Losing My Modesty

One thing about getting older is you go to the doctors more often.  Another thing about getting older is doctors want to examine places that you’ve tried to keep hidden all your life.  So far, I’ve been lucky, and all my surgeries have been out-patient procedures, but I’ve seen the generation ahead of me spend more and more of their dwindling time in hospitals, and I know a lot of painful and embarrassing adventures are in store for me.  I never worry about dying, but the thought of peeing, but especially dumping, in a bedpan gives me the willies.

Recent excursions with the medical profession are preparing me for what’s to come, and I’ve decided that getting used to things little by little is the way to go.  A few years back I had a hernia surgery.  Beforehand, I was all worried about getting naked in front of so many people, but when the time came, being a turkey on the dinner table surrounded by six masked men and women didn’t turn out to be as embarrassing as I thought.

I was also worried about being put under for the first time, but all I got was twilight sleep and it was a truly fun experience.  One moment I was the naked guy trying to joke with six strangers and BOOM, the surgeon was rolling a giant plastic band-aid over my belly-button area.  Literally, no time had passed.  The recovery room turned out to be a bummer with frightened people coming out of general anesthesia, crying, screaming, puking – leaving me afraid of getting more than twilight sleep in the future.  So that’s another big fear I have.  I’m afraid of intubation and heavy knock-out drugs.

Another anxiety is having my below the belt hair shaved.  I went in for a heart procedure last year where the plan was to snake some kind of roto-rooter up my leg vein and into my heart and zap it.  I thought for sure they wouldn’t need to shave me, but I was wrong.

I was lying on a gurney in a staging area when a cute young nurse came in carrying a toolkit that looked like her job was blood collecting.  I said, “You here to collect blood?”  And she said, “No,” and pulled out a little washcloth size towel, looked aside while throwing back my covers, slapped the towel over my genitals, grabbed on good, and then whipped out a plastic disposable razor with her other hand and quickly began shaving me.

“Wow!  You have quite a method for protecting my modesty,” I said.

“I don’t want to see anything, and I know you don’t want to show anything,” she said while dry scrapping the hair off my thigh and across the top of my crotch.

“I am a little modest,” I admitted, “but I mostly don’t want to gross young people out with naked oldness.”

“Thank you,” she said with an appreciative smile.  “And oh my god,” she suddenly remembered, “I know what you’re talking!  The first woman I had to work with was old and wrinkly, and before I had a chance to glance away she just let it all hang out for me to see.  I sure wished she hadn’t shown me that future.”

“I don’t even want to imagine that,” I said think about all the old women I still wanted to see naked.  This cutey and I went on to have a very pleasant conversation about not seeing old naked body parts.  It was an entirely fun experience talking with this girl who was clutching my package with a little rag and chatting with me.  I realized then hospital adventures wouldn’t all be horrors.  I’m still scared of going in a bedpan, but who knows maybe it won’t be as bad as I imaged.

Like I said, I’m working my way up to the big stuff, like a heart bypass, or brain surgery, and the dreaded bedpans.  Each little adventure with doctors and nurses chip away at my modesty and fears.  Like a few weeks ago when I went to see my doctor about cholesterol drugs.  I timidly wanted to ask her about an annoying mole on my inner thigh but was going to chicken out and wait to see my lady skin doctor.  Then my doctor asked, “While you’re here, can I do a regular physical?”

A little while later, when my doctor had her finger up my exit hole, I started thinking maybe I should ask her about that mole.  Then she had me turn around and she began playing ball with mine trying to determine if I had a hernia, so I figured this was as good a time as any to ask her to look just a little closer at something I didn’t want her to see in the first place.

“Where?” she replied when I meekly brought up the topic.

I pointed behind the right sack she was holding to a place on my leg.

“Hey, I can slice that off in a jiffy.  Wait here,” and she pulls out a green paper robe and handed it to me.

Great I thought, now I won’t have to expose myself to my lady dermatologist.  I’ll get everything done today.  She leaves and I take off the rest of my clothes and put on the paper robe on backward so it feels like a dress, a mini-dress.  I figured my doctor went to get her scalpel.  Then a nurse comes in with a kit of stuff.

“Where are we cutting?” she asks with a nice friendly smile.

I’m trying to imagine what the etiquette of legally exposing oneself to a strange young woman is and all I can say is, “down there.”

“Show me.”

So I hike up a leg, hold my dress up like a little girl showing off her underwear and push aside my testicles.  She gets a needle out and sticks it into a little vial while giving me a casual look.  Then another woman comes in, the physician’s assistant, and I flop my dress down.  Just how many young women get to see me naked today?  When the door is opened I worry that some mother walking her kid to another exam room will see the big fat nude bearded man and traumatize their poor kid’s psyche and ruin any fantasies the mom might have about fun with older men.

“Let’s get you on the table,” the assistant says pushing me over as the doctor bustles in.  The room is about half the size of a tiny bedroom, and now there’s four of us in there.  Three women and a naked fat man with a paper dress that’s so short that it’s not much protection for my modesty at all.

