Crutches and Hearing Aids by Paul Leonard

Whilst away on a trip to Belfast nearly 3 weeks ago, I was a tad clumsy to say the least.  On my last day, whilst walking through a park and talking to a friend, I managed to trip over a tree stump and had my first self propelled flying lesson.  I flew back home, which was an interesting experience to say the least and a tad painful!  (I know, I know!)  Various hospital appointments later (don’t even get me started) I had discovered I had an “alvusion fracture of the lateral malleolus” and an “osteochondral fracture of the talus”.  Because that wasn’t enough, I have also damaged the ligaments in my left wrist and obtained my first sick note since going out to work when I was 17.

Although, the pain is beginning to subside slowly and the swelling is finally starting to going down, the whole thing does have a few frustrations.  I guess some are quite unique in having a deaf wife whom we use British Sign Language as our preferred home and first language.  Frustrations such as:

  1. If I want something, I can’t just shout.  I have been sending countless text messages from bed to my wife downstairs asking for drinks and for other things to be brought up.  (She’s been ever so good!)
  2. My crutches went crashing to the ground in the bedroom the other day.  (The living room is below our bedroom.)  Upon feeling the vibration of this my wife flew up the stairs to check that I was ok.  (I guess not so much a frustration, but showing she cares.)  But I guess a hearing couple would just shout up, “is everything ok up there?”
  3. Having conversations whilst I am on my crutches is different and awkward.  A hearing couple can just continue to chat but if I want to say something, I need toJust after the accident stop and then sign.  Then when I am finished get going again on my crutches and then stop again where necessary.  That said, seeing a conversation whilst concentrating to walk with the crutches isn’t easy either!
  4. If I am not walking, I am sat down. (Logical huh?!)  I saw a lot of deaf people last weekend and was sat down a lot to rest my leg.  But looking up to sign to someone who is about 2 or 3 feet taller than you (because you’re sat down) and looking right up into their nostrils is a bit disconcerting and makes me think from now on, is my nose clean?
  5. Try understanding BSL when you’ve got a dose or two of codeine inside you.  I thought it was hard enough trying to understand sign language after an alcoholic drink or two but codeine is definitely much more challenging!  (Even more so now my GP has upped my codeine dosage by basically 4 times!)

Oh and here’s another photo of my ankle.

Big foot


(Originally published on Paul’s blog where he can also be found rambling)


The Day The Door Handle Met My Hand.

What seems to be quite a famous incident that is still talked about also left such a vivid and shared memory by all those who were present on a particular fateful day in 1990, at a particular boarding school for the deaf. On this day, which seemed to start out like any other school day, we went about our usual routines unaware of what would happen next.

Having just attended assembly, we all started to make our way back to our designated form rooms. My form room happened to be the one beside the Home Economics room, which was directly across from the assembly hall so there was no urgency or hike back to gather our books for that morning’s timetable. Momentarily, a couple of us paused in the communal area outside the assembly room for a quick “Hello”.

A classmate of mine had said something to me there and then and in annoyance I ran after him. He proceeded into our form room intending to close the door behind him but as I ran after him, I stopped the door from being closed onto me and tried to continue running after him. However, I could not, and I was being held back. I did not sense anyone holding me back so I could not understand what or who was holding me back. My arm seemed to be held into place – glancing down at my arm and then my hand. It immediately made sense – I could see the door handle protruding from inside my hand. “So this is what was stopping me!” I thought…. I could not contain my anger so screamed, shouted and kicked at the blooming door – for hurting me like that. Mind you, I was only thirteen years old at the time.

A couple of sixth formers came to my rescue, shielding me, controlling and deflecting the building crowd of onlookers who were startled by my screams. The headmaster, Dr Tucker suddenly appeared alongside the school nurse and Mrs Fenney, the cookery teacher. There was this brick of a mobile phone too. I do not think I had ever seen one before then except in the films – Dr Tucker was calling the emergency services who very quickly appeared on scene.

A mask was offered to me, “Breathe hard until it clicks” I had no idea what I was going to breathe in or what I would experience! There was a click and I soon drifted off to “sleep”.

As I was being sat down by supporting hands, the groovy effects from the gas and air wearing off – I was “waking up” again, looking around me to pinpoint where I was. I was somewhat disappointed to find I was still in the very same spot and turned towards the school nurse saying, “I thought it was all a bad dream”. She responded albeit with tears in her eyes “So did I”. Dr Tucker started to look overcome with relief.

I then found my right hand resting on a pillow, which had been placed on my lap – the door handle had been unscrewed away from the door. It was decided that the handle should be left inside my hand in case of any serious blood loss or nerve damage. The door handle had gone through my skin between the middle and ring finger and still protruded outwards, where the handle bends. It felt quite uncomfortable but not painful, at all.

Being wheeled outside of the school, I spotted an ambulance – I had never been inside one so I anticipated a great ride! So I thought. It inched ever so slowly down the country lane heading towards the motorway. Much to my dismay because ambulances to my knowledge were always whizzing around and here I was, having what felt like a race with a snail. It had to be so. Because the aforementioned door handle impaled my hand and they did not want any further damage to be inflicted. Bless them.

