The Life and Times of Florence Knitingale

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Language Barrier

I do not think of myself as a sexist, but I will defend to the death (well…not to the death. I don’t feel THAT strongly about it….how about, to the moth infestation of that one weird colored wool I’m not all that nuts about but purchased in a state of wool-fume-induced dementia?) my opinion that men and women are distinctly different. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the way we all communicate. For instance, Mr. K was working out on the elliptical (an exercise machine, for those who have not yet been introduced to this sort of torture and are still back on lesser tortures….such as plucking out nose hairs one by one). When I use it, I tend not to use any of the pre-programmed settings, but simply get on at the lowest resistance and go for an hour. Much more resistance than that, and an hour is RIGHT OUT. I’m going for stamina. (Okay, yes—it’s also easier to unravel thrift store sweaters while working out if there’s isn’t so much resistance that my eyes start to bug out…..but that’s besides the point.) Mr. K, however, does use the programs which are much shorter but involve varying levels of resistance, as well as an annoying little light that simply BEGS to be knocked out with the end of a knitting needle as it flashes helpful things like “going too slow”. I hate that light. Anyway, we were discussing this and here’s what came out:

Mr. K: “I’m not sure you’re really doing yourself much good. You should try to use one of the programs.”
Me: “You think so? I feel like I’m getting a pretty good workout…but maybe I should try it.”
Mr. K: “Yeah, you should definitely try the weight loss setting.”
Me: “...”

Anyone want to guess why that bothered me? Anyone? Yes, you in the back. I can't see you clearly, but I'll bet cash money you're female. The men are all going "What? What's wrong with that? He's helping her, isn't he?"

But I'm not a man basher, and I admit that the communication deficit goes both ways. For instance: He decided to iron some pants last night (don’t get all excited—it’s an annual event at best and occurs largely because I admit to not being able to get the creases right no matter what I do. I think they’re evil.) and, when he’d finished, he said he was going to go upstairs to get on the computer. Leaving the iron and ironing board in the middle of the kitchen and the iron plugged in. And the pants he’d ironed hanging over the back of the chair. If I was sensible (which is a laughable notion, I know) I would have said something like “You forgot to put away the ironing stuff.” Or “Could you put the ironing stuff away before you go up?” Simple, direct. But, no. I said “Are you through ironing?” This is about as effective as a cat flap in an elephant house, and yet, I attempt it again and again. I have absolutely no excuse or explanation for this behavior. (I’m pretty sure it was Einstein who said that the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing and expecting to get a different result. Then again, he was a man.). What he answered, rather than something like “Oh, yes—let me come put all of this away” was something more like “Yeah—you can go ahead and put it away. Oh, and can you bring my pants when you come upstairs?”

Here, a few other near misses (some most definitely my own fault--I'm being fair here)

What I said: “Do you have any more laundry?” What I was thinking: “If you’d just put all the laundry in the hamper, we could skip this conversation.” What he heard: “Don’t bother with the hamper. I’ll come get your clothes.”
What I said: “Are you going to the store today?” What I was thinking: “I have a few things you could pick up if you are.” What he heard: “I need a few things, can I get anything for you?” What he said: “No, but if you are, can you pick me up some diet Pepsi?”
What I said: “I really don’t want to miss any of this show.” What I was thinking: “Please don’t channel surf during the commercials because you rarely get back to the right channel in time and then I miss part of it.” What he heard: “I like this show. I wonder what other good things are on?”
What I said: “I’d like to leave by 2:30.” What I was thinking: “If we do not leave by 2:30 we will be late for the umpteenth time and will burned in effigy by our soon-to-be ex-friends.” What he heard: “We have to go somewhere some time today.”
What I said: “I can’t sleep when you roll over on me.” What he heard (apparently): “Please gouge my eye out with your elbow at 3:00 am.” (Okay, I have no explanation for that one.)

Clearly there is a communication gap here. Have any of you noticed it?

