I am from China. Seeking a better life, I converted to a Singapore passport in 2013. I took a Diploma in Nursing course in 2009 and was transferred to a government-run hospital. I have two kids. One is two years old, and the other is 6 months old. My husband is a doctor in another hospital.
Some friends asked me why I can’t be a full-time mummy when my kids are still that young, and there’s no real need to tire myself out for an unattractive salary package. In my four years as a nurse, I have seen many. Such as patients that are unreasonable, and of course their families. Being a nurse is hard, they say, and it’s a career some will choose not to have. For me, I don’t think it’s tough. I have a passion for nursing, and my greatest joy is to see patients getting better by the day.
But then, an incident recently changed my thoughts. I was taking care of seven patients from the C Class ward. One of them is an aged Indian woman. She has this nasty Indonesian maid who has taken good care of her for some ten years. Hence, all her family members trusted the maid a lot.
My colleagues were afraid of her. Just one mistake, and the maid will complain to her boss. I have been warned to be extra careful when dealing with them, but I am not intimidated because I felt that I have always carried out the required tasks to my best ability.
When that old Indian woman needed to do a blood test, and knowing that she has a thin blood vessel, I asked a colleague along to help out. I told them about the test requirements on the spot before going off to do the preparations.
While I was away, the maid asked my colleague again on why was there a need to draw blood. My colleague explained again. There’s this ruling in the hospital that family members are not to be in close attention when carrying out such procedures so as not to cause unnecessary alarm.
Then the face on the maid changed. She insisted on staying behind. We kind of went her way as we really want to complete the task as quickly as possible. The first time was a failure. And the maid immediately raised her voice, saying that the morning shift nurse can do so with the very first time. And she accused us that we were poking anyhow on the old woman. I politely explained that we didn’t, and we only went for the extraction after some discussion between us.
Then she continued to raise her voice, refusing to listen to my explanation. I warned her that I can call in the security. She ignored it and continued to raise her voice, even challenging me to do so.
I put down my things and reported to my senior nurse. The doctor also came by to complete the task. When we reentered the room, the maid was on the phone, talking loudly to her employer. My senior nurse offered to do the explanation on the phone, but she received a tongue lashing instead.
Later that evening, the employer, the old woman’s son that is, came to the hospital. I was preparing the medicine when I heard him shouting: who is that nurse? I want to see her! Is she a foreigner? From China? Is she a PR?
The senior nurse was unable to control him, and called all us into a quiet room for “talks”. The son immediately shouted at me, but I responded in a calm manner. The maid, as usual, was scolding non-stop. And it persisted for at least five minutes!
Maybe, after 9 hours of intense work got to me. I couldn’t hold back and said: “Sir, can you please stop pointing your finger at me? It is not good in my culture.” His response was a fiery one. “What your culture? This is my culture! You idiot, you are just a foreigner, a PR, I’m local, I’m Singaporean.”
He raised his hand at me, but luckily my colleagues were there to stop him. I was then “escorted” to the bus stop outside the hospital.
But my heart was crying inside….just what did I do to deserve this treatment? Because I am a foreigner?
I waited for the response from my hospital management. But they were practically not on my side. They advised me to “swallow” it. It was a low point in my career. Maybe I should have just let him beat him so that I can charge him with physical abuse. But now I can’t! Verbal abuse to healthcare workers is just like a-b-c. And I am still suffering nightmares from that ugly incident. It has caused a great dent to my ego. Just how am I able to overcome THAT? Some have laughed at me, saying I deserve it for abandoning my country. But tell me, do I really deserve all these?
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