Acceptable behaviour

One of the things that I’ve found interesting while spending time in hospital, is watching the other patients around me. I’ve seen quite a few people with varying illnesses, and their attitude to their condition and the people looking after them has been fascinating.

Perhaps the biggest contrast has been between the old and the young; in general I’ve found that the younger patients (into which general category I would include myself) have less patience, less tolerance for pain, less consideration for those around them, and distinctly less gratitude for the efforts of the people caring for them. I’d hold up Mr. A (an ex-civil servant, who at the age of 53 is already retired) as a prime example of this. He’s suffering from a long-term problem largely of his own making that is eminently curable without surgical intervention. The hospital have been working on that for him for the last week, and during that time he has complained constantly about every minor issue, setback and problem (perceived or real) that has affected him.

Whereas Mr. B is in his late 70’s, admitted with a case of prostate cancer. And that’s on top of his already diagnosed incurable liver cancer and (previously successfully cured) bowel cancer. The hospital are working to provide him with the best possible quality of life, so he can go home and spend the remaining time that he has with his family. And I’ve never heard him complain once about anything – apart from the food, and we all complain about that! He’s always ready with a smile and a joke when someone else needs cheering up, and always makes the effort to thank people for their help.

So I wondered if this was some sort of change in society. Part of the DNA of Generation X and Y. Is this a case where people under a certain age believe that they should have the right to the best of everything without consideration for anyone else?

And then I met Mr. C.

Mr C is my age. He’s in hospital because of complications arising from his situation as a paraplegic resulting from a motorbike accident from many years ago. He’s in hospital (this time) for at least 3 months to undergo treatment for a variety of problems, all of which seem to be invasive. He needs to be turned in his own bed every 3 hours, and needs help with many of his most basic needs. If anyone deserves to rail against the world, it’s him. And yet he doesn’t. He’s friendly, kind, generous and polite. Nothing seems to get him down, and through it all, he’s still interested in the world around him, and being a part of it. His spirit shines through.

If I ever wanted a role model for how to live my life in difficult circumstances, Mr B and Mr C have provided it to me these last few days.

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