Anne Hailes: Preconceptions about deafness are outrageous

 “I’ve been told by people that I shouldn’t have children because it would be irresponsible and selfish to inflict deafness on someone else.”

I COULDN’T believe the misconceptions the public have about deafness. Here are a few as told to the National Deaf Children’s Society by their members.

“When I was 10 a shop worker asked if the man I was interpreting for was my uncle or a friend. When I said it was my dad she asked how was it possible he had a child if he was deaf.”

“I’ve been told by people that I shouldn’t have children because it would be irresponsible and selfish to inflict deafness on someone else.”

“I contacted a school to enquire whether it might be suitable for my deaf son and was informed that, as all the pupils were very bright, it would not be appropriate.”

“I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been asked by parents of small deaf children if I’ve ever had a boyfriend or if it’s possible to ‘find love’ and be in a relationship as a deaf person. So it’s quite a common misconception that deaf people aren’t loveable.”

“When I passed my driving theory test, at the test centre the receptionist looked really surprised when she handed me my results. She said: “You passed! You got 34 out of 35. Can you actually read?” I replied sarcastically, “No, I chose all the answers at random and somehow managed to get 34 right out of 35. Of course I can read!”

“I was in McDonalds with my cochlear impact on show, when the cashier handed me a menu in Braille. When I explained I’m deaf and not blind, he insisted this would help anyway.”

“The amount of times I have had ‘but you don’t look deaf’. How exactly am I supposed to look?”

“Every time I go into a mobile phone shop, the first thing I say is that I’m deaf. In the course of the conversation, I’m told that I’ll need to ring the call centre. I always say that I’ve come into the store because I cannot ring the call centre, I’m deaf, but they always insist that I need to ring the call centre anyway.”

Oesophageal cancer

Could you help establish a first for Ireland and turn the medical spotlight on Belfast?Just get involved in a charity challenge to raise £15,000 for an item of specialist equipment which would revolutionise oesophageal surgery here. It’s been featured in Japan to great effect and now Dr Inder Mainie hopes to use it on his patients at the City Hospital and so improve their life expectancy and also provide vital training for this skilled procedure.

In Northern Ireland oesophageal cancer effects around 167 males and 69 females every year, 80 per cent of patients being over 60 although young people can also suffer this disease. Symptoms vary – difficulty swallowing, weight loss, loss of appetite, food coming up again after eating and and persistent heartburn. On World Cancer Day 2017, Cancer Research UK suggested that smoking, being overweight and alcohol contribute to nine out of 10 oesophageal cancers in the UK.

Dr Mainie, consultant physician and gastroenterologist, explained that, at the moment, oesophageal cancer patients are undergoing a number of surgical procedures to remove the tumour from their gullet, the tube that transfers food from the throat to the stomach; however, with this new technique the benefit is that an early cancer can be removed in one piece and patients could be discharged within 24 to 48 hours.

The procedure, which requires a high level of expertise, is carried out through an ‘endoscope’, which gives a view inside the body and is guided into place via the mouth.

“The data from the hospital in Japan shows the survival rates for these patients are better. I’m hopeful that the public will see the promise and benefits by having this equipment available for the first time in Ireland,” Dr Mainie says.

He says the exciting news is that this technique can be used in early rectal and stomach cancers as well, thereby avoiding major surgery. So, with ongoing research, equipment such as the ERBE V103 and professionals like Dr Mainie and his colleagues, the future looks more hopeful than ever – but it’s important to remember we can all take a hand in our own wellbeing by cutting out the risks.

And even if you have no notion of getting on your bike to take up the challenge to fund this equipment, sponsor someone who will or make a donation. For the strong minded, here’s the date for the diary – Saturday and Sunday June 17 and 18. The challenge is Castle to Castle, that’s Carrickfergus to Ballycastle – and back. Only 110 miles! If enough people support this event, the target will be easily reached. More information


MY MOBILE phone bill has been twice as much as usual over the last two months. Alert! Down to O2 shop. "How’s it going?" says Mick. "Not a bit well," says I. Told him the story, mentioned that before Christmas I had phoned in a charity donation of £20 and that had reflected on my bill when I checked so, could this be something to do with my telephonic donation months ago?

He delved into my account and, sure enough, £20 had been charged to my account on the two months in question, March and April. To my knowledge I didn’t authorise this. My donation was just a reaction to one appeal on television, but there it was on my bill – again!

If Mick hadn’t put a STOP on this they would have kept deducting £20 from my bank account in what is a very underhand method. I think I’ll just stick to honest-to-God local charities like the Castle to Castle bike challenge later this month.

Salad Days

GREAT shopping spree at the weekend – lovely big heavy ‘round’ lettuce, home grown and succulent for 40 pence as opposed to a plastic bag of iceberg leaves at £1. No contest.

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