Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Was my face red

Supposedly many people feel acutely embarr-assed talking about anything too personal with their doctors. And equally embarr-assed by any over-intimate examination of their bodies. Especially anything related to sex.

Or so I keep reading. Whether it's true I don't know. But it seems the only people who talk freely to their doctors are either doctors' children or people who were simply never taught to be embarrassed. Or maybe hypochondriacs.

I must say I'm one of the exceptions, as I'm happy to talk to my doctor about anything at all. In fact, I sometimes feel she's the one who's embarrassed and not me. I don't know why that's the case, but I have no problem discussing what's happening "down there" or having her hand up my bum to check my prostate.

For a doctor, surely it's just part of the day's work. She's discussed it all and examined it all with thousands of patients so for her whatever I say is totally unsurprising and unshocking and the moment I've left her she'll probably forget everything I said.

And obviously whatever I say is strictly confidential and goes no further than the consulting room. It's not as if my revelations are broadcast to all and sundry. It's not as if my trite medical concerns are hot gossip to be whispered to the other doctors. I haven't suddenly grown a pair of breasts or an extra head. So why the squeamishness?

I'm really curious as to why people get so embarrassed. Especially if they have serious and worrying physical symptoms that need looking at urgently. Surely protecting your health is more important than avoiding embarrassment? But who knows what goes through people's minds, what deep inhibitions they've learnt from someone.

Sometimes spilling it all out can be hard.

PS: A survey by the British Menopause Society found that half of women going through the menopause are too embarrassed to speak to their doctor

34 comments:

John Gray said...

You are a rare example

Perv x

Ursula said...

Not being British little embarrasses me.

However, I will admit that any attempt to look up my back passage cures me faster than you can say "colonoscopy". I know this because some twenty years ago my GP referred me to the hospital to get to the BOTTOM of some unclear symptoms. I made it as far as the car park. I even went inside. Luckily the waiting was long, so - contemplating, for more than half an hour, the horrors lying ahead - I fled the place. And that was that. Sometimes you have to go by GUT instinct.

Anyway, good for you that you don't mind someone asking you to cough.
And then there is giving birth. When people, strangers and father of your child see parts of you in a way you yourself never will. With that I was fine. The RESULT - in the Angel's case - was more important to me than how my son and I arrived at it.

Hot topic, Nick, you have touched on. Might also reveal cultural differences among your readership.

U

Dave Martin said...

I don't really get embarrassed by personal stuff (we're all human after all) and let's face it, the doctor has probably seen it all before.

Anonymous said...

I have no problem at all to speak about problems or to get my body be touched or examinated by doctors. I think many persons were educated with the idea that the body is a tabu and so this subject seems to be a shameful one.

Anonymous said...

Sorry I forgot to put my name.

Mia More

Nick said...

John: You ought to know, being a nurse and talking to patients day in and day out!

Ursula: The discomfort of a procedure, as opposed to the simple fact of it, is another matter. Having read about John's colonoscopy, I hope I don't ever need one myself! I'd never thought of what a woman exposes when she's giving birth. More than enough intimacy in that situation....

Nick said...

Dave: A man after my own heart. As you say, the doctor's seen it all before, so why get all precious about it?

Mia: I think you've hit the nail on the head there. People are taught (the British at any rate) that mentioning certain parts of the body is taboo and to be avoided at all costs. Or to be referred to with delicate euphemisms like "back passage" and "lady garden".

Rummuser said...

I have no problems with being open and frank on medical matters with doctors. I can understand some hesitation in the case of psychiatrists but that is exactly where one needs to be honest and frank.

tammy j said...

I steer clear of invasive procedures.
not because of personal squeamishness.
but because my body reacts badly to them.
a simple stent sent me into cardiac arrest.
most people having had that procedure then go to play golf!
I have had only one mammogram in my entire life.
will never have another.
I think americans are being coerced into CONSTANTLY LOOKING for something that has GONE WRONG in their poor bodies.
expensive testing and all kinds of procedures. no thank you.

Nick said...

Ramana: Very true. I had a few sessions with a therapist once and I wasn't in any way honest and frank, which is no doubt why I seemed to be getting nowhere.

Tammy: That makes sense, that you avoid invasive procedures because of a negative reaction. And I gather mammograms are not only very uncomfortable but of dubious diagnostic value. Yes, I imagine the American medical insurance companies are always trying to persuade people they need some medical treatment or check-up or whatever.

Wisewebwoman said...

I think personal history has a lot to do with it Nick. I've known far too many go with a problem to the Geep get referred and within a month or 2 they're dead. I am overly leery of docs. Childish? Yes.

XO
WWW

Nick said...

www: That sounds like an unfortunate chain of mistreatment or misdiagnosis (or just incurable illness) which isn't actually typical of visits to the doctor, but nonetheless I can understand you being leery as a result.

Helen Devries said...

If it's minor I don' t bother...if it bothers meI take it to a doctor...
This policy has landed me in the hands of the local health service whose motto is 'thorough' - I have never had so many appointments nor bared so many areas of the body in my life.

