Shelby Jennison



My name is Shelby Jennison (nee Vallance) and I contracted polio when I was 6 years old.  I am now just turning 60.
Having just recovered from pneumonia in the fall, I came down with symptoms of polio shortly before Xmas of the same year.  No one could diagnose what was wrong with me and no one else had come down with the same symptoms.  Everyone, including the doctor, thought I had a strange flu.  By Xmas, I could not walk and I was extremely ill.  It was only after, when I started to recover; that they found out what had made me ill.  The paralysis passed eventually and all the hard work to regain strength began.  Even back then, polio seemed to be an unknown disease.

Life changed from that time forward.  Learning my limitations, what I could do and what I couldn’t.  Running was a challenge, whereas, swimming was my passion.  Upper body strength versus lower body strength was my ability to win. Simple things, such as buying a pair of new shoes, were a challenge.  That was out of the question because I had to have special shoes made to assist me.  None of the disabilities stopped me; it just made me more determined.

Today, I still can’t find shoes to fit and must suffer the frustration of shopping hours for one pair of “stylish” shoes.  Oh well, there are always other things to shop for.  What could be worse?  As I am aging, I am noticing a decrease in strength and must watch carefully when I walk because I am very prone to tripping.  I have developed more of a limp in my right leg and now have many asking if I have injured myself.  Fatigue, guarding against getting cold and restrictive breathing is also factors to deal with.  My biggest challenge is learning to heed my weaknesses so as not to cause myself foolish injuries now and for the future.  Post polio requires thinking ahead and adjusting your mental outlook to fit your physical limitations.
The youth of today still need to be educated as to what polio is.  If we believe it could never happen again, I think we would be sadly mistaken.  "Never say never."

I am fortunate and made it through this disease whereas, many did not.

Thanks for letting me comment.

Share via:
Click to Share on Facebook

Recommend and Like:

join our Annual Online Fundraising Campaign

Join our Mailing List

Join our Mailing list and receive our March of Dimes Dime Times Newsletter. Simply enter your name and email address after you click the button below to start receiving our newsletter


Imagine Canada Logo
The Standards Program Trustmark is a mark of Imagine Canada​ used under licence by March of Dimes Canada.