“At 15 months I started crying a lot and was unable to walk or sleep very well. My mother had had me immunised against polio. However, refrigeration in rural Australia in the early 1950s may not have been adequate to protect the serum from the heat. It also threw 5 doctors off the track of diagnosing me with polio even though there was a raging polio epidemic. One of them told my mother to stop “molly coddling” me.”

She was put into hospital in an isolation ward, where, in her weakened condition, she contracted scarlet fever and chicken pox. The doctor who finally correctly diagnosed her was Dr Ken Watson.

“He told my parents I must be kept warm, yet whenever they visited me, the windows were wide open, letting in the cool winter air. Dr Watson and a local bootmaker designed built up boots for me to try to level up my pelvis. My right leg was shrunken, but I rode a bike when I was three and continued to do so, which helped to build the muscles on my right leg.”

The effects of polio on Christine had been life-long but her determination to be independent has been a driving force in her life.

“Polio has made me a very resilient person. It affected my parents in that they kept blaming themselves and treating me as though I would always be dependent on them. That made me determined to prove that I could stand on my own two feet.”

Christine has had five sons and some amazing adventures despite her injuries. She qualified as a teacher and has taught in suburban and rural communities working with indigenous children. She is currently in India working as an International English Language Testing System examiner and helping international students prepare for university.

She has a pelvic tilt and a 1.5 inch difference between her right and left sides which her spine has twisted to compensate for

“I also have pulmonary problems. My breathing is affected. I wake up hot and sweaty with burning feelings in my right foot. I find it difficult to get in a comfortable position to sleep and sleep is intermittent most nights. Naturally I am beginning to limp more noticeably than in the past, all a result of my polio.”

Christine wants people to understand that the tremendous pain and, both the physical and psychological effects of this disease , which need never be endured if people are immunised.

“I count myself fortunate that I contracted polio in Australia not elsewhere having seen the results of polio in India and sub Saharan Africa where some people have so little opportunity already and then even that tiny hope is wiped away by this debilitating disease. I have seen people with polio wearing leather thongs on their hands as they crawl around or swinging along with the use of a tall pole. They have even less than their peers suffering the effects of poverty.”

Christine is an enthusiastic supporter of the One Last Push campaign and what it could mean for future generations.
“If this disease can be eradicated, then the politicians who support this can derive the satisfaction of success of delivering the world from this scourge. No one need go through this suffering. What an historic humane achievement that would be!”