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Or rather, am I being over-sensitive?

(52 Posts)
jellybeanjean Wed 25-Feb-15 23:55:59

A month or so ago, I had to see a medical practitioner regarding a very personal physical problem with which I've had for a few years now. This lady seemed very nice, very friendly; she'd been a midwife for years and seemed to understand the problems I had (basically, the after effects of big babies!) She examined me (the usual, on the side with knees drawn up, we've all been there, yes?) and then she half slapped/half patted me on the bottom before telling me to get dressed. It didn't hurt, but I felt stupid, exposed and completely humiliated. I've tried to put it out of my mind, but I'm due to see her again in a couple of weeks and am dreading it. Am I being over-sensitive?

Marmight Thu 26-Feb-15 00:10:06

Perhaps it was her (rather strange) way of putting you at ease at the end of an intimate examination. I wouldn't worry about it too much. If it happens again and you feel the same, perhaps tell her that it makes you feel uncomfortable? She may well have patted you on the shoulder or back in the same way after any other consultation.

grannyactivist Thu 26-Feb-15 00:27:12

It was inappropriate in my opinion, but if I'm honest I wouldn't be bothered by it if it had happened to me. If it bothers you, and it seems to, then perhaps you could prepare to say something along the lines of; I'd just like to say you patted me on the bottom after the last examination and I'd like you to know I'm not comfortable with you doing it again.
No big fuss, but a clear statement.
flowers because that churned up feeling you get when you're bothered by something can be horrible to live with.

rubylady Thu 26-Feb-15 01:35:37

She probably did it without even thinking, especially if she had been a midwife. They touch women in all sorts of places, don't they?

It's a hard one really because if she didn't realise she had done it and you mention it, she could feel terribly embarrassed. But if you don't say anything, you will feel tense when seeing her. If you feel uncomfortable saying anything face to fact, just write a note to her and either send it on before your next appointment or give it to her before you discuss anything more or are examined again. Just put what you put on your OP and then the air will be cleared. You could add that you do trust her and value her professionalism. Always end with a positive and then it won't seem like a criticism. Not that it is, it's just amending an embarrassing situation for you. That is how I would do it. smile

flowers from me too, it's not nice to be put in this spot.

rubylady Thu 26-Feb-15 01:36:26

face to face

jellybeanjean Thu 26-Feb-15 07:46:58

Thanks for all the replies/flowers/thoughts/help, puts it into perspective and I feel better about it now. I suppose I was feeling a bit under par that day and shouldn't have let it get to me. I won't mention it to her, unless she does it again!

annsixty Thu 26-Feb-15 08:30:55

I was made to feel so uncomfortable at my last smear test that I declined any more when the next invitation came. This was about 8 years ago and the nurse made comments about how she realised how embarrassing it was for "older ladies " and to try not to be tense.she actually said she would do it in a different way to make it easier Well I wasn't at all embarrassed before but I was after she made her remarks. I did say something to the Dr on the next visit and she told me ask for her next time but I never had another.

Mishap Thu 26-Feb-15 08:42:27

I would not give it another thought. Not a problem.

Nurses and docs are aware that people might feel embarrassed, and they cannot second guess who might - so they just do their best. Take it in the kindly spirit in which it was meant.

Elegran Thu 26-Feb-15 09:23:28

If you get her the next time then say with a laugh "You are not going to smack my bottom this time, are you? You did last time and I didn't like it!"

I imagine it was done quite absent-mindedly in a sort of "That's you finished then!" way.

jinglbellsfrocks Thu 26-Feb-15 09:26:59

I think you are being over sensitive. I definitely wouldn't refer to it next time. She has seen so many backsides, she no longer associates them with the actual person. grin

HildaW Thu 26-Feb-15 09:29:29

I too carry the after effects of a big now fitted with a ring pessary which keeps things in their place enough for me not to be handicapped.

I see the same Dr when I have mine done and she is thankfully brisk but sympathetic. I'd not be happy with too much familiarity as I tend to feel both physically AND emotionally exposed on these occasions.

Hopefully if you can maintain a bit of eye contact and perfect a slight scowl if this lady gets a bit too friendly you should be able to keep things on a more matter of fact basis.
However, if she over steps again I'd be inclined to say something....its not an approach that you would tolerate from a why should you do so from a woman.
Sexuality is so complicated........boundaries are there for a reason.

