A Long Ago Memory

Recently on CBC, there was a program aired, the topic of which was post-polio. Individuals suffering from this phenomenon were asked about their illness. Although Polio has been described as a ‘forgotten disease’, this is certainly not the case for those suffering from post-polio – the cruel trick of polio returning years later in a form often more severe than the original event.

I remember little about my paralysis as I was a small child, still there lingers shadows of memory – Dr. Smith coming to the house and me realizing that “something must be terribly wrong.”

The following is a snippet of my story as recorded in my children’s novel Grounded.

The doctor opens his little black bag and takes out his stethoscope. He listens to my heartbeat. Then he takes my temperature. He taps my right knee cap with a little hammer, but my knee doesn’t jump.

“Lift your left leg,” the doctor says.

I try, but nothing happens. My leg just lies there.

“Try to wiggle your toes.”

They won’t move, either.

The doctor warns me that he is going to tickle my feet. Doesn’t he know they’re ticklish? I clench my eyes tight and grip my sheet, pulling it under my chin. I am defenseless. The tickles come, but I can’t do anything but endure them.

When the doctor leaves, my legs still don’t move. I fall asleep but am afraid that when I wake up in the morning and look under the covers, they’ll be gone. It feels as if they aren’t there now. What if they never come back to life?

Note: Although one has paralysis, one still has feeling in the limb(s) affected.

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