Oftentimes I find myself praising the NHS yet on this anticipated date, the praise is annually magnified, for 8 years ago my life was saved by a couple of wonderful, experienced and ever so patient NHS surgeons.
It is only thanks to them and the lengthy aftercare that I received subsequently, that I today, fortunately have the privilege to still know you, old friends and new.
When friends (for you) are hard to find, like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down.
Wherever there is respect, you’ll find me right beside you.
Your continued friendship is more than enough birthday present. Thank YOU ever so.
What seems to be quite a famous incident that is still talked about also left such a vivid and shared memory by all those who were present on a particular fateful day in 1990, at a particular boarding school for the deaf. On this day, which seemed to start out like any other school day, we went about our usual routines unaware of what would happen next.
Having just attended assembly, we all started to make our way back to our designated form rooms. My form room happened to be the one beside the Home Economics room, which was directly across from the assembly hall so there was no urgency or hike back to gather our books for that morning’s timetable. Momentarily, a couple of us paused in the communal area outside the assembly room for a quick “Hello”.
A classmate of mine had said something to me there and then and in annoyance I ran after him. He proceeded into our form room intending to close the door behind him but as I ran after him, I stopped the door from being closed onto me and tried to continue running after him. However, I could not, and I was being held back. I did not sense anyone holding me back so I could not understand what or who was holding me back. My arm seemed to be held into place – glancing down at my arm and then my hand. It immediately made sense – I could see the door handle protruding from inside my hand. “So this is what was stopping me!” I thought…. I could not contain my anger so screamed, shouted and kicked at the blooming door – for hurting me like that. Mind you, I was only thirteen years old at the time.
A couple of sixth formers came to my rescue, shielding me, controlling and deflecting the building crowd of onlookers who were startled by my screams. The headmaster, Dr Tucker suddenly appeared alongside the school nurse and Mrs Fenney, the cookery teacher. There was this brick of a mobile phone too. I do not think I had ever seen one before then except in the films – Dr Tucker was calling the emergency services who very quickly appeared on scene.
A mask was offered to me, “Breathe hard until it clicks” I had no idea what I was going to breathe in or what I would experience! There was a click and I soon drifted off to “sleep”.
As I was being sat down by supporting hands, the groovy effects from the gas and air wearing off – I was “waking up” again, looking around me to pinpoint where I was. I was somewhat disappointed to find I was still in the very same spot and turned towards the school nurse saying, “I thought it was all a bad dream”. She responded albeit with tears in her eyes “So did I”. Dr Tucker started to look overcome with relief.
I then found my right hand resting on a pillow, which had been placed on my lap – the door handle had been unscrewed away from the door. It was decided that the handle should be left inside my hand in case of any serious blood loss or nerve damage. The door handle had gone through my skin between the middle and ring finger and still protruded outwards, where the handle bends. It felt quite uncomfortable but not painful, at all.
Being wheeled outside of the school, I spotted an ambulance – I had never been inside one so I anticipated a great ride! So I thought. It inched ever so slowly down the country lane heading towards the motorway. Much to my dismay because ambulances to my knowledge were always whizzing around and here I was, having what felt like a race with a snail. It had to be so. Because the aforementioned door handle impaled my hand and they did not want any further damage to be inflicted. Bless them.
I learned afterwards, that my classmates were watching the ambulance carting me away, from their Physics lesson in the science block, in what one described as a “rather sombre mood” – I had got out of doing physics – go me! In all seriousness, one person was feeling extremely upset and overcome with guilt.
Two hospitals later (because the first was only very small with no hand specialist), armed with my x-rays, it was finally deemed safe to remove the door handle, from my hand. I watched as a nurse treated my hand like a pincushion turning the area numb and ready to be handled (pardon the pun!) – holding my hand upright, the handle was slowly being edged out. It came out cleanly with such care and ease. Was blood going to spurt out? Was it going to be like in the films? Blood spurting everywhere… Alas no, except a cavity was left behind, tissue had been pushed down upon meeting the handle. A huge syringe filled with sterile water washed out the cavity, of which was kept above my line of view so I could not peer inside. This massive curved needle suddenly made an appearance and was guided through each edge of the open wound, gradually closing it together. I had a new addition to my collection of scars – sporting six stiches!
As my hand was being bandaged up and arm then put into a sling – there was a message for me.
“In future, never run after the boys – let them run after you!” said the ambulance staff that had looked after me earlier that day. This witty remark somehow made my day.
My writing hand thankfully, was not seriously damaged. With physio and time – it would heal. To this day, whenever it aches, this lets me know it is going to rain heavily within the next 24 hours. My very own barometer.
Mrs Fenney who had stayed with me throughout, I will never forget her for her kindness and patience. My mother joined us and we decided to buy a box of chocolates – not for us but for one particular person. Arriving back at school, everything became a haze. People wanted to know what happened, how I was…. Then much to my surprise, the person whom we had given the box of chocolates came to see me, they had saved the very last chocolate – just for me. He was being such a gentleman. I will always remember the apologetic look on his face yet he had nothing to be sorry for because it was purely an accident and besides, he got a box of chocolates whereas I got a door handle!
