“Who puts the coffee on for two.
Who makes me laugh when I am blue.
No matter what I have to do–
My friend, there’s always time for you.”
May I introduce myself? I am a woman who has lived (and worked) with the effects of polio for 63 years now–since 1952. Over the decades so many polio survivors, helping professionals, and all kinds of great people have meandered in and out of my life. Some have stayed; some just stopped by, but they, like you, have had important roles to play and insights to share.
When I was 33 I got the late effects of polio and ended up at the University of Michigan Post-Polio Clinic. There I met my doctor, Frederick Maynard, MD, whom I later teamed up with to start the Post-Polio Research and Training Program. Since that time in the mid-1980s, I have traveled across the country and around the world teaching and learning about polio. We saw children who had polio in India crawling on the streets, kids in the state of Georgia who got polio from the vaccine, adults in Europe searching for physicians who could effectively treat them and polio survivors in New Zealand joining support groups to help each other out. And that’s just for starters…
What I have learned over the years is that we have suffered, struggled and been disabled by polio. But that uninvited turmoil has, and still is, pressing us to strengthen ourselves in new ways–mind, body and spirit. Looking back, we know it’s true–a growing number of us have consciously turned living well with polio into, not just a goal, but a creative art form. We have not only been the adroit composers of our unique personal adaptations, attitudes, and alliances, we have become the masterpieces themselves. And we flourish. Here’s to feeling great!
This blog is dedicated to twinkling enthusiasm when we open our eyes every morning. It is also dedicated to feeling the permeating comfort of thankfulness for the day’s blessings as we silently drift into sleep every night. Everything in between, we gotta work on. Cheers to us!
At A Glance: Sunny Roller, M.A.
- Lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan
- Is single, and a person who is grateful for a wonderful cadre of super-good friends
- Had polio in 1952 at the age of 4
- During years of living with polio has used leg braces, crutches, back brace, manual wheelchair, three-wheeled scooter, automobile hand controls and an adapted Entervan.
- Earned a Master’s Degree in Guidance and Counseling from Central Michigan University
- Taught high school English (10 years); served as Residence Hall Director at Central Michigan University (3 years); worked as the Diversity Program Coordinator at the University of Michigan Medical Center (4 years), coordinated research programs at the University of Michigan (U-M) Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation under the supervision and guidance of Frederick M. Maynard, M.D. and Denise G. Tate, Ph.D. (19 years); served as a Distinguished Switzer Rehabilitation Research Fellow, conferred Honorary M.D. Degree by Central Michigan University, currently enjoys semi-retirement as a freelance writer, U-M research project contractual employee, member of Post-Polio Health International’s Board of Directors; Stephen Minister at Trinity Lutheran Church; originator, organizer and faculty at national post-polio wellness retreats
- Loves to spend lots of time with friends and family; really enjoys reading, traveling, gardening, decorating, doing handicraft projects and learning new things