MY CATALYTIC CONVERGENCE – #2 AGING WITH POST-POLIO
On seeking medical treatment:
Within some pentecostal, charismatic, and word of faith streams of the Church, there is a notion that seeking medical care demonstrates a lack of faith. Belief in the healing power of Jesus manifested through the agency of the Holy Spirit and seeking medical treatment are regarded as mutually exclusive. I am not of this opinion.
“The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord.” (Proverbs 21:31, ESV)
Trusting in God for the victory in battle does not absolve us from doing everything possible to equip ourselves for warfare. We may develop an informed combat strategy, stoke our courage, and then engage in a valiant battle. We can accomplish all this while standing on a firm foundation of absolute trust in God for the outcome.
“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17, NKJV)
Doing the negative does not create nor build faith. Not seeking medical aid does not strengthen faith, nor is avoiding medical assistance a faith badge of honor. It is foolishness. Medical science exists as a fruit of God’s assignment to humanity to have dominion over the work of His hands.
Concerning faith, honing our ability to hear and understand the “now” word (“rhema”) of God is the positive that we do to build faith. The greater our ability to hear His voice, the stronger our faith is.
With the decrease of polio survivors in the U.S. and the increasing challenge of finding medical providers familiar with post-polio syndrome, I have sought to become an “expert patient.”
( If you are a polio survivor or know a polio survivor seeking information, an excellent place to begin research on post-polio is the website for Post-Polio Health International https://post-polio.org )
“The term “expert patient” originated in England and referred to patients who have the confidence, skills, information, and knowledge to play a central role in managing life with chronic diseases.” Carol Vandenakker Albanese, MD
I experienced a gradual deterioration of my physical capabilities during the decade of the 1980s. My significant symptoms were a growing intolerance to cold, increasing physical fatigue, new areas of physical pain, and decreasing muscle strength. In 1986 my mother sent me an article about Post Polio Syndrome (PPS). I had never heard of this syndrome before. The word syndrome was used to detail a grouping of symptoms experienced by polio survivors some 30 to 40 years after the initial onset of poliomyelitis. Not all polio survivors share the same mix of symptoms to the same degree of severity. Some of the symptoms I had been battling were on the list.
At that time, there were several guesses as to the reasons for PPS. Some medical practitioners wondered if survivors were experiencing a recurrence of poliomyelitis. Others posited that years of physical compensation for the effects of polio had caused the body to age more rapidly. Some put forth what I call the “sprouts” theory.
In laymen’s terms: poliomyelitis attacks motor neurons. These neurons are the motors that control muscle movement. When the poliomyelitis virus destroys a motor neuron, the nerves attached to that dead motor neuron begin to sprout. The sprouts then lengthen and reach out in an attempt to connect to a surviving motor neuron. I contracted poliomyelitis seven days after my second birthday in 1953. My body became paralyzed, and I was unable to sit up. The doctors told my parents that I might never be able to sit up. When I finally pulled myself up to a sitting position, the doctors told my parents that I might never walk again.
Two things were happening to promote my partial recovery. People were praying, and my nerves were sprouting and reattaching. One post-polio theory posits that those sprouts are not as robust as the original nerves and thus wear out more quickly with age. This theory suggests that my body might retrogress to the paralysis state I experienced in 1953.
My more recent additional complications from aging with post-polio:
Limited rotator cuff movement. I’ve conferred with two specialists after having MRI scans of each shoulder. The specialists shared the same conclusion. After so many years of overuse and injuries to my shoulders, surgical repair is not an option.
Lumbar stenosis. The numbering of the lumbar portion of the spine begins at the top with #1 and ends at #5. There are holes through the lumbar bones through which nerves pass. For me, arthritis already restricts the holes in #4 and #5. This restriction causes lower back pain. This pain radiates down my “glutes” and hamstrings to my ankles. Stability while standing and walking is more challenging.
I have subjected my body to several rounds of physical therapy over the years. I continue to engage in the prescribed exercises. My physical therapists recently recommended a couple of changes. The changes included manufacturing a lighter-weight leg brace using carbon fiber and transitioning to ergonomically designed forearm crutches constructed of lightweight weight carbon fiber.I will also be dependent on wheelchairs to assist with more extended ambulatory requirements.
Dysphonia. The surprise development most closely related to my vocation was my speech therapist’s recent diagnosis of dysphonia. Dysphonia is a general medical category describing symptoms when the voice is involuntarily breathy, raspy, strained, softer in volume, or pitched lower. Dysphonia occurs more often in the elderly and certain occupational groups such as teachers. My therapist “enjoyed” the unique challenge my combination of symptoms represented. She did her homework. In her research, she discovered a link between Dysphonia and PPS.
(Pictured is an exercise tool recommended by my speech therapsit, an Expiratory Muscle Strength Trainer)
My voice is often weak, and sometimes, when I’m speaking, it feels like the foundation drops from my voice. When my body is weary, my voice sounds weak. In my daily workouts, I incorporate various breathing techniques which challenge my abs and diaphragm.
The barometric yoyo! My body predicts incoming weather pattern changes. I physically detect changes in barometric pressure. My body aches and feels like it is entombed in a pressure chamber. I researched barometric changes. The frequency of barometric changes correlates with increased latitude readings. Southern California and Florida boast the fewest annual barometric changes here in the USA. These locations also provide a year-round warm climate.
Relocating geographically to the year-round warmer weather and the more infrequent barometric changes of San Diego County is a significant feature of my present transition.