October 24, 2012 by Chris Dunn
As a child of the 80’s (at least, that’s when I was born — I don’t remember anything in the 80’s, frankly), I have no familiarity with polio except a) I was mesmerized and terrified by a picture of children in an iron lung machine in my parents’ LIFE photo book and b) Franklin D. Roosevelt.
So I didn’t expect I’d meet — much less be assigned to photograph — a living, breathing polio survivor. Moreover, a polio survivor whose life is now consumed by symptoms of post-polio syndrome.
© 2012 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Emanuel Poznanski exercises his arms and legs amid the swirling waters of the therapy pool at the Harmony Ridge Wellness Center in the Cross Keys Village retirement community in New Oxford on Friday, Aug. 17. 2012. Because of his post-polio syndrome symptoms, Poznanski has lost much mobility and motor control in his arms and legs.
As you can read in Leigh’s story, Manny contracted paralytic polio when he was an infant but was able to walk by the time he was a teen.
As he told me as he exercised in the therapy pool, Manny then lived a pretty full life: lots of traveling, lots of friends.
Then, in 1998, he began to feel fatigued and sometimes fell. By 2006, he began relying on a scooter and gaining weight due to decreased mobility.
© 2012 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. With Harmony Ridge Wellness Center wellness director Erika Nevins at the controls, Emanuel Poznanski is lifted out of the therapy pool at the Harmony Ridge Wellness Center in the Cross Keys Village retirement community in New Oxford via an aquatic lift chair on Friday, Aug. 17, 2012. Emanuel Poznanski of Las Vegas, Nev., was diagnosed with polio when he was four months old and, after years of treatments and hospital stays, seemed to recover from the symptoms by adolescence. Now in his 60s, Poznanski said post-polio syndrome — a second wave of symptoms — began affecting him in 2003, limiting his ability to walk and perform other functions. Poznanski, who attended York Suburban, returns to the York area every summer to visit friends.
Manny was very open, and engaged me in lively conversation the whole time I was with him. At that time, he was staying in a motel in the York area — he lives in Las Vegas, but attended a local high school here — and invited me to tag along so he could show me his power wheelchair. Along the way, I learned just how fiercely he retains his sense of independence, going so far as to refuse help with opening doors.
© 2012 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Emanuel Poznanski relies on his scooter and power wheelchair to get around, but he strongly asserts his independence and typically refuses help with non-automated doors. Here, he lets himself inside the Motor Inn in New Oxford where he has stayed for the past month while visiting friends in York, on Friday, Aug. 17, 2012.
And, as he switched over to his power wheelchair, Manny stood — ever so briefly.
© 2012 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Emanuel Poznanski stands briefly in his room at the Motor Inn in New Oxford as he transfers himself from his scooter, right, to his power wheelchair on Friday, Aug. 17, 2012.
Manny told Leigh it takes him 15 minutes to get out of bed, more than two hours to shower and almost an hour to get dressed. The guy is a fighter.
Be sure to check out Leigh’s article.