Phyllis McPherson-Forster has never met a wimpy polio survivor.
With World Polio Day approaching on 24 October, the Brisbane vocal teacher and Spinal Life member said strength is what bonded her and her fellow polio survivors together.
“You have to be tough; it comes with the territory,” she said.
Phyllis was first diagnosed with the disease when she was 10 years old.
“One day I found I couldn’t run like I used to – from there, it was just a few days until I was in hospital in a delirium coma,” she said.
“Even before I was diagnosed I knew it was polio; we were all so terrified of it back then.”
While she predicted her initial diagnosis, what Phyllis didn’t predict was that many of the symptoms would begin to return after she reached her 50’s.
“Even my GP didn’t know what was going on,” she said.
“It was one of my vocal students who taught me that polio symptoms can start to return later in life.
“Suddenly everything I was going through, the fatigue and soreness, started to make sense.”
Armed with this bit of knowledge, Mrs McPherson-Forster joined Spinal Life Australia’s Post Polio Network, which allowed her to connect with other polio survivors experiencing the late effects of the disease.
“I’ve met many resilient people through the network, many of whom became very dear friends,” she said.
“It’s great to know you’re not alone.”
World Polio Day is held each year on 24 October to commemorate the birth of polio vaccine pioneer Jonas Salk.
Spinal Life Australia will be holding a World Polio Day event at its Brisbane office to bring together polio survivors from South East Queensland – click here for more information.