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Old 10-31-2009, 05:42 PM   #1
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Default 1957 Pandemic, My Experience

The last time I needed medical help because of flu was in 1957. I had good insurance that cost very little. My employer had provided me with the vax but I got it anyway 3 weeks later.

Asian flu


Hospitals were swamped. People were dying.

I was very ill. Our family doctor came to our rural farmhouse every day for several days. To get from the road to the house he wore snowshoes. I don't know how much the medicines of those days helped. He brought them to us and that was good because our car was buried under several feet of snow. But his calm reassurance was excellent medicine.

His presence penetrated my constant delerium and kept me aware and trying to survive.

My wife of only a few months provided excellent home nursing care. In those days such skills were passed from generation to generation through the women. If there were a question Grandma, who had got her family through the 1917 pandemic, was right there with the answer. I am proud that the tradition is alive and well with my daughter today.

My doctor and my young wife kept me from being one of the 2 million taken by that pandemic.

I do not recall any panic such as we are seeing today. A vaccine was developed, manufactured, and distributed a bit faster than we are doing now. People were self reliant and not so dependent on an overloaded medical system. We had a close relationship with our family doctors who had first names and lived down the street in houses just like our own.

No one was on their own. Whoever wasn't sick in the neighborhood helped those who were. Cooked meals were delivered, furnaces were stoked, laundries were done, shopping was taken care of, extra blankets were passed around, children were cared for.

I do question the notion that 52 years of progress has made us better able to deal with this pandemic. I wish my grandchildren and great grandchildren could have all the advantages I had back then.

Fortunately we can provide some of them.

Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today. If you do it today and like it you can do it again tomorrow.

Last edited by Old Hawk; 10-31-2009 at 09:14 PM.
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Old 10-31-2009, 06:25 PM   #2
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Thanks for sharing this 'remembrance'...it gave me something worthwhile to think about.
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Old 10-31-2009, 07:25 PM   #3
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I was four years old. We lived in a veteran's duplex. My mother was a few months pregnant. Her parents caught the Asian flu. Grandma had a heart condition, so my mother went over to nurse her. They were on the mend when Mom became ill. Very ill. She ran a 104 degree fever for days, and then she started bleeding. Worried about a miscarriage, the doctor put her right in the hospital. But Mom had spread her flu to me, and my playmate, the girl next door. That girl developed pneumonia and died. I developed pneumonia and lived. My mother delivered a premature baby that was severely brain damage.
“When the situation was manageable it was neglected, and now that it is thoroughly out of hand we apply too late the remedies which then might have effected a cure. There is nothing new in the story. It is as old as the sibylline books. It falls into that long, dismal catalogue of the fruitlessness of experience and the confirmed unteachability of mankind. Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong–these are the features which constitute the endless repetition of history.”
— Winston Churchill, House of Commons, 2 May 1935.
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Old 10-31-2009, 08:38 PM   #4
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Old Hawk, Thanks for sharing that story.I love reading how things used to be done, how Dr's cared for their patients.


That is a sad story.

It must have been so hard for your Mom.
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Old 10-31-2009, 11:13 PM   #5
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Thanx for posting that OH. I WILL have comments - just happens that my 'relaxing' evening has gone out the window.

Explanations later. Nothing bad - just annoying as all hell.
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Old 11-01-2009, 12:22 AM   #6
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OH, what a lovely story as far as the caring of each other that went on then and the good outcome!

Flourbug, that is so sad, makes me wonder how many of us will have these type stories when this pandemic is over!
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Old 11-01-2009, 01:05 AM   #7
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I was part of the 1968/69 pandemic...didn't even realize it till I spoke with my mom a couple weeks ago. She said that she and all 7 of us kids contracted the flu while living in Japan and were all terribly ill. She had to try to care for all of us while she was very ill herself. My Dad was military and not able to help much. She said it was one of the worse illnesses she ever had.
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Old 11-02-2009, 10:07 AM   #8
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Thanks for the stories everyone.

I do question the notion that 52 years of progress has made us better able to deal with this pandemic. I wish my grandchildren and great grandchildren could have all the advantages I had back then.
I think as a society, we've become to accustomed to letting "experts" take the reigns for just about everything. We have parents being charged as criminals for deciding they know what is better for their children than the "experts". The lack of personal responsibility crosses all areas of life. The doctor told us to stay home, the mayor told us to stay away from the hospital, the school distict told us that we didn't have a swine flu outbreak, and so on. Folks don't seem to take the time to see if any of the advice and pronouncements from the "experts" jives with reality. They just open their mouths and take what they are fed.

Sorry, rant off.
"Now, mark my words. So long as we are a young and virtuous people, this instrument will bind us together in mutual interests, mutual welfare, and mutual happiness. But when we become old and corrupt, it will bind us no longer" - Alexander Hamilton about the US Constitution.
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Old 11-02-2009, 09:03 PM   #9
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Ex, TPTB have been telling us for years that we, the laypeople, are too stupid to pour piss out of a boot with instructions printed on the heel. We should let the experts do it for us. (My DH has told me that *I* can't possibly know that he has sleep apnea, since I'm not a doctor. As if it takes a doctor to tell when someone stops breathing!) And people, like DH, have bought it hook, line, and sinker.

"I wish I knew how to bake my own bread. Artisan bread is so expensive!" But the speaker can't bake her own bread, knit her own sweaters, make her own clothes, cook her own meals, or do anything but fork out cash for the things that she wants, because "It's too hard to do." The TV ads even complicate simple things like boiling water for pasta or hard-boiled eggs -- you have to have a special gadget for it. Otherwise, "it's too hard."

Is it any wonder that people are now too afraid to trust their own instincts when their precious child is ill? Yes, Grandma says to put the child in the bathroom and fill it with steam from the shower to help loosen up the gunk in her chest. But Grandma isn't a doctor. The doctor must take care of the child's illness. The doctor must give them a prescription, an antibiotic -- the parents insist! (Yes, you and I know that antibiotics don't do squat for a viral illness.) And so it goes.
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Old 11-02-2009, 11:58 PM   #10
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My parents' greatest gift to me? Demanding that I think for myself. Good post, MA.

(sorry, I wasn't even a gleam in my father's eye yet for the 57 pandemic )
Unbelievably, Trudeau 2.0 is far, far worse than Trudeau 1.0
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1957, experience, pandemic

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