NOTHING STOPPED HER: Woman in iron lung for 61 years lived life to the fullest
North Carolina woman wrote books, held parties and enjoyed life in spite of disability
Martha Mason of North Carolina became stricken with polio at the age of 11 years old. Sentenced for the rest of her days in an iron lung, a device that kept her breathing, Mason continued to live her life - throwing parties, writing books and generally living life to her fullest capacity.
Spending 61 years of her life living in an iron tube that breathed for her after polio left her paralyzed, Martha Mason lay horizontal the seven-foot-long, 800-pound iron cylinder that encased all but her head.
After her brother Gaston contracted polio and died, it is said that she realized that she too had the symptoms but kept her fears to herself to avoid upsetting her parents.
"Breath: Life in the Rhythm of an Iron Lung," Mason's book, she confesses, "I knew that I had polio. I didn't want anyone else to know. The day before I had heard Mother talking to a friend about the iron lung Gaston had been in. I knew I wouldn't have that difficulty because I had excellent lungs."
As Mason said in a video recorded before her death in 2009, "I often wonder in retrospect how my parents felt when I became ill - they just buried their only son [when this happened to me]."
"It was assumed by people in general and me too that both of my parents would outlive me. Doctors said I would live a year, at most, but here I am a long time later [thanks to the iron lung]."
Her longevity has been attributed to her curiosity and desire to live as normal life as possible.
Mason, who was born in 1937 and lived in Lattimore, North Carolina, graduated from high school with the highest hours and hosted dinner parties.
"It [living like this] has become such a normal thing for me - I don't even think about it - I really never give it a lot of thought. The machine takes over from my diaphragm like a big bag of air. There are other methods of ventilation, but I have chosen not to do that."
Despite being permanently horizontal, she chose to remain in the machine, as she says it gave her freedom as it helped her breathe without tubes or incisions in her throat, or the need for hospital stays. It also let her remain at home, living with the help of two aides.
Mason insisted she stay at home, even when her mother's health deteriorated in the years before her own death. Mason ran the household from the iron lung.
"She lived in this life-saving machine longer than anyone else in the world," longtime friend Mary Dalton said. "At first the image and sound of the iron lung were distracting if not shocking, but soon after talking with Martha, the massive, metal cylinder became inconsequential because it was so greatly exceeded by her spirit.
"She told me that she survived for so many years - while so many others with the same disease died - because of the exceptional care she received from her parents and community, and because she has always been driven to learn."
Discover the true meaning of Christmas!
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Living Faith News
- GRAND OPENING: Catholic Shopping .com is now open for you. Browse today!
- Pope Francis: Fasting 'chips away at our security and, as a consequence, benefits someone else'
- Medical experts confirm miracle attributed to Archbishop Fulton Sheen
- Pew study suggests 'Pope Francis Effect' is a myth
- What will your Lenten Pledge be?
- Pope may visit China this summer, says China and the Vatican are 'close'
- Francis: 'I carry crucifix I took from dead priest.'
- Pope Francis says papal summer residence gardens be opened to the public
- Pope Francis makes special plea, but will any Catholics really listen?
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?