I learned afterwards, that my classmates were watching the ambulance carting me away, from their Physics lesson in the science block, in what one described as a “rather sombre mood” – I had got out of doing physics – go me! In all seriousness, one person was feeling extremely upset and overcome with guilt.

Two hospitals later (because the first was only very small with no hand specialist), armed with my x-rays, it was finally deemed safe to remove the door handle, from my hand. I watched as a nurse treated my hand like a pincushion turning the area numb and ready to be handled (pardon the pun!) – holding my hand upright, the handle was slowly being edged out. It came out cleanly with such care and ease. Was blood going to spurt out? Was it going to be like in the films? Blood spurting everywhere… Alas no, except a cavity was left behind, tissue had been pushed down upon meeting the handle. A huge syringe filled with sterile water washed out the cavity, of which was kept above my line of view so I could not peer inside. This massive curved needle suddenly made an appearance and was guided through each edge of the open wound, gradually closing it together. I had a new addition to my collection of scars – sporting six stiches!

As my hand was being bandaged up and arm then put into a sling – there was a message for me.

“In future, never run after the boys – let them run after you!” said the ambulance staff that had looked after me earlier that day. This witty remark somehow made my day.

My writing hand thankfully, was not seriously damaged. With physio and time – it would heal. To this day, whenever it aches, this lets me know it is going to rain heavily within the next 24 hours. My very own barometer.

Mrs Fenney who had stayed with me throughout, I will never forget her for her kindness and patience. My mother joined us and we decided to buy a box of chocolates – not for us but for one particular person. Arriving back at school, everything became a haze. People wanted to know what happened, how I was…. Then much to my surprise, the person whom we had given the box of chocolates came to see me, they had saved the very last chocolate – just for me. He was being such a gentleman. I will always remember the apologetic look on his face yet he had nothing to be sorry for because it was purely an accident and besides, he got a box of chocolates whereas I got a door handle!

The one and only.

The one and only.

The door handle was presented to me, with masking tape on it indicating the depth of the meeting that took place. To this day, I still have it and I write this for posterity.

Now you will understand why, all the doors at the Mary Hare School were replaced into much safer (push open) ones that especially had no door handles!

A heartfelt “Thank you” to all those of you who supported me on that very day x

~ SJ (Sara Jae)


Stronger Than Words by Al Jazeera

A part of me has always been with the people in war torn countries as well as those in the developing countries. I have seen with my own eyes just how their corrupt governments have neglected them, my heart tears with despair, seeing them all alone at the roadside having to strive just to stay alive. Those who are physically disabled were left with no or very little equipment to support them. I am not one to be easily fooled or manipulated yet these were no frauds. For several years now we have donated clothes that will help the poor, cutting out the middle man by sending several extra-large laundry bags full to relatives who would distribute them out fairly. During my last visit there, it became so much that I started to ask my husband to donate some money to them. He obliged – after all how could he say no to me?! 😉

This week is the International Week of the Deaf and Al Jazeera has made a very special film about the deaf community in Gaza. Please follow the original link to their page to watch their video about such strong and inspirational people who happen to be deaf and just happened to live in Gaza.

Stronger than words by Al Jazeera.

Alternatively for the deaf audience, here is their captioned version:

In the past I have written about the dirty war that is being waged in case you wished to read up more on the issues and history between Palestine and Israel.

Please, let us be extremely grateful for what we have today and remember those less fortunate than us.

 ~ SJ (Sara Jae)

Lost Souls by Angel Sign

From the minute we are born, we begin to search for our destiny, our purpose in life, to find the path that will lead us on our journey to self- satisfaction, a sense of achievement and recognition. Some of us are lucky to realise our goals and dreams early on, finding the path to follow, taking us towards our goal, whilst we strive with every ounce of strength and determination to get there.

For the rest of us there is a longer path to follow which usually then forks off two ways. For some that ‘EUREKA’ moment arrives and the light at the end of the tunnel appears, guiding them to their newfound place.

Those that remain tend to stroll down the other path, dipping their toes here and there, pondering in other areas, and never quite finding their resting place, searching high and low for a reason to be amongst the population of success stories, the missionaries and those that know their purpose in life.

These are the ones I refer to as the ‘LOST SOULS’, the ones who feel they don’t belong, can’t find the shoes to fit or the hat to wear.

Yet these are the people who quietly make the biggest difference of all. For every path they travel and every person they meet, they leave behind a bit of their wisdom, their kindness, their innocence and their soul.

For on their journey searching for what they believe is their destiny, they are already serving their purpose in life. They encourage, they listen, they advise and they support, guiding others along their way.

The ‘LOST SOULS’; the strongest yet the weakest; the loudest yet the shyest; the popular yet the loneliest; often the misunderstood.

I write this article as a generalisation to humanity. This applies to all as one and not just any individual race, religion, gender, disability, age or society, for there are lost souls amongst us everywhere, questioning themselves, searching for their destiny, unaware of the good they are doing each and every day through their journey.

