HEAR­ING LOSS WON'T HOLD THIS DOC­TOR BACK

The Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - Jour­nal­ist AN­TON ROSE an­ton.rose@thechron­i­cle.com.au

FIONA Ston­ley has never been one to let her con­di­tion hold her back.

Af­ter be­ing di­ag­nosed with bi­lat­eral hear­ing loss at age three, the RACQ LifeF­light doc­tor has over­come more than most to be in the po­si­tion she is in to­day.

It took years of speech ther­apy, train­ing, and quite frankly a lot of guts, she said.

But her mes­sage to kids who feel like their dis­abil­ity will pre­vent them from achiev­ing their dreams is clear.

“There are very few things you can’t do,” she said.

“As long as you’ve stopped and thought about it like, ‘okay there is this po­ten­tial prob­lem where I might not be able to hear that will be an is­sue’ how can I work around it.

“I’d just say go for it. You don’t know if you don’t try.”

As the daugh­ter of a ge­ol­o­gist and a med­i­cal sec­re­tary, it was clear that great things were des­tined for Dr Ston­ley. The trainee anaes­thetist re­called her first ex­pe­ri­ence of be­ing around doc­tors as a child and how it ini­tially in­spired her to pur­sue the pro­fes­sion.

“I’d be hid­ing in a hospi­tal some­where in the out­pa­tient depart­ment sort of try­ing to be well-be­haved and not make too much noise (when at work with her mother),” she said.

“I was al­ways aware of doc­tors and nurses but no­body in the fam­ily was a doc­tor or nurse so I didn’t have that di­rect con­nec­tion.

“When I was about 10 or 11 I had a neck in­jury and I had to have physio ther­apy for a few months and that was re­ally what trig­gered it.

“I was like ‘this is pretty amaz­ing peo­ple can do some fancy stuff and fix peo­ple. I want to do that’ and it all just went from there re­ally.”

The job does not come with­out its dif­fi­cul­ties, but Dr Ston­ley won’t ad­mit that.

Af­ter a year with LifeF­light she said she would look back on her time with fond mem­o­ries when she took to the air for the fi­nal time and bid farewell to the Gar­den City to re­turns to her na­tive Eng­land next year.

“In some ways it’s re­ally dif­fi­cult for me to say if my hear­ing has made any dif­fer­ence be­cause I don’t know any dif­fer­ent,” she said. “I’m go­ing to be re­ally sad ac­tu­ally. It’s a great team here and it’s a re­ally good place to work and I’m go­ing to re­ally miss it.”

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