I was 12 years of age in 1937. Mid July, we were playing baseball in the little town of Mendham, Saskatchewan. It was a very hot day during a heat spell in which even horses suffered heat stroke. Mother had supper on the table when we boys got home after which we retired for a good night’s sleep. The following morning, I found myself totally paralyzed. Due to my lack of mobility, I had to be carried. My parents arranged to have me taken to Empress, Albert to see Dr. McNeil who kept me in the hospital for one week. He was unable to find cause or cure during that time so recommended the larger hospital in Medicine Hat, Alberta to see Dr. Mc Charles. For three weeks, I was under his care and the only medical procedure done was a “spinal tap” which apparently gave no answer to the puzzle. For three weeks, I lay there without even one visitor and with only pillows placed under my knees, thus losing weight and appetite. They called my disease “Infantile Paralysis” but found no treatment or cure so advised my family to take me home, which was on a farm where we lived in a sod house. For the next nine months I lay on a cot in the kitchen near a large cook stove, from which I had to be carried anywhere I needed to be. Mobility, appetite, and even desire were absent with little hope for a future athletic lifestyle.
Previous to this, I had been active in sports and had carried a half-gallon pail of milk every school day to a very poor Russian family. The gentleman was a Bone Specialist who was unable to practice medicine in Canada. He was very disappointed that such a sickness should strike me. They thought I was angelic to do this daily task over a period of years. His name was Mr. Mastel. He kept inquiring about my condition and asked if he could have a visit with me. My parents suggested that once winter was over and the snow was gone, they would bring him from the town to our farm to see me. Our church family and Pastor had special prayer for me during this time. A boy named Carl Webber whose father had a general store in Mendham brought me a chocolate bar, which was a treat, which we could not afford. I will never forget that Act of Kindness.
Towards the end of March in 1938, the snow was gone and the weather became warm. My father brought the bone specialist to our house by horse and buggy. It was nice and warm on the south side of our Sod House where Mother placed me on a chair, tying me in so that I could not fall. Another chair was placed facing me for Mr. Mastel. After many questions and answers, he advised my Mother to untie me and hold me at my shoulder. He then told me that Jesus had healed many people in Bible Times, and that He was certainly able to do the same for me. He then spoke this command, “In the name of Jesus, stand up.” At that instant, a sensation of warmth came over me from head to toe and I obeyed to a standing position. He then said, “Now sit down, and see your toenails are showing color which means that blood is flowing to them.” Following this, he massaged both legs and arms and instructed me to start crawling until enough strength was gained to begin walking. My appetite slowly returned and after about a week or so, I began walking with crutches made from a 1" x 3".
Towards the end of June, we were told that the March of Dimes was offering free medical treatment for Paralysis patients. My parents applied for this opportunity and the application was accepted. I was then taken by train to Grey Nuns Hospital in Regina, Saskatchewan. I spent two weeks there in a ward with four other boys. None of them were mobile, so when we played ball with rolled up towels I was the only one that could retrieve a missed ball, and that got me into trouble a few times. As I recall now, it was only massage treatments and good food that I received at the Grey Nuns Hospital. Most of us were taken to see “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” which was the first movie I ever saw. I still have the Disney Book which each of us were given.
It was not until we got to Regina that I heard the word “Polio.” It did have its permanent effect on my body and as a result the Army rejected me for two reasons, one being that my right leg was thinner than my left and that I had a slight curvature of the spine. In spite of my condition, I gained strength and was able to work on the farm like any other young man. My running speed and other athletic skills were gone, even though I was able to skate and play ball to a degree. Farming was all I wanted to do which was pursued until 1944 when I developed a grain dust allergy making it impossible to remain on the farm. God had other plans for me, which after further education took me into the Pastoral Ministry.
After years of Ministry, Travel, and Radio Broadcasting, I began noticing weakness in my right leg and toes and left ankle. In reading all the print on Polio, I heard about Post Polio Syndrome and realized that was what was occurring in my body. Having a tiny vein rupture behind my left eye and seeing double, I was referred to a Neurologist who was baffled at the cause of double vision. During my visit to him, my medical history was shared and I mentioned Post Polio Syndrome. He was surprised and asked what and why I knew anything on that subject, not being a Doctor. After checking my reflexes and the differences he found, he realized that I had diagnosed myself correctly. He knew of nothing that could help me regarding this weakness. Doctors have suggested physiotherapy but in asking a number of them, I have had no positive help. I tried to exercise as much as possible but find walking very difficult due to the weakness of my right leg and toes for balance.
With a loving wife and a supportive family, I am still able to travel; lead Senior Bus Tours, and conduct a weekly hour long Radio Broadcast. As mobility and general health allows, we will carry on. My wife repeats a quote that she heard many years ago that "age is a matter of the mind, if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter." Our lives are totally in God’s Hand and Will, so what we think does not matter. His Plan will be our ultimate end.
SOD HOUSE TO MANSION
From Sod house to Mansion
I’ll be moving one day
Jesus made provision
Ample room in Heaven to stay.
The Walls are made of Jasper
In contrast to earth below
Foundations, adorned with Sapphire
In the book of Revelation, we know.
Tears of sorrow are absent
Jesus said, “I’ll wipe them away”
Joyous reunions with loved ones
Then and forever to stay.
Night, year, month, and day
God’s order to end without delay:
Everlasting Light He will send,
Alpha, Omega, The Beginning and End.
Yes, from Sod House to Mansion
I shall move one day
Released from all of earth’s clutter,
Into the arms of Jesus to stay.
Written by S.B. Taetz