Stephanie Stirling

Stephanie Stirling was born in 1942 in Brantford. At age five, she contracted polio after a tonsillectomy. She was sent to the Children's Hospital in Hamilton for treatment. She remembers treatments involving scalding rags placed on the polio-afflicted appendages.

One the biggest things Stephanie remembers is being alone in the hospital without her parents. The medical staff kept her in the dark about a lot of what went on in terms of her health and polio diagnoses/treatment.

"They did a lumbar puncture on me, and, and then the next day, they sent me off to Hamilton to be quarantined, and I had no idea what was happening...When I was in Hamilton, I was in this Ward with, I don't know, 20 other children. I was one of the youngest ones. My parents could visit, but they only could visit through the window. So, I never saw them, you know, directly...They would do these treatments (with) hot packs.  They would put a Macintosh rubber down on your appendage, and then put on these boiling hot, steamy woolen rags and wrap them around... I recall a nurse asking me where I had Polio.  And I wasn't sure if I had it just in my legs or in my arms or what.  So, I really wasn't well informed.  I knew that I couldn't walk, and you know that I had had Polio on my lower legs, but I really didn't understand what was happening to me. It was weird."

Stephanie in 1956 after her Post-Polio caused surgery. A fusion to prevent further malformation in her foot and toes.  Photo courtesy of Stephanie Stirling.

After her initial struggle with polio, Stephanie's recovery lasted until her early teens. When her bones stopped growing, in order to prevent further malformation, she had to have her toe and parts of her foot fused. This resulted in a foot smaller then the other.

A recent photo of Stephanie. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Stirling. 

Stephanie did not let polio adversely effect her life. She overcame its detriments through willpower and strength, playing many different sports as a child and teen. She went on to become an operating room nurse.

"Well, the effect of (Polio) certainly colored my world.  You know, because my leg is much weak, my right legs weaker than my left leg.  So, I do everything on my left side.  And, you know, just wearing shoes. Like I never wore high heels in my life.  I couldn't do that!  And, and I had to wear Oxford shoes when I was a child, which was totally gross."