VIEW FROM THE SEESAW by Louis & Dorothy Sternburg with Monica Dickens Sternburg


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An inspiring autobiography of a man who didn't so much overcome his handicap as transcend it. Several months before the Sabin oral polio vaccine fairly well put an end to poliomyelitis in 1955, Louis Sternburg, then a vibrant 31-year-old, suddenly came down with the dread disease, and became one of its worst-case victims. He was like ""the last soldier shot in the war."" His story tells of the intervening three decades in which he lived in a special rocking bed that moved his paralyzed diaphragm enough to keep him breathing--thus, the ""seesaw"" of the title. The book itself is a seesaw of sorts, skipping from sections dictated by the victim himself to sections written by his saint-like wife, Dorothy, who never strayed from her responsibilities to him. An occasional section written by his son and his daughter or by his doctor makes the seesaw a veritable roller coaster. Left only with the possibilities of an intellectual and spiritual life, Sternburg added poignancy to his tale by learning to talk again (sometimes even while ""frog-breathing,"" which involved pushing air into the lungs by rapid backward motions of the tongue). He was tutored by people from Brandeis University, from which he eventually gained both his Master's and Ph.D. degrees. Throughout, Sternburg evinces truly admirable courage. He doesn't shirk from describing the rough spots, such as his occasional bouts with depression and guilt over tying down his wife. But these appear only as fast-moving clouds which always glide by to reveal the sun. Read it and weep; then smile for Man's indomitability.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1986
Publisher: Dodd, Mead