The door handle was presented to me, with masking tape on it indicating the depth of the meeting that took place. To this day, I still have it and I write this for posterity.
Now you will understand why, all the doors at the Mary Hare School were replaced into much safer (push open) ones that especially had no door handles!
A heartfelt “Thank you” to all those of you who supported me on that very day x
A beloved friend unusually wanted my attention and it turned out to be for this very impressive video which is titled “Pixel”.
As quoted from their page, “Pixel is a dance show for 11 dancers in a virtual and living visual environment. A work on illusion combining energy and poetry, fiction and technical achievement, hip hop and circus. A show at the crossroads of arts and at the crossroads of Adrien M / Claire B’s and Mourad Merzouki’s universes.”
An exceptional visual experience with elements of surprise! Naturally, we just had to share it with you too because we enjoyed it so.
Life in itself is one big challenge, testing us daily to see how we fare. The results of which moulds us over time into whom we are and for some who we do not want to become. It is up to us, as and when to introspect, seeing the errors of our ways if any, to tackle and improve on these traits. It is also up to us how we deal with these daily challenges. Do we react instinctively or take a step back and contemplate? The latter is not so hard to do.
More often than not, reacting instinctively leads to destruction, sending one into a negative state of despair. Almost certainly sending you on a downwards spiral towards a quagmire, which can be a very dark place to be?
Once that point of “trying to stay afloat” is reached, be it by another’s hand or words, it is time to review the situation why, who or what got you there in the first place and nip it in the bud. Find the negativity and turn it a positive because even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.
“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”
― Abraham Lincoln.
In order to get the best that we deserve, we need to give and do our best otherwise; one will get what they give. To react constructively comes, positivity in the knowledge and confidence that we have tried our best whilst remaining dignified in the face of justice. Only then, can we reflect and feel positively rewarded.
I always say, “Keep on smiling – it is free and does wonders” so take the first step in being positive by smiling. To strangers, to your friends and families – in smiling, you are instinctively changing your outlook, your moods and the glow on your face.
By smiling, you could be helping someone else – without even realising it. It takes an extremely special someone to rise above giving what he or she got, in order to be kinder on themselves and others.
You too can be this person.
Carpe diem. Onwards and upwards – Positivity rules!
Because it rocks.
Wishing each and every one of you best wishes for the new year – wherever you may be.
There are barriers that our deafness prevents us from fulfilling certain aspects of life so I set dwellers a task to finish this sentence according to our own interpretations and dreams for in dreams are seeds planted of reality.
“I long to be….”
I long to be free as a bird.
I long to be confident.
I long to be loved for being me.
I long to have stress free conversations, access to services where everyone is aware of our needs.
I long to be a performer on the stage where I warm people’s hearts and put a smile on their faces for days weeks and even years later.
I long to be able to give my daughter the best possible future without having to constantly chase education and medical professionals.
I long to work for education authorities who understand that a deaf child is not going to “get better” next year, and yes, they will need continued support.
I long to be someone who can make a difference and inspire others too.
I long to be given more access to services without having to constantly struggle with basic things like shopping, ordering food in a restaurant, or travelling.
I long to work somewhere I feel I belong, where I don’t feel socially isolated, and where colleagues are deaf aware, or willing to learn deaf awareness.
I long for access but the crafty part of me would like to continue crafty conversations where not everyone understands!
I long to be understood.
I long for a world where web live chat is a common alternative to phone calls!
I long for the day when hearing people no longer frown at me and say ‘I telephoned “Joe Bloggs” [whose deaf] yesterday but they didn’t answer the phone??!’
I long to see the technology we REALLY need to communicate (as deaf people) SPEED UP …and coming up to speed!
I long to see society take responsibility for excluding us in developments, new services, buildings etc.
I long for people to understand that Hearing Aids are great, but do not “solve” my “problem”.
I long to know if I’m meant to feel complimented or insulted when people say to me ”you’re deaf, really? Wow don’t you do well’
I long for hearing people to simply accept us as one of them.
I long to see an approved national independent governing body for all deaf issues.
I long to see people no longer dictating and undermining others.
I long to be a classroom teacher still, a job I have done for 30 years.
I long to be understood by the hearing community (of which I am part) and not have them say when I say I work with deaf people stupid things like ‘oh, you must know Braille’.
I long to read people’s minds… so I don’t have to make attempts at listening to them.
I long to be awarded a life-long exemption certificate from the hassles of having to prove I have not miraculously become hearing due to the inefficiency of the government and their services.
I long to be able to sing along with everyone else as I can hear the words of a song or even just be able to know what the song is and who the artist is.
I long for people to stop hanging up on type talk calls!!
I long to be taken seriously by all. Too often are my views brushed aside or disregarded simply because I won’t always be as confident in voicing my views as a deaf person in a mass of hearing people, and also some disregard because I am still young.
I long for labels to be dropped – at the end of the day we are all human, we all live on one planet and we all have the right to be ourselves – throw the labels away.
I long to able to occasionally be able to take back everything I’ve said, when I’ve answered a question only to find out I misheard and nothing I said makes sense in the conversation.
