Posted by jennifer gibson on Wednesday, August 19, 2020 Under: August 2020

As a child, I was always fascinated by the concept of heroes, such as Wonder Woman, Superman, the Million Dollar Man, the Incredible Hulk, and Bionic Woman. I loved how they could utilize their unique skills and super powers to help others. It was amazing how they were willing to tackle a challenge head-on by using their strengths even though they had their own share of limitations or disabilities. What was especially intriguing was discovering that the actor, Lou Ferrigno, from the Incredible Hulk was Deaf! 

One of the most memorable movies from my childhood was Superman. I loved how kind, honest and humble he was. I found that to be inspiring, particularly at a difficult time in my life while I was grappling with my own disability. Yes, being severely hard of hearing is a disability, it’s not okay to sugar coat it by calling it a different name such as “disABLED” because it actually hides the truth. 

I do understand why some people prefer to use terms like “disABLED” to help give them more confidence and to avoid limiting their abilities by giving them a chance to grow and be a part of the society. However, It’s more about having an open mind and letting them find their true strengths and still being aware of their limitations. It’s about realistic and educating the public about what it’s like having a disability. 

As one of the only kids in school with a disability, I was relentlessly bullied and ostracized. It gave me the impression that the world seemed rather heartless. I was essentially left to fend for myself at a very young age and always found myself teaching adults about the reality of being hard of hearing. This is due to the fact that hearing loss is an invisible disability. To this day, I’m still dealing with it, especially at hospitals during the COVID pandemic where every single person is wearing a mask. I might as well be talking to aliens since I can’t understand a word they are saying.

Recently, I was admitted to the ER (again) and had an advocate with me who was willing to help me communicate with the staff. Despite my urgent pleas, the hospital staff REFUSED to let anyone accompany me. I could not understand what the staff was saying and I kept telling them that I was Deaf. My ER doctor simply moved closer and started yelling at me which made matters worse. They actually went to the waiting room and told him to leave, stating that “I could understand them” when in fact, I couldn’t! Aside from being extremely unprofessional, they jeopardized my life by making assumptions that I could hear them. 

By jumping to conclusions, they made it much, much harder for me to respond to their questions accordingly. I had no idea what was going on since I was in so much pain and could not think coherently. There was even a white board beside my bed which they could’ve used to communicate with me, which they did not do. I was going out of my mind trying to deal with a very difficult and unpredictable situation that was a true emergency. Spinal issues can be life threatening and I am very aware of this. I take any sudden changes and severe pain or loss of motor control seriously. 

The fact that the staff would not co-operate made this situation far more dangerous for me. And this has to stop. Even the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario state very clearly that all patients, especially those with disabilities, are to be treated with respect and to allow service animals or people to accompany those who need help. As a result of their blatant and  reckless disregard for my disability, I am now terrified to go back to the ER. 

However, that didn’t stop me from notifying the hospital of their unprofessional behaviour towards patients with disabilities. They are now using that as a tool to educate the staff throughout the hospital about being more respectful and mindful to patients like me. It may not be a perfect solution nor does it guarantee that the next doctor will be as understanding about my severe disability, but at least I am doing something productive about it and raising awareness which is extremely important to future patients.

Growing up, I was always being told that I had to act “normal” be like everyone else. From their perspective, my teachers were quick to jump to conclusions, thinking that I was deliberately ignoring them or acting out when in fact, I couldn’t hear them and didn’t know what was going on. I had no idea what they wanted from me. They would often punish me by putting me in the hallway by myself while the rest of my classmates got to play together. I was always treated very differently and very much like an outcast. That’s when I realized how similar I was to the superheroes that I admired. They too felt like an outcast. I could easily relate to them since I didn’t quite fit in like everyone else. As a child, I really needed that. 

To this day, I love Supergirl, Krypton, and Superman: Man of Steel. All three of them promote a sense of Hope. This is particularly important to me now during the COVID pandemic. Looking back, I realized that the message of Hope was just as important to me then. The House of El is an ancient Kryptonian word that means Hope. The El sigil was chosen by their ancestors and It was the generations after that who defined it. This is repeated through all of the Supergirl and Superman adventures since Hope can be a powerful weapon. 

To me, Hope represents growth, perseverance, and willingness to stand up to injustice that is still happening today. It is not a false belief, it’s about believing in a better tomorrow by staying strong and facing adversity with determination and true courage.

In : August 2020 

Tags: supergirl  krypton  superman  "man of steel"  covid  pandemic 
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