Hip Hip Hooray -Surgery and the Deaf in the New Age.

Image is of a hip bone with replacement joint.

I entered hospital this week for a hip replacement. Yes, I and The Rebuttal are that old. You will have to forgive me any errors in this article. Drugged up on Endone and on a permanent high, I am not sure I should actually be writing. For the record I do not recommend a hip replacement just for fun. It is a painful procedure. I would advise, if you do have one, to make sure you absolutely need it.

Of course we live in Covid times. No one gets in, or I suspect out, until they prove they are Covid free before their operation. My Friend Meg dropped me off at the Memorial in Adelaide. I had been hyperventilating all the way from Christies Beach. I walked in and there was a typical socially distanced line as each admission was screened for Covid.

Thats fine, unless you can barely stand because of your hip. So I found a seat and eventually managed to wiggle my way forward to be screened. The lady at reception was masked. I pointed to my ears and said I was deaf, So she added some meaningless gestures to her speech behind the mask, while making no attempt to remove her mask.

It was useless. I told her to hold on and fished out my iPad from my backpack. I loaded up Microsoft Group Transcribe (MGT) and asked her to start again. She was very patient and did so. I suspect behind her mask was a nice smile letting me know she was with me. MGT is a free voice recognition app that is available on Apple. It’s very accurate. So through the App I was able to workout that I was to fill in the questionnaire in the waiting room, and wait to be called in for my Covid test.

I asked the nice lady to make sure they waved rather than called. But having been caught out many times I left MGT on just in case. Sure enough, about ten minutes later, MGT informs me that my name is being called out …. GARY CARRIAGE GARY CARRIAGE is what the text read. I walked over to the lady and said here I am.

So anyway, I got tested, The nurse and I chatted about MGT, all accurately translated by MGT, where to get it and how it should be widely used around the hospital and so on. “Bloody Marvellous.”, said the nurse.

Back to the waiting room I was to go and wait for my results. As before, I left MGT open, just in case they called me again. Bless them, this time the receptionist waved at me and said to come over to start the admission proper.

She offered to take off her mask so that I could lipread her. I said not to worry, I’d use MGT. Smooth as a babies bum. Each question accurately translated. And we were ready to go within ten minutes. “Whats that?” asked the admission lady. So I explained again and we talked about how every hospital should have an iPad set up at reception with the App for Deaf people that could benefit from it. “Thats bloody brilliant.”, she said. (It’s all in the days work of an advocate you know, we are never off duty.)

So, back to the waiting room and wait to be called to go upstairs for surgery and prep. I left the app on, just in case they decided to call me again instead of a wave. While I was waiting the app picked up a few convos around the room, Quite a few hip replacements. Someone having her airways seen to as she had palps in them, a knee arthroscopy and so on, Then there it was, Gary Carriage, Gary Carriage. ( All those years I’ve been in waiting rooms, I never realised that they were so informative.)

So, it was upstairs and trusty MGT saw me through the personal details, weigh in, blood pressure, safety questions etc. All without a hitch. Nurse, Anaesthetists, Dr- The whole lot. Each time we had the same convo about the brilliant MGT and how we all wish it had been around years ago. “Terrific initiative that!”

It struck me. Here I was about to have major surgery and I was still working. Still advocating. Still educating. No rest for the wicked as they say.

Anyway, all was done and then I was called again. By this time with a hearty wave. I fancy we had all become best mates by that time. I had the operation garb on. I left my undies on. I was told I would walk into the theatre and hop up onto the operating table. I really didnt fancy my butt hanging out the back when I did that. It was cold for a start, and you have to have some dignity.

And they let me take my iPad and trusty MGT with me. So for the first time I knew exactly what they were saying in the operating theatre before I went under. The last I read on MGT was from the Surgeon. “What are these?”, he asked as he hurriedly removed my underpants. I had a quip for him before I went under, but alas the drugs got me first. I was going to say – “No one has taken my underpants off me that quickly since my wedding night?” Maybe I actually did say that. Who knows?

And as I awoke in recovery the nurse had my iPad and was waving it in my face. She mimicked pressing buttons, no doubt wanting me to turn on MGT. Wearily, I did so and read what they were saying through one eye:

“How are you?”

“All went well?”

Can you feel that?

“We will take you to the ward soon?”

” Whats that he is using? Bloody marvellous!”

And indeed it was marvellous. Welcome to the new age!

6 thoughts on “Hip Hip Hooray -Surgery and the Deaf in the New Age.

  1. I do fancy the idea of taking time off as an advocate but as a person living with a disability for 29 years it’s not an easy task. So please stop asking me to work on my days off! 😁

  2. Wonderful story Gary. It’s nice to have some celebrations in life. You gave me goose bumps. I love a good ending. Keep doing what you’re doing because it gives everyone hope.

  3. Hello Gary, MGT may work for you; but, I prefer an Auslan interpreter anytime I go for surgery. Auslan Connect provides excellent services for “old” Deaf people like me, and it’s free – a real boon. I’ve had NO trouble asking people to remove their masks so I can lip-read them. All are obliging. However, an interpreter is always invaluable for that personal communication between the hospital staff and me. The MGT will give the occasional miscommunication eg “Gary Carriage”, funny though this may be. I would find MGT stressful, never knowing it’ll give accurate information. You are sharing your personal experience. For me, give me a sign language interpreter ANYtime.

    • Absolutely.

      Its all about choice. You won’t get any argument from m on that.

      It’s worth considering that 95%, or more, of people that are deaf actually don’t use Auslan so the technology offers real options for them that were not there in the past. It’s a life saver for many.

      And if people like me, who can use Auslan too, choose the technology, it frees up the limit resource of interpreters for them.

      And on the ward, interpreter can’t be there all the time. Once again provides options .. you can chat with nurses, get their instructions, talk with other patients, the cleaners etc … so many options.

      But it should always be about choice, on that I agree.

      ( then you get those hospitals that refuse you an interpreter, or their are none available etc … good to have options.)

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