As an ACT resident, Campaign Hero Margaret Maroney does not need to travel far to get to Parliament House 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, Margaret will also be presenting  Polio Australia’s Petition  to this Federal Parliamentarian.

Margaret contracted Polio in 1954 at 3 years of age on her family farm in Central NSW. She was married in 1971 however it was short lived as her loving husband was instantly killed in a car accident in 1977 leaving her with 3 very young children aged 5, 4, and 2 years. Margaret later re-married a local man and they had 3 children. Margaret had a very busy life at home rearing her 6 children for 20 years. In 1991 she commenced her nursing career and over the next 15 years continued her studies, while also travelling throughout Australia nursing in Public and Private Hospitals. By 2006 the work in hospitals was becoming very exhausting and Margaret realised that she needed to change direction if she was to continue nursing. She returned to study, graduating in 2009 with a Graduate Diploma in Nursing (Child and Family: Karitane). Margaret continued her nursing career as a Community Nurse in rural and remote NSW and NT and returned to Canberra in 2010 where she is currently working full time in Maternal and Child Health. Margaret is pictured below aged 3 and aged 8.

What is a memorable childhood experience?

I have little memory of those early years but can remember the feeling of being left in a strange place on my own and very upset as my parents waved good bye, I was 3 years old at the time. I was left at the Far West Children’s home in Manly where I stayed for about a year with lots of other children who also had polio. My parents returned to the farm in country NSW, a long way from Sydney, and I can’t remember seeing them again for a long time. Another memory involved a lot of physical pain at 5 years of age and again at age 10 when I was taken to Sydney for surgery on my left foot. Although neither surgery was completely successful, it did enable me to get out of wearing boots and a calliper which was a very exciting time for me and my loving parents who bought me my first pair of shoes, black patent court shoes! Once I was mobile again after the second surgery, I took it on myself to walk to school on my crutches refusing to be driven to school by my parents as I felt very independent being able to walk without anyone’s help. I remain to this day a very independent person.

How have the late effects of polio impacted on you?

I have increased weakness in my left leg and foot. My left leg circulation is poor and I have developed small vessel disease in that leg. It is a cold leg most of the time and very suseptable to infection. I have had three episodes of acute cellulitis in recent years requiring hospitalization and IV antibiotics. I fatigue very easily, especially when doing heavy chores such as gardening. I have learnt to listen to my body and when pain sets in to stop and rest a while to regain my energy to continue. I had a frightening experience a few years ago with the effects of overdoing things – it took me three days to recover. That experience taught me never to push my physical ability past the pain, and to assess before I attempt exercising (and that includes exercise classes).

Why are you going to Canberra?

I live in Canberra and am very pleased that I do as I can participate in the ‘We’re Still Here’ Campaign at Parliament House. I am very supportive of the Campaign as a polio sufferer and I know I am one of the more fortunate ones as I can still walk independently while others have returned to wheelchairs with the late effects of polio. It is such a coming together for all of us after so much hard work from Polio Australia and I do hope our Campaign is successful at Parliament House on the 31st.

Who is your local Member of Parliament?

Dr Andrew Leigh MP
Member for Fraser, Australian Capital Territory
Party: Australian Labor Party
Chamber: House of Representatives

Unfortunately, Dr Leigh was not available to meet with Margaret on 31st October 2012.

Support Margaret and the “We’re Still Here!” campaign by sending her a message here.

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