Once upon a time there was a happy-go-lucky little girl who lived in Clifton, a small country town on the Darling Downs in Queensland, and she got polio; acute anterior poliomyelitis they later said. Christmas had gone and it was now late January 1955 and she was 7-1/2 years old.
Thus begins “The Story of Ros”. The little girl grew up and in recent years has experienced a number of unexplained health issues. In October 2012, while listening to a late-night radio broadcast, Ros learnt about the late effects of polio for the first time. She writes:
The announcer was talking to a woman about polio. I recall she mentioned it was Polio Awareness Month which I no longer thought had any direct relevance to me but the caller was articulate, inspiring, she had a message and that message got my attention.
You could have knocked me over with a feather, as they say. I was hearing possible answers to questions that my GP and I had been chasing for some time. That was good but it was also bad and I had a few down moments over the next few weeks until I took this on board. In fact, if I’m honest, I’m sure I will have more of these moments, I believe the key is in educating myself via the resources that are now available to me and contact with like-afflicted people, though I am humbled when I hear what others have had to deal with, many for most of their lives.
Anyway, I didn’t hear the caller’s name but, in the morning, I tried to track her down. I was born on the Darling Downs, she said she lived on the Downs so I Googled ‘Post-Polio, Darling Downs’. There was a group photo, an editorial and a name and phone number at the end. I rang that number and Deborah Khan of Toowoomba answered. Deborah said she was the person I heard on the radio. We spoke for ages and have had a number of conversations since.
She encouraged me there and then to contact Spinal Injuries Association (SIA) in Brisbane, to include my name on Polio Australia’s register and also to liaise with Lyn Glover, facilitator of The Gold Coast Post Polio Network, fortunately less than a thirty minute drive from my home.
Not long afterwards, Ros spoke to her GP and said …
‘It’s possible you’re not aware that I had polio’, as I handed him a copy of the recently acquired paper produced by Polio Australia, The Late Effects of Polio : Introduction to Clinical Practice. And no, he wasn’t aware. ‘Look, I’m in here’, I said as I rattled off symptom after symptom.
One of my new-found Post Polio friends, Shirley, shared this knowledgeable, yet catchy, comment. Her doctor’s receptionist said to her, ‘you are probably our only patient who has had polio’, to which Shirley replied, ‘No, I’m probably the only one that you KNOW about!’. Never a truer word said, as they say.
Please click the picture below to download the complete Story of Ros (10 pages, 230 kB).