Growing up with Polio

The following was received in an e-mail from a Brazilian teacher with polio. All leg-brace devotees, pretenders and wannabes would do well to remember the harsh realities of being severely disabled and in leg-braces: it is clearly no fun.

I'm a Brazilian teacher, and I was surfing in the net to find new kinds of calipers, and I found your site. Since you ask what the disabled think about your site, I would give my opinion too.

I'm severely disabled by polio since I was 6 months of age. I have all my life weared bilateral leg callipers and crutches, high sole left, short spinal attachment. They are "part of me" and I learned very early to accept those devices as the only manner I have had to walk. I don't think the so called "devotees" are somewhat bad people, perhaps this is a special manner to love.  

But I would say something about people who like to wear legbraces without need of them. There is another side of the thing. You can only understand this if you had the experience...

Age 5: to understand that you will NEVER run as the other kids.
Age 6: to understand that your legs will NOT be stronger as they are.
Age 7: to understand that crutches are your really legs.
Age 8: to learn to accept that you are a heavy body for your mother with your useless legs
Age 9: to accept that you are really different of the other children and that the other kids think your name is "the crippled boy".
Age 10: to have to accept the frequent falls.
Age 11: to accept to stay 3 months in wheelchair since you have broken your left arm.
Age 12: to have to accept that back pains are part of your life.
Age 13: to have to accept that you will not be higher as 1.63m due your paralized legs and spinal curvature.
Age 14: to have to accept to live with the doubt, if someone loves you... or someone has PITY on you.

Dear friend, I would have LOTS of things to say but this is enough to say what I mean:

    - to be a disabled child is NOT easy,
    - to be an crippled teen is VERY difficultt,
    - to be an adult with signs of post-polio syndrome is very distressing.

I think, this is the "other" side of legbraces. I think you know that, but I don't know if the "devotees" know that.