random musings: women doctors, life, and death

Greetings everyone.  Nothing metaphysical or unduly heavy today.

women doctors

My earlier views of women doctors have been confirmed again in recent months.  In the past 4 and one half months, I have seen two women doctors for separate medical issues.  Women doctors seem to be noticeably better at viewing (and thus treating) their patients as human beings.  This may not be just a subjective opinion.  (But, one needs to beware of generalizations.)  In my previous experiences, men doctors (not all, but many) failed to demonstrate this ability.  These men look at the patient’s chart and go through the required motions, but I have felt at times like the male doctor was viewing/seeing me the way an auto mechanic sees a car in his shop for repairs.  (No offense intended towards auto mechanics.  They deal with machines and not human patients.)  The men doctors can come across as being rather cold and too clinical.  And, the examination and treatment experiences with them can seem somewhat depersonalizing, if not dehumanizing.

Given my very different experiences with women doctors vis-a-vis men doctors, it is not surprising that I prefer to be examined and treated by the former.  (As well, many people appreciate the way they are treated by natural healers who look at the total person.)

This difference in approach may be due in part to male psychology.  Unfortunately, in the USA, we have a rather skewed concept of masculinity.  Some people still think a man weak if he shows emotion or appears to be caring and gentle.  Men are supposed to be hard and not sensitive.  Even compassion could be seen by some as a weakness.

If I weep openly and unashamedly at a funeral of a loved one, that does not mean I am not masculine.  If others think that is a sign of weakness or being less of a man, so be it.  (Readers, you may not want to base your self esteem on the approval of others.  Do what is right even though it won’t always be popular.)

Dear readers, you may think that the next anecdotes detract from the essay and are trivial or unnecessary, or even show a hyper sensitivity on my part, but these are offered anyway as they illustrate a little more about women’s approach to dealing with their patients.  (You can skip the next 3 paragraphs and go directly to the next topic if you like.)  Granted this may be a subjective impression on my part.

With both these female doctors (and at a later time with a woman ultrasound technician), due to the nature of the medical issue(s), I had to take down my pants for each to examine my lower abdomen and genital area.  These 2 instances were the first times that this area of my body was examined by women doctors.   This was a little uncomfortable for me as undressing in front of others is not something that I normally do.  Also, while unbuckling my belt, I informed both that due to my shame at being needlessly circumcised shortly after birth, I had concealed the scar under medical tape.  Neither doctor was dismissive of my feelings, and both were patient with me as I undressed.  The first doctor (a dermatologist with a young woman nurse assistant present in the exam room) was even sympathetic with my painful feelings.

Each doctor conducted her exam confidently, competently, gently, and in a relaxed manner which helped me to shed the discomfort at being so exposed and feeling a little vulnerable.  (Knowing in advance that each woman would need to see and touch/feel parts of the genital area, I had shaved the area the day before.  The doctors seemed not to have expected this, but each appreciated it as the cleanly shaved area made performing her exam easier.)

Obviously these women medical professionals are just that – professional in their work and their approach to it.  But, they showed an understanding, an empathy perhaps, and a patient concern that goes beyond the minimum requirements of their professional duties.  Such an approach is more human (humane?) and serves to reduce the stress and anxiety that often accompany being examined and treated in the doctor’s office.

life

When he was a young boy, I would joke with my nephew that all you would (or could) get out of life was a few good laughs.  This was spoken only half in jest.  Now, Phil is in his mid thirties, and he still remembers this remark of mine and reminds me of it from time to time.  Perhaps there is some truth in it.

death

When she was young, my niece would hear me talk of my thoughts on death (at that time).  This was fairly early in my quest (for insights and for faith) and my views have “evolved” rather significantly since the mid 1980s.  I would relate this analogy to Anna (Phil’s older sister), and she remembers it well.

When you extinguish the flame of a candle or a match stick, there is a puff of smoke that is seen after the flame dies.  This smoke quickly dissipates into the surrounding air and then can no longer be seen.  The flame is the individual while alive.  The extinguishing of the flame is the act of dying.  The puff of smoke is the consciousness that continues briefly  after the body has died.  As the smoke dissipates, so does consciousness dissolve, but one is conscious just long enough to realize that there is nothing after bodily death.  Then oblivion.

This, of course, was before I came to believe that consciousness persists, survives, and continues after mere bodily “death”.  Given that (impressionable) children often remember the things adults say, perhaps I ought to have been more careful in my remarks.  However, Anna seems not to have been negatively influenced by my views of many years ago as she has grown up to be a woman of strong faith.

Best wishes to all.  And, let us pray that the major storm to hit the US eastern seaboard over the next few days does not cause any loss of life.

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