So I climb on the table, and the nurse flips up my dress and grabs me around one leg, the physician’s assistant moves between my legs, and the doctor grabs my right leg.  I feel like my legs are in stirrups made of women.  The doctor tells her buds, “Move him around so I can see better.”

I’m thinking, dear god, and I don’t believe in god, by the way, don’t let me have an erection in front of these women.  The nurse and assistant both grab by genitals and try to shove them out of the way.  It’s not unpleasant  The doctor whips out the needle and looks at me in the eyes.  “Please, do not, and I mean, do not, kick me in the face when I stick you,” she says very seriously.

Needles don’t bother me, and so far in my life have never caused any real pain.  “Is this going to hurt enough that I will kick a woman in the face?”

“Some patients have,” she replies warily, still staring me down.

She stabs me quickly with the needle and I barely feel anything, but wonder where that inch of steel went.  Then I notice that the nurse isn’t wearing much of a bra.  In fact, I notice I’m getting an excellent sense of the shape of her breasts.  She rests them on my side and then pushes them against my back.  Then rests them on my side again.  My mind is creating wire-frame models of their shape on my inner computer screen.  I mentally plead with myself, “No wood, no wood. no wood.”

Luckily, seeing a tall blonde with a razor in her hand struggling to get a good aim keeps me tiny.  Hey, not too tiny, I now worry.  The nurse and assistant keep losing their grip and struggle to keep my sensitive parts away from the blade.  I ask them if they want help.

“This sure is a lesson in modesty,” I say weakly and try to laugh and they all laugh good.

The doctor jokes about her brother-in-law getting ‘snipped’ with six women in the room.

“Do you know what I mean,” she asks grinning at me.

I said I did and felt my genitals wanting to retract like a turtle’s head.

“Open the bottle,” the doctor finally says and the assistant did, and my doctor dropped a small bloody clump of flesh inside.  It was all over.  Except, that night I had trouble with my wound bleeding and I had to come back the next day and expose myself to a fourth woman.

I was getting used to it by then.  She led me back to a little room and when the door was shut said, “What’s the problem?”  Again I was troubled by wondering what were the rules for politely exposing myself.  She seemed like she was in a hurry so I just dropped my pants and pulled out a bloody rag I had sandwiched between my right testicle and right thigh.  “It won’t stop bleeding.”

She pulled out what looked like a paper tablecloth and handed it to me.  “What’s this for?” I asked.  I wondered if I was supposed to cover the table with it before I sat down on it and got it bloody.

“It’s for your modesty,” she said like I was being silly.  I couldn’t see how it would help since I was standing clearly showing her what I normally hide from all other women but my wife, and I was even holding a bloody rag I had just removed from between my legs.  Tell me, what was I going to shelter from her eyes?

She quickly bandaged me up.  I felt no qualms of modesty.  I was just a car in for some work, is how I imagined she saw me.  Or maybe I was a dog on the vet’s table to her.  Either way, my modesty didn’t matter.  These four women probably saw hundreds if not thousands of naked people every year.  I doubt if I was the grossest or ugliest, or even the fattest.  I know I wasn’t the manliest – I just hoped they hadn’t seen very many potential porn star guys.

Getting old means losing control.  I don’t like that.  I know if I live long enough I’ll have to spend some real time in hospitals, and each time I’ll become more and more a hunk of body and less like a person.  My sister once made a clever observation about life.  She said we start out life spending most of our time in bed and we end up spending most of our time in bed.  I could elaborate on that.  We start out having people change our diapers and we end up having people change our diapers.  As we get older we get more freedom and we travel further and further, but then we get old and travel less and less, until we’re confined to a room again, sleeping in something very much like a crib.

Maybe I never was really all that modest.  Maybe what really bothers me is losing control and having to let other people treat me like a child.  We dress and undress kids like they have no modesty and never worry if they care about being naked.  Going to the doctors is like being a kid.  We have to do what the big people tell us.  We don’t get any say in the matter.  And crying doesn’t affect the outcome.

Can it be that modesty isn’t about being naked?  And rather it’s about losing control?  It’s like those dreams of being naked in a high school class.  Do we wake up afraid of being laughed at?  Or do we wake up afraid of getting into a situation beyond our control?

JWH 12/18/8

30 thoughts on “Losing My Modesty”

  1. I have similar fears about old age and losing control. You did a good job of exploring those fears while also portraying what was both an embarrassing and funny situation. The only similar story I can share is when I went for a periodic physical with my doctor a decade ago. He phoned me the night before and asked if he could bring a student doctor with him for the physical. Why not? I thought.

    Then I arrived the next morning and the student doctor was a young Chinese woman who resembled my students so much it was a bit intimidating. Mostly she sat across the room while I sat on the table wearing a pair of briefs and the doctor did his examination.

    Until he reached the part where he required me to drop my drawers and be totally naked so he could check me for both a hernia and check my prostate. That was when he decided she should have some field experience, so it was the young woman who resembled one of my students who groped at my testicals and stuck her finger up my buttock. Yes, the fear of having an erection entered my thoughts while she was groping away.

