So what are the late effects of polio (aka post-polio syndrome)?
In a nutshell, Mr polio knocks twice! The first time he comes around, he totally messes you up, or should I be using the F-word? The extent to which you get messed up depends on how lucky or unlucky you are. Some people get it mildly and make a full recovery while some people die. I reckon I’m in the middle because I had it badly but managed a partial recovery.
After a few years which can be between 20 to 40 years, 60 to 80% of polio sufferers will get a second visit. Although the effects are not as severe as the initial attack, it can still be life-changing. In my case, it happened in 1999 when I started to experience severe bouts of fatigue. Combined with muscle ache, I had to give up my job because I was becoming unreliable (I often say that I’m like Fedex – I always deliver!) due to the unexpected progression of my illness.
Unfortunately, the doctors couldn’t diagnose what was wrong with me and initially thought my symptoms were down to stress at work. This went on for many months and too many visits to the doctors looking for answers. By chance, I came across a gentleman in his 70s who had polio, and through talking to him, mentioned how he had been suffering from the late effects of polio for the last 30 odd years with symptoms similar to mine.
Decreasing strength and endurance – I noticed I was becoming tired a lot more easily which I couldn’t put down the old age because I was only in my 30s! Probably explains why my left hand developed a tremor which looks like Parkinsons. The more tired I become, the worse it gets, this is why I tend to hold my fork right handed.
Speaking difficulties – this is a difficult one because I don’t know if this is down to the late effects of polio or it is just me. However, often when talking or formulating a coherent conversation, I would often mispronounce words when I’m feeling tired.
Pain in muscles and joints – this has been part of my life since 1999. There is always something aching within my body at any one time. It is something that I’ve got so used to and hardly notice it anymore.
Fatigue and an inability to stay alert – this is the most difficult aspect of it to deal with. It is like that feeling you get late at night before you go to bed but is with you most of the day. I would say 50% of the day I am completely knackered! However, being me, I fight it and will battle through the day despite feeling completely drained. I reckon I could manage it a lot better by having an afternoon nap, but I’m simply too stubborn to give in!
To end on a positive note. If Mr Polio hadn’t come knocking the second time around, I would probably still be stuck in a dead-end job, not fulfiling my true potential. As such, I’m grateful because I now have the flexibility to work when I want, better finances and most importantly the resources to help others.
Through Darkness Comes Light, Through Fear Comes Love and Through Pain Comes Triumph!
You can read more about polio by going here.