Hurrah for hearing dog heroes
Klara Downes, eight, was born completely deaf. ‘She was shy and insecure; one professional called her a shrinking violet,’ says her mother Michele. But Klara’s life was transformed by Jasper, a golden cocker spaniel she was given by the charity Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. ‘Jasper makes me feel happy; he looks after me perfectly,’ says Klara. For the first seven years of her life, Klara slept in her parents’ bed because she was terrified to sleep alone. ‘I dreamed of scary monsters,’ she tells me Klara can talk fluently, due to a ‘brilliant speech therapist she’s been working with for the past two years,’ Michele explains). The ‘monsters’ also made frightening noises, which her parents discovered were due to tinnitus in both ears when she took out her hearing aids. Since Jasper arrived, Klara has slept in her own bed every night. ‘She is less ratty and we all get more sleep,’ says Michele (Klara’s tinnitus has now receded to a whistling in her right ear).
Jasper also alerts Klara to the smoke alarm and her homework timer; fetches Michele or Klara’s father Stuart if she needs them, and carries a purse on his collar so her parents can send her notes. She told her Brownie group, ‘I am deaf, but Jasper is my ears.’
Hearing Dogs for Deaf People provides dogs for free, and is a hugely worthwhile cause. The lifelong cost of a dog is about £45,000 and the charity relies on donations. Visit www.hearingdogs.org.uk for details.
BOOK OF THE WEEK
Living With Complicated Grief by Professor Craig A White (Sheldon Press, £8.99)*
This time of year brings the loss of a loved one into aching focus. If you are planning to invite a bereaved relative or friend for Christmas, I recommend this helpful book. Professor White’s advice includes:
• Offer comforting food Delicious meals can boost people who may not have the energy to cook for themselves. Avoid too much alcohol or sugar, which may worsen turbulent or erratic moods.
• Listen We don’t find it easy to talk about grief, but often the bereaved have an almost compulsive need to tell stories about their loved one, and perhaps about how the person died. If you have photos or videos, suggest you look at them together, if they are up to it.
• Allow time out from sadness Grief tends to come in waves of perhaps 20 to 30 minutes. The person may alternate between being silent, angry or depressed and having bursts of merriment. You don’t have to be serious or soulful all the time: don’t be afraid to watch a funny film or have an irreverent conversation.
• Commemorate the person who has passed away Suggest doing something he or she always enjoyed, or never got around to doing, such as attending midnight mass or going on a special walk.
• Take care of yourself too It can be very draining to support a grieving person, especially if you knew the deceased and are grieving too.
THREE OF THE BEST DIGESTION SETTLERS
Super Digestive Enzymes Ageing, some digestive problems and our natural inability to digest plant fibre (cellulose) may make you bloated soon after eating. These enzymes adapt to varying stomach acid conditions, helping to digest protein, fats, carbohydrates, milk lactose and fibre efficiently. Take two capsules just before a meal.
LifeExtension Super Digestive Enzymes/£23.25 for 100 capsules from www.victoriahealth.com
Centaurium Tincture This bitter plant triggers the production of digestive juices and helps gut motility. These actions help food to break down, which often relieves nausea, flatulence and gastric discomfort. Take 15 drops three times daily from up to a week before lots of eating and drinking.
A Vogel Centaurium Tincture/£9.15 for 50ml from www.victoriahealth.com
Artichoke Leaf A traditional remedy, artichoke extract helps liver function, and so is believed to help the body process alcohol more efficiently. Take one tablet twice daily before meals, again from up to a week before feasting.
HealthAid Artichoke Leaf Powder tablets/£11.49 for 60 from www.victoriahealth.com