Thanks to Dr. Charles for (in a roundabout way) giving me the kick-off for this entry.

When I first began having mysterious and inexplicable health problems, I still possessed some modesty. Each time I was asked to change into a gown for an exam or procedure, I cringed inwardly. Blushing behind thin curtains, I would awkwardly fumble out of my clothes and into the standard geometric-print johnny, open-to-the-back-dear. It took only a short while of this before my sense of modesty lit out for greener pastures – leaving me more and more often unmoved in a paste-colored hospital shift, ass flapping in the breeze, face as dull as a spoon.

Four years later, I can go from clothed to gowned in 5.2 seconds flat, no blushing involved. I am so familiar with the standard bedside neurological exam that I frequently get ahead of whichever poor lost med student has been sent to look me over. The things that make me cringe now are not bare skin but bare stupidity; not sensitive questions but patronizing ones – etc.

Certainly the more pragmatic patient allows for more efficient medical care and use of resources. Yet in some ways I hate to look back over my transformation, I think because it has been so frighteningly necessary. In her memoir, Lucky, Alice Sebold says, “You save yourself, or you remain unsaved.” In no part of my life has that rung so true as in my experiences as a patient.

My modesty fled in short order, and unfortunately in many cases my trust was not far behind. Surely the two are not so inextricably linked?


Blogger Internal Medicine Doctor said...

great writing. really great writing.

10:21 AM  

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