One day, I am really worried that my deafness is going to kill me.
Not in the 'walking out in front of an emergency vehicle because I haven't heard the siren' kill me – although that has almost killed me on no less than four occasions – but in a 'it's so hard to access the NHS' kill me.
This morning, I went to the GP. I have been thinking about getting an appointment for the last three months, but because the only way to make one is in person – and my working hours don't allow me to do that – or over the phone, which my deafness doesn't allow me to do, I've been putting it off.
Luckily in this instance, it's nothing serious. But with a few days off work, I asked FJM to call up and make me an appointment. And today I went.
I got there and discovered that you can now register to make your appointments online. So I filled in the form and will hopefully get details on how to do this soon. I also booked another non-urgent appointment while I was there, with a nurse, which was then immediately cancelled as 'the nurse is new and not trained in that procedure yet and could I rebook in about a month' – and of course the worry is that I will put this off, too. Especially if my online booking login has not yet come through.
Before I sat down in the waiting room, I let the receptionist know I was deaf. I was very clear about it. I said 'I am deaf. I won't be able to hear my name called over the intercom so can you let the GP know this and let me know if my name is called.'
Twenty minutes later, a very harassed GP appeared and bellowed my name and said, in front of the whole waiting room, 'Why didn't you come when I called you over the intercom?'
To which I replied as loudly as she'd shouted at me, 'I am deaf. I told the receptionist.' and watched as the entire waiting room sucked air through their teeth and the GP searched for a hole in the floor to crawl into.
To her credit, she was suitably mortified and apologised straight away, and honestly, I was happy to accept her apology – I've had much worse over the years.
But it was extremely stressful – I had already spent nearly half an hour sat there worried that I'd miss my name being called anyway – to have that worry confirmed in such a publicly embarrassing way was not exactly fun.
Doctors appointments – arranging them and attending them – have an added level of stress for me. And my worry is, that I will eventually put off something that really shouldn't be put off because I don't want to get someone to call for me to make the appointment, because I'm not feeling up to sitting in the waiting room worrying that I won't hear my name being called, or because I'm not feeling strong enough to withstand the humiliation of a public dressing down for not coming when hailed through an intercom I cannot hear.
And it's not just me I'm worried about. How many other deaf people are in the same position. How many deaf people are already putting their health at risk?
Today I made myself a promise that no matter how bloody difficult sorting doctors appointments is I am never going to put it off because the embarrassment of asking someone to book your smear test for you or not hearing your name being called in a waiting room is not worth dying for.
Happy Monday peeps
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