~ Angel Sign.



Hands Free Driving

I can remember the elation I felt just over 24 years ago when I passed my test. Sitting across from me, the examiner asked the final few questions and I nervously answered them thinking I must have done well so far. A few minutes later he smiled at me and said “Congratulations, you have passed the driving test.”

So 24 years later am I a better driver than when first starting out on the road? That is the good question. I would probably answer ‘Yes’. I am by no means perfect and would not claim to be however my awareness of the potential dangers on the road has developed over the years through my own experiences.

I have had 3 accidents in my lifetime to date and the last one was a good ten years ago. My first accident was as a passenger when our car hit black ice and spun out of control. All who were in the car were lucky to escape with cuts and bruises. My second accident was as a nervous new driver who got stuck in a car park and due to panic hit accelerator instead of the brake whilst going backwards smashing into a brick wall. My third accident was due to distraction within my car causing me to take my eyes off the road for a split second!!!! Luckily in all 3 accidents no one was seriously hurt (Unfortunately 4 cars were harmed).

As I said accident number 3 was a distraction within my car, (child talking to me), causing me to remove my eyes from the road for a split second and therefore have a delayed reaction to braking, ending with bonnet meets rear bumper.

Why tell you all this?

Recently a video, which in all fairness is a good example of signed song duet, has been circulating Facebook. The said couple have a good chemistry singing the famous song from ‘Grease’ and look like they are enjoying signing ‘You’re the one that I want’ to each other. So what has this got to do with my driving history? The said couple are driving whilst sign singing to each other, the man often having to take his hands off the wheel and use his knees to steer.

And this is not their only video of hands free driving.

Another new craze is people taking selfies whilst driving! 33% of Britain’s have admitted to taking selfies whilst driving in a recent survey. Add these two problems to conversations, talking on mobile phones while driving, dinking, DRUID (Driving under the influence of drugs) and you have a cocktail for potential disaster resulting in serious injuries or death.

These dangers are all contributing factors causing delayed reactions.  Another report contributes the figure of 68% accidents are a result of delayed reactions.  35% was down to failure to look properly. Whereas you could argue that some were ignorant to signs, signals and other causes, surely these newer dangers hold a high contributing factor.

So my message is signed songs and selfies are great fun, however doing them whilst driving, I feel is sending out the wrong message to people and urge you to think about the hazards involved. A life is far more valid than a couple of minutes fun that could end up being your last.

The law is very clear on using mobiles when driving  as found here. There is also laws about driving “without due care and attention” which can be found here.


A Show of Gratitude.

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift; that’s why they call it the present.”

– Eleanor Roosevelt.


On this exceptionally memorable date, I would like to extend my annual show of gratitude to the doctors and nurses of Charing Cross Hospital who several years ago gave me the best birthday present one could ever ask for. 

A second chance to cherish life and being able to watch my beautiful children grow up of which I intend to make the most of.

I never ask for much but I would very much appreciate it if you too could show your gratitude to our NHS services, especially the Doctors and Nurses who devote and dedicate so much of their time and passion to ensure we get the best care around the clock – please could you join forces against any NHS closures and get involved?

For if Charing Cross Hospital had closed down then, I would not be around today.

And last but not least, to our beloved Tree House and its dwellers for creating such a unique place without any barriers.

It is what we all make it.

Please accept this dedicated post as a token of my gratitude for being true to yourselves.

Thank YOU, to each and every single one of you, my family and my friends – for putting up with me 😉

Carpe Diem – Everyday x

~ SJ (Sara Jae)

Disabled Parking.

Some of the troubles the deafblind have to face – that even we are not aware of just as much, ourselves.

Parking like this is a hindrance, endangers and disables pedestrians using their guide dogs from safely walking on by.

She says whom I quote:

“I have asked my husband to film this for awareness to show how blocking pavement affecting us and evidence. The great way to raise awareness about parking on pavement blocking us, it’s forcing us to get on the road. In the fact, I’m deafblind I’m never able to know if another car is about to come, my guide dog refused to go through the gap because it’s too narrow, it’s very unsafe for visual impaired people with guide dogs, and other people with any assistant dogs, prams, wheelchair. Please be considerate and be kind not to park your cars on pavement. Feel free to share video thank you.”

Disabled Parking.

Disabled Parking.

Hence the title, “Disabled Parking” simply because they cannot park – correctly.

Another friend remarked how the other day, after seeing the above video which demonstrates one of the daily frustrations the deafblind community faces:

There was a van parked on pavement of a quite busy road, there were a chap who lives near me who has blindness and uses a guide dog, last night I was walking Boris and I saw his dog refusing to go anywhere, I asked if he’s alright, he said the dog won’t go further or go in a different direction (because he only knows this specific route to home and he uses this route every day), I said there’s a van on the pavement and he said “But the road is very busy too!” So I assist him different way of getting home without having to go through the traffic. He was very grateful, I left a note explaining the situation and said if it happens again the police will be called on the van (and photo taken with date on it!”

Show us you care by being aware!

~ SJ (Sara Jae)