Since my wife was to teach at an elementary school in Pasadena we found a home as near as possible to the  school. Pasadena seemed such a warm friendly place, and it has proved to be just that. Everyone we have come in contact with has been wonderful to us. Helping us, not in words alone, but by their deeds of kindness.

I enrolled at the dental school September 20, paid my tuition, purchased the instruments necessary to my study. Then it happened! A blow that threatened to shatter all our dreams.

Dr. Taylor's photo was printed on the front page
of the Pasadena Citizen on Jan. 27, 1955.
Courtesy of Kim Taylor
I attended my first day of classes only to become ill and return home that afternoon after seeing my doctor. He ordered me to bed and the next day when the reports came in on my various tests his diagnosis confirmed his suspicions of the illness. He gave it to me straight. It was the terrifying disease, polio.

My wife and (I) both were too stunned at first to grasp the truth. It is a disease we have all read about but never thinking it will happen to us. The thought was flashing through my mind—many others have had polio, and I am no different from the others as it could happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime.

I more or less marshalled my numerous thoughts into some sequence of order and made up my mind to fight for all I was worth. I would not give in to my fear, but I would win my fight. But a little nagging doubt kept assailing me, Could I do it?

My wife has been an inspiration. Her attitude has constantly been a courageous one, a determination to treat my condition as just an ordinary illness. But even her courage and determination could not still the anxiety over our rapidly mounting expenses. How could we meet this great expense?

Then help came. The Polio Foundation took over. My doctor told me I was being sent to Hedgecroft Hospital in Houston.

Looking more like a home than a hospital this lovely red brick building faces Montrose Boulevard. It is surrounded by stately trees dripping their festoons of cypress moss, wise old veterans that have seen many patients come and go.

Hedgecroft was my haven. I found courage and hope there. During those long nights of pain and fear I knew there was always someone there to help me. Doctors, nurses, and therapists are professional in their care of the patients, and they are friends we need to instill confidence and hope and somehow you know everything will be all right.

Since my release from the hospital, spending almost two months there, I return three times a week to continue with my physical therapy. I have graduated from the wheel chair phase of my illness and am now able to walk with the aid of crutches.

How have I, one of the many polio patients, benefited from the Polio Foundation deriving its support from the March of Dimes? Let me tell you how!

Thomas Taylor, MD (right) with his wife
Kay (middle), and daughter Kim (left).
Courtesy of Kim Taylor 
First, I was given the assurance that I need not worry over the mounting expenses. I was given professional care and physical therapy so necessary to start me on the long road back to a normal life. I was under close observation by doctors who have devoted years to the study of this dread crippling disease.

Now that I am home I receive regular check-up visits from the Harris County Health Department Nurse. The friendly interest and words of encouragement mean a lot to the patients visited and cared for by Nurse Belcher.

Transportation is furnished to me for my trips to and from the hospital to take my physical therapy treatments. All of this is furnished by the Polio Foundation.

I have been told by the Texas Rehabilitation Agency that my schooling may be resumed as soon as my health permits with this agency paying my tuition. I will be able to complete my studies and at last enter the field of my chosen profession.

Kay and I are dreaming our dreams again. A happy future lies before us. We owe our heartfelt thanks to all those unselfish contributions to the March of Dimes. We can never repay them, but we offer a daily prayer—may others be helped by your contributions as we have been helped. Paul said in Acts 20-35, “Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.’.”

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