Hello, all. I'm glad to find this forum, because I am frustrated and need to vent.
Within the last year, I have been experiencing muscle tightness and fatigue in my leg muscles after only mild exertion, as well as general fatigue. I'm 60 yo, and have had diabetes (insulin-deficient) for almost 20years, though always well controlled. I thought this must be some form of diabetic neuropathy, though neuropathy of motor neurons, esp. throughout the neuron and not just the furthest end, without any significant sensory neuropathy, is almost unheard of. While researching this unusual neuropathy, I remembered my mother telling me how I went through something very similar when I was 3 years old, in 1958.
At that time, I was recovering from a 2-week stay in the hospital, where I had a 107 deg. fever, was limp when brought in, had headaches, etc. A spinal tap was done (which I still vividly remember, one of my most terrifying experiences, at least through the eyes of a 3 year old), which turned out positive - i.e., there were high leukocytes in the spinal fluid. The resident told my parents it was clearly polio. Later that day, our family doctor visited, and told the resident that it couldn't be polio, because I had the polio vaccine. Case closed - on that fact alone, I was officially diagnosed with meningitis. So, I went through life believing I had meningitis, not polio.
However, this recent neuropathy reminded me of what I went through after leaving the hospital. I was showing moderate weakness in my legs, and my mother was instructed to make sure I got plenty of exercise. My mother told how she would take me for daily walks, with my younger sister pushed in a stroller. But, invariably, after walking maybe 50 yards, I would be crying, complaining that my legs hurt and I was too tired to continue on. My mother told how she would have to pick up my sister, put me in the stroller and wheeled me home. This went on for at least 3-4 months. I realized that this was exactly how I was feeling now. So, I began researching if this same weakness could somehow be related to the meningitis I suffered at age 3. It was from this that I learned about post-polio syndrome. It seemed to explain everything I was going through. However, one requirement for PPS is that you must be a survivor of polio. There was no corresponding ailment for meningitis. So my next research issue: Could the resident doctor have been right, that I did have polio, despite having the Salk vaccine?
I was born April 23, 1955 - 11 days after the Salk vaccine was licensed. At that time, the vaccine comprised 2 injections, at 2 and 4 months, which I received. However, though I am not sure when, a third injection was added to the regime, because the 'antibody titer', or level of immunity, was found to drop off more rapidly than expected. I do not believe I received this third injection, which our family doctor in 1958 would not know, since we only became patients with him earlier that year when my family moved to another town. So, that is my first argument that the vaccine could have failed 3 years later.
The second reason is that around 1960 studies were being published that the 'antibody titer', especially for Type 1 serotype of polio (the most virulent), was dropping off to low levels "within several years." Based on these studies, the March of Dimes began re-funding Dr. Sabin's work with an oral vaccine (which had been curtailed in 1957 after the oral vaccine had been perfected, but before necessary field trials). The Sabin vaccine was licensed in 1962, at which time the March of Dimes paid for a program to give a booster dose of the oral Sabin vaccine to all children (I remember this as well). But, the relevant fact here was that the 1960 studies showed that even with 3 Salk vaccine injections, the immunity could wear off after several years. So, even if I had received that third booster shot, the immunity could be wearing off in 1958.
Finally, the last fact was that I had my tonsils removed within the 6 months before I got sick in 1958. In researching this, I found studied showing that prior to the Salk vaccine, children having a tonsillectomy had a 400% to 800% higher risk of contracting polio. But, even more relevant, I found a report, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Jan. 14, 1971, showing a study of children who had been vaccinated against polio had a significant reduction, or total loss in antibody titer against the Type 1 Polio serotype for 4 to 8 months after a tonsillectomy.
Thus, I was convinced that having the then current polio vaccine in the summer of 1955 was in no way any guarantee that I could not contract polio in 1958.
What irritates me even more is that, also in 1955, the criteria for diagnosing polio was also changed. It subsequently required, for a diagnosis of polio vis-a-vis meningitis, at least 60 days of neuromuscular impairment following the infection. As I said, I had at least 3-4 months impairment, though there was no effort at all to revisit the original diagnosis from when I was admitted to the hospital. So, given that I could have had polio, despite the vaccination in 1955, and that my symptoms are so similar to what I went through after my illness in 1958, I now believe I had polio, that I fully recovered, and that I am now suffering from PPS.
I have discussed this with the physiatrist and neurologist I am seeing regarding the neuropathy in my legs. A neuron conductance test and EMG have confirmed abnormal motor neuron activity, with "evidence of axon loss and regeneration", but "no evidence of residual polio complained of by the patient." I never said "residual polio". It shows me he is totally uninformed of PPS. Likewise, my neurologist has told me he has never seen anyone recover from polio paralysis. However, he's only seen polio patients years after they'd suffered paralysis. All reports I've seen show that any impairment remaining after 6-12 months recovery from a polio infection, is likely thereafter permanent. This neurologist was totally unaware that partial or total recovery from paralytic polio was possible, and thought a patient was permanently paralyzed. Maybe he should talk to Alan Alda, Mia Farrow, Donald Sutherland and Itzhak Perlman.
Both these doctors just chalk it up to diabetic neuropathy. Just took the easy was out. "Diabetes causes neuropathy, I have diabetes, therefor the diabetes caused the neuropathy." A classic example of the "post hoc ergo propter hoc" fallacy
Well, that's my ranting and venting. Any comments are appreciated.