    1. I had an embarrassing examination experience 40 years ago, when I was in Jr. High School and swimming naked and being inspected before entering the pool was mandatory for boys in gym and on the swimming team. The female substitute gym teacher had taken over the class when Mr. Peterson was called away too a faculty meeting, leaving us in Ms. Andleson’s capable hands. We were somewhat nervous being naked in view of her at the poolside, and too make matters worse, Jenny was in the boy’s locker room dropping off some paperwork and was asked too make sure we didn’t screw around in the showers because some of the boys were chronically late fore role call and pre-swim inspections. Having a female classmate supervise our shower activities was mortifying, especially since I had a crush on her and sat behind her in English literature class. She smiled at me, embarrassing me further because of the impending erection I was getting with her watching me shower off soap suds too pass inspection. She had seen us naked before, and it never got any easier having her stand there watching us, but she prabably knew that I was smitten with her, by the way I stole glances of her hair when I didn’t think she could see me out of her periphery. I saw her looking right at me, and she was seeing hair between my legs, as well as on my head. I didn’t want too be seen getting inspected with the rest of the boy’s class but was certain that she would be assisting the substitute phy-sed teacher with role call, clipboard in hand, marking off our names as we sounded off in alphabetical order while she got a good look at our exposed genitals while we stood in a row along the poolside. She’d done this routine a couple of times before when our gym teacher was in a hurry too start class, and it was embarrassing then, and would still be just as embarrassing standing there in our birthday suits again that day.
      I was mistaken. The female substitute teacher held the clipboard and marked off our names as we replied “here!” The cute looking student aid was the one going down the line, checking for symosis and tortion as she lifted one set of testicles after another, instructing each red faced boy too turn and bend over, grabbing our ankles so she could part out cheeks and check for hygiene and hemorrhoids. I couldn’t look her in the eye as she lifted my testicles, looked under my penis, and parted my cheeks too mortifying effect.
      Come too find out later that she was being groomed for a scholarship so she could pursue a career in physical education and sports medicine, likely in an administrative capacity. The phy-sed teacher had her supervise us after class too make sure each and every one of us took a shower and used soap. Our teacher warned us that iether her or her student aid would be checking us if we didn’t appear too be washing ourselves thoroughly. If we didn’t want our rectums exposed again after class we better make sure too do a good job of washing and rinsing our stinky behinds because our female classmate was going too see our cheeks parted during scrubbing and rinsing, or when she parts those cheeks herself too see how filthy we still are after not washing in front of her. Iether way, she’s going too be making sure we didn’t go too next period classes stinking and festering of unwashed behinds and pubes.
      I asked my classmate too go out with me in English class, explaining that I was too embarrassed and shy too do so a month ago, but had nothing left too be shy about after her examination of my no longer private parts that afternoon. Making a fool of myself was mute, after avoiding eye contact with her due too embarrassment and modesty lost.
      She said yes, admitting that she thought I had nice equipment and wanted too get too know the rest of me a little better.

  2. Bob, did the doctor tell the young doctor what to look for and how during the prostate exam? I’ve always wondered exactly what they were doing. I’m glad they don’t ask men to do self examinations. And why did your doctor wait and make the poor girl learn on the yucky part? What a strange learn on the job task. Maybe we don’t pay doctors enough. I could never be a doctor, I’m afraid of sick people.

  3. Modesty is a learned experience. It’s society that makes us that way and we have to unlearn it all as it interferes with life’s ‘experiences’.

    After having a child with 12 people, male and female, clustered around my nether regions, I don’t have a problem getting naked for doctors. What could be more intrusive than the child-birth thing?

    The loss of control as we get older bothers me more than people seeing me naked. As a child, without the life experience, it doesn’t matter. That’s just how things are. But as an adult who knows what control is about, and knows that having a group of people watch you pee isn’t the norm, it’s very difficult.

    I’m pretty sure the bed pan thing will bother me, particularly if I have to do it lying down. How many years did we spend as children teaching ourselves not to wet the bed, then suddenly we’re required to do something that feels exactly like that? Not a pleasant thought.

  4. Glediar, why in the world were 12 people in the delivery room when your daughter was being born? Was most of them family? I can’t imagine that many medical technicians being needed?

    And you’re right, most kids don’t remember things before 4 or 5, but at the other end of life, if brain damage hasn’t gotten us, all those experiences will be very unpleasant and embarrassing. Getting old is scary. It’s losing independence and choice. I hope I can be the kind of person that laughs at my situation rather than withdraws into depression.

    I have notice in a lot of people at the end, how they can accept so much indignity, but the number one thing they want is to be at home. I’m sure I’ll be that way too.

  5. Re the delivery room: The only person I knew was my husband. My case was a little unusual so I needed a lot of different specialists and they also brought in some students.

    I’m hoping by the time I get to the age where I need daily assistance that I’ll have worked out that there are other things more important to worry about, or think about. And maybe I’ll be thankful there are those around who care enough and are willing to make sure an incontinent old lady doesn’t spend the day sitting in her own urine.

  6. Well, I got a good laugh reading all that, mostly because of how much I can understand it and have similar fears. When I was decommissioned earlier this year I made certain to take the time to shave myself very well that morning. Didn’t want another individual anywhere near my private parts with a razor…which of course seems odd considering what the doc was about to do anyway.

