Lopsided Glory

Posted by Jay in Travel on May 14th, 2015

As I had recently posted onto my Facebook page, I had gone to the doctors to get some new callipers and new boots as mine had been through the wars with my constant travelling and moving around. Thankfully this time I was able to go to a hospital in the city, instead of having to request a day off work for the hope of seeing my esteemed doctor or one of his consultants for all of 7 minutes. Of course, I am very appreciative that they have a heavy workload and have many other people to attend to, but at least my old hospital Great Ormond Street Hospital [GOSH] made it worth it with games and the like.

This visit to the hospital was my first one in many years as my condition has stabilised since the initial polio attack and I only go to orthotics to get new gear for a few years. As I had not been seen for a lot of years, I had to go through the whole rigmarole of being able to actually get a hold of my local GP and getting referred back to the hospital again. This was news to me as I did not know that you could get kicked off the service, especially seeing as they know that my polio is permanent. But hey, the NHS does what it can!

Going over to the hospital and waiting to see the doctor brought back memories of my parents being with me at GOSH and speaking to the various consultants about what my growing body needed, and how to move forward. While I was off in a corner getting more and more frustrated about the fact that I could just not get past the first level of Super Mario. This time it was just me, the adult, making decisions and booking my own appointments. Going through to the doctors’ room, we sit down and go through the various checks, name, address, DOB etc.

I need to go and lie down on the examining table, to see what I can do with both my left and right legs. Andit’s the same questions and conversations that I have had before, time and again.

“Can you lift up your right leg?” “No.” “Can you lift up your left leg?” “No.” “Can you push back on my hand with your right foot?” “A little bit.” “Can you push back on my hand with your left foot?” “No.”

The same questions receiving the same answers nearly 20 years on from my first hospital check-up. I was and am well aware that polio is permanent. The little muscle that I have in each leg is all I will ever have in my lifetime. But as I had not been in the hospital for so long, it still hit me slightly, absolutely nothing has changed. The ability that I have within my legs is still the same; I still can’t do the exact same things as nearly two decades ago. While I do not usually have time to focus on this as I am busy working, travelling and doing my own thing, this brought the reality of my condition back to me.

This is permanent, this is for life. This really is as good as it gets in terms of what my legs can do. Please note that this existential crisis lasted about as long as the check up, and I was back to thinking about my next holiday. And most importantly, would the radiographer that would need to do my X-ray be one of those really, really cute Australian or Kiwi guys?

Unfortunately, it was not. But I did meet a lovely Kenyan woman of South Asian descent that did my X-rays. Once again I was back in my familiar territory,

“When was the date of your last period?” “I’m on it right now.” “Is there any chance you could be pregnant?” “No.” “Do you have any metal in your trousers?” “Yes.” “Please pull them down so that the machine’s view will not be obstructed.”

Although one thing that was missing from these routine questions was the look my mother would give me at the second question that screamed ‘you better not be pregnant’. And I still wasn’t, successfully baby-free since ’89. Lying back on the table that was dressed with disposable material I saw the equipment that would move both vertically and horizontally to have a look and see what was actually going on with my hips and my back. Lying on my back, left and right sides and it was done. Trousers back on and money on the table. This is of course, a joke.


Putting my calliper back on I go back to the waiting room to get seen again by my doctor. Thankfully the wait was not long and I went into his room and saw my spine, hip bones and my thigh bones. My hips were wonky, as per usual. I have gotten used to seeing this. Me, up there on screen in my gloriously lopsided element. Exposed.

The issue was that my left hip bone would routinely come out of its socket as there was nothing really holding it in place. And this would cause problems sometimes when I am walking or even just sitting down. It just pops out of its own accord, and unfortunately I have no idea how to pop it back in. So I wait while it does its thing and make sure not to put any pressure whatsoever on my left side.

I had been advised of some surgeries that I could have, but would not guarantee that the issue would not rise up again. As I seemed to be doing just fine with the way things are, it would be best to leave it alone. And this is what I have been doing for many years now, and it has worked so far.

I leave his office and go back to the front to tell them my schedule of when I would be able to pick up my new calliper and boot and went on my merry way. Polio left behind in the recesses of my mind, at least until my next check-up.

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about Jayon UPDATE: As of 25/09/2015 Nigeria has been removed from the WHO's Polio Endemic List! Having been born in Nigeria, I hail from one of three countries where polio is still unfortunately endemic, the other two being Pakistan and Afghanistan. I had contracted the poliovirus before my ...Read More

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