Do you know any one who suffered from childhood polio? If so you may want to read this post. It may change the way you view their current circumstances.
The Fallacy of Polio Erradication
In the 1950’s the public breathed a huge sigh of relief with the development of polio vaccine by rivals Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin. Polio was one of the most feared childhood diseases of the 20thcentury because of the thousands of victims left crippled or dead. The polio vaccine is credited with reducing the number of cases from hundreds of thousands globally to near eradication. With polio epidemics no longer a threat, the general public assumes polio is a disease of the past. Very little attention is given to polio survivors and the struggles they undergo as their body’s age. A good friend of mine and survivor of childhood polio, Jim McAllister, agreed to write a guest blog for me explaining the polio fallacy. Jim writes:
“It ain’t over ‘til it’s over”
We have been told for years that the “Total Eradication of Polio” happened years ago with the polio vaccines. What has been hidden or ignored from the general public is “The Rest of the Story” as Paul Harvey used to explain. Post Polio Syndrome has been followed and studied since the 1950’s by Dr. Richard L. Bruno, H.D. PhD of New Jersey. Bruno is internationally acknowledged as the World’s Foremost Expert on Post Polio Syndrome. Any of the studies you read of today are based upon the work of Dr. Bruno who began his work in the early 1970’s. He studied under the tutelage of the experts at that time whom had been working on and tracking PPS. Post–Polio Sequelae (the sequel) also known as Post Polio Syndrome (PPS) is part two of what I personally call “The Gift That Keeps on Giving”. PPS affects thousands upon thousands of people every year.
The numbers of polio victims PPS affects ranges from 50 to 90 percent of polio survivors, depending on whose studies you look at. Now sit down and buckle yourself in…we are talking about a whopping 2 million people that are suffering in the United States and 20 million people worldwide. Not just Polio Survivors are directly affected by PPS. For example in my case marriages, families, finances, friendships; lives and careers are also destroyed. I recently read on a Post Polio Specialty website: “Post-polio syndrome is a ‘new condition’ that affects the survivors of polio, decades after the acute illness of poliomyelitis”.
My comment on Post Polio Syndrome being “A New Condition” is that “NOTHING” could be further from the truth. By printing that statement on any PPS specialty web site, just adds to the misinformation of this tragic physical, mental and spiritual malady. As I personally see it, the main problem with PPS is; misinformation, lack of knowledge and neglect of the medical establishment of today. Now don’t get me wrong. I am not a modern medicine critic. I come from a medical family.
What I am saying is that the doctors practicing today are too young to remember the polio epidemics; many are too stubborn to accept the given fact that though the virus has been curtailed here in the United States, there could possibly be any ongoing problems relating to polio. I have also found that Post Polio Syndrome gets mis-diagnosed as if it is other medical problems or simply tagged as “All in your head” (Which because of the damage polio does, is true). Furthermore, because of the medications, therapies and training regimens many of the doctors of today prescribe, PPS symptoms are made worse and do more damage rather than help the polio survivor.
In a nutshell the “Simple” Post Polio symptoms are: overwhelming fatigue, muscle weakness, incredible muscle and joint pain for no apparent reason, sleep disorders, heightened sensitivity to anesthesia, cold temperatures and pain as well as difficulty swallowing and breathing. For a quick summation of Post Polio Sequelae, I suggest you start at Dr. Richard Bruno’s Website and read and print the information contained in “Mia Farrow’s Post Polio Letter”. This can be found at http://www.postpolioinfo.com.
“Polio was thought to be a “stable disease.”
Once polio survivors recovered muscle strength after the Polio attack, their physical abilities were supposed to remain for the rest of their lives. However, contrary to this common belief, Polio survivors’ strength and abilities were ebbing away.”
~ Dr. Richard Bruno. The Polio Paradox~
In my first installment of “The Fallacy of Polio Eradication: “It ain’t over ’till it’s over”, I Introduced Post Polio Syndrome and the basics of the ongoing problems. Now we shall embark on what led me to the quest to “Fight the Dragon.” Looking back on my life, I can see where the Polio Virus did its damage. I was an excellent athlete, I was a hunter, a fisherman, skied of 60+ foot cliffs, and I literally earned the nick name “Mad Dog”. However, though I made a “Full” recovery….my stamina was never there.
My best sports were those like baseball, football, basketball…all “short spurts”. I could not run long distances, I had no endurance. As a teen, since I was always exhausted and run down, I was continually diagnosed with Mononucleosis, though blood tests never did show the antibodies built up in my system. I kept it to myself, but I suffered breathing difficulties to the point of nearly passing out or collapsing during games and events. Like all Polio Survivors, I don’t like the term “Victim”, we all had to work twice as hard just to look as if we were normal.
To top it off, I suffer from a RAGING case of Attention Deficit. About 15 years ago the growing extreme symptoms of lack of energy, brain brown outs, extreme unexplained pain, and complete unrealistic fatigue affected my marriage, work habits, family, and self esteem. Doctors, friends, family and I myself all believed and stated that these symptoms were an “excuse, all in my head, laziness, grabbing for attention, depression, selfishness, lack of caring, immature…”
Eventually when I was at my weakest and I told my wife that all the money was gone, two days later the Love of my Life walked out telling me that I was looking at her like a “Meal Ticket”. Within 20 days thanks to a great belief in God, a small spark of belief in myself, a lot of investigation and research, along with Fifteen Hundred dollars in “Stolen Money” (that I have since repaid), I was sitting in front of Dr.Richard Bruno at his Post Polio Clinic in New Jersey listening as he told me: “Jim, The good news is; You are not going to die. The bad news is: You are not going to die”!
He did however follow up with explaining that within weeks, how close to death I had driven my body and brain. As I listened to him every emotion came out like an exploding volcano. Overwhelming anger, fear, feelings of helplessness…I was sobbing at the loss of my marriage. For nearly an hour Dr. Bruno sat calmly in his wheel chair and listened. When he sensed it was time, he quietly explained to me “It will take us 3 years to bring your body and brain back to where you can function with a sense of normalcy”. It was then that my new mentor and “best friend” Dick Bruno and I sat down and planned in detail, exactly how (right down to the amount of steps a day I was allowed), would spend the rest of my life, “Fighting the Dragon”.
The Polio Paradox: Understanding and Treating “Post-Polio Syndrome” and Chronic Fatigue [POLIO PARADOX 3RD/E] [Paperback] by Richard L.(Author) ; Bruno, H. D. Ph. D. Richard L.(Author) Bruno (Unknown Binding – Jun 1, 2003)
Thanks Jim, for giving us an insight into your and others suffering.
Camille Curtis Foster, LSCW
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