The will to work together to solve an epidemic: Polio in 1952

The disease had been known for many years. When it made an appearance in a town or county, schools closed and children were kept away from each other, because catching this disease could mean debilitating long-term consequences and even death.

In the worst outbreak of the disease, over 58,000 cases were reported in the United States, mostly children though a third of the cases were in patients at least 15 years old. 36% of those who contracted the disease that year – over 21,000 – were left with permanent physical problems, including mild to complete paralysis. If the paralysis was focused on the chest muscles, patients could suffocate unless an apparatus to assist breathing, an iron lung, was available.

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Breaking records

Rode 11.95 miles late yesterday afternoon, and it was nice to be able to wear short sleeves and bike shorts again after a few days of insulated gear. Looks like the next few days will be pleasant and unseasonably warm as well so I should be able to get some nice outdoor rides in.

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Streaking

Today marks six months since the last time I drank alcohol. This is mostly significant as a date on a calendar, since I didn’t really intend to stop drinking, it just sort of happened. While I’m only an occasional social drinker under normal circumstances, this is surely the longest dry spell since my freshman year at Central Michigan ninety years ago.

On March 8th I stopped into the Brass Rail in Port Huron after work and had a couple of bottles of Labatt Blue and chatted with the regulars at the bar. On the way home, I decided to take a few days off from beer to “prepare” for the St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl coming up on the 14th. Over the next week the seriousness of the coronavirus situation became evident, and I skipped the pub crawl (so did nearly everyone else, as it turned out).

I don’t drink very often at home, so a week became two, which became a month, which became more months, which became today – 185 days and six months later.

Along the way I picked up other “streaks,” most notably 175 days without eating restaurant food (pick-up or dine-in), 57 days of closing all three of my activity rings on my watch (that streak ended when I had to take a couple of days off with a sore lower back), and 78 straight days of playing my guitar for at least fifteen minutes. Positive results have been losing 45 pounds and finally learning how to play an F chord well.

It’s probably obsessive at this point, but since I like the results I’m going to keep going. I have decided that I’ll break the “no alcohol” streak when I can travel back to Montréal and have a beer at Chez Baptiste in the Plateau. At the rate we’re going, that ought to extend the streak well beyond a year.

And now I have a “write something on your blog” streak of one day.