I was born in 1926. Started school, was a Cub and a Scout, had a CCM bicycle, a paper beat, and in the summer went swimming in the muddy old Assiniboine River.
After a trip to Winnipeg in 1940, in sweltering heat and biting mosquitoes, I somehow became exhausted. My lethargy did not go away, and I developed a beastly headache so that all I wanted to do was lie with a newspaper over my eyes. The doctor was a bit non-committal about the symptoms, so he took me to the hospital for a spinal tap (ouch!), and to my poor Mom's dread, it was INFANTILE PARALYSIS.....
Soon the headache started to clear, but now it was my legs. Coming down the stairs, my head and hands said “go”, but my feet were still up on the landing. So it was into bed with Mom waiting on me hand-and-foot. The only remedy was for Mom to massage my leg with olive oil to keep it supple. In time I was able to be up-and-about, listening to soap serials, reading on the veranda, slipping on the ice, and using a crutch and then a cane. School was out of the question.
By January 1941, the Winnipeg Children's Hospital had room for me. The epidemic of the last year had taxed facilities to the limit, with throat and lung patients considered more serious than me. So, for the next three months, they treated me as Sister Kenny had directed, with HOT steamy foments on my leg and back and shoulder. Oh, that thin mattress on top of a solid board was truly hard! The daily physiotherapy sessions were a bit discouraging, with those no-longer-working muscles not obeying orders. After three months, I was sent home with a list of strengthening exercises. With a cane strapped on my CCM, I was ready to meet the world, and started back to school in the fall. Everyone was quite supportive, and I even learned a few dance steps before I graduated in 1944.
In my first job I was able to sit most of the time. Taking a business course then prepared me for a forty three year career in the insurance business, again in line with my physical capabilities. My first car was a bit challenge having to push the clutch pedal with my weak leg, and I was so thankful for later automatic models.
It was in 1949 that I got married and we had three fine children. We bought an “old” house which required me to learn a lot of building skills, and I became involved in the Scouting movement and in my church. Life went on quite happily with me limping along, only restricted by the limits of my “gamey” leg and hip and tiring back.
By 1990, I noticed that I could not do any more heavy lifting. Was it Post-Polio Syndrome or just approaching old age? Then my wife passed on, leaving me to learn how to cook for the first time! I solved that by going down the aisle again. Luckily I acquired the chance to write a weekly column in our local paper, which for the past twenty-five years has kept my mind active at least. It has also kept me in contact with the world out there.
So here it is 2016; I am alone again, doing my own cooking, and writing on the computer. I have left the house and found a ground floor apartment with nice neighbors. I don't walk much now, but can still drive a car and have a scooter, walker and cane when needed. And I will be NINETY next month. Who would have thought it? Experts say that I likely caught the polio virus from the waters of the Assiniboine River. Now they tell me.....