As a woman who has never given birth, I have got used to people judging me for my childlessness, accusing me of being selfish, assuming that my infertility (in their eyes) is a curse from God or feeling pity for my “empty and meaningless life” (as they call it). I have even got used to rude questions about not being a mother from people I have just met for the first time or from those I know for some time. But what happened to me yesterday showed me that some people are really very insensitive!!
I have been having some gynaec problems since about two weeks and it just got worse. So I was operated upon yesterday in one of the major clinics here in Munich. The operation itself was a minor one, all done within 30 minutes and I could leave the clinic the same day after a couple of hours. Since the procedure is done under full anaesthesia, I need to take it easy for the next two weeks and then all should be well again.
The doctors were excellent, very nice, explained everything, were very reassuring and understanding. So I felt well taken cared of.
But the nurse in charge of laying the needle for the anaesthesia and assisting the anaesthetist was quite insensitive, to put it mildly. The moment I was wheeled into the operating theatre she kept up a constant chatter, shooting questions at me regarding my “origin”, whether I had come to Germany as a minor or a major (since I spoke such “excellent and accent free German”), telling me about some nurses from India she had worked with, their religion etc. I was giving her very short answers since I was trying to prepare myself for the operation, collecting my thoughts and trying not be too nervous (I have a fear of general anaesthesia that borders on panic!!). Well this nurse kept up an incessant chatter, going on to tell me about relatives and friends who had worked in China, Kenya, India; how I definitely have a much better life in Germany than in India and so on….
Now you might think that she was doing this to keep me busy and to distract me but the questions that she kept shooting at me were so personal that I wouldn’t even ask them of someone I had met at a social gathering, let alone in an operation theatre! She went on to ask me why I didn’t have any children and if I didn’t want any. Bear in mind, this is a nurse asking a patient such questions and this patient is just about to have a gynaecological procedure which is often also carried out when a woman has just lost a child prematurely!! Had it been the reason why I was there, her question would have been the most hurtful and cruel thing to ask! “Fortunately” for her I was there “only” to remove a growth that was causing the problems, but this was something she did not know when she asked me the question (she asked me the reason for my operation later!!). I was so fed up by now that I told her I didn’t want to raise any children here in Germany! That did catch her a bit off guard and then she had to interrupt her interrogation because the assistant doctor came in to talk to me.
It was time to wheel me into the operating room. As she was wheeling me in, she shot a last question at me and asked me what my husband thought about it? I was a bit confused and asked her – what did he think about what? And she said – what did he think about my refusing to have children in Germany and if he was OK with that too?? I am glad that the next minute I was surrounded by a team of doctors, the anaesthetist took over and within seconds I was out. Otherwise I might have pulled myself upright, ignoring the tubes and drips I was on, shouted at her telling her that it was none of her damn business and that she was the most unprofessional human being I have ever met!!!
Btw, she mentioned that she has been doing “this job” since 1977!!! Needless to say, I am going to talk to the chief physician who operated on me about this experience. I think someone needs to give her feedback that such behaviour is not just insensitive, but it is downright rude and a no-no!! In hindsight I wish I had not been so distracted and defenceless, otherwise I would have told her to shut up and get out!
After sleeping over it, I am still very mad at her. But it also made me think of the numerous times we think there is nothing wrong in asking people we barely know very personal questions, judging them based on what we “see” and without knowing anything whatsoever about their lives. And very often just because we are the “older” ones, we think our age gives us the right to be rude and inquisitive. I hope that I will show more sensitivity in the future before I ask someone something about their lives and back off when I see they don’t want to talk about something.
(* reposted from Facebook)