A few years ago, my husband went to the hospital. We requested an interpreter to understand what was happening regarding the pain that my husband had been experiencing over the last few days. They told us that they were working on getting the interpreter for both of us, and then they said that the interpreter was “on their way”. However, my husband was in so much more pain, he couldn’t wait any longer. We waited all day for the interpreter to arrive, but to no avail. He needed surgery. I asked the nurse again if the interpreter was going to be there. The nurse told me that the interpreter couldn’t come because it was evening. At this point, there was no option but to proceed with the surgery, regardless of the interpreter situation.
When my husband was taken into the surgical room, I went to the lobby to sit down and wait. The doctor and the nurse came out and got me. They walked me into one of the rooms that had a VRI station (to access a video remote interpreter). I did not request this service, but I accepted because I needed to know what was happening. I learned that my husband had internal bleeding; however, the surgery was a success. I was relieved. Before they sent me back into the lobby, the nurse told me they would come get me when my husband was in his recovery room. So off I went to the lobby, feeling much more at ease.
I waited for an hour, and suddenly I didn’t feel right. I decided to go and find my husband’s nurse. I started down a dark and quiet hallway, because it was after hours at this point. Hallway after hallway I searched. At last, I ran into a different nurse. I told her that I couldn’t find my husband and didn’t know where he would be? I gave the nurse my husband’s name to see if she could locate my husband’s whereabouts. She finally found out where he was! The nurse told me that my husband was already in the recovery room and had been there for some time. She then spoke with another nurse, and relayed to me that a different nurse came out to the lobby earlier and called my name, to which I did not respond. I was shocked. I felt defeated. They knew that I was Deaf, and they made me sit in a chair in the lobby room, waiting and wondering if something had happened to my husband. Did he die? Did something happen after the surgery? So many thoughts raced through my mind.
There was no interpreter. No access. The interpreter is supposed to be my “ear”… and I didn’t have access to that. That experience was beyond unacceptable. Please be educated and educate others – that regardless of the severity of the doctor’s appointment, minor or an emergency, an interpreter needs to be there! It’s critical. Help us [deaf individuals] to have access to our communication needs just as any other person has access to theirs. That’s equality.