I long to be able to go about living my life the way I want to without having to adapt to what society insists we do!
I long to be always a Spring Chicken.
I long to open up narrow minded people to the wonderful and diverse world we are a part of as it is they who create barriers and divisions!
I long to see access rights for all the various communication needs and abilities.
I long to be accepted for the intelligent person I am.
I long to be considered as an equal and included as an equal based on justice.
When it comes to kindness, there is absolutely no need to discriminate against any identifiable means because it is about humanity in general and acts of giving without any expectations of receiving in return.
For so long there has been a frustration of sorts building within me seeing the simplest things in life being taken for granted. Be it the roof over your heads, certain (branded) clothes being worn, the hot meals and comfy mattresses you lay upon, the NHS and free medicine being provided for us – the list is endless. The extremely close shave I experienced a couple of years ago taught me to take nothing for granted, now cherishing every little thing and being all around me.
“Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle” – Plato
For this reason, I am now trying my very best to spare a moment to remember those who may have been left outdoors, especially during those cold winter nights. Recently I, via the Tree House, have been able to appease that frustration of helplessness. In true spirit of the Tree House, this has meant this is now starting to catch on with other dwellers through their acts of kindness. So far, we have saved numerous left over meals and received donations of various kinds of cakes with which we approached homeless people and gave.
“Thank you” they gratefully say. And if they have a pet with them, they are more than happy to share with their “best friend” – Without a question.
There are those who had everything and lost it all and there are those who dedicate every minute of their remaining lives to make sure the homeless has a hot drink at least. They are among the unsung heroes of today’s societies. They are trying their very best in being the change they wish to see in the world.
So let us organise café meet ups with CAKE(!) donating to a charity of your choice, perhaps asking cafés to participate in “Suspended Coffee” schemes too. When you have a meal, please save your leftovers and seek out the homeless in order to make their day. Maybe even nominate/challenge your friends to pay it forwards too. Please?
One can only hope this act of compassion and kindness will help to keep them going, to keep the faith and to have hope. That not everyone has a stone cold heart, that they are not oblivious to everyday people. They are still someone’s child who were brought into this world for a reason.
A drop of kindness goes a very long way, much more than you realise.
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”― Leo Buscaglia
Carpe Diem – every day by being true to yourselves.
Quite a few people detest hearing the chalk scrape on the blackboard, my son really dislikes the sound polystyrene makes and just how it feels to the touch. Here, during a supposedly full moon which explains why some of the Tree House dwellers were stirring, listed are some of our pet hates.
1, First and foremost: Tinnitus – this is extremely draining and in some cases debilitating.
2, Negative body language – Keep your chins up luv.
3, People relentlessly tapping on our arms or shoulders – Surely once is enough?!
4, Regional signs such as “middle fingers stirring the sky” which could mean “available” or “holiday” to others. Some deaf people think this is only deemed rude by the hearing while some deaf people also find this sign offending – Each to their own.
5, The sound of “Applause” apparently tends to drive some deaf people nuts. *Hands waving*
6, Static shocks – There are those who are full of static shocks but take pleasure in shocking others (!)
7, Visual noises i.e. Feet twitching in the corner of our eyes whilst trying to watch a film or read something.
8, People adamantly tapping on the table which is ultra-loud to a deaf person due to our other senses being enhanced.
9, We might not be able to hear them but we can still smell them – Trumping and in some cases flapping!
10, The wind noise from within our cars due to the rear car window being open whilst driving as the wind vibrates on our hearing aid microphones. Who seconds wind noises?
SJ: I was once travelling back down south by coach with the kids and in the distant we spied a wind farm. My daughter seemed puzzled and asked me what they were, I explained it was a wind farm. She then asked why there was one? To which I answered most innocently “because too many people keep eating beans.” A moment later the penny dropped. The most priceless grin – ever!
11, The feeling of catching our fingernails, the vibrations via the blackboard or garage doors only for the paint flake off and get wedged inside our nails.
12, Not being able to cut our nails when we have broken it – which is why I now carry a nail clipper on my set of keys. Light-bulb moment.
13, The touch of the newspaper or magazine due to its texture is enough to make some deaf people break out into goose pimples and make their hands shake!
14, Wooden ice lolly and ice cream sticks. The texture and how we have to be careful not to bite on it or scrape it against our teeth to avoid the feeling, the noise it makes, the taste and the risk of splinters. The worst has to be the ones the doctors uses to look down our throats which terribly dries out our mouths.
15, Sudden police sirens which our hearing aids amplify – Try living in Central London?!
As any mother would naturally anticipate and share the same relative concerns of “Will my child be okay?” Yet when it comes to that precise moment upon finding out a child may have a form of a challenging disability, we all take a moment to reflect on it.
One rather anxious mother’s question of the like was asked of Coordown when it was confirmed after agreeing to undergo tests for Down’s Syndrome; her unborn baby would have this genetic condition.
Here is an extremely heart-warming video response they (15 people from around the World) made for her which I am sure gave her goose pimples as it did me and I shall take my hat off to Coordown Group for one of the most reassuring letters.