Joy is a polio survivor living in Cooranbong, New South Wales.
I am probably one of the more fortunate polio survivors. As a small child, I was diagnosed with a mild form of poliomyelitis, which was non-paralytic. I have limited knowledge of that time, although I recall my mother refusing to allow callipers due to possible psychological effects, so exercise was prescribed.
I have led an active life and ensured that I regularly undertook gentle exercise. Today, the only visible effect of polio is a slightly turned out right foot, which often scrapes the ground, and a tendency to fall.
At 69 years of age, I am now experiencing the Late Effects of Polio (LEoP). I have been suffering from fatigue after a two-year period of restricted capacity due to surgery, falls injuries, and ongoing breathing problems and speech difficulties. I am also allergic to anaesthetics, which could prove fatal.
I now spend considerable time advising treating specialists such as dentists, physiotherapists, specialists and general practitioners, about the difficulties I might experience with muscle relaxants, anaesthetics and other medication. I believe funding is needed for more post-polio research and education for health professionals, which would assist all polio survivors. My doctor advised me that she previously knew nothing about the LEoP or how it could affect me.
I am a university graduate, and although not in the medical field, I am able to read publications, research, and interpret. I have had to become my own advisor, advocate and campaigner. There is little acceptance of the LEoP within the health profession, which can translate to a lack of acceptance from the general public.
I often feel lost and rejected by the medical profession and society in general. Although, I still consider myself fortunate compared with some, it should not have to be this hard.