John Marcus McGee
  • Male
  • Oconto Falls, WI
  • United States
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Are you a Polio Survivor?
What year did you contract polio?
Do you have Post-Polio Syndrome?
When did you begin experiencing symptoms?
List any assistive devices you are using...
Power wheel chair
Please describe how polio has changed your life.
I had walked until I was 2 1/2 yrs old, but had climbed into the haymow, of our barn, to throw down straw, for my dad, but fell through the chute, to the bare concrete floor. Was unconcious, for a while, I don't know how long. Went to doctors in Antigo & Wausau WI, but ended up at University Children's Hospital, in Madison WI. I was in the hospital for 6 months, in the beginning, while they cut the muscles, in my hips, so I could straighten out my legs. I was fitted with long leg braces and was trained how to walk with crutches. I attended Public school and rode the school bus everyday. At first the bus driver lifted me on and off the bus, but when I became too heavy, he asked me to try and do it myself. It was not easy going up the 3 steep steps of the bus, but I managed to get on the bottom step, turn around then use the railing to go up the steps backwards, like I had been taught at the Howe School, in Green Bay, when I went to Kindergarten there. I was always trying to do as much as I could like the other kids and in the Elementary grades, my classmates helped me use some of the playground equipment, even helping me climb the ladder of the slippery slide. My arms were strong and I pulled myself up, while a classmate, pulled my feet out to clear the step, since I was wearing braces, which kept my fee in a straight position all the time, until I sat down, I could unlock them. As I got older I had few friends, since I was not a joiner and did not like being told what to do. I was able to climb the monkey bars, when I was young, sat on the top bar, put my toes under the middle bar, then would lean backwards as far as I could go, then pull my self up, using only the muscles, in my waist. I learned how to drive a car and was able to get my Driver's license in 1971, when I turned 18 and was able to drive with hand controls. Being the 1970's, not much was being done, in my area, to help disabled people, so I had difficulty finding a job. I ended up going to Tech school, learning how to do bookkeeping and eventually got 3 different jobs, which did not last. I had trouble finding a job, so had taken an upholstery class, so decided if I could not find a job, I would create one. I had my upholstery business from September 1977 - December 2008. It worked good for me, but I needed to have a store and an apartment. In 1981, I had a nice store, which had living quarters in back and it worked out great, but was up for sale. I leased it for a year, then ended up moving around trying to find a place for my store and to live. I kept having to have a store and an apartment, so never really was able to support myself, although, in 1980 I met an elderly man, whom I became friends with and he helped me a lot and I helped him a lot. He was an alcoholic though, but since I drove him wherever he needed to go and kept him out of the tavern, I think he lived a lot longer. He was a great help for me, but passed away in June 1993. I had taken a class to learn how to operate a computer, in the summer of 1989, then got a regular job, with benefits, in 1990. I stayed almost 6 years, but then became too stressed out and quit, in October 1995. I had been trying to re-establish my upholstery business, but I just could not get it going. I was helping my friend's able bodied granddaughter too much and she was relying on me too much. I moved around a few times, tried to find a job over the internet, but got scammed. I then thought of writing a book, which came out in September 2009, but the Publisher claimed I earned no Royalties. The only money I got was from selling a few of my own books. I found a website, where I am learning how to build a website and it was there where I found out about self-publishing through Amazon and Kindle e-books. I no longer upholster, had a job I could do over the internet, from my apartment, but that only lasted about 18 months. Now I am self-publishing, have a book "My Very Long Journey Coping with Polio Disability.
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Dealing with Post Polio Syndrome

I had gotten Polio in the mid-1950's at the tail-end of the epidemic. Living in North Central Wisconsin, we were some of the last ones to get the vaccine. When I began the process of getting my first power chair, I had told the Physical Therapist that I had been able to walk until I managed to climb into the hay loft of our family farm.

I was going to throw down straw for my dad but the chute was in the middle of the loft over the alley-way between the calf pens. I don't know how I…


Posted on September 9, 2017 at 9:05pm

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