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John Kespert
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John Kespert   My Press Releases

Tale Of a Grade School Drop-Out – Pt. 4

Published on 11/3/2015
For additional information  Click Here

Tale Of a Grade School Drop-Out – Pt. 4

    When I became able to breathe on my own most of the time, I was transferred from Children's Hospital in Boston to the Mary MacArthur Memorial Respirator Unit in Wellesley. I was in a ward with about 20 other children.

    During the day many of us could be out of our beds and in wheelchairs of various kinds. There was even an area outdoors where we could go in the good weather and get some fresh air and sunshine.

    Part of each day was spent in therapy, for stretching our tight tendons and seeking to regain some strength. Most of the therapists were quite nice but there was one who, I'm sorry to say, was not very nice at all.

    One day the medical staff were very concerned because I stopped being a happy little kid and wouldn't talk at all to anyone, not even my Mom when she came to visit.

    Finally, just when my Mom had to leave, and bent down to give me a kiss good-bye, I spoke. I told her what that therapist had said that dashed my hopes of ever recovering. My Mom smiled and assured me that only God knew how much I would recover. Those few words she spoke were enough to restore my hopes and brighten me up again.

    Today, physical therapists like that one probably wouldn't be allowed to work with children. There was  one young girl who spoke Spanish who was learning to walk with braces and crutches, and that therapist would yell at her not to look down at her feet. Sometimes the therapist even pulled the girl's hair to yank her head back up if she looked down.

    There were doctors, nurses, and therapists at the facility, but no teachers for us. However, a volunteer took time again and again to point out what the letters and words were in the comic books I loved to look at. One of the first words I learned to recognize and then actually read was “Superman.” Over time I got to be able to read more words and even entire sentences.

    One day we kids got a special visitor who went from bed to bed and asked each of us what we'd like him to draw for us. I'd never heard of him before, so I just asked him to draw a picture of a “doggie” like he'd done for some of the other kids.

    I had that large drawing for many years but eventually the paper aged and became brittle, and finally I reluctantly had to discard it. If I'd had a way to keep it in good condition it would have been nice, especially since the guy had written on it the name of the doggie (Snoopy) and his own name, Charles Shulz.

    My stretching and strength building therapy continued and I was fitted with leg braces and a body jacket. They tried to see if I could stand on my own with crutches and whether I could learn to walk a little. But those attempts didn't do go very well. I couldn't even manage a step or two. And my spinal curvature was still quite severe despite the extensive stretching exercises.

    In the middle of the summer of 1957 the doctors said I could go home for 6 weeks, and then return for further treatment. Wow. I got to be with my Mom and Dad all day during that time rather than for just a few hours at a time. And I got to be with my sisters and my neighborhood friends. I even got to go down to Cape Cod and enjoy spending time with my cousins.

    But I have to tell you that those six weeks weren't all fun and games. My Mom continued the stretching exercises. And she even had me standing and trying to learn to walk with the crutches. I didn't really enjoy those sessions, but she was Mom and I had to do what Mom or Dad said. They weren't going to let me do whatever I wanted just because I'd had polio.

    Well, those 6 weeks went by all too fast. I was oh so sad to go back to the rehab center. I cried myself to sleep that night.

    The next day was a “bit” better. My Mom was there when it was time for my my therapy. Much to everybody's surprise, my tendons were not as tight as they had been 6 weeks earlier. And then they put on my body jacket and leg braces. And stood me up, gave me the crutches, and, with my Mom looking on, and that therapist looking on...I took a step. And another. And another. My mom's face glowed, delighting in the shocked look on that therapist's face.

    The doctor was also exceedingly pleased. “John, you've done better in 6 weeks home with your mom than in the previous 6 months here. I guess there's no point in your staying here any longer.”

    I was ecstatic. I was ready to go back home at that very instant. My Mom was delighted, but a little overwhelmed. She wanted to be sure she knew exactly how to do all my therapies right, but I assured her that I knew them all so there was no need to stay around a minute longer. So that very day I got to go home.

    Later my mom and dad were told that the real reason for granting me that “vacation” was because they'd planned on doing major spinal surgery right after I returned which would have confined me to bed in a cast from my neck to my feet for months. But, thanks to my mom's physical therapy work on me, that no longer had to be done at that time.

    I hope you've enjoyed this latest installment of “Tale of a Grade School Drop-out.” If you'd like to take a look at the others, here are the links to them: Part. 1, Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6 and Part 7.

    If you'd like to learn what this grade school drop out is doing lately for business activities and whether I ever grew up and got married, I invite you to visit my IBO Social Profile page by Clicking Here.

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