The March of Dimes

There was a parade. It was trundling down 7th avenue (I think it was 7th). We came upon it as my mother was taking me for a vaccination shot at the doctors office. I’m not sure what I was getting vaccinated for. Might have been for smallpox or rabies or maybe to prevent polio.

Yes, probably polio. Because as we stood watching the parade, a large contingent passed in front of us, carrying an enormous sheet that was almost street-wide. Emblazoned across the sheet was ‘March of Dimes’. People in the crowd, along the parade route, threw dimes, ten cent pieces, into the big sheet. They were marching and people were throwing dimes.

I asked my mother about it and she said it was to prevent kids from getting ‘polio’. I asked what that was and she said it was a disease where your legs shrivel up and that is why it is always good to get vaccinated. I looked down at my legs. I didn’t want them to shrivel. They might shrivel so much they could fall off and make me legless. So, if you threw money into the sheet then kids wouldn’t lose their legs. I had no money to throw.

The thing is, vaccination meant needles. Big needles, maybe bigger than your whole arm; and needles always hurt so I didn’t like them. But if it would prevent my legs from falling off then I was willing to suffer the agony.

And it did hurt. I’m pretty sure the mean doctor stabbed that huge needle all the way through my arm bone and injected thick slimy goop into me. But I managed to live and my legs didn’t fall off.

However, after a few days, the hole in my arm the doctor made with his gigantic needle, got red and swollen then turned into a green pus filled infection and I was pretty sure the doctor had injected polio into me.

We went back to that same doctor so he could examine the damage he had done. I was pretty sure he was going to get his big needle out again and poke it into the same infected hole in my arm. But he didn’t. He agreed that there was an infection but never said that he had caused it. It took a couple weeks for the wound to heal. My legs didn’t fall off and I didn’t catch autism.

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