The story of South Wicklow’s Goodwin is featured in an updated edition of a book that shares the personal stories of 29 polio survivors in Ireland and their struggles with the long-term effects of the disease.
Published by Polio Survivors Ireland, ‘Polio and Us’ was first published 15 years ago, but with the pandemic caused by COVID, the pandemic and renewed interest in eradicating the disease by vaccine, the charity decided to publish an updated version. It’s time to do The new publication aims to help ensure that the legacy of polio is not forgotten and that eradication is safe.
This became even more important on Wednesday, 22 June when traces of poliovirus were found during routine sewage inspections in London. Several closely related polioviruses were found in sewage samples taken between February and May. It is under development and is now classified as a ‘vaccine-derived’ poliovirus type 2 (VDPV2). Leading the UK Health Protection Agency to declare a national event.
To educate the public about the effects of polio, this new book shares the story of Goodwin, who had now passed. He was born on a 100-acre farm in South Wicklow and the book describes himself as a ‘fragile child, always either sick or recovering’. He was not able to start school until the age of eight and age 14. He explains that he received his diagnosis in October 1945 at the age of 16.
“I went to help an uncle in the barn,” he writes. “I got up on my old bicycle and rode to the Shillag railway terminal and left for Bowlinglane, 10 miles away by the 8 o’clock train. I found out I wasn’t feeling well and my
Throat was sore and dry.
“I worked all day trying to do a man’s job, sweating profusely with a fever. I was very sick that night and
My uncle brought me home in a horse and cart. The next day, my father grabbed the pony and the net and took me two and one
Half a mile to a doctor in Shillag. I heard my father whisper, “Is this infantile paralysis?” The doctor said it looked like symptoms.
“Within a few days I was sent to the Adelaide Hospital in Dublin, where, after a spinal fluid sample, it was confirmed that I did indeed have polio. I stayed in the hospital for six months, during which the only treatment was physiotherapy. April 1946 In 2006, I was let home with a caliper in my left foot. I was told I would have to wear it for the rest of my life, that I would never be fit to farm again.”
Polio, or infantile paralysis, is a disease that struck fear in the hearts of parents around the world in the early 1950s. The highly contagious disease can result in life-long partial or complete paralysis. Similar to COVID-19, the public was asked to avoid large crowds, with many events cancelled, while schools, circuses, cinemas and public bathrooms were closed. Vaccination was introduced in Ireland in the late 1950s and while there is still no cure, the disease has been largely eradicated worldwide as a result of the polio vaccine.
As he recounts in Polio and Us, Goodwin suffered throughout his life, but took refuge in the support he received, including joining the Bray Social Branch of Polio Survivors Ireland in 2003.
Polio Survivors Ireland was founded almost 30 years ago and is the only organization in Ireland that provides practical services and support to people who have had polio as children or young children. They provide a range of services including mobility aids and equipment, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and respite, and raise awareness of the issues facing polio survivors. They also work to educate medical professionals, social care providers and health policy makers about the reality for all who are still affected by polio.
Fran Brennan, CEO of Polio Survivors Ireland, says: “As we have seen with COVID 19, pandemics and pandemics are still a reality that can affect our daily lives. However, the story of the polio epidemic in Ireland is one of hope, as here the disease was successfully eradicated by a vaccine. That said, the legacy of polio and the relentless struggle of polio survivors should not be forgotten and that is why we have reprinted Polio & Us.
“Unfortunately, about 40 percent of polio victims are now living with the late effects of the disease. Many have had to undergo many years of rehabilitation to help them achieve independence, only to be followed by post polio syndrome (PPS). To impact their mobility in the lives of people. This is the reason why we are working relentlessly to raise awareness about polio.”
Fran said: “Post polio syndrome causes loss of sleep, fatigue, new muscle weakness, muscle and joint pain, muscle wasting, severe intolerance to cold, speech difficulties, difficulty swallowing and respiratory problems. Many People will need mobility support and risk losing independence from hard work.
Some survivors may not realize that there is help available to them and that’s why we are here. In addition, many health care professionals have not received adequate training to treat polio survivors. As a result, we work to address this by distributing the necessary information to GPs and other healthcare professionals to understand PPS.