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Under the gown

By Casey Schappaugh
On October 16, 2014

When it comes to your body, everyone is an expert, but also a novice. We all live in our bodies and are the first to know when something is just not right.

We all can tell when we do not feel up to par, or our best. What we cannot tell is exactly what is wrong with us.

That is what physicians are for; when we do not know what is wrong. However, knowing the importance of physicians, why are people so nervous about talking with their doctor? What do we fear? Why is it awkward to talk with your doctor?

According to one of the local doctors at the clinic here in Ottawa, part of the awkwardness comes from the invasion of privacy patients feel. This makes sense, considering most people do not enjoy sharing specific details about their life to strangers, regardless of the doctor/patient confidentiality.

Another awkward part of being a patient is those hospital gowns they make you wear. They barely cover your body and can make people feel embarrassed even without wearing them.

However, it is not just about feeling weird when talking to a doctor that stops patients from seeking medical attention. Many people avoid going to seek medical help for fear of the cost and inability to afford the help. According to the U.S census bureau for 2013, about 42.0 million people are uninsured.

Senior, Sarah Carr also mentions her reluctance to seek medical help for fear of the cost. Carr said, “It is expensive” in response to being asked why she avoids medical consultation. There are other students who simply do not have the finances available to afford medical help.

Ottawa Universities on campus nurse, Martha Dodd said people wonder what the doctors will think of them, especially if it is a personal item. “People worry about judgment all the way around,” she said.

Junior, Dirk Megee said he thinks what makes it awkward is the social stigma. “Sexual or mental problems are not suppose to happen to “normal” people and if you have one of those come up you are not normal,” he said.

When it comes to our health physically and mentally we should not be afraid to talk to our doctor. Doctors and patients have a strict confidentiality, which should ease the nervousness we often feel when speaking with healthcare providers.

Sometimes the awkwardness can stem from uncertainty on all your symptoms. According to Cheree Cleghorn’s article on How to talk to your doctor, keeping notes handy on your current symptoms may help keep you organized at the doctors.

Nurse Dodd said that we are afraid when we go into the doctor, “you might come up with something as simple as a sore throat, but if you start coughing and bringing stuff up you are almost positive it is cancer of the throat.”

When it comes to psychosocial issues there is a social stigma towards mental and emotional health too that people do not like. Carr has a different theory, “maybe this happens because in this society they do not want people to think there is something wrong with someone and you don’t want to be labeled as crazy.”

Nurse Dodd said that when it comes to psychosocial issues we are taught that we are supposed to be mentally healthy all the time. “To go to the doctor and admit I cannot deal with it, and I am supposed to be able too it’s hard. It makes us feel like we are not being the adults we are taught to be,” she said.

The feeling of being unprepared adds on to the uncomfortable feeling of revealing yourself to talk about issues like depression, sex, memory, and physical illness. What happens though when we are prepared with our symptoms, yet we are unable to make them understandable?

The intensity scale from one to ten is a great way to explain to your physician how you are feeling. It creates a common way to express the severity of symptoms in a way that you and your doctor can understand.

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