Sue and her husband Graeme were in tropical North Queensland enjoying a balmy 20 degrees when they heard our call to action, so they pulled out the winter woollies to lend their support for our Election Campaign in Canberra on Wednesday 26th June 2013.
What is a memorable childhood experience?
I contracted polio at age 2 in 1948. I missed a lot primary school as I had many operations to alleviate the effects of polio on my right leg. My primary school lunch hours were taken up with physiotherapy. I had to wear a calliper until age 13. By this time I found the extensive operations and physiotherapy were allowing me to lead a reasonably active but hardly ‘normal’ life.
I managed University Entrance and, spurred by my extensive experience in hospitals, I determined on a Nursing career. My application was denied because of my disability. I was devastated. I was however accepted to Teachers College where I graduated.
How have the late effects of polio impacted on you?
Fast forward to 2013, now aged 67. Married 46 years with 3 (married) children and 8 grandchildren.
But now the late effects of polio have been kicking in. Ten years ago I noticed I was tripping. The toes on my polio leg weren’t lifting causing me to trip.
In the last 5 years I’ve been having falls rather than just tripping. They happen out of nowhere, one minute I’m standing, next I’m on the ground. I had a particularly nasty fall breaking an arm last year which kept me in Hospital for a week.
I started to ask why is this happening? Where can I get help or advice? What do I need to do to prevent further falls? Should I go back into callipers?
Overall I found medical professionals had little understanding of the late effects of polio. They sent me to expensive podiatrists and expensive physiotherapists, who also have little understanding of Post Polio Syndrome.
Why are you going to Canberra?
Finally I found Polio Australia and discovered there were many other polio survivors who were also falling over 50 or so years after contracting polio. We are no longer all ok but we are still here and we do want to live a ‘normal’ life as possible.
From the information available it appears that the parts of our bodies affected by polio after 50 years of hard work compensating for the effects of polio are now rapidly aging and are struggling to cope. We seem to be becoming more disabled.
The effect of polio is that we are physically impaired in varying degrees and consequently our employment (and wealth accumulation) opportunities have been similarly limited. I have coped without government assistance since I discarded the callipers.
But now our cost of living is becoming higher with the need to access more health care, repair damage from falling, invest in expensive footwear, limit physical activity (taxis instead of walking), etc. And we, the survivors, medical professionals, and government need to know more about the late effects of polio which will require funding.
We are still here and we do need a hand.
Please send Sue a message of support for her Canberra campaign by making a comment below.