Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My Poem

My Days With Polio
Virginia Ann Miller

I was so little but I still recall
The day I got up and took my first fall.
Tried to stand but only could crawl
Over to mommy. I started to bawl.

"Why can't I walk any more?", I said.
As they picked me up and put me back on the bed.
Scared looks was all I could see.
"I wonder what it is that is wrong with me?"

The next thing I knew, to the doctor I went.
When I woke up, I thought I was in a tent!
But NO! It was no tent I was in.
It was a crib! I was a baby again!

"No! No! Let me out of here!"
"I'm sorry, but you can't yet, my dear."
"For you see, it's a bad thing that has happened to you."
"You may never walk again and this is so new."

"We know nothing about this horrible disease,
And your legs will have to be handled with ease."
"Exercise, exercise, is all we can do.
We really don't know what this will do to you."

"Polio will give you terrible pain.
It's the muscles we have to try and maintain."
So, it is there that I stayed for a year of my life.
Learning to walk was a struggle and strife.

But walk, I did, with the help of supports.
I didn't care if I never played sports.
The crutches were set aside in third grade.
The corset was small, so another was made.

No jumping, no squatting, no playing softball.
But I had no trouble laughing at all.
No high heels, no running either for me.
But I could dance and that made me happy as could be.

Now here I am at the age of fifty.
And life, at this time, isn't too nifty.
I'm back on crutches and it's hard walking.
But thanks to God, I'm still writing and talking!


My Polio Days-Pictorial Collages

Thursday, March 19, 2009


While I was in the hospital. I wore leg braces at night and a corset to help my stomach muscles and back.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Before Polio and After-1950-1951-Neighbor Girl

Before Polio

Me and Mary Casadonte. Church Street in Mohawk, NY-1950, before I got Polio. She wasn't allowed to play with me after I got home a year later. Parents were scared to death back then. I don't blame them.

1951-First day of school, in Mohawk, NY

Post Polio Syndrome

Polio and Post-Polio Syndrome

Also called: Infantile paralysis, Poliomyelitis, PPS

Polio is an infectious disease caused by a virus. It attacks your nervous system. In rare cases, polio infection can cause paralysis. Polio vaccination will protect most people for life. The United States and most other countries eradicated polio decades ago, except for rare cases.

The disease most commonly affects young children. Poliovirus spreads in human waste. People usually get it from contaminated food or water. Symptoms include fever, tiredness, vomiting, neck stiffness, and leg and arm pain. Most infected people never have symptoms. No treatment will reverse polio paralysis. Moist heat, physical therapy and medicines might ease symptoms.

Some people who've had polio develop post-polio syndrome (PPS) years later. Symptoms include tiredness, new muscle weakness and muscle and joint pain. There is no way to prevent or cure PPS.

World Health Organization

Post-polio syndrome (PPS) is a condition that some people who had polio at a young age may experience years later.

Polio was once one of the most feared diseases in America, responsible for paralysis and death. Shortly after polio reached its peak in the early 1950s, the inactivated polio vaccine was introduced and greatly reduced polio's spread. Today, few people in developed countries get paralytic polio, thanks to the polio vaccine.

But some people who had polio at a young age may experience certain late effects of the disease many years later — post-polio syndrome. The exact cause of post-polio syndrome is unknown.

Treatment focuses on managing the signs and symptoms of post-polio syndrome and improving your quality of life.


Post-polio syndrome refers to a cluster of disabling signs and symptoms that appear decades — an average of 30 to 40 years — after the initial illness. Common signs and symptoms include:

* Progressive muscle and joint weakness and pain
* General fatigue and exhaustion with minimal activity
* Muscle atrophy
* Breathing or swallowing problems
* Sleep-related breathing disorders, such as sleep apnea
* Decreased tolerance of cold temperatures

In most people, post-polio syndrome tends to progress slowly, with new signs and symptoms followed by periods of stability.

When to see a doctor
If you're experiencing weakness or fatigue that seems to be slowly getting worse, see your doctor. It's important to rule out other causes of your signs and symptoms that may require different therapy from what's currently advised for post-polio syndrome.

Nobody knows exactly what causes the signs and symptoms of post-polio syndrome to appear so many years after the first episode of polio. Currently, the most accepted theory regarding the cause of post-polio syndrome rests on the idea of degenerating nerve cells.

When poliovirus infects your body, it affects nerve cells called motor neurons — particularly those in your spinal cord — that carry messages (electrical impulses) between your brain and your muscles.

Each neuron consists of three basic components:

* A cell body
* A major branching fiber (axon)
* Numerous smaller branching fibers (dendrites)

A polio infection often leaves many of these motor neurons destroyed or damaged. To compensate for the resulting neuron shortage, the remaining neurons sprout new fibers, and the surviving motor units become enlarged. This promotes recovery of the use of your muscles, but it also places added stress on the nerve cell body to nourish the additional fibers. Over the years, this stress may be more than the neuron can handle, leading to the gradual deterioration of the sprouted fibers and, eventually, the neuron itself.

