Getting it in the ear

Getting it in the ear

Acquiring another impairment, albeit temporary, Paul Carter finds that he’s presented with yet another challenge when it comes to self-medication.

In a dramatic development since my last despatch, I’ve gone deaf. Not totally, just in one ear, thankfully. I say thankfully for no other reason than becoming completely deaf would put me at a considerable disadvantage (think of the sign language issues for someone with no hands).

After several days of stereotypical man behaviour ie ignoring the problem and hoping it would go away, my housemates finally forced me to go and get it looked at. This may have been down to the fact that I slept through a smoke alarm in the morning while lying on my good side.

It got me thinking though. Us disableds, we’re never satisfied are we? We can’t just have one of something and be done with it. Think about it. How many disabled people do you know with just one impairment? It’s almost like our bodies think, “Ah well, we’re already putting up with this, let’s see what fun we can have with some other kooky weirdness.”

To his credit, it was fellow Disability Now columnist Mik Scarlet who first alerted me to this fact. I’d never really noticed it before. Like me, Mik comes from Luton which many people would rightly see as an impairment in itself but that’s a story for another time.

Having a new (albeit temporary) impairment presents new challenges which are in turn complicated by the existing one. It’s a can’t-catch-22.

Let me explain. I’ve spoken in the past about my experiences with doctors and how they barely manage to mask their terror when I walk into their offices, as if I’m going to ask them to grow me a new set of limbs as well as fixing the minor ailment I was actually there to present with. On this occasion the doctor I saw was the complete opposite – suggesting I self-treat, seemingly oblivious to the fact that I don’t have any chuffing hands. He advised that I need to put olive oil in my ears. I asked if he could give me any proper medicine, the sort that didn’t result in me smelling like a bolognese, but he just looked at me funny.

As a result, I’ve now had to rely on my long-suffering housemates to graciously glug gallons of extra virgin into my lugholes. Which isn’t flattering for both parties really, especially me as I look like some sort of defenceless slug during the process.

It’s also given me an insight into a whole new impairment world. I’ve lost all sense of what direction sounds come from which has turned me into a gibbering nervous wreck. Couple with that the fact that I’m constantly misunderstanding what people are saying to me and I feel like I’ve not only acquired deafness, but a whole new personality disorder.

It’s been quite an adventure in a weird way. I know that ‘cripping up’ for want of a better phrase, is frowned upon, and rightly so. But when something else is thrust on you, albeit mild and temporary, it gives a startling insight into the barriers other people face.

I’m at risk of getting serious so I’ll stop now. That’s all until next time – when I’ll have acquired gigantism.

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