Monpreet Sidhu of Santa Monica, California, may be one of the youngest Americans with PPS. In a telephone interview, 34-year-old Sidhu said, “I was born in India and was two months old and too young for the oral vaccination for polio when I contracted it. They didn’t administer the vaccination until three months.” Her parents came to America when she was 13 in 1991.
(A National Institutes of Health website defines post-polio syndrome (PPS) as a condition affecting polio survivors “years after recovery from an initial acute attack of the poliomyelitis virus.” It usually involves fatigue, a gradual weakening of affected and non-affected muscles, and muscle atrophy.)
Growing up, she could walk without needing an assistive device, such as a cane. The polio affecting her lower right leg eventually made that leg two inches shorter. On it, she walked on her tiptoes because her heel couldn’t touch ground.
She said, “In high school, I played sports and could run. I was one of those people that didn’t want to accept something was wrong with me even though there was. I was never able to extend my right leg from a sitting position and it’s amazing I ever walked and did everything I did.”
She followed in her mother’s footsteps as a nurse practitioner. In college, she worked hard in order to prove to everyone she wasn’t just the “poor little girl with polio.” She paid her own way through college and graduate school.
She said, “In 2009, after about two years working at (a hospital), I was starting to feel really, really tired during and after work,” she said. “I wasn’t going out on weekends or days off because of the fatigue and it got to the point I’d spend an entire day in bed.” Her good leg and hip started hurting and her polio-affected leg hurt so much she couldn’t sleep. Due to fatigue, she often was unable to cook.
The last two years, she has been on family medical leave and now uses a cane and leg brace, and is having hand controls installed in her car. All last year, she said, she fought depression and denied anything was wrong. This year, she has a better therapy regime and is feeling optimistic about possibly working part-time. Above all, she really wants to return to the work she was trained in and loves.