ChesterCountyMedicineSummer2019 - 18

POLIO
www.CHESTERCMS.org

IF ONLY IT WERE A
THING OF THE PAST
BY CAROL FERGUSON AND OUR PA. POLIO NETWORK TEAM

M

y post-polio journey was long,
painful and truly confusing. Happily,
in the fall of 2013, I was finally
"there." Polio was no longer defining my life. I
am a Summer Grippe kid, often referred to as
"non-paralytic" polio survivor with Post-Polio
Syndrome (PPS).
Had I discovered the limitations that came
with disability? Yes.
Had I discovered new and pain-free abilities?
Yes.
I had been given the gift of understanding what was happening
and acceptance of my new limitations. I am a polio survivor who
is truly thriving. With that, has come a new kind of energy.
For two years I had been writing the fascinating, joyful,
painful and truly memorable survivor stories of my friends.
Although active in my support group, my new energy was looking
for more. I knew without question that in the end, I had been
truly blessed in my care. In early spring 2014, I discovered the
PHI International Conference to be held in St. Louis. I told my
husband I wanted to go. He responded "you can't travel alone".
Poor guy, I will never forget the look on his face as he dropped me
off at Philadelphia airport on my bright red scooter, suitcase under
my feet. From that moment, my life changed.
There was kindness everywhere I turned in the form of
smiles, patience and people willing to help. Although nervous
when I arrived at the conference location, I was excited as well.

18 CHESTER COUNT Y Medicine | SUMMER 2019

The first night I met a kind gentleman, also
from PA. As I was sitting and he was standing,
I could not read the MD next to his name
- Bill DeMayo. Little did I know he was a
rehabilitative physician, one of the featured
professional speakers for the weekend and an
incredibly nice man. There at dinner, was Daniel
Wilson, PhD, who I had met years before, and
whose advice was significant in my complex
diagnosis.
The next day, when I heard Dr. William
DeMayo speak I was fascinated. His integrative treatment
program for polio survivors had the same philosophy as the
one I had successfully completed at the Post-Polio Institute in
Englewood, NJ. I met, listened to, laughed with and learned
so much from so many amazing people that weekend; my head
was spinning. While on the flight home, I focused on how truly
blessed I had been and I knew my life had changed forever. I
finally found a place for my newly found energy.
At that time, there were four active support groups in our state.
Information for them to share was cumbersome to accumulate
and had to be gathered from numerous places. Everyone was
struggling with interesting and credible programming to bring
survivors to meetings.
Gathering a supportive "team" became a necessity. My
husband and two close friends were my sounding board for some
great (and not so great) ideas. One, who is filled with wisdom,
was interested in the topic because of her love for me and for her


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ChesterCountyMedicineSummer2019

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