SOME of you know that my corporate career was in human resources. At the time, the flavour of the month in determining people’s suitability for getting a job was not their IQ so much as their EQ or Emotional Quotient. Developed by Daniel Goleman, it’s a way of testing someone’s ability to recognise their own emotions and those of others and then use that knowledge to take the best action in any circumstance.
At the time I didn’t think much of it because to me all it represented was a measure of maturity. The graphs of studies showed essentially that there was a lineal relationship that demonstrated that your EQ increased as you got older. Interestingly, though, at around age 55 the curve started to go south. Almost as though, “Well I know what I should be doing in this circumstance, but frankly at my age, I don’t give a damn. I am just going to speak my mind.”
So here I am – having nudged past age 55 – dressed in my nightie, surrounded by others in the same situation and age group – and before you start getting ideas – in hospital. Prior to coming here I had seen a whole series of posters on billboards featuring aggressive people abusing health professionals who stare passively at the camera. The caption, “Report aggressive and violent behaviour. It is never OK.” And yet here in hospital it seems people think it is OK. I have watched in my short stay here not only verbal but physical abuse on the very competent and kind nurses who are here to look after us.
At one stage not long after surgery and unable to walk more than a few feet, my roomie, obviously frustrated, became aggressive. She spat tablets at the nurse and threw water over her. The nurse ended up sedating her but when the sedative wore off she threw aside the curtains between us and shouted at me to get out of her bedroom. Fortunately, the nurse had arrived because my roomie started hitting out, thinking I was her daughter. If it hadn't have been for the nurse she would have hit me. Instead she hit the nurse.
I have become used now to the Code Grey call over the intercom as nurses call for their colleagues when they are physically threatened – and I have only been here four days. And that, of course, does not include the verbal abuse that these kind souls receive.
All of the patients I have seen should know better. They should have a higher EQ. And of course – I get it. They are frustrated, they have probably had senior positions in their past or are elder statesmen in their own community. They possibly resent being called “Love” and “Dear”, and I know they are in pain. But does that really provide an excuse?
Postscript: As many of you would know after any surgery there is great anticipation for when IT has happened. Release from the ward is not allowed until this momentous event. Ensconced now with my new (non-violent roomie) we would compare notes. Gurgling and wind, yes – in her case like a trooper! – but IT – no. When IT finally did happen, I thought it was wind. I had to buzz the nurse. I said, "Well there's good news – and bad news." All she could do was laugh, give me a hug and change my sheets!