Not Without a Trace

Dr Peter Brauer, a polio survivor and expert on treatment of Post-Polio Syndrome (PPS), illustrates his personal experiences in a moving and beautiful poem.

Dedicated to all polio survivors!

You were young?

An infant

perhaps,

or even an adult;

weak

and torn from life

with a limbless feeling.

Stretched out,

almost motionless

and helpless,

you were lying

in a hospital bed

without even a pillow,

isolated

from the outside world.

A period

of lonely days, weeks,

and frightening nights;

left with your own day-dreams

and nightmares;

an unconscious presence

with no vision of the

future outcome.

Despite the ups and downs

of rehabilitation efforts,

a different world

awaited you

on the day you left.

In this other world,

even after recovery,

an everlasting trace remained,

a stain,

with which you were forced

to live with and accept.

This stain;

a remnant influential trace;

became a life’s companion.

Inwardly and

invisible to the outside;

you had become

an idiosyncratic person

quite often miss-understood.

Constantly left

to self-decision making,

with countless setbacks;

you had to make

it on your own.

Normality

required more strength

that you just didn’t have any more.

Nobody else saw it that way,

other than yourself.

Sometimes,

on the verge of hopelessness,

thoughts of an end

to your misery

may have come to mind.

You have lived your life

on the threshold

of limits

to your reserves.

Now,

many years,

possibly decades later,

you face the consequences,

the big bill!

Sadly, you pay it

with the loss of life’s quality,

living with the discrepancy

between wanting to

and not being able to.

I bow in humility

to your life’s achievements,

as I too have walked

along this path.

Modified lyrical translation: German to English by Tom House


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