Saturday, September 4, 2010

Awkward Moment, 2

The other day I was in the hospital with some friends I was supporting, and since the day was long (what day in a hospital isn’t?), I spent it in my wheelchair.

I was at the corner of my friend’s bed, and pretty out of the way. A nurse came in to prep for a new patient in the room’s other bed, which is fine. She decided I was in her way, looks down at me, and says “I’m going to have to move you.” A nurse! I responded, “No, you are going to ask me to move and I will move.”

My friend saw it, even with all she was going through, and mentions it in the comments here.

Alright, I am occasionally known amongst my friends as having high expectations for other people… But I will be damned before I find it unreasonable to expect a medical professional in a hospital to know some damn wheelchair etiquette!

Would you tell an able-bodied person that you needed to move them? No. If you would not say it to a temporarily able-bodied person, then do not say it to a person in a wheelchair!

Edit: for grammar.


  1. Oh, wow. Of course, the 'would you do it to an able-bodied person?' test is absolutely valid, but I fail to see how *anyone* could not find that abhorrently rude. I'm sorry you had to deal with that.

  2. Agreed. I like to think that when I responded to the nurse, she realized what she had said, but I really only have hope on my side for that.

  3. I have been told that they're going to have to move me. And I'm able-bodied. I think they just forget that people are people when puzzling out how to get things through spaces.

    Of course, asking you to move when you couldn't move would be rude, too.

  4. Yeah, that is definitely rude.

    Eh, if it looks like there might be a problem with someone moving under his own power, one could always ask, "Could you please move for me for a moment, or may I help you move?"

  5. Is it alright commenting so late?
    Having worked in hospital and spent long periods there because of my son I would have to disagree that this was rude since isn't rudeness dependent upon intention? If you encounter twenty nurses working you will be lucky to find two who can see you as a person and not, either as "work" or something that is "preventing" her from doing her work. A nurse's job is depressing in my view and tends to make them terse. It's like a traffic cop who sees you parked at the side of the street (dropping off kids?) but only sees how you are disrupting his view of "order", he will usually be quite unfriendly, no? Of course I am not condoning this kind of behaviour merely thinking about the state of mind of some people.

  6. Just discovered your blog, reading through. :)

    I think your second comment is a good one, C. I've occasionally been in a wheelchair in a hospital, pumped full of drugs and really unable to get myself around. Thinking in particular of a time when I donated bone marrow stem cells and was in a lot of pain and on heavy painkillers. I couldn't move the chair under my own power because my arms hurt too badly. Perhaps nurses meet so many people like that that they forget that not everyone in a wheelchair in a hospital is unable to use said wheelchair.

    But if they developed a habit of asking/offering, it'd keep them from being rude to people who are perfectly capable of moving their own chairs. And it doesn't hurt those of us who do need pushing to get asked.

  7. @Eric -- Sure, it is okay to post on older posts. And it is okay to disagree.

    I appreciate your post, but I still have to go with rude. A behavior can be common and still be rude. One can be stressed (and/or busy)and still be rude. Maybe it is a little unfair, but I expect professionals that deal with people in wheelchairs to be better equipped to do so well than the average person, you know?

  8. @Ruth -- Exactly! Asking would cause no hardship on their part. On one of my own ER visits, the staff kept trying to take my chair, just assuming that it belonged to the hospital. It was surreal.


I will get to your comment as soon as possible! Moderation is to guard against some of the vile things that happen on this series of tubes...