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Thrown into a bird flu nightmare after a visit to south east Asia

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  • Thrown into a bird flu nightmare after a visit to south east Asia

    Deaf Talkabout: Thrown into a bird flu nightmare after a visit to south east Asia

    [Published: Friday 30, November 2007 - 11:33]

    By Bob McCullough

    Thousands of birds have been tested in Northern Ireland for avian flu and scientists are making a huge effort to prevent a devastating bird flu outbreak.

    This is the story of a deaf friend of mine who was rushed to hospital in Belfast after a trip to south east Asia with symptoms similar to the human strain of the potentially fatal virus.

    Thankfully the test results proved negative and the whole experience has not dulled my friend's amazing sense of humour.

    Paul is single, 45 and deaf since he was nine. He likes to travel to far-off places like the Philippines, Hong Kong and Thailand and by making contacts on the internet was able to stay with local deaf people, far from the tourist trails and experiencing life in the raw, as he puts it.

    In November last year he flew to Bangkok following what he describes as one of the most terrible years of his life.

    " I lost my job of 27 years following an accident at work that left me with damage to bones in the back of my neck. It brought up all kinds of problems including a long drawn out discrimination case and the stress was enormous. I survived with the help of my mum and some wonderful people in the Equality Commission, but then there was a break-up with my long time girlfriend, and after the sudden death of my mother from cancer I felt I had to get away."

    Paul told me he is one of only two people in this country who suffer from a weird nerve disorder known as Brown-Vialetto-Van Laere Syndrome, and when returning home after a wonderful three weeks in Thailand, he felt himself getting more and more out of breath and went straight to his doctor who sent him to his local Lagan Valley Hospital.

    His feet and lower legs had swollen to twice their normal size. Then the tests came through - advanced pneumonia, and when Paul told the doctor of his three weeks in Bangkok alarm bells must have gone off in the man's head. As Paul put it: "I've never seen a room empty so quickly. I spent that night alone.

    "Soon the Health Service swung into action and doctors and nurses dressed in what looked like rubber space suits came for me. One of them turned out to be a special ambulance driver and I was finally able to understand him telling me I was being moved to the RVH. I wore an oxygen mask 24/7 and was then made to wear a great big dust mask and filter on top. Then on top of that a surgical mask straining to breaking point and squashing the lot into my face. There was not much to be done about it as I couldn't bend either arm having so many needles in them and pipes leading up to nasty looking stuff. Off we went complete with a police car with flashing lights and an alien/spaceman thingy sweating behind a faceplate driving my ambulance.

    "No one was talking to me. No one wanted to be near me. It didn't take a genius to work out I was up the creek without a paddle. Was it Ebola? Aids? Bird Flu? I wished I had paid more attention to the news.

    "My thoughts were disturbed by our arrival at the RVH. We made straight for a lift prepared for us. Next stop was my own special room on the top floor - all alone, cold, hungry and miserable. Where is my mum when I really need her?" (Paul's mother had been a patient on this very same floor.)

    Treatment started right away and doctors wrote the questions on large sheets of paper. They come straight to the point: 'You may have human bird flu. We will do our best for you.' Humour and bedside manners went out of the window. The questions were rough and gave the words 'kill or cure' new meaning. Paul told me he felt he was just a lump of meat to experiment on.

    After four days the bird flu scare was over and Paul was able to see his family and friends for the first time in a month. He was still very unwell with pneumonia and temporary heart failure, but the big flap was over.

    Thanks to russel family
    “Addressing chronic disease is an issue of human rights – that must be our call to arms"
    Richard Horton, Editor-in-Chief The Lancet

    ~~~~ Twitter:@GertvanderHoek ~~~ ~~~

  • #2
    Re: Thrown into a bird flu nightmare after a visit to south east Asia

    Nice to hear about this story ... a YEAR after it happened!
    ...when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. - Sherlock Holmes