FORMING A STRATEGY FOR SURVIVAL 
 
A strategy is a plan consisting of what to do to achieve a desired result. When it was determined that Post Polio Syndrome was a reality in my life, a paradigm shift occurred. I had always known I would get old and die, because every one always had before. But this post polio stuff is a specific blueprint of how the Grim Reaper's little buddy, let's call him PPS, was going to slowly fold me up an put me back into the wheel chair and the iron lung and the hot packs, (I can still smell them today), and the physical therapy sessions of a quality to extract state secrets. Anyone who has gone through the poliomyelitis acute phase will recognize the cold chill at the back of the neck on remembering those days of yore. It was obvious I needed a plan, quick. But what? And, also, how.  

The Internet can give polio survivors weapons in the form of knowledge that can be used if one must struggle with the effects of Post Polio Syndrome. But knowing that information is available isn't enough. There has to be action taken for effect to be evident. Just trying to get a perspective on Post Polio Syndrome is difficult for me, and I am not alone in this. It might help someone if I relate how I envision my situation. Remember, this is personal. "Your mileage may differ".  

Philip, you have a problem. The adaptation your body achieved in rehabilitation after acute poliomyelitis is beginning to fail. It doesn't seem to be reversible. It is progressive. "Holy shit!"  

"What do you think causes it?" The current model is that rehabilitated nerve end synapses have been overused and are prematurely failing. It is kind of  like overloaded circuit transistors that run hot, they don't last as long as they are designed for.  

"What can I do about that?" Quit stressing 'em. That's all you can do.  

"What does that mean?" That means you get into those synapses' head and understand how they feel. You get into a nurturing frame of mind about your physical needs. No more all night poker games, quit running marathons. Try to keep those synopsis happy by listening to them tell you they are tired.  

"What about my life-style that I've grown to love? I must go full throttle to keep-up." That's down the tube when Post Polio Syndrome shows up. You ARE going to slow down one way or the other. If you start today, you can extend a good quality of life much longer than if you let nature take it's course."  

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"What, exactly do you mean when you say 'If I start today?'" I mean start now to actively manage your physical well being. Get healthy. It is not enough to passively trust that your youth will sustain your vigor and mobility if you take a vitamin, wear socks and avoid explosions. You must take control. Actively manage your energy by not extending work and play activity to the point of exhaustion. Adhere to known sensible guidelines for nutrition and body weight (gravity is your enemy). Make sleep and rest a pleasant thing and a priority. Remember, when weary, that naps are good.  

Avoid addiction. No good comes of it. If you smoke, you know that it's dumb and you got to quit. If you feel you can't quit, that is addiction yanking your chain. Don't screw with it, get help now! Call your community hospital for a recommendation for smoke ending programs and join today. If you are a drunk, it's the same thing, addiction's got you by the short hairs. Get help now. If you are wealthy call Betty Ford. If not, get to Alcoholics Anonymous today. If you are worried about what your friends and family will think, I'll tell you what they think. They think you are a pain in the ass and you are ruining your health to boot. If you are fat, don't diet. Change your eating habits. Eat many veggies, a moderate amount of lean meat and fish, minimize greasy food, don't snack, and exercise by pushing away from the table after one plate of food. Lean body mass is your goal, but you don't have to achieve it in a rush. Losing one to two pounds a month is about right.  

"Man, you are hard!" Philip, you are in a fight. It's not a fair fight, you are going to lose. They are a tag team, Grim Reaper and PPS, and you don't have anybody to tag. Except other polio survivors and their allies. So, do you want to give up or do you want to make a show of it?  

"I want it to go away. I'm tired of playing." It doesn't go away. This is real life, and you have to play the hand you are dealt. Quit sniveling. Let's put our heads together and figure out a plan to fight this thing.  

"What do you think we could do?" Well, we've had a checkup and we know we got it. Now, let's find out all we can about Post Polio Syndrome. Oh, and we need to talk to some people who know the ropes, other polio survivors that are dealing with this thing. There's three points right there we can start with.  

This fight is about your body. You won't go too far wrong to think of yourself as an athlete. You need to get in shape. You need to take care of your self and nurture those busy synopsis. You are walking the tightrope between "use it or lose it" of too little exercise and "use it and lose it" of over exertion. I'm reading medical articles where PPS researchers are finding that the progressive deterioration in most cases of polio survivors experiencing symptoms can be dramatically slowed. There is plenty that's useful to do, so let's get started.  

Well, we are at the end of what I know for sure. Click on the last link there at the bottom of this column and it will put you on the page out of here and to where the experts are. The best of luck on your journey. Oh yes, one other thing I know. Teach yourself the art of appreciating. It is the best gift there is.  

Philip Childress 
Carmel Valley, California 
March 1998  
 

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