Born in 1943 in Omemee, I contracted polio at age five while living in Lakefield. I was paralyzed on the left side of my body, affecting my arm and leg.
I was sent to Sick Children’s Hospital in Toronto and stayed there for 11 months. I regained use of my arm and leg, having many surgeries during my childhood. Swimming was recommended as a form of physiotherapy; this resulted in my becoming a synchronized swimmer in my youth.
At age 14, I stopped wearing my below-the-knee leg brace on my left leg. I began wearing one again in the early 1990s.
I married and have three sons and five grandchildren. During these years, I worked on and off, one job being in Health Records at the Civic Hospital in Peterborough full time for seven years. Due to post-polio syndrome, I am on CPP and use a cane.
I have been a member of a support group for many years and value its existence. As all post-polio sufferers, I deal with the many frustrations (which can lead to depression) that come from living daily with the late effcts of polio. I have been experiencing excruciating pain in my lower back when I walk any distance and I suffer from fatigue.
Due to the sponsorship of Ontario March of Dimes and corporate funding, I was able to attend the a post-polio conference. It was really a “turning point” in my life. I was impressed with the comradeship I felt among the post-polio survivors.
During that weekend, I talked with many of them, and came to the realization that the time had come for me to get a scooter.
I have been back to West Park Post-Polio Hospital since then to address this. If I “give in” to using a scooter, it will conserve my energy, reduce my pain and enhance my quality of life. I could even take my grandchildren to the Toronto Zoo! I have used the “loan” scooter at Wal-Mart to shop and at Loblaws to do my grocery shopping.
For all of us affected by post-polio, it’s really a question of accepting our limitations. We are no longer “superwomen/men.” Just a cautionary note, I like speed; so if you see me coming on my scooter, make way!