Wednesday, 30 May 2012

I had to go to the eye

clinic at the hospital yesterday, It was my follow up visit after my "might have been a retinal detachment" scare. All is well on that front - although the doctor tells me I will probably have a problem with the other eye at some point - and to make sure I come straight back if I do. You do not play games with your eyesight.
When I went in it was early but there were still several other people ahead of me. There was a man at the desk and there was a communication problem, a serious communication problem. The problem was not a second language this time but a quite profound hearing loss. The nurse-receptionist was lost. She had tried shouting (that does no good at all) and she had tried writing things down. Whatever the problem was that was not working either. He could not - presumably because of the problem he was experiencing - see what she writing. The lighting in there is rather dim and she was writing with a biro.
I watched for a moment and then interfered saying,
       "May I help? I have a very little experience working with hearing loss."
On seeing the receptionist look at me he turned ready to express annoyance at the apparent interruption and I signed quickly, "Hello" And then much more slowly, "Me - help?"
He nodded and we went through the tortuous process of making sure he understood he would be there for at least two hours and that he could not drive home afterwards. He was not too happy about that but indicated he understood and agreed.
My sign language was definitely not up to mark. I have forgotten most of it. I have not used it for years apart from the most casual of greetings and comments. It was barely enough to help. I had to fingerspell words I should have known. I am ashamed at my lack of ability.  The nurse-receptionist thought I was wonderful  I was not. It was better than nothing at all but it was not good enough.
As I left later the staff member thanked me again. They are quite used to people with guide dogs. They have people come in with interpreters. They rarely deal with the solitary deaf.
On my way out I saw someone else I know from the community of the deaf. He had come to drive his friend's car home. We stood for a moment in the well lit foyer of the hospital and managed to sign greetings and I explained the two hours and the drops in the eyes. He nodded.  Then he made me smile by signing "Cat" had "purred" for his friend - something he can feel rather than hear his cat do. It was much more like a plaintive "miaou" but I am glad I was there.

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