Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Cultural differences - at the doctor's

Welcome to the second installment of my Cultural Differences series, now with it's own real blog button (thanks Kathy)!

After last month's topic of meeting someone, this time we'll go to the doctor's office!

In Holland I didn't go to the doctor very often. I was hardly ever sick, so didn't make it much further than GP and dentist. It was pretty simple: there would be a receptionist and/or assistant and the physician him-/herself. No nurses or other staff. If you had to have a physical examination, you would undress (behind a screen) and then be completely naked so the doctor could examine you.

When watching US sitcoms or movies I always thought that all those blankets and other cover-ups were because we were not allowed to see the actors without their clothes on, but that in real life those covers wouldn't be there.

Until I moved to the US... First there was receptionist/admin person who dealt with the finances, then there was a nurses station, where I had to fill in forms with medical questions. Then a nurse called me and asked me to step on a scale - fully dressed, even with shoes on! She then brought me to a room, took my blood pressure, asked me to undress, gave me all kinds of covers and told me the doctor would be there in a few minutes. Wow, I hardly knew which cover to put where... How did it all work? So it wasn't just for the movies...? And what took the doctor so long?

My sister, also living in the US, told me that she never used the covers, but I somehow grew to appreciate them (and got a little less clumsy with them too). Because naked is really very naked...

Then four years later we moved to France. I was getting out of my denial phase regarding IF, so a gynecologist was one of the first doctors I saw. There was a receptionist, and the doctor herself. After a short chat it was time for an examination. Please get undressed. Please lie there. Wow... I was cold. No covers. Just like in Holland. What I used to think was normal. They call it "à poil" in French. But hey, this is the first time I see this doctor (it was also the last time, but that's a completely different story). Hmm... ok, get over it, this is a doctor, they're used to seeing people naked...

After two pregnancies in France I've gotten pretty used to it - undress in front of the OBGYN, step naked on the scale, be completely naked during the whole examination. Get dressed quickly once it's over. It's normal. It doesn't really bother me. But hey, I wouldn't mind a little cover...

What is the usual practice in your part of the world when you have to get a physical examination? Are covers involved? Would you be shocked if you would go to a different country and it would be completely different than what you're used to?

4 comments:

Kathy said...

Another great and fascinating topic choice! Here in the U.S., as you shared, it is the norm to have a hospital gown or sheet covering us during an exam. I would definitely be shocked if I was in a different country and there were no gowns or sheets! The button looks great on your blog and I am glad that you like it! :)

Fran said...

In Italy ir's very much like in France and Holland, at least when I was there...you may get undress behind a screen but that's about it, certainly no covers or gowns. Then I moved to Ireland, where even talking about going to a gyne makes people blush (seriously!) giben that most people don't ever see a gyne unless they are pregnant. Not such a thing as annual check up with your gyne. And here they give you all sorts of cover, they even dim the lights just in case you are very very shy. Yes I think it's vey odd that even the doctor seems embarrassed!

mutemockingbird said...

I have mainly seen doctors in the US and even as someone who has always had the covers I thought it was crazy the lengths they go through for fake privacy. During my pregnancy I had to have an ultrasound of my legs to check for clots and they had to check the artery in my groin. It just seemed like a huge pain for me and the ultrasound tech to keep adjusting the covers when, really, he saw everything anyway.

areyoukiddingme said...

I like the covers for warmth, because it's always cold in those exam rooms! But I would feel odd sitting there naked talking to a fully clothed person. So, apparently, I'm suited to continue living in the US, or I can move to Ireland. Good to know!