Luckily it is warm here and the hospital gowns provided are all enveloping. I often wonder - especially after France where hospital gowns seem to have been provided by the Folies Bergeres sans feathers - whether it is the lack of respect for the patient that puts people off going for tests.

Maria said...

Here, there is still some kind of tabu in the elderly generation, especially in a Catholics environment. Greetings Maria x

Nick said...

Helen: How come you have so many appointments? Is that another country with an insurance-based health system where every appointment means more profit? I think there's a lot of respect for patients here. I would say it's more a question of personal inhibitions.

Maria: Is that right? I've no idea whether older people here are more inhibited than the young. You'd think they'd be less inhibited as they visit doctors and hospitals so often.

Suburbia said...

I know what you mean Nick, I'd rather say whats wrong than worry and not be able to tell the Dr what's wrong.

Nick said...

Suburbia: Yes, why worry and fret about what might be wrong when you could just go to the doctor and find out - and probably be told there's nothing wrong at all?

Bijoux said...

I have all women doctors now, but many years ago when it was all men, I still didn't find it embarrassing. Just nerve-wracking, always worried that something will be wrong.

The reason we get over-tested here in the States has nothing to do with health insurance companies. It's the patients who constantly sue doctors, which scares them into having to order every test known to man to be thorough. I've had 3 Ob/gyns leave the field due to the expense of medical malpractice insurance.

Ms Scarlet said...

I am British. I live in the countryside. We have vets.
Sx

Nick said...

Bijoux: Oh, so it's the patients who're causing the surfeit of investigations. And maybe getting totally unnecessary and injurious treatments as a consequence? I'd heard that malpractice insurance was pretty sky-high in the States.

Scarlet: I see. So if you have any trouble with your hooves or your udder, you'll soon be sorted out?

Helen Devries said...

Nick, the health service here is modeled on the NHS - publicly funded.
They believe in prevention - we have a chap who comes out on a motorbike twice a year on a house to house basis to check blood pressure and ask about any worries - so when they get their hands on you for the first time they go to town. It will calm down once they have me checked out.

Respect for the patient?
When I was young,so was the NHS and there was still an attitude of doling out charity on the part of some staff.
Ante natal clinics - a total disgrace in the late sixties.

France? Great with G.P.s and most doctors, nurses distinctly variable - and those hospital gowns! Designed to keep your mind on keeping the draughts off susceptible areas and in my mind a calculated humiliation.

Nick said...

Helen: Right, I get the picture! So your appointments have slackened off now?

I didn't have much to do with the NHS when I was young. A few vaccinations, a few childhood illnesses like chicken pox, that was it. I don't remember any rudeness or disrespect.

I'm due an operation soon so I'll have a chance to check out the NI style of hospital gown.

tammy j said...

I hope all goes well with your surgery nick!
regardless of how often we might go through it... it's still not my favorite way to spend time.
and if this is your first time at it... hold only GOOD thoughts for every aspect of it. no fear! as "they" say.
i'll be holding those good thoughts for you as well! xo

Nick said...

Thanks, Tammy. I haven't got a date yet - probably in the next month or two (I've been on the waiting list since last September). Yes, optimistic thoughts are called for!

kylie said...

I am supposed to be doing a FOBT which means providing poo samples. Doctors dont bother me a whole lot but this is just mortifying.

i see your comment about menopause, I told my doc i think i am in perimenopause and he flat out said i am too young (at 45)

I think thats an odd thing for him to say, anyways, I guess i wont be talking to him about it :P

Jenny Woolf said...

Yes, it is puzzling. Apart from anything else, I'm sure doctors are too busy to think much about their patients' bodies, the ones I know are only interested in the illnesses.

Nick said...

Kylie: I've also been asked to provide poo samples for a bowel cancer screening. I did it once but I refuse to do it again. I'm not in any of the high risk groups anyway.

Your doctor seems a bit ignorant. Menopause can happen at any age between 45 and 55.

Nick said...

Jenny: Absolutely, they're only concerned with what's wrong with you. There's no point in being coy and embarrassed about it.

Ms Scarlet said...

My mum's doctor went to prison for seven years for taking intimate pictures of his patients bodies without their consent. Just saying. This has not helped my trust issues.
Sx

Nick said...

Scarlet: That's outrageous, but I'm sure it's totally untypical of doctors as a whole. I assume you're signed on with a different doctor - and preferably a woman doctor.

Ms Scarlet said...

My trust issues are so bad I've not been registered for the last five years!!
Sx

Nick said...

Scarlet: That's bad. How do you deal with any medical problems - a quick trip to A&E?

Ms Scarlet said...

I'd only go to A&E for an emergency... for stitches.... or total collapse! Google is my doctor of choice!! I will register soon, I keep meaning to..... I quite like the fantasy of falling out of the system.
Sx

Nick said...

Scarlet: Dr Google is somewhat unreliable. That strange rash may not really be final-stage meningitis. I think a doctor might be more accurate - and more reassuring.