My parents Without my parents I would not have become the person that I am today. I owe them so much! They never gave up on me, they have always hoped and fought with me, that is the reason why my life could develop in such a positive way. Here just some of the comments my parents made in trying to describe whatg they felt when I fell ill in 1958 and during my journey into my today’s self-determined life. Father Ferdinand: A healthy ‘chappy’ he was and very hot-tempered. When polio struck him I was in – hm – what’s it called – well between Ulm and Constance. It doesn’t really matter. I received a phone call telling me the boy had fallen ill and that it was infantile paralysis. I returned home immediately, my wife was having treatment in Berchtesgaden at the time. I arrived back home in the evening, the following day I rushed off to the hospital. I wasn’t allowed into his ward, through a small window pane in the door I saw him lying there. Yes, it was terrible to see him like that. It took me ages to grasp that he was totally paralysed . We didn’t know what infantile paralysis was. We just couldn’t believe what was happening and we had the hope that everything would turn out well. Finally, it dawned on us what it meant and the realisation of the truth came to us as a huge shock. When I remember back - no - I don’t want to think about it. It was so awful to see him lie in that iron lung – so helpless ! Finally, we were told that he would not live longer than one or maximum two years. I couldn’t believe it and it took me years to come to terms with the situation and it was extremely difficult. Mother Rita: Yes, and Dr. Liehl gave us very little hope. She said she would not give him more than two years. Well, we tried to avoid thinking about this as we felt we had to accept the terrible truth. He was so courageous. It was his own initiative to try breathing outside the iron lung using frog- breathing for just minutes at a time, and we kept encouraging him to try to breathe so he can get out of this iron lung. Years of living in a hospital rather spoilt him a little and when he returned home much had to change. He needed that change. I didn’t fool about much , I went into his room and said : “Good morning, time to get up!” opened the lung. In the hospital they took time preparing him for that by saying:” Are you awake? Do you want to get out? Shall we wash you?” and so on. I didn’t even start that sort of thing. He had to go to school and it wouldn’t have been possible to molly-coddle him like that.
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