    Men should never find themselves with their feet in the stirrups, there is something fundamentally wrong with that entire picture.

    1. When I had no surgery too insert a stint into my kidney via my ureter. Knowing that the stint was going too be inserted into my urethra, snaking it’s way down my penis, through my bladder, up through the ureter, into the opening of my right kidney.
      It was awkward meeting the two young female medical students who would be assisting my urologist in the medical procedure, them holding and guiding my genitals while the doctor operated the device that would be shoving that stint into my penis, all the way too my right kidney and then withdraw the wiring plumbing snake like apparatus, like a bad ingestation scene in the movie Alien, the Ripley going into my reproductive system, rather than coming out of my stomach. The bloody mess left by both procedures was the same, though, the coagulating blood and mucus a horror show that made me thankful that the two young ladies shaved me before the procedure, because all that bloody gore would not have come out easily, or completely, of my pubic hair had it not been removed pre-surgical shaving in front of people sitting in medical theater seating, high above my operating table. It was humiliating too have my bloody penis examined in view of the family members of the people sharing the operating schedule with me, getting put under before and after my procedure was scheduled. I was too out of it after being revived from the anesthetizing gases to complain about it, therefore, I must not have a problem with it. I could see and hear everything, my ability too feel quickly returning as I lay there conscious, but totally incapacitated, unable too even speak or move much, let alone protest or complain in any comprehensible language. The guy that came out after me was still unconscious for the majority of his operation procedure, which is just as well, since his prostate, via his rectal opening, was the point of entry and focus of their invasive examinations in view of his granddaughter who did buy and watch an equally invasive examination of my genitals equally as bloody, but not as degrading as his backdoor shave and post procedure examinations. When he finally came too, asking me if any of his family or these other strangers actually saw his procedure and digital inspections, looking back on the far more invasive exploration of his plumbing with video cameras and fiberoptic appendages going inside his but, so everyone could see on the monitors what the cameras inside of him were seeing. I simply responded – “ASK ME NO QUESTIONS, I WILL TELL YOU NO LIES.

  7. Carl, did they tell you ahead of time you could shave yourself, or was that something you thought up on your own? I figured they wouldn’t have to shave me below the belt because I didn’t think the hole they would make putting in their snake up my vein would be big enough to worry about hair in all those other places. Like I said, I shouldn’t have worried, getting shaved in my private area turned out to be a pleasant experience I can joke about.

    When they rolled me into surgery they put me on this very narrow table that I was afraid I’d roll off of. Of course, I had no clothes, and the room was full of people. Two or three of them quickly came over and whipped out little plastic razors and began shaving my chest, and then rolled by back and forth so they could shave my back. And I’m not even that hairy.

    When they did that, they had to hold me up and I was worried they wouldn’t be strong enough. It wasn’t as much fun in the surgery room. No one wanted to joke and talk. They covered me with sensor patches and wires. And I don’t even remember being knocked out. Just one moment I was looking at the girders in the ceiling and the next moment they were telling me the surgery went great. And it did. I had years of dealing with a heart arrhythmia and now it’s gone.

    The worse thing about the whole affair was I had round red welts that itched for weeks where they put their sensors. I’m always afraid of going to the doctors, but they always fix me, so I guess I shouldn’t be afraid. And I’ve learned not to be embarrassed.

    And I hear much worse stories that make me feel like a wuss. I have a friend that had prostate cancer and he went through a hell of an ordeal that scares the crap out of me. But he’s doing great now. I keep telling myself not to be afraid of medical procedures. I tell myself I’m lucky to have insurance that allows me this care and I should feel lucky.

    Since I posted this story I’ve heard and read about a lot of experiences other people have. We all have fears about doctors and worry about issues of modesty. The odd thing is we don’t talk about them much. I think some people are so embarrassed by their fears they just don’t want to talk. But I think it helps to talk.

    I hope anyone reading this essay feels less scared about their future doctor visits. And we need perspective. I mean getting ones pubic hairs shaved is nothing compared to getting chemo. But we should not even fear that if we need it. Being healthy is more important than anything else.

  8. Thankfully I was instructed to do this ahead of time. And I’m glad I did. As cute as the nurse was who came in before the procedure to give me a run down of my post-procedure information it would have been extremely embarrassing to have her shave my testicles. That and I’m not sure I could allow someone to be that close to me with a razor without being knocked out first. 😉

    I think we are all afraid of being at a place in our lives, whether young or old, that we have to relinquish control to someone else. One of the most horrifying ideas is what you mentioned, having someone else have to assist us with our bodily functions. The prideful part of me would rather die at that point and I obviously hope to never be there in my life and wish the same for everyone else as well. Its not reality, but it certainly is what I wish for.

