Christine is a polio survivor living in Hervey Bay, Queensland.
I contracted polio when I was around 9 years of age. I was treated in the Sylvia Moffet Ward at Brisbane Children’s Hospital around 1947. Polio affected my right thigh and lower left leg; I could not run or participate in sport at school. By the time I was 15, the only remnant of polio was a slight limp.
The middle years of my life never caused me any major problems. In my early 20’s, I began a career in nursing and got married. I travelled the world twice a year visiting Trade Shows. In 1996, whilst overseas, I got out of bed and fell over; I was unable to walk. Upon returning to Australia, I saw an orthopaedic surgeon who performed a left knee replacement and since then have had two total knee replacements to both my left and right knees. I realised, after visiting a neurologist in 2004 and being diagnosed with Post Polio Syndrome (PPS), that these knee replacements were likely not necessary. The new muscle weakness I was experiencing was a symptom of PPS.
Nowadays in 2017, I am staggering around in pain in a wheelchair; but apart from that I consider myself in good health. I believe ageing with dignity is very challenging as I struggle with mobility in my wheelchair. I feel invisible in the community. Many doctors still don’t acknowledge the existence of the Late Effects of Polio (LEoP) or PPS, which makes it difficult to access appropriate health care.