This is my Story
I was born on August 7, 1950 in Vacherie, Louisiana to Sidney and Virgia Cortez. I can remember mom telling me that I was a very sickly baby. It was our family doctor who told my parents I had the poliovirus. He immediately sent me to Charity Hospital in New Orleans. At 14 months of age, I was admitted into the hospital and put into the Iron Lung Unit for 6 months. Six months later I was sent to The Cripple Children's Hospital also in New Orleans.
As a child, I underwent several surgeries. At Cripple Childrenís Hospital I underwent my first surgical procedure to correct Torticollis, affecting the right side of my neck. This surgery was successful. Then, I was transferred to Touro Infirmary Hospital. At Touro, I was fitted into full-length braces and sent home with orders to see Dr. Redler to adjust braces and check for progress. In 1961 I had an unsuccessful surgery called Panpalar orthrodesis of my right foot to straighten my right ankle. Two years later the same procedure was repeated somewhat successfully. A third surgical procedure was used to fuse the right ankle in order to correct the drop foot. In 1965 Dr. Corban, completed another surgical procedure used to modify the leg length discrepancy.
In the 1950ís surgery was a major procedure that had a long recovery time. The many surgeries I had caused me to be out of school for very long periods of time. Most of my schoolwork had to be done in the hospital or at home. I have vivid memories of my recovery, but I remember the casts the most. I wore so many that I grew tired of them. However, the casts did not stop me from doing what I wanted. I remember the countless times (approximately every two or three weeks) taking trips to New Orleans to get the cast repaired or replaced. Both the braces and crutches were a thorn in my side. At first I had long leg braces, but after the surgeries, I was able to use a knee brace. Again my parents would have to bring me numerous times to the clinic to either fix or replace them. I was a very active child and would go through braces and crutches like they were made of glass. My shoes would last about six weeks. I am thankful to have parents that would permit me to do anything I wanted. I was treated just like my other three brothers, no different. I can remember being pitied by my classmates and teachers. I felt they did not understand that I had accepted my self, and I hated their pity. I inspired myself to do everything other children would do, but better. During high school I was not allowed to go to PE. I was allowed to watch the others play or go to study hall. I would attend the practices, anyway. The "hanging around" forced the coaches to take notice of me. I became the water boy for the football team. However, my dream was to be on the field "playing ball" like all the other guys.
After high school in the late 1960ís I was summoned for the Armed Services (the draft). I was so excited to report to the Armed Services for duty. They looked and asked me what was I doing there. The service would not even consider placing me in an office position. I chose to seek a job rather than go to college. I applied for several positions at different chemical plants. I was called by three and passed all of their exams and physicals. I decided to accept a position at Union Carbide Corporation. I worked 15 years in the Computer Department and 13 years in the Materials Department.
After 28 years at Union Carbide, I had to take my medical retirement in 1995. Stopping work was the hardest thing I ever had to do in my entire life. It was like my life had ceased for about 18 months. I had to adjust to a whole new lifestyle. I had to stop heavy physical activity, but I couldn't slow my mind down. Today I think my mind has slowed down to my body. I have programmed my body and mind that it is in no shape to be working. After all of my test results and talking to my doctors, I realized how much damage I had done in the last 10 years at work. I had known about PPS 10 years before. I remained stubborn and continued to inflict damage to my body.
Today it's fighting with Social Security to get what's coming to me and can't get it. The sad part about the whole program is knowing some people who are on Social Security had no problems getting it and could still work. I wish I would be in their condition, because I would still be working. People say that I am lucky to be able to retire so young, but I reply back that you are the lucky one to still be working. Update on Social Security, I finally got it as of June 17, 1998, after 29 months of fighting.
Today my goal is to put together a web page that will compile all Polio Resources. I am hoping to inform PPS victims that there are support groups, research, and help pertaining to their conditions. This site will make it easier to locate information for many having personal problems.