On a more serious note, thank you so much for all of your kind words regarding my last post. One reason that I write essays about why I want to be a nurse is that my will flags a bit in the face of all the bureaucracy and red tape, and my confidence packs a bag and hitchhikes to Memphis on a regular basis when I think about the huge amount of competition I’ll face. I write to remind myself….but your warm support and encouragement do so much more than that. They remind me to come out of myself and I am forever grateful for that. It saddens but does not surprise me that so many of you have had less than wonderful experiences with medical professionals. It shouldn’t be that way….but it is. I still remember a doctor telling me in a very patronizing tone that “people who have had a difficult childhood such as yourself sometimes have aches and pains that have no medical source and we never find a reason. Have you tried counseling?” Which might have been useful advice….were it not for the fact that he was discussing the damage to my neck which started in a car accident, and my low back which actually has a congenital defect. Were it not for the fact that I have arthritis up and down my spine, a number of bulging discs with impingement and an assortment of other little nasties. Otherwise, yeah, that was really helpful. Or the dork who responded to my complaint of 24 upper respiratory infections in 10 months with the comment “Well, you had a hard year.” You think? Gee, you must be some kind of genius. I actually had severe chronic sinus disease that required surgery…but why split hairs? All I want to say is this: Hang tough. Demand good treatment and care. You deserve it. They’re working for you, whether they see it that way or not. I always told my patients that. That goes for all of you, too. I’m thinking a hug to each and every one of you. And a bitchslap to any nurse or doctor that doesn’t treat you with respect, concern, and compassion.


  • At 6:59 PM, Blogger Marianne said…

    I do believe every home has that same language barrier.....DH changed the filter in the return air and left the stepladder in the hall, go figure, I on the other hand...I'm very direct with what I'm saying to him..put it up. oh yeah! I forgot..... like I say...go figure...ADD? absent minded professors? But it is funny.
    My personal opinion? You definitely don't need to try the weight loss setting.

  • At 11:51 PM, Anonymous angie cox said…

    Lol! This has only become a problem since Holly arrived at young adulthood.She has terrible problems interpreting man-think. I used to keep quiet and wonder but she tells Jeff off .Even last night he did not get why she wanted to watch one of the worst films ever made ( answer it had Martin Sheen in who she adores) so kept wandering in front of the screen.He has to iron his own shirts because I only show the laundry the iron and fold it up. He could be a butler so good is he at ironing. On the other hand he's had the paint for her room for two years ...we are now going to attempt it ourselves but I am not great at painting so she's decided to go for rag-rolling.

  • At 5:53 AM, Anonymous Carla said…

    Learning to be more direct is hard. I used to find myself dancing around an issue, then laspsing into martyrdom when things didn't go exactly as I wanted them to. It took years before (gulp) I realized I was ACTING LIKE MY MOTHER, a first-class, genuwine Martyr! Only I hadn't *told* him what I wanted, had I? I'm working on it and what is funny is that I feel better about myself!

    Nah, you don't need the weight loss setting. If they camea adds pounds, as they say, you're perfickly fine!

  • At 6:55 AM, Anonymous Jill said…

    I live with my dad and brother. Dare I say more?

  • At 7:01 AM, Anonymous marti said…

    I am glad to hear that my home isn't the only one with language barrier!

  • At 10:08 AM, Blogger Peg said…

    A dog door in an elephant house! Would an ironing board and attached iron fly through this door?

  • At 12:49 PM, Blogger Charity said…

    I so hear you! When my son was born, I bought a book called, "Bringing Up Boys". I found it very helpful, not only in my dealings with my son, but also my husband. It's very interesting to know that their brains are formed differently even in the womb, and so of course they think differently!

    There's no excuse for the weight loss setting comment, though. All men need to learn there are just things you DON'T SAY!

  • At 2:17 PM, Blogger Jo said…

    Spent so many years worrying about what official folk like doctors said (most of it so unhelpful and so not-in-touch). Now I'm old enough to smile gently, lean forward, and say, "Did you know, there are actually two 'f's' in 'off'?

    (Doesn't do much for relationships, but by heck does it make me feel more in control!)
    Celtic Memory Yarns


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