Now a practicing lawyer, Alexander is one of 10 people known in the world to still be confined to an iron lung. His story of survival is encouraging to anyone beset with difficulty.
Alexander, who got polio in 1952 when he was 6, is almost entirely paralyzed below the neck but that hasn’t stopped him from going to law school and becoming a trial lawyer. He spends nearly every moment in his iron lung in the center of his living room, which is decorated with degrees, awards, pictures of family, and a drawing of the Scottish folk singer Donovan, who had polio. When people enter the front door a few feet away from him, he usually greets them with a warm upside-down smile, reflected in the mirror above his head.
"The early part was very, very scary, but I'm an Alexander," he said. "My parents taught me to have a lot of pride and self-respect, and God taught me to believe I could do anything I dreamed of - and I did. So instead of letting Polio break me or kill me, I fought it hard. The more it would knock me down, the angrier I would get. That anger, I've often said, is what kept me alive."
Paul is using the same Emerson iron lung model that some polio survivors use half a century ago. In 2015, a friend of Alexander uploaded a YouTube video of Alexander explaining the issues he was having with his iron lung, hoping it would be seen by a machinist who knew how to repair the respirator. Finally someone connected Alexander with someone kind and skilled enough to help.
Alexander later completed three different college degrees, including one to become a practicing lawyer, his current occupation. Alexander earned three degrees, and almost finishing a few others. Representing clients in a courtroom, Alexander has been able to find people to "hand pump a generator to keep him alive when the weather cuts the power to his house," according to the Washington Times. He has written a book, and he remains perpetually amazed by the people who have come to his assistance.
"I am not disabled, I am not handicapped and I am not limited. I'm crippled atleast in most people's minds, except mine." I have experienced everything in life that you have, and more."
I am not disabled, I am not handicapped and I am not limited. I'm crippled atleast in most people's minds, except mine." I have experienced everything in life that you have, and more."