October 15, 2019
Do I really need to explain why this is a bad idea?
Well-meaning folk used to tell Alexandra Adams she couldn’t ski. Blind people can’t, they said. People who are blind and deaf certainly can’t.
It turns out, though, that determination (or ‘sheer stubbornness’, as she puts it) can triumph over disability.
Alexandra went skiing — and not just on the baby slopes. She went full throttle. Frankly, it sounds suicidal.
‘I have no vision in one eye and just 5 per cent in the other, so I couldn’t see anything except white,’ she admits, cheerfully.
‘I couldn’t see where the ice patches were, or the rocks. But I ended up training with the GB Paralympics team.
‘I had a guide who went in front and we communicated via Bluetooth headphones linked to my hearing aids. He’d say: “Ice patch on the right!” or: “Sharp left coming up!” It’s about trust, really, and teamwork.’
Is that how you’re gonna perform surgery?
With some guy telling you stuff through Bluetooth?
Now 25, Alexandra is on a very different slalom course, where the risks are even higher. If she and her new ‘support team’ — her colleagues in the NHS — get it wrong here, it’s not her life that will be in danger, but those of other people.
She is a fourth-year medical student, on track to become the first doctor in Britain who is registered both deaf and blind.
Alexandra understands that the mere mention of a deaf and blind doctor pulls everyone up short. Even those directly involved in her training don’t seem to have got their heads around it.
And I suppose this is their fault somehow?
She tells me about one meeting, in her first year at medical school, where she was summoned to discuss her needs. She was painfully aware that all the eyes in the room were on her white cane.
‘Someone said: “This table has quite sharp corners, be careful because we don’t need any extra paperwork,” ’ she recalls. ‘I didn’t say anything because, you never know, maybe they were trying to be helpful.
‘Afterwards, though, I ran down the stairs without my cane to make a point. But, at the bottom, it was quite dark and I ended up feeling along the wall for my way out. They were all watching.
‘One said: “How do you expect to be a doctor if you can’t find a door handle?” ’
She adds: ‘Of course, they don’t understand how someone who is deaf and blind can be a doctor because it hasn’t happened yet. I’d like to change that.’
Alexandra will have her work cut out. It’s clear that her would-be profession hasn’t exactly welcomed this young woman, so determined to be a trailblazer.
Is that what you think the problem is here, Daily Mail?
That her profession isn’t “welcoming” to her?
Are they just assholes for no reason, or is it because she’s obviously not capable of doing the job?
Are you people hecking retarded?
‘In the medical school, people have been more accepting,’ she says, ‘but senior doctors out in the real world have been quite dismissive. I’ve been mistaken for a patient because I have a cane.
‘On my first day on the wards, I was told not to touch a patient and sent home. In my third year, a senior doctor asked me: “Would you want to be treated by a disabled doctor?”And I’ve been called an invalid! People hear “blind/deaf doctor” and they think: “She’s going to butcher me.” I’m not going to butcher anyone. I don’t even want to be a surgeon, for goodness’ sake.’
This woman isn’t just blind and deaf, she’s also retarded.
I meet Alexandra at her home in Cardiff on a day when she is dashing between ward work and classes. We go for lunch in the pub at the end of her road. Her folding cane tap-taps the way.
At the table, she can’t read the menu, not even up close, but she takes photos and enlarges the print on her phone. Her smartphone is vital: she has a high- tech stethoscope that connects to her hearing aid via Bluetooth (meaning she can hear a heartbeat). Soon, she will pick up a new otoscope, the device doctors use to look in ears. This version features a slot for an iPhone that will magnify the image.
‘I’ve been in touch with five doctors in America who are completely blind, and I learned a lot about the technology there,’ says Alexandra. ‘There’s another who is profoundly deaf, and he’s a cardiologist, albeit one who’s never been able to hear a heartbeat.’
Has she ever heard of a blind and deaf doctor though, anywhere in the world? ‘No. But that doesn’t mean it can’t happen.’
How noble of you, willing to put people’s lives in danger doing a job you clearly can’t do just so you can be “inspiring.”
The article goes on listing a ton of other medical problems she has, but it does actually end with good news, sorta.
She wants to do something called palliative care, which as far as I can tell is something where you’re somewhat less likely to kill people out of sheer incapability to do the job.
But there is no way she can do even that as well as a normal person, and the people around her, especially her parents, should’ve tried to talk her out of medicine and into something she’s more qualified for like… I don’t know, something where people’s lives don’t depend on you.
But that would’ve been pure hatred, right?
There is a bright side to this tho – it’s very likely that you’ll be arrested if you refuse to be treated by her and ask for a normal person to do it.
No, wait, that’s not bright at all.