Good Monday morning. There comes a time when we have to focus on the betterment of those around us and back off from saving the world. When you have been involved in activism as long as I have, it can be hard to hand over the reins of “change”. It is hard to stop when you are dealing with people daily who have no understanding of the history of social justice. However I am loosening my grip while a younger generation of activists who knew nothing (they weren’t born yet) about life pre Charter days. I do have to question my timing in loosening my activism grip as long as individuals like 28 year old Brad Bartko has to scout out 30 restaurants providing something as “basic” as “physical access” so he could take his wife on a date. Or, the case of Vicky Levack, who won her human rights challenge for access to independent living but a government now preparing to appeal the human rights decision. I, and many others, had fought for the right to live independently over 40 years ago however erosion has had major impacts on those gains.
Back to Christmases Past, now would be the time, when I was a child, those kids who went home would start to return. Sixty-two years ago medical treatment was very different and out-patient treatment was very rare. National healthcare had not yet arrived and communities weren’t prepared for the deluge of “congenital health issues” on the horizon.
In 1950, the Canadian child mortality rate was 54.58 out of every thousand kids however, by 2010, that had dropped to 6 out of every thousand. The face and life expectancy has changed dramatically over the last 40 years however to survive polio usually meant a lot of in-patient treatment and surgeries. A three or four day break from therapy could result in the equivalent of a month of gains made in the ongoing treatment being provided in the hospital.
As the kids began returning to the hospital following their Christmas break, it was time to start “comparing” what each of us got. The break from school between Christmas and New Year’s meant a bit longer in physio and, lacking classes, we had more free time to to be a bunch of “wild kids” in the solarium. It also meant more surgeries could be conducted since you wouldn’t have missed as much school time. That was almost irrelevant in those days.
By age seven I was having surgeries which would usually look something like this. Day one after surgery the nurse would be on one side of your bed giving you a shot of Demerol (narcotics) while your teacher would be on the other side of your bed giving you your homework. Schooling, due to limited numbers of patients, were mixed classes, grades 1 to 3 = one class, 4 to 6 = one class, 7 to 10 = one class, etc. Usually by grade 10 you would have aged out of the hospital and a form of inclusion began, amendments to the former Alberta School Act kids with disabilities were finally allowed access to education. Someone like a polio kid could no longer be refused access to education. I never attended a community school until I was ten and that didn’t work out well so back to hospital classes.
There are a lot of similarities between how the 50’s polio epidemic was handled and the foolishness we are seeing in this current pandemic. With current temperatures being in the -30C range I suspect I will homebound for awhile so I will be doing my year end belief shake up. I will be documenting a bit of that throughout the week to share. I know the history of how we have arrived where we are these days. I want to review how we spend 40 years designing “regulations” which, appear to have effectively given too many people a sense of “entitlement” rather than “common sense”.