  9. To JWH:

    Forgive me if I read your story differently than others might. But it bothers me for several reasons.
    First, your story bothers me because the way you were treated was not ethical. Your modesty was not respected. Neither was your dignity. You were treated, as you said, like a machine, a piece of meat.
    Second, this kind of treatment is all too common for men. Granted, both men and women have their modesty violated in our healthcare system, but, with mostly female nurses, CNA’s and other assistants around, it’s the men who suffer most from the double standard. Rarely, if ever, would you see several men working on a woman like that unless the woman agreed. Now, I realize in OB-GYN it used to be different, but that has changed considerably. A good number of women in OB-GYN won’t have male nurses working on them. And their wishes are not only respected, but they are most always asked ahead of time if they mind a male nurse. Were you asked? Why not?
    Third, as long as men put up with this kind of double standard, it will continue. And it will make it more difficult for men who don’t want to put up with it to protest. It sounds to me like you’re playing the old “macho” game. “I’m a man. I can take it. Real men don’t wine, they don’t complain. I don’t like this but I’ll just shut up and let them do what they want to do.”
    Fourth, it sounds to me like you’re rationalizing. Writing your story above is your attempt to make light of it. You had, frankly, a horrilbe experience that violoted your dignity and modesty. Who wants to really face that, and then admit to yourself that you allowed that to happen to without rightfully refusing to accept their unethical interpretation of protecting your dignity and modesty.
    I can’t tell what’s really going on in your mind. But that’s how I read and interpret your writing, and just as your story belongs to you, my reading of it and interpretation belongs to me.
    Your story is not funny. It isn’t even humerous, even though to try make light of it. I assume that you really didn’t appreciate the way you were treated. If you go back into the hospital, and allow that kind of behavior again without protesting, (unless of course you’re fine with it), then you have not basis to complain. And, frankly, if you’re completely okay with that kind of treatment, then why bother writing about it on this blog.
    If it does really bother you, then do something about it. It’s not as if these nurses and CNA’s don’t know that this bothers men. They know. Either that, or they never really read men correctly and interpret this macho attitude as consent when it really isn’t. And even if there was a male nurse available, unless you ask, you’re not going to get that consideration. Why mess up the schedule if it’s unnecessary.
    It’s your life and your body. Do what you want. But more often than not, your modesty concerns will be met if you first, speak up, and second, insist. Granted, sometimes, like when we’re out cold on the operating table, we give up control completely. But that doesn’t mean we have to give up control completely from the moment we enter a hospital. We have the right to control the values we have about our dignity and modesty.
    Don’t forget that next time you’re in the hospital.

  10. Minutemoon, I really appreciate your reply. I have learned a lot from people responding to this post. I can honestly say that my experiences were all positive, pleasant and completely satisfactory by my standards. What I learned is my standards are not the same as others, and for many men, modesty is a serious issue.

    When I wrote my blog post I was trying to make fun of myself. I have a habit of dreading new experiences. It’s not a major anxiety but I’m well aware of it. This anxiety works with going to restaurants, cities, doctors, people’s homes, etc. I like to imagine how things are going to be in my mind before they happen, so unless I’ve done something a couple times before I feel a slight anxiety or dread about doing something new.

    I was dreading having my private parts shaved – but when it actually happened it turned out to be a very pleasant encounter with a strange woman. It could have turned out badly, but it didn’t. My post was trying to make fun of how dread things and then they turn out to be fun. I mentioned open heart surgery hoping it won’t be as bad as I dread too. It’s going to be bad, but I hope it’s not as bad as I imagine, if I ever need to have it.

    My story opened up a whole can of worms though. It seems there should be ethical issues related to disrobing, whether you are female or male. My guess is the women I met sized me up very quickly and knew I wouldn’t be bothered. I’m sure they have the experience to do that, or should.

    I guess they should ask everyone if they want to get undressed in private. If they had asked me that I would have said no because I would have been afraid they would have gone off and made me wait some more. I hate waiting at a doctor’s office. First they make you wait in the waiting room, then the nurse takes you back to the exam room and you wait some more. I’m guessing my doctor and nurses know that most men are anxious to get out their offices, so they just let us strip in front of them. They may even prefer we didn’t, and they might be letting us have our way.

    I was more worried about offending the women. In fact, I never felt the slightest offense from the women in my story. I’ve know women are very sensitive about any unwanted advances or crude behavior on the part of males, so I was more worried that I was breaking the rules by just shucking off my pants.

    But it’s like you said, Minutemoon, everyone is different and it’s important that institutions deal with that difference. America is a very prudish country. We’d rather our kids see graphic violence rather than nudity in a film. In other countries, male and female kids undress together when they need to put on swimsuits. It’s all relative.

    I want to emphasize my story was meant to be funny, but I can see where it can be very unfunny for some. I have no interest in making fun of other people, but I like making fun of myself. I was a duck out of water. I was trying to make fun of how I still have slightly prudish ways. How I fear new experiences. Usually though, my anxiety is just wasteful because I end up enjoying myself. I’m just stuck in my ways. I love living in my rut.

