Brian McDade’s story
Polio not cured – prevented
It is rare for two people in a family to contract polio, but that is exactly what happened to me and my brother. Before the Polio vaccine was available, both of us contracted polio very young, me at about 18 months and sadly my brother Des, who was affected much worse than me was only about 5 months old.
Growing up with this terrible physical disability meant we missed a lot of schooling and when we did go, we were subjected to a lot of name calling and physical bullying. Having polio was like for both of you) our parents were determined we would do all the things that children who were more abled would do, like climbing trees! At the age of 7, Dad took us boxing, it helped us stand up to those playground bullies and I later went on to become the Manchester Schoolboy Champion.
The career advisors at that time saw my disability as a barrier to finding a fulfilling role in employment. However, I had always wanted to be a joiner and thanks to the positive upbringing of my parents, that is what I was determined to be. Pulling things apart and putting them back together, when me and my brother were kids, gave us a good grounding, Des went on to become an engineer and I achieved my dream of being a joiner and ran my own successful business.
Our ‘mam’ encouraged us to aim high, maybe not too high, up those trees, but to reach our full potential. We never realised then how hard it must have been for her, back and forth to hospital visiting me and Des, then looking after our two older brothers at home, as well as all the other household chores she did.
My brother Des, was affected much worse than myself. Being left with one leg shorter than the other, took a toll on his good leg and on his back. He suffers with constant pain and recently he had to crawl up the stairs to reach his seat in the stadium when we went to see my grandson box. He was so embarrassed and is frightened that should he fall, he would have to rely on somebody else picking him up and trying to help him.
And so here I am today, I felt very self-conscious about learning to dance, I have been left with no muscle control in my bad leg and my foot sticks out, so I just thought it was something I wouldn’t be able to do. However, with a lot of persuasion from Carole, my wife, I gave it a try, got the hang of it and loved it. It has allowed me to gain so much confidence in myself and now thoroughly enjoy dancing the jive, which has become my favourite dance!!
I hope my story has given you a brief insight to how Polio affected me and my family and that it inspires you to support the Charity Ball for the Eradication of Polio.