Michael Kossove: ‘I Never Knew I Had Polio’

Michael KossoveI am a Professor of Microbiology at Touro College in New York. I have been researching PPS and talking to support groups and at polio conferences for 15 years. I studied virology in graduate school with Dr. John Winsser, a researcher with Dr. Albert Sabin. Needless to say I learned everything about polio. After being invited to speak to local support groups in the New York area and listening to survivor stories, I had my best education on PPS.

About 17 years ago I began to experience symptoms of PPS, and my physician told me I was just associating these symptoms with my research. My left ankle and lower leg got so bad that my orthopedist sent me to a physiatrist in New York City who was around during the polio epidemics. He, after a thorough examination, told me I had the symptoms of PPS. He asked me to speak to my family. The only one alive was an 89-year-old aunt who was a nurse. He also prescribed an ankle-foot orthosis (AFO).

The following February, I was in Florida to speak to the Boca Raton PPS Group, and I stopped to visit my aunt. She broke the silence and confirmed that I had polio, but she couldn’t remember how old I was when I became sick. I never knew I had polio. Today I wear a full-leg brace on my left leg, and an AFO on my right leg. I will eventually need a knee-ankle-foot orthosis (KAFO) on that leg, as well. I am 72 years old. I still go to school and teach three days a week. I think of this as just “a little inconvenience,” and I have to be the luckiest guy in the world that I was not disabled all of this time.

— Michael Kossove

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4 Responses to “Michael Kossove: ‘I Never Knew I Had Polio’”

  1. Got you beat age-wise – I am 74, but knew I had polio at the age of 3. Five of us children living in the same apartment building came down with the fever – only two of us survived. The other ones’ parents gave her a shot of something that broke her fever. I was taken to the hospital where Sister Kenny had just arrived, and am her today because of her. I too was an educator after a stint in the Navy, but have since retired with PPS. I keep active as you can see from my story, which is published here also. Lorraine Hartik Glad to hear you are still active too!

  2. Barbara Gratzke says:

    Love the tye-dye Woodstock t-shirt!.

    Know you live part-time near the Woodstock site in upper NY

    Look forward to your speaking to our Miami PPS group again in February, as well as the Boca Raton PPS group that same week.

    The laughter you generate within your delivery of important info that is PPS-related is an extra bonus.


  3. Jane Mades says:

    Well blow me over! Don’t you look like you own the world. Good on you, O agree with Barbara, I like the shirt.Naturally I am publishing this, think I will get sued??
    Jane Mades

  4. Janice Cootey says:

    I agree with the other ladies. Cool shirt !! I like your spirit. We are all fighters don’t you think. I was stricken with Polio in 1954, and admitted to Boston Children’s Hospital. I’ve had my ups and downs. Post Polio is chasing me down now, but I won’t let it win.

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