• Vicky Tulle, Cornwall Dreaming, Acrylic on canvas, 2020

Vicky Tulle |  Student Reflection

M will be 95 years old this August 2020. She had polio when she was 18 months old after contracting measles as a result of what was then called, ‘Infantile Paralysis’. M has always worn a calliper on her left leg and uses a mobility scooter when required. M said that in England you must have a licence and she believes there should be a test for this here too. M still lives on her own at home and enjoys freedom and independence as well as visiting the riverside. M lived in Manchester, England, where her husband worked for 25 years in the Royal Air Force earning three stripes and a crown. They also lived in Scotland, Wales and Singapore. M found Singapore hot and humid and eventually left for Australia.

One of M’s most cherished memories is the cliff-face views of the ocean at Cornwall in South West England. Her daughter was born there while her husband worked in the forces. My painting depicts M and her husband enjoying a spectacular view of the Cornish coast. The callipers symbolise the medical affliction that has been her lifelong companion.

Patient Story  |  'Survivor'

I wanted to walk and something went wrong; my left leg froze. My support worker was with me and called the ambulance. In hospital, I thought I wasn’t going to walk again.  It filled me with fear.  I am still frightened that it will happen again.

I was unable to volunteer for charity organisations when this happened. Now, I am having physiotherapy to help my recovery. I hope to God that I can continue to manage at home. While in hospital, at least I could talk to others and make them laugh. I will talk to everybody. I am not a grumpy old woman.

When I was 14 months old, I had polio after having measles. Since then, I wore a splint on my left leg. 

I never knew my family until I was 16 years old as I was sent away to live – that was the way in England if you had polio. I have always been independent – if I can do anything myself, I will.

In current circumstances (CoVid-19), my family from Sydney haven’t been able to see me for some time.

Advice to others: “When in hospital accept anything that is going on with your care medically and most of all keep your sense of humour”.

Poliomyelitis (polio):

Poliomyelitis is caused by the poliovirus. The infection is transmitted faecal-orally and is highly contagious. Complications of polio can include lifelong paralysis which can worsen with age. Vaccination is recommended in all infants to prevent this debilitating disease.

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