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Polio info session

Monday, 6th May, 2019

(From left) Physio at Natural Revolution Group, Vaishakh Nair, with Paul Cavendish of Polio Australia, polio survivor Margaret Hoare and Harold Williams Home’s Tracy Reardon and Ann Trebilcock, at last October’s Polio Australia workshop at the University Department of Rural Health. An information session is being held at the GP Superclinic for those interested next week. PICTURE: Callum Marshall (From left) Physio at Natural Revolution Group, Vaishakh Nair, with Paul Cavendish of Polio Australia, polio survivor Margaret Hoare and Harold Williams Home’s Tracy Reardon and Ann Trebilcock, at last October’s Polio Australia workshop at the University Department of Rural Health. An information session is being held at the GP Superclinic for those interested next week. PICTURE: Callum Marshall

A free information session for polio survivors, along with their families and carers, will take place at the GP Superclinic on May 16.

Run by Polio Australia, the session will get underway from 2.30pm and will provide valuable information about the Late Effects of Polio (LEoP). 

The information session follows on from a Polio Australia workshop at the University Department of Rural Health last year in which local health and medical professionals met up with local polio survivors to discuss key issues around the disease.   

While polio was one of the most-feared diseases of the 20th century, it’s been decades since its last outbreak.

For that reason, the disease is not talked about as often as it should be within Australia.

Local polio survivor Jan Mahyuddin said the disease may be gone but it’s certainly not forgotten. 

Having contracted the virus at three and initially unable to walk, Jan was able to make good recovery thanks to the support of the Children’s Hospital in Melbourne and a caring family back home in Griffith.

Her step-grandfather, she said, even taught her how to pick up marbles with her toes as part of her exercise regime - a skill she still boasts to this day.

While she wasn’t able to participate in sports and found she couldn’t stand for too long, Jan lived an active life in her childhood and early adulthood. 

She rode her bike to and from school, travelled and lived overseas, and worked with a partner to renovate three houses.

Her professional life, in education and publishing, was full and busy, but echoes of her childhood polio were already making themselves heard.

These would take the form of extreme fatigue that would sometimes lead to “a sudden crash for a day or two into complete and even breathless exhaustion”.

In her late 40s, Jan began to have falls and even broke some bones. 

With her energy levels declining, she found she was able to do less and less. 

Thankfully, she said, “the world of online technology came at just the right time for both teaching and publishing” which allowed her continue working, in some capacity, into her early 60s. 

“One of the hardest things in this later period was trying to look and sound alert in an office for an employer in the afternoons, especially in my 50s,” she said.

Over the last ten years, she has experienced worsening muscle weakness, breathing problems and debilitating fatigue. 

These are all common symptoms of LEoP, which often affects polio survivors years after the initial infection.

Polio Australia President Gillian Thomas said the experience of surviving polio was a very personal one. 

“The result of the acute illness can range from no hospitalisation to isolation and months, even years, of rehabilitation,” she said.

“Survivors who had polio as children may have no conscious memory of the illness or subsequent rehabilitation, whereas some survivors vividly remember the pain and paralysis of the acute infection and their medical treatments.

“For many ageing polio survivors, the re-emergence of symptoms, known as the late effects of polio, can be quite debilitating.” 

If you, or someone you know, was affected by polio either in Australia or overseas, you are more than welcome to attend the information session.

You can book online at www.bit.ly/InfoSessionBrokenHill, or contact Steph Cantrill on 0466 719 613 or steph@polioaustralia.org.au.

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