In 1952, during the most severe part of the polio crisis in the United States, our brother, John, was stricken by the worst form of paralytic polio. The vaccine did not exist back then. Polio changed John’s life--and ours--forever. He endured countless painful surgeries. While most children looked forward to summer vacation--going to movies, swimming, fishing, and playing sports--our brother was encased in his stifling, full-body cast no central air conditioning in the Arizona summer heat.
During his childhood, he developed a devotion to baseball. He knows trivia related to the game: Dave Bresnahan, a catcher for the Williamsport minor league baseball team, threw a potato carved to resemble a baseball during a game. Yes, he got fired but a Chicago newspaper named him their Sports Person of the Year in 1988 and his number (#59) was retired. He got the last laugh: Dave is a successful stockbroker in Tempe, Arizona. John LOVES to talk baseball strategy with anyone interested in the game.
More about John in a moment. We are his brothers and sisters. Two brothers-in-law, Patrick and Bob, join with us. We want to share why we are asking for your help.
In 1952, John contracted polio. With braces, he could walk.
When he became an adult, he developed a career and could support himself financially even though he lived without use of his legs and his left arm. John lived in Las Vegas for several years taking advantage of the warmer weather and the excellent public transportation system until this year.
What none of us knew was that a second threat lurked: Post-Polio Syndrome which can re-occur 20 to 50 years after the first virus attacks. For John, PPS attacked a few years ago and the ravages of Post-Polio Syndrome never stopped: on March 3, 2017, John’s deteriorating condition and excruciating pain required that John have his Cervical C2-C7 vertebra fused together. While the goal was to relieve his pain and stabilize his head, this operation took away the use of his only remaining limb: his right arm. He is how a quadriplegic.
This devastating PPS robbed John of any vestige of independent movement. He can no longer work or live independently. Our brother who was able to move with leg braces, wheelchair, and a public transportation system can no longer can get himself out of bed due to severe paralysis.
To care for him, we drove to Las Vegas and spent weeks by his hospital bedside. When it became clear that John was paralyzed, Clarice moved John into her Arizona home which is not equipped to care for John. We care for him round-the- clock: one of us has to be awake with John every hour of the day because he needs constant care. Due to severe pain, John can’t sleep and therefore neither can we.
John is 67. As his siblings,we aren’t the spring chickens we used to be. Our mother turned 89 in April and is displaying memory issues and forgetfulness. Dale is a disabled U.S. Army Viet Nam veteran who may have to undergo his second back surgery and neck surgery.We need help to keep our brother at home with us instead being ignored in a warehouse of disabled seniors.
This is why we set up a GoFundMe page for John: to raise money to help him regain his previous quality of life.
Here is what we need:
· After his surgery, John became a quadriplegic. He is making progress and some activity is returning to his right arm, its still questionable if useful function will ever be restored. His old leg braces are not enough to help him move. Now, he needs a very specialized wheelchair which costs over $14,000.
· After his surgery, John could no longer get out of bed by himself. Now he needs a very specialized, motorized hospital bed which most importantly would be comfortable enough for him to sleep in and help him get out of bed more easily. The bed costs over $2,700.
· After his surgery, John could no longer use public transportation in Las Vegas. Here in rural Arizona, there is no public transportation to handle his needs. We need a very special van into which we can wheel his wheelchair and secure him in the van. Currently, we have to use the family van which has not been modified for John’s needs. Due to this being the wrong kind of van, the auto dealership told us it cannot be modified to add the safety features John needs. There is no way to secure his wheelchair and he has no power in his arms to protect himself if his chair rolls too close to the seats in front of him or the van’s interior walls. Since he is part of that 1%, that slender sliver of polio survivors who becomes a quadriplegic later in life, he has very specific safety challenges in the van. For that reason, we need to buy a van and then have it specially modified. Costs: $50,000- 60,000.