Sally is a polio survivor living in Kyenton, Victoria.
Sally doesn’t have much memory of her early life; not specifically remembering contracting polio. Sally grew up in Wagga Wagga during the polio epidemic in the Riverina 1940s. Sally’s sister contracted polio and has a vivid memory of her hospitalisation and used a calliper. This was not the case for Sally; she remembers some vague flu-like symptoms and taking some time off school, simply quarantined at home.
It was not until 2017 that Sally realised she had polio as a child, as she began suffering the Late Effects of Polio (LEoP). It was only when a friend of Sally’s questioned this possibility – and Sally visited Dr Steve de Graaff, who confirmed it was highly likely that Sally was suffering the LEoP.
Sally always struggled throughout her life; she claims she was always a hopeless runner and dancer. She struggled through working as a nurse for most of her life, determined to avoid being labelled “lazy” despite ongoing pain and injuries. For most of her life, Sally had scoliosis, woke up to 10 times each night, suffered from muscle spasms and ultimately underwent several back and joint surgeries; all without knowing her condition. Sally never considered herself disabled; but was constantly frustrated at the pain she continued to experience.
Upon learning that she was experiencing the LEoP, Sally has learnt how to manage her condition better. She is learning to pace herself; and speaks on behalf of polio survivors describing how important it is to pace and not overwork her muscles.
Sally has attempted to access necessary services to assist her in ageing with dignity. Firstly, “MyAgedCare” provided her with a low-level plan, which allowed her to receive a cleaner once a fortnight, however was refused other services such as gardening. Secondly, Sally contacted her local community health centre, with her sights set on a scooter. She waited four months for a consult from an OT, who approved her application and is now on a waiting list for her scooter. With no approximate time given to Sally, and being allocated a scooter which is too large for her needs – Sally is frustrated at the process and believes she deserves to be listened to – as she knows her needs better than anyone else. Sally wants to continue with her everyday activities, and continue volunteering; however, the poor timeliness of this service is making this impossible.