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  • Arun Patel BCAh


The following is an excerpt from my book,” Out of My Way, Polio!”, published August 2021

Having confirmed his suspicions, the doctor was not ready to break the news to my twenty year- old mother who, for the first time, had come to the hospital with- out my father. He had a busy schedule at work. An urgent message was sent for him to come to the hospital.

“Your son’s right leg is a few inches shorter than the left one. He has polio in that leg, and there is no cure for that,” the doctor dropped the bombshell on my anxious and breathless father.

That was 1954, and polio was ravaging young lives across Europe and America. It was also referred to as the “summer plague” or “infant paralysis.”

My parents were in Mbale, a small, remote town in Uganda, situated on the Kenyan border, a hundred and forty miles east of Kampala, the capital of the country. That was the worst news that my parents could have received then. They had not heard of polio nor did they know anyone else who was struck by such a horror.

My father had hardly digested the shocking news when the doctor alerted him to some more grim consequences related to polio. It would leave my right leg in a permanent state of paralysis. There would be countless activities that I would not be able to perform. Consequently, I would require a lot of support from others.

My illness started a new chapter in my parents’ lives. A chapter that would soon be filled with a never-ending list of activities I could not perform. Later that “list” would be liberally updated with many more “contributions” from my parents, teachers, elders, and anyone who happened to cross my life’s path. The floodgates had opened to scale down my potential to lead a normal life, and there was no stopping of the tide.

Life from then on would pose innumerable challenges for my family.

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