Edith (Graham) Morris; 1948, age 4; Auckland, New Zealand
I’m looking suspiciously at Dr. Earl Carlson, visiting from America, as I’m urged by nurse Pauline to shake his hand in this 1948 photograph. I was a patient at the Wilson Home for Crippled Children where I lived for over three years. I contracted infantile paralysis at the age of six months resulting in very floppy legs.
I did not have the “Sister Kenny” treatment and my initial treatment consisted of being encased in plaster from the waist down, then splints allowing the legs to be massaged then re-wrapped into the splints again. Hydrotherapy followed as well as massages and exercises. Finally wearing leg braces and crutches gave some semblance of mobility at my discharge in 1949.
The Wilson Home was an institution set in beautiful gardens overlooking the Auckland Harbour. There were at least 70 other children in various stages of rehabilitation. Our therapy included daily sun bathing, meals on the open air verandas and exercises on the green lawns.
My massage therapist Pauline shown in the photo, remembers when I was admitted into the Wilson Home the Matron asked her to help settle me. I was eighteen months old, separated from my parents and very upset. A bond was formed. It must have been a challenge for these young nurses to cope with small children who suffered pain, isolation, separation from families and the confusion of having polio.
When I met Pauline sixty years later we instantly recognised each other’s voices. I’m so glad I could say to Pauline, “Thanks to you I have made a life for myself and today I’m still a survivor.”
Edith Morris was President of Polio NZ, Inc (New Zealand) from 2008 to 2014.