Ella Gaffney is one of a large contingent of NSW polio campaigners heading to Canberra on Wednesday 31 October 2012. As well as telling her local Member about the late effects of polio, how they affect her, and what services she and her fellow polio survivors need, Ella will also be presenting  Polio Australia’s Petition  to this Federal Parliamentarian.

Ella contracted polio three months before her sixth birthday. Isolation from her family was very stressful for Ella, as living in a small country town her mother could not be there due to family commitments and distance. Ella says “As I’m very stubborn, at the age of 16 I decided not to use any assistive aids. I went on to lead a very active life working at the local Radio Station and in Medical Records at the Hospital, and raising our 2 children. In the middle 1990s I started having the late effects of polio. Polio Australia and Polio NSW have both been a life saver.”

What is a memorable childhood experience?

My very first memory of polio is getting out of bed and falling over; Mum told me to stand up but I kept falling, I couldn’t get my legs to support me. The most painful and vivid memory is of the Lumbar Puncture (Spinal Tab). I was placed over the side of the cot on my stomach with my legs hanging towards the floor, and to this day I can still remember the pain of that procedure.

How have the late effects of polio impacted on you?

One of the major impacts of the late effects of polio was to go back into a lower-leg calliper approximately 8 years ago. The late effects of polio have an effect on my whole body, with joint wear and tear after years of overuse. I have to deal with constant fatigue and accepting that I have to pace myself so I can function enough to complete most ‘normal’ day-to-day tasks.

Why are you going to Canberra?

We need to have the late effects of polio and post-polio syndrome recognised by all Government departments concerned. We also need to have the medical profession as a whole accept the condition and work to improve diagnosis and treatment for all polio survivors. It is vital that specialised services are available to all survivors throughout Australia. I want to help obtain essential funding to support Polio Australia and the State-based Polio Networks in their work in providing much needed services for polio survivors and their families/carers. As a polio survivor the information and support these organisations provide has been instrumental in improving my quality of life.

Which Member of Parliament are you meeting with?

Mr Mark Coulton MP
Parliamentary Patron of Polio Australia
Member for Parkes, New South Wales
The Nationals Chief Whip
Party: The Nationals
Chamber: House of Representatives

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