  11. JWH:

    Thanks for your response to mine. Everyone is different. But you’re correct in that we’re a very prudish culture and that this subject is not discussed between doctors/nurses and patients. It should be. Too offen medical people stereotype patients, especially men. They assume that most men don’t really care about their modesty and then proceed to conduct the exam or procedure with that philosophy.
    I do respect your point of view if you feel okay with what happened to you. But I do caution you and others — there is such a thing as unprofessional and unethical behavior, and I think there are absolutes in this area. For example, the nurse who threw back your covers exposing you. That’s unprofessional, even if you didn’t mind. It should never happen. A patient’s modesty should always be protected. If fact, some nurses generally get suspicous of patients who care little about modesty, fearing they may like to expose themselves to women. You may not have minded having those covers thrown back exposing you, but others would. And how would the nurse know whether it would bother you unless she asked about your modesty? See what I mean. She just assumed.
    Also, you mention all the people that were in the room. Doing intimate procedures on males is not a spectator sport. Privacy needs to be protected. Only those absolutely needed for the exam or procedure should be there — and, the patient should be asked — especially if the doctor/nurse wants a chaperone, observer or student to be present. You may not have minded, but how were they to know unless they asked.
    So, although I do respect that we’re all different and you didn’t mind, I do resent that when things like this happen to people like you and there’s no complaint, the system just continues to assume that treatment like that is okay.
    It isn’t. It’s unprofessional and unethical.
    I do compliment you on bringing this subject up and posting it on our blog. It needs to be discussed more and brought to the attention of medical professionals.

    Merry Christmas

  12. James W. Harris, thanks for your “Modesty” blog
    entry. It’s obviously been picked-up by those who
    scan for “patient modesty” on the net. You may be
    wondering who “minutemoon” is. He’s probably
    one of the men who have placed THOUSANDS of
    comments on the bio-ethic medical blog of Dr. Maurice
    Bernstein, “Patient Modesty, Volumes 1-8” (and growing). There’s also Dr. Joel Sherman’s, “Medical
    Privacy: A Patient Oriented Discussion” from which
    I’ve cut-and-pasted some blog entries which respond
    to your own “modesty” entry.

    It’s generally estimated that a full third of American men have acute modesty issues that they never mention. They stay away from doctors and die of delayed treatment. Another third are homophobic and want the female domination of medical health workers to stay in the present 90/10 split of females-to-males. The last third fall into “truly don’t care” and those who are “titulated” by female assaults on their modesty — the fetish CFNM crowd of sexual submissives and those exhibitionist men who enjoy the opportunity to offend female workers who must deal with their nudity In other words, they welcome such attention in medical

    Your blog entry was brought to our attention by
    Dr. Joel Sherman, one of the internet champions of
    medical privacy and respecting patient modesty.

    “Joel Sherman said…
    Here’s a blog entry from an older guy who describes some of his experiences with medical care and his modesty concerns with it. He’s not very embarrassed, maybe less so than most people, but it’s still interesting. I’m sure many women could tell similar stories.

    (an active link was under the words — blog entry)

    December 19, 2008 2:36 PM”

    “Anonymous said…
    Dr. Sherman, the entire subtext of Mr. Harris’ experiences is the discomfort and humiliation that
    he is trying to take lightly — “taking it like a man”. The medical atmosphere he’s in is totally insensitive to what he might be feeling so he is forced to joke about it. I’ve been there. Of course, the basic issue of this blog section has alway been — would a woman be treated the same and with an opposite or mixed gender
    team in these situations. If it’s the same for both genders then we all have no real right to complain.
    My experiences tell me it is not.
    That’s why we’re posting here.

    December 19, 2008 5:25 PM”

    “Joel Sherman said…
    Mixed gender teams are pretty common in hospital settings, not so much in offices. But I agree that it would be very rare that a woman would have a bunch of men taking care of her for an intimate procedure. You’ll note from the article that the author just thinks that’s the way it is, but of course he chose a woman physician to begin with so you wouldn’t think he had a high level of concern. I was more surprised that he had substantial modesty issues about the procedures after choosing to see ladies. There are enough male dermatologists.”

    December 19, 2008 6:22 PM

    “Anonymous said…
    Harris’ blog entry gives us an opportunity to look behind the words of his medical banter exchanges and mirror some of what we all feel in these very awkward situations.”

    “I was lying on a gurney in a staging area when a cute young nurse came in.”

    (READ: a sexually superior female who is about to put a male into a submission position that is both unnatural and uncomfortable for most men, especially older men, who are feeling the inferiority and unattractiveness of their age.Obviously, this young women wouldn’t give him the time of day if he said “hello” to her in a bar).

    “Carrying a toolkit that looks like her job was blood collecting. I said, ‘You here to collect blood?’ And she said, ‘No,’ and pulled out a little washcloth size towel, and looked aside while throwing back my covers…”

    (READ: Letting him know she is grossed out and potentially insulted. It’s certainly not her modesty she’s protecting.)

    “…(she) slapped the towel over my genitals, grabbed on good, and then whipped out a plastic disposable razor with her other hand and quickly began shaving me.”

    (RECAP: She throws back the covers,
    embarassing the man (establishing dominance) while averting her eyes (registering her rejection of him as a sexual being). In a moment he is both stripped and
    rejected. Then an inadequate covering is tossed in place so that after his modesty has been violated there is now a game at hand, not so much to protect him as to shield both her virtue and disgust, which she then freely acknowledges when he brings up the subject.

