The first time I saw an iron lung was on a junk shopping trip to Axe-Man surplus in St. Paul. It was old, empty, and made me think of the horror of the polio wards the machine stood for. I thought that time had long past, that the children had mostly died by now. I was wrong.

Dianne Odell lived for 60 years in an iron lung after contracting polio at the age of three. She graduated high school and college while lying on her back within a 750 pound machine. While most others with similar conditions were transitioned to modern means of ventilation her deformity precluded that. She died when her backup generator failed to start and manual pumping did not work after a power outage at her home.

This was obviously a brave woman. I wonder, if I were in her shoes, whether I could come through it with the aplomb that she obviously did.