Covid pandemic reflects the pain of polio

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Jan Wills-Collins, a retired nurse and health and safety advisor, has published her memoir, The Hidden Scars of Polio.

The Covid-19 bans inspired a polio survivor to write her memoir.

Jan Wills-Collins, formerly of Half Moon Bay and Bucklands Beach, was eleven when she developed polio.

In the August 1952 New Zealand pandemic, the lives of Jan and her two-year-old sister Judith would be permanently affected by this deadly disease.

Jan’s right side of the body was paralyzed and Judith was in a coma for three weeks.

The subsequent experience with polio and the pandemic, the fear and uncertainty, can be compared and compared with Covid-19.

When Jan was in the hospital, she and the other sick children were not allowed to see their parents.

“With Covid-19 we had situations in which families could not see their sick relatives,” said Jan.

“How devastating it would have been for people who were not with their loved ones at the time.”

Fortunately, Jan and Judith received treatment that was tested by Sister Elizabeth Kenny, an Australian nurse who pioneered the treatment of polio or polio.

She discovered that if polio sufferers were kept warm, their muscle contractions and deformities could “be stopped”.

“Although I lost the use of some muscles in my leg and foot, I was never disfigured,” said Jan.

She was left with a permanent limp in her right leg and long-term health problems. Jan’s parents had problems themselves.

Due to the misinformation about the disease at the time, people were afraid to walk past their mother and father, an experience Jan himself faced as other children were afraid of going to school with her.

In addition, Jan’s parents sold their shop for financial reasons and her father lost his job.

Years later, as an adult, Jan suffered from post-polio syndrome (PPS), a nerve and muscle disease.

PPS can cause muscle weakness, muscle and joint pain, and fatigue.

“When I say that Covid-19 will have really similar effects to polio, I mean that,” said Jan.

“I read that there are many people who have had a pretty bad Covid and are now experiencing something that could be compared to post-polio syndrome.”

Jan and her family spent years in Half Moon Bay and Bucklands Beach.

She is now retired in Whangamata. During the lockdown of Covid-19, Jan published her memoir, The hidden scars of polio.

“Covid has brought about so many memories and similarities with the effects polio has had on me and so many others,” she said.

“I felt that this could have the potential to help others who are suffering from Covid today.”

The fear and uncertainty many felt about Covid, as well as the isolation and long-term health effects, all draw parallels to the polio epidemic for January.

“I hope the memoir can help those who are still suffering from the long-term effects of the disease and give hope to others in a time of Covid,” said Jan.

When it became known that the polio vaccine was a success, people cheered and church bells rang all over the world as they lived for decades in fear of the disease with no prevention and no cure, she said.

“Vaccination is important”


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