    “‘Wow! You have quite a method for protecting my modesty,’ I said.” (Recognize the nervous response, guys?)

    (READ: She could have asked him to position the wash cloth underneath the covers before she suddenly removed them.)

    ” ‘I don’t want to see anything and I know you don’t want to show anything,’ she said, while dry-scrapping the hair off my thigh and across the top of my crotch.”

    (READ: spare me any possible sexual overtones, you old letch)

    “’I am a little modest,’ I admitted, ‘but I mostly don’t want to gross young people out with naked oldness.'”

    (READ: More nervous banter from him — the type of words that seem to come easily when you’ve just been been royally embarassed by surprise. You tend to apologize when you should be furious.)

    “‘Thank you,’ she said with an appreciative smile. ‘And oh my god,’ she suddenly remembered, ‘I know what you’re talking! The first woman I had to work with was old and wrinkly, and before I had a chance to glance away she just let it all hang out for me to see. I sure wished she hadn’t shown me that future.’

    (READ: I’m glad we both understand our position here. You’re the gross old man and I’m the hot, young, object of desire who doesn’t like be revolted by your possible sexual interest during my job.)

    “In all, a medical episode that
    would have happened to me a
    couple of years back before I
    started reading blogs like this.
    Now, I can safely say, never again.
    I refuse to go home from medical
    procedures unnecessarily humilated.
    I ask nurses and techs to explain
    everything first, then I tell them
    how I feel most comfortable. If
    necessary, I get in their face
    about it. If really necessary,
    I leave. – JASON”

    December 20, 2008 12:03 AM

    Anonymous said…
    “Every procedure should be explained
    and in essence permisson is requested. For someone to simply walk up to you as a patient and begin any procedure is battery and just plain ignorant! I always ask for a male nurse on any intimate procedure. It’s my way of being in charge. It’s my way of disempowering female nurses who have this sense of power and dominion lacking any moral compass that comprises decency and respect!

    Unfortunately, you have to ask for respect for your privacy. As redundant as it sounds it is true. Otherwise they will walk all over you. Don’t expect the same respect for privcy that say a female patient would get. Discrimination abounds for male patients!”

    December 20, 2008 4:33 AM
    Post a Comment

    © Joel Sherman 2007-2008

    1. I cannot understand why someone would sooner die an agonizing death, than endure a temporary condition of discomfort called embarrassment. Getting undressed too prevent a life threatening medical condition, like cancer or thyroid disease, is a no brainer. I have never received a lethal dose of humiliation, and I believe that only Japanese citizens have a legitimate claim that they can and do. I consider ritual suicide too be a cowardly evasion of the responsibility too man up, and take your mortification like a man. Saving face, is a poor substitute for saving your life.

  13. I for one will never let ‘any’ female nurse touch me any place that my bathing suit or underwear covers.
    It is just my way -and it will be respected.
    I had a recent incident when I was called into the examining room at my urologist by the by the nurse – (and I had no idea in the world what the procedure was or consisted of) – and without any explanation at all by her (or the doctor that told me ‘he’ was going to do it) – The first words out of her mouth were, “First I want you to get onto the table, then I am going to insert a catheter into your penis – Shocked, angry & overwhelmed I said, ‘I am not comfortable with this’ – she then said, then I am going to fill your bladder with water to flush it out of urine’ – AGAIN I said loudly, angry and very upset, “I am NOT comfortable with this at all!” – – raising her voice in a coercive way and glaring, she continued saying, “now if you will get over here onto the table, I am going to get started and insert the catheter into your penis and then refill your bladder again, then the doctor will come in to exam you” – – – I AGAIN said, “I AM NOT COMFORTABLE WITH THIS AT ALL AND I AM OUT OF HERE!!!” I walked out and slammed the door.
    What part of what I said didn’t she understand – she should have gone for the doctor after I told her the “1st” time that “I was not comfortable with this”.
    As a nurse, she should have detected “patient sensitivity”. Instead, she tried to ambush me into meeting her ‘demands’ by turning a closed ear to me just to get a ‘piece of meat’ on the table to show she can do her job at any cost to me of embarrassment, intimidation, or lack of patient modesty and sensitivity.
    If it were a male nurse, I wouldn’t be here writing about it. Women have their Patient Rights – and so do I – If I had known what the procedure was before hand if the doctor explained it to me, I would have told him the only way it will be done is if he did it or having a male nurse do it at the hospital across the way. (this day, it was to be done at his office).
    In writing this, you cannot portray what her voice sounded like in the demeaning manner she was trying to persuasively talk down to me to get me onto that table. My rule is – their will ‘never’ be a female nurse touching me in that way. It was for a ‘cysto’.

