My childhood revolved around exercises after breakfast and before bed. Many times I recall my father saying “There are times you have to be cruel to be kind” as he exercised my muscles, stretching tendons, all with the aim of me being able to walk again.
At night the ritual was of cold plaster casts bandaged onto my legs, the fastening of the bodice around my torso to keep me straight and still as I slept. This aided with the recovery of the symptoms of my damaged body. Once this procedure was completed, a bedtime story was read to help me to settle for the night.
Days were spent in callipers and big brown boots (not pretty shoes for me). However, it didn’t stop me from my many adventures when living on the farm with my four siblings.
Only well-meaning people thought to put the brakes on my activities in case I did more damage to my legs. This happened whilst at school, when I became a participant in the wider community and as I started employment. My parents intervened, telling them to just let me do what I knew best for my legs. That solved that problem. I was soon involved with local sports, horse and bike riding, swimming all childhood activities in general. The golden rule I lived by until the age of 12 was that callipers always went back onto the leg after completion of playing sport!
I reflect now and ask “Did polio make me who I am?”. My art work reflects how fortunate my life as a polio survivor has been.
Please click on the picture below to see more photographs and a video of Marlene’s “Touched by Polio” art work
Collage of a Polio Life