Q “I often get uncomfortable during some hospital visits. I find some of the touches by some medical personnel a bit too intrusive and bad. Is there a way I can tell off intrusive medical personnel without jeopardising treatment?”
One of the most basic rules about the contact between a patient and a doctor is that there must be absolute trust. If ever you feel uncomfortable with the touch or attitude of your doctor, then something is seriously wrong and you must either tell the doctor what you feel, or at the very least stop seeing that doctor. You might however, decide to talk to a person close to you first, A spouse or parent would be a place to start.
That is the simple and straightforward part of the story. In the real world, things are not as simple as we would wish them to be. In this age of me too, none of these things should be ignored because your personal space must never be violated by anybody including your doctor.
Now for a sad story or two.
A young mental health specialist was consulted by a 28-year-old mother of two, who was going through a difficult time in her marriage. The young mother told the young doctor how difficult her life had become. Her 32-year-old husband had turned away from her. In tears she explained how her husband had neglected her emotionally, financially and she felt all alone and lonely.
She talked of the nights she cried herself to sleep, knowing that her husband had lied when he said he had gone out of town on a business trip. The hotel room receipts she often found in his jackets were more than adequate proof that he had not left the city. She explained how difficult life was for her at the time of her ovulation and how she craved the comfort of being in bed with her husband. The doctor understood her perfectly.
It was at these times that the “devil” made himself known to her. She had vivid flashes in her mind in which she saw herself in the arms of another man getting the human contact she felt she deserved.
The young specialist looked at the young woman and remembered his own problems at home. His wife had turned away from him accusing him of working too hard and forgetting her and family. She often told him that he was married to his job and not to her. He had noticed that his wife was drinking wine daily but he had been unable to deal with his family problems. The world expected the healer to heal himself. He was also terribly lonely.
At a subsequent visit to the therapist, they touched “accidentally” and before long were in a passionate embrace with each other. As they say, the rest is history. Her marriage ended up in a messy divorce, and the young specialist left the country in disgrace, never to return.
Two young people had done the opposite of what you have asked us. They touched and had a romantic fling that ended up in disaster. A doctors’ visit must never be violated as it could lead to disaster.
In your case, the physician tries to take advantage of his authority in a way that you find “intrusive and bad”. He must be stopped at once. Another sad story follows to illustrate complexity.
Many years ago, a senior doctor got into serious trouble because a number of his female patients complained of exactly the same things you state. He was a most popular practitioner who saw many patients in any one day. Over a period of a year or two, he changed ever so gradually. At first it was small things; he became argumentative and nurses in theatre started to avoid him. He became harsh and inconsiderate. Soon, they noticed a change in his handwriting and his case notes were hardly legible. Next he became forgetful and would either turn up in theatre when he was to be at the clinic and vice- versa. When examining some patients, he would sometimes seem to apply too much pressure at times he should not. A number of patients deserted him.
After he got an epileptic fit in his sleep, he was diagnosed with a brain tumour in the frontal part of the brain. He died a few months later. It was clear that this doctor had had a serious illness that had made itself manifest through a change in behaviour.
These two stories are intended to show you how challenging things can get. One is the story of two young people who touch each other and the other the story of an older man with a tumour in the head.
Bottom line however, is that if you are not comfortable with your doctor, seek another opinion and tell someone. You might find you are not alone!