    1. i say you made your point good for you after i was cleaned up after my prostate was removed i felt violated by two nurses i got my cell called the wife to come and get me out of the hospital a nurse heard me and told me but you cant leave in witch i told her jest watch me . wife came and told her how i was treated no need for an explination and we leaft me in a gown a cathitor and a tube comeing out of my side the doctor called me at home to see how i was and to ask why i did what i did after i told him he had a inqury done on my behalf and a month later received a letter apolojising for what was done to me i still have the letter . free health care in canada doug

  14. I applaud you my brother: There is absolutely no way that I would ever allow a female to do any type of procedure on me that involves my genitalia or rectal area. Just like females as for a female nurse I have th right to ask for a male nurse or a male tech. Many doctors assume that men don’t care who the nurse or tech is. That’s where they’re dead wrong. Men have rights just like woemen have rights. After I had a few bad things happen to men that females were to blame for I insist that if there is not a male doctor or a male nurse or tech that can do these procedures then I’ll refuse. That’s my right. I don’t care how much money they want to make most of then I think just want to get their rocks off .

    1. Well Boris, everyone has a right to what they want. I’m perfectly happy with women doctors, and I’m starting to prefer them. I think men and women are equal in their skills, but it seems like women are a touch more empathetic.

      Boris, what are you going to do when you have to have surgery? I’ve had surgery twice now, and I was like a turkey on the dinner table, naked and exposed to all around me. I think each time I had 5-6 people around me of both sexes.

      I’m not sure they even see me as a person. I feel like a car in the shop and they are working on me as fast and efficiently as they can. I’m sure hospital workers have seen so many naked humans that we’re like dogs and cats to them.

      1. During a recent AAA surgery, there were about a half dozen people in the room, ALL.. males! Except for one female, she was sitting in front of a computer screen, I could see that she was playing.. solitaire??? That was the last thing I saw just before I got to 97 counting backwards. I woke up to this nurse, she looked to be maybe 12 years old, pressing on the incision. Seems I had developed a bleed after the surgery. But trust me, I was not the least bit bashful about that, because finally she called in some other people, right back into surgery to fix the bleeding which scared me. The 2nd time I woke up, some older nurse was bringing me food. They had me strapped down, wouldn’t let me move for two days. Ever try to urinate lying on your back with a Nurse aiming you at the little bottle? Getting old is a PIA.

        1. You must tell your doctor no students, and hospital officials you prefer male nurses, or these kids will invade your privacy every time………

  15. I find it sad when women say they have no modesty concerns after childbirth.
    I’m a very private person and shopped around for a good female obstetrician. I gave birth in a private hospital and told them ahead of time that I wanted a private birth. It would affect my ability to labour if I had 12 people peering at me. There is no need for that many people to be in the room, specialists or not. In my case a pediatrician was called in after the birth to check my son. (that is the usual procedure) There was an anti-room attached to my private room and any extra people worked from there….it was just my Dr and her midwife. (my husband was still overseas on a business trip – I went into early labour)
    It doesn’t take much to respect a man or woman’s privacy and dignity, just a little thought. I don’t believe childbirth is a spectator sport.
    I chose not to have men involved in my medical care – I had a distressing experience with a male Dr when I was 19 and became acutely aware that male doctors are actually male.
    Once you lose trust, it’s hard to find it again.
    I’m pleased you weren’t upset by your treatment, but some people would be…and I can see why.
    Thanks for sharing your story.
    By the way, I also fear the loss of dignity with aging…I saw it first hand with my FIL. He was in a nursing home and I was visiting and was shocked when the nurse exposed him to check his catheter – thankfully, I looked away and saw nothing – this is my FIL and he should not be exposed to his DIL….totally unacceptable.
    The rules of social etiquette apply equally to people in their 80’s and you can be sure I mentioned that to the nurse and her supervisor. (politely, but firmly)
    Sometimes medical staff become desensitized and that is never acceptable when it reduces a human being to a lump of meat.

  16. Your just tying to justify invasion of privacy , it’s ok to expose yourself to everyone in the room, you give the same old response. ( were all professionals, it’s better then cancer, we always leave the door open, Iv’e heard that used car sales pitch before.

    1. That’s an interesting observation, but I don’t think so Bob. I was just trying to be funny about an embarrassing subject. Unfortunately, as we get older and our bodies break down we have to deal with these kinds of situations. No one wants to, but what choices do we have?

      1. I guess I’ll have to man up and take it.Lets face it their is no choice, and the tension builds and builds.Behind the urologist office doors their’s men with emotional stress.Not respected by office staff,these men should be respected by the kids on the office staff.One medical assistant said strip down,I said to her I’m waiting for the doctor,she told the other assistant,she came to the room I was in and said strip down NOW I said I’m waiting for the doctor she said don’t yell,she was only being bossy( no respect ).Your right we’ll just have to take it.And the tension builds and builds.

  17. I understand the getting old part, I just visited my new Doctor. A female, middle 30’s, and way too pretty to be a physician in my mind. Finger up the rear end, gloved hands feeling my testicles, she even skinned back my foreskin and inspected me there, much to my chagrin I failed miserably in not reacting. “Doing pretty good there for your age!” She told me with a huge smile, dropping the silly gown hem and and turning back to her computer. At my ripe old age of 75 I should be over being bashful, truth is, I’m not. OH well, I survived.

    1. And they wonder why men don’t go to the urologist, it’s a matter of decency, men won’t go unless absolutely necessary, bottom line doctors and staff just don’t care………

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