Teetime Thu 26-Feb-15 09:42:20

jelly you are right it is inappropriate but something that midwives, nurses and sadly even doctors used to do without thinking. They are told that this is incorrect these days but if she has been doing it for years she probably did it without thinking and to her it was a friendly gesture meant to put you at ease and not meant to upset you. I agree it would be difficult to broach it with her - you could make a joke of it - I'd better get off of here before I get another smack- that kind of thing. If you were really troubled you could make a complaint but it seems a bit extreme. It wasn't meant to humiliate you I'm sure. I hope your problem is soon resolved. flowers

Marelli Thu 26-Feb-15 09:45:02

I wouldn't have had a problem with it, either. If I'd been in the position of the practitioner however, I wouldn't have done that.

thatbags Thu 26-Feb-15 09:56:50

My GP always says "all the best!" when he finishes a telephone appointment. I think the bum tap is the non-verbal equivalent and it wouldn't bother me. However, if it does bother you, just mention that you'd rather she didn't do the bum tap.

Would you mind a shoulder tap or a pat on the back after a physical examination? It might be useful to ask yourself that because it could show that it's perhaps just the part of your anatomy that was tapped that causes your problem.

I hope you feel better about it all soon and can sort thing to your liking.

Stansgran Thu 26-Feb-15 10:14:43

Perhaps copy and paste these comments without the names and send it to the practice manager " for training purposes". The OP would not be identified as it is not an uncommon event in a practice.

Gracesgran Thu 26-Feb-15 11:30:04

I could not say anything better than grannyactivist but I will add something about some of the other comments. You are an adult so making the sort of comment grannyactivist suggested firmly but pleasantly is all you need to do. You do not need to be alpologetic or jokey. She is a professional and should just accept that it made you feel uncomfortable.

And flowers from me too as these things are not easy.

Gracesgran Thu 26-Feb-15 11:34:12

Just to add that my mother is generally not an oversensitive person but the midwife "smacked" her to stop her making so much noise when she was having my brother. This was in 1945 and she told me about it about ten years ago. This had obviously upset her and still upset her so these professionals do need to be understanding. Thankfully times have changed smile

jellybeanjean Thu 26-Feb-15 22:18:09

Some excellent comments/feedback here, thanks to all. However, the fact remains that the midwife had just finished poking her finger up my backside, I was bare from the waist down, I felt very exposed and I did not like the bum tap.

A pat on the back or shoulder is fine, but I doubt that these days many medics would do even that. I've seen a few over years and it's never happened before. A few of my relatives are nurses and I might see what they think, just out of interest and to find out whether or not they think it's appropriate.

On that note, thanks again and goodnight; a couple of glasses of vino this evening have made me feel more relaxed.


jinglbellsfrocks Thu 26-Feb-15 22:45:21

Yes. Thinking about it - I'm in two minds now. Not very respectful was it? And we all deserve a bit of respect. We are not kids.

Galen Thu 26-Feb-15 23:04:14

I used to ask if they needed any help getting up, and if so help them.

mrsmopp Fri 27-Feb-15 00:20:30

She's a midwife.
She probably slaps babies bottoms every day.
Probably can't break the habit.!

Eloethan Fri 27-Feb-15 15:24:16

I don't think I would have said anything either but I would have found it disrespectful. It reminds me of the way a horse is slapped on the backside to say "off you go". I think a pat on the back or shoulder is a friendly, human-to-human, gesture and that would not concern me - in fact I would welcome it.

As can be seen from the different responses here, it is impossible for a doctor to know what one patient might construe as friendly and reassuring and another one might construe as patronising and demeaning. If it's any comfort, although I think the gesture was clumsy and inappropriate, I don't suppose the doctor meant to disrespect or offend you.

Tegan Fri 27-Feb-15 15:42:14

Not sure how I would have felt under those circumstances other than the fact that, even though I have a terrible memory for most things, most examinations that I've had 'in that area' have stuck in my mind for years afterwards [the worst being a coil fitting that was very painful]. We are at our most vulnerable at times like that and our feelings are probably heightened.

thatbags Sun 01-Mar-15 07:18:31

That is a wise comment, tegan [appreciation of wisdom emoti]

Falconbird Sun 01-Mar-15 07:24:47

Mixed feelings about this. I remember having an ecg and I had to take all my top clothes off. The nurse remarked "oh you're not wearing a bra!"

I thought that this was basically none of her business but maybe she was just trying to make cheerful conversation to make me feel at ease.

I guess it's best to try and forget these occasions and maybe the nurses/doctors feel awkward although they are professionals and should know what is appropriate and what isn't.

Years ago my mum had a vaginal examination and the consultant said,
"Better to wear out than rust out."
Mum was furious and upset.

Oh the coil - what an ordeal that was. I remember a nurse firing what appeared to be a sort of gun at me - yikes. Couldn't tolerate the coil for more than a year.