Another theory is that the initial illness may have created an autoimmune reaction, causing the body's immune system to attack normal cells as if they were foreign substances. Some experts believe that the poliovirus may persist in the body and reactivate years later.

Risk factors

Factors that may increase your risk of developing post-polio syndrome include:

* Severity of initial polio infection. The more severe the initial infection, the more likely that you'll have signs and symptoms of post-polio syndrome.
* Age at onset of initial illness. If you acquired polio as an adolescent or adult, rather than as a young child, your chances of developing post-polio syndrome increase.
* Recovery. The greater your recovery after acute polio, the more likely it seems that post-polio syndrome will develop. This may be because greater recovery places additional stress on motor neurons.
* Physical activity. If you often perform physical activity to the point of exhaustion or fatigue, this may overwork already stressed-out motor neurons and increase your risk of post-polio syndrome.

The symptoms of pain, weakness, and fatigue can result from the overuse and misuse of muscles and joints. These same symptoms can also result from disuse of muscles and joints. This fact has caused a misunderstanding about whether to encourage or discourage exercise for polio survivors or individuals who already have PPS.

Exercise is safe and effective when carefully prescribed and monitored by experienced health professionals. Exercise is more likely to benefit those muscle groups that were least affected by polio. Cardiopulmonary endurance training is usually more effective than strengthening exercises. Heavy or intense resistive exercise and weight-lifting using polio-affected muscles may be counterproductive because they can further weaken rather than strengthen these muscles.

Exercise prescriptions should include

* the specific muscle groups to be included,
* the specific muscle groups to be excluded, and
* the type of exercise, together with frequency and duration.

Exercise should be reduced or discontinued if additional weakness, excessive fatigue, or unduly prolonged recovery time is noted by either the individual with PPS or the professional monitoring the exercise.
Can PPS be prevented?

Polio survivors often ask if there is a way to prevent PPS. Presently, no intervention has been found to stop the deterioration of surviving neurons. But physicians recommend that polio survivors get the proper amount of sleep, maintain a well-balanced diet, avoid unhealthy habits such as smoking and overeating, and follow an exercise program as discussed above. Proper lifestyle changes, the use of assistive devices, and taking certain anti-inflammatory medications may help some of the symptoms of PPS.
What research is being conducted?

Scientists are working on a variety of investigations that may one day help individuals with PPS. Some basic researchers are studying the behavior of motor neurons many years after a polio attack. Others are looking at the mechanisms of fatigue and are trying to discover the role played by the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves, the neuromuscular junction (the site where a nerve cell meets the muscle cell it helps activate), and the muscles.

Determining if there is an immunological link in PPS is also an area of intense interest. Researchers who discovered inflammation around motor neurons or muscles are trying to find out if this is due to an immunological response.

Other investigators have discovered that fragments of the poliovirus, or mutated versions of it, are in the spinal fluid of some survivors. The significance of this finding is not known and more research is being done.

Polio Facts

Polio was both a myelitis (inflammation of the motor neurons in the spinal cord) and an encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). Actually in all cases of Polio an encephalitis exists as it affected the brain first. David Bodian was the one who discovered that there were three types of poliovirus and that it went from the intestines to the lymph node into the blood before it went to the motor neurons. That is what allowed a polio vaccine to work.

The most common and sever poliovirus damage was at the bottom of the brain, in the brain stem or "bulb". Bodain found that the brain stem was involved in even mild cases of polio. This is the part of the brain that controls our automatic muscles, the ones that control the diaphragm, blood pressure, heart rate, and the muscles in your throat. It was severe damage to the bulb that made polio a killer, ie the heart stopped working. Also what caused use of the iron lung as the diaphragm muscles are what make your lungs work.

It is important to remember that every polio survivor, with or without obvious swallowing or breathing problems, had "bulbar" polio, since the reticular formation was the one area of the brain Bodain found was always damaged by the polio virus.

If you don't already own a copy of The Polio Paradox, get one, or see if your library has it.

The damage done in the brain by polio affects our production of dopamine, other brain-activating neurons were killed by the poliovirus, including those in the Hypothalamus and the Thalamus. It also damaged the neurons that make endorphin and enkephalin, the bodys own morphine.

Any injury including falls can trigger the PPS symptoms.

P.S. it isn't the muscles that fail in PPS or in the original Polio .. it is the motor neurons that control the muscles. The posterior horn motor neurons, the anterior motor neurons are the one that allow you to "feel". This is why when Polio patients are paralyzed they can still feel the limb.