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Post-Polio Health (ISSN 1066-5331)

Vol. 18, No. 1, Winter 2002

Improving Quality of Life: Healing Polio Memories (pg 4)

Taking Stock

Survivors may want to ask people they trust for their perceptions with questions like these:

One essential and healing component of revisiting past memories is that it provides survivors with an opportunity to tell their story, sometimes for the first time.

In Healing the Blues, polio survivor Dorothea Nudelman and her therapist described her struggle for wholeness. Dorothea wrote: "We often resist the pure telling of our story. We want to tell the story as we think it should be and edit out the parts that make us uncomfortable. But this doesn't work. We must be honest and complete. We must acknowledge even the parts we don't like. In fact, where we have the most resistance is exactly where special attention is needed. Our resistance signals where we may discover the most important things about ourselves. There is no part of ourselves we can afford to discard. Every part is crucial for wholeness and has value to us. When we review our life thoroughly, we return to the present with a renewed sense of meaning and possibility. We catch up with time, as it were, by finishing what is past (Nudelman & Willingham, 1994)."

Authors' End Note: We have focused on how exploring polio memories may reveal reasons that survivors have avoided seeking help or following up with medical recommendations.

We encourage readers to use the aspects of this article that apply to their lives. We believe that understanding the effects of early experiences can provide insight that offers hope of making positive changes in current life situations. These changes, in turn, may lead to reductions in pain, healthier personal relationships, less stress and greater ability to experience comfort and joy.

A future Polio Network News article will provide suggestions for seeking and evaluating professional assistance to look at and learn from polio experiences.  

The authors are grateful to the polio survivors, professionals and authors who have contributed to this article. Their suggestions and comments have enhanced its value.

References

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Bieniek, L. (1999). Recognizing depression. Polio Network News 15(3), 1-2.

Bieniek, L. (2001). Emotional bridges to wellness. Polio Network News 17(4), 1-4.

Dayton, T. (1997). Heartwounds: The impact of unresolved trauma and grief on relationships (p. 26). Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications, Inc.

Finney, L. (1995). Reach for joy: How to find the right therapist & therapy for you (p. 17). Freedom, CA: The Crossing Press.

Hale, T. (1996). Spiritual responses to trauma. Polio Network News 12(3), 6-7.

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Levine, P. (1997). Waking the tiger: Healing trauma (pp. 24, 28-32). Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.

Lieberman, A. (1987). Separation in infancy and early childhood: Contributions of attachment theory and psychoanalysis. In J. Bloom-Feshbach & S. Bloom-Feshbach (Eds.), The Psychology of Separation and Loss (p. 118). London, England: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Napier, N. (1993). Getting through the day: Strategies for adults hurt as children (pp. 44, 73-74). New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Co.

Nudelman, D. & Willingham, D. (1994). Healing the blues: Drug-free psychotherapy for depression (p. 201). Pacific Grove, CA: The Boxwood Press.

Saakvitne, K., & Pearlman, L. (1996). Transforming the pain: A workbook on vicarious traumatization (p. 33). New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Co.

Schiraldi, G. (2000). The post-traumatic stress disorder sourcebook: A guide to healing, recovery and growth. Los Angeles, CA: Lowell House.

Thoren-Jonsson, A.L., & Grimby, G. (2001). Ability and perceived difficulty in daily activities in people with poliomyelitis sequelae. Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine.

Westbrook, M. (2000). An antidote to post-polio stress: Pleasure seeking." Polio Network News 16(2), 1-4.

Westbrook, M. (1996). Disability as a life course: Implications of early experiences for later coping. Polio Network News 12(3), 3-6.