Daria Hangiel loved her life.
Cycling, swimming, badminton and skiing were just a few of the sports she loved.
When not staying active, she ran her own cleaning business in Armagh or gave back to people in any way she could.
The 30-year-old Pole said: “I want to go out and do my part, but at the moment I’m not strong enough.
“I just want to be me again.”
Daria started to feel sick in 2019.
She couldn’t keep food and was in great pain.
Daria, who is deaf, went to the doctors about her problem, but she did not have access to an interpreter for six months.
She told Belfast Live: “I didn’t have access to interpretation. So I went to the doctors and wrote it down and explained it to them.
“My weight has dropped. I couldn’t stop feeling sick.
Daria ended up in the hospital for six weeks, but doctors still couldn’t figure out what was wrong. She lost over three kilograms of weight due to her inability to eat.
Finally, after much discussion, Daria was diagnosed with GERD.
What is GORD?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when acid from the stomach seeps into the esophagus.
It usually occurs as a result of the weakening of the muscle ring at the bottom of the esophagus.
Heartburn and an unpleasant taste in the back of the mouth are common symptoms of GERD, but in severe cases it can make people sick.
GERD may just be an occasional nuisance for some people, but for others it can be a serious and lifelong problem.
Daria was referred to a specialist and “finally” received an interpreter.
She then had to wait three months to see if her condition improved.
Daria was given pills to try and shakes to give her nutrients, but she did not improve. She was told she would need surgery, but could be on the waiting list for a year.
The brave patient was happy to wait, but when the pandemic struck, the wait times grew further.
Daria began to see blood in her illness and became “very panicked”. She had to return to the hospital, but the interpreters in person were not allowed in due to Covid.
Daria said: “The difficulty was that everyone had to wear a mask in the hospital, so I couldn’t understand what was being said. It was very difficult at that time.
“My mental health has deteriorated. I couldn’t go out and see anyone. Every time I ate I was sick.
“I just felt like I wanted to give up. I had had enough. There were barriers everywhere.”
Why do deaf people have trouble finding interpreters?
Covid has undoubtedly made healthcare (and all other public places) even more difficult for people who are deaf.
But Daria struggled to find an interpreter before even knowing what Covid was.
Adam McCormick is a church pastor who supported Daria during her illness.
Speaking about the problem based on his own experience, he said, “We have funds to pay the interpreters, but the problem is that the doctors don’t know how to book them.
“I know I went and explained to them that they had to book an interpreter in advance.”
Adam said doctors often leave reservations until the last minute, when interpreters are no longer available.
He said, “It really is a lack of understanding.”
With long waits for surgery on the NHS, Daria decided to go private.
She is due for surgery on October 16, but still has to raise enough money to cover the costs.
Adam set up a GoFundMe page to help Daria raise funds for the surgery she needs.
After the operation, Daria hopes to return to Poland to visit her family.
She said: “Because the operation is approaching, I feel anxious. But I can’t wait for the pain to stop. I can’t wait to stop the vomiting. Because it has been going on for a few years now.
“I want to be me again.”
To donate, visit Daria’s GoFundMe page.