Health & Fitness

To doctors, nurses your nudity counts for nought

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Summary

  • Culture and what is naked is dynamic, cultural and to some extent determined by religion. Nakedness is without meaning in medical practice.
  • Take heart in the knowledge that the doctors will not remember the fact of your nakedness.

Question: How does one regain self-esteem after a long hospitalisation that involved intrusive medical procedures? I can't face the medical staff that took me through the procedures.

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There is a Kiswahili saying that says Mficha uchi hazai which translates to, 'one who hides nakedness (from their sexual partner) does not conceive!'

In your case and in this context, you would not have gotten better, if you had hidden your nakedness from the medical teams that took care of you. You seem to forget that medical staff see naked men and women daily and I promise you, none of them will remember the size or shape of any of your body parts.

That said, it is common for people to feel embarrassed when they meet surgeons or nurses involved in surgery of their most intimate parts. Many think that the surgeon he met at the wedding is thinking about their body parts. Nothing can be further from the truth and if you can, please relax.

Many years ago, an elderly man was admitted for surgery to the prostate, and when he got better, he killed a goat to thank the gods for raising him from the dead. The ceremony involved killing of the specially chosen animal and the dispersal of some contents of the intestines. There was also ceremonial consumption of a special brew of alcohol.

When it came to his turn to explain to his friends the purpose of the ceremony, he told them how he had been unable to pass urine for several days, and how, therefore, he had gone through a surgical operation while ‘dead’ and how he had been brought back to life in a way he did not understand.

That, however, was not the magical moment of his hospital experience. What he found most amazing was that the young nurses could wash his ‘whole body’ without fearing any part, even the part of his circumcision!

This fearless exposure of nakedness of the man was greater than the magic of anesthesia. The he could not comprehend how girls could face body of and old man without fainting.

Genesis 3:7 says, “Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings”.

The implication of this verse is that before man ate of the forbidden fruit, nakedness was the norm and that we all roamed the garden of Eden without clothes to cover anything including the loins.

Whether true or not, the story is told of a visit made by Henry Kissinger (Secretary of state) to Narok County in the company of President Jomo Kenyatta many years ago. The highlight is reported to have been not the animals he saw in the Mara, but the partial nakedness of a well-endowed Maasai man whose partly exposed penis caught his attention.

Nobody else in the entourage seemed to have taken any notice, but to the American this was important. The lesson here is that what people call naked is relative and is to some extent cultural/religious. The American was shocked, the Kenyans noticed nothing.

The Taliban fought for years to, among other things keep the skins of their women away form the sight of men who are not their husbands. The French on the other hand insist that covering the faces of women is evidence of their suppression and women must dress in the way that they wish. This is in part the basis for cultural warfare.

A five-year-old boy was recently overheard telling his mother not to wear a bikini, because ‘in our culture we do not expose thighs to strangers’. The mother was shocked but understood because the child had just spent time with his grandparents. Culture and what is naked is dynamic, cultural and to some extent determined by religion. Nakedness is without meaning in medical practice.

In the 60s, and 70s, pregnant women wore A-shaped dresses to hide the fact of pregnancy away from the ‘shame’ of being pregnant for as long as possible. On Instagram currently are pictures of young pregnant women showing of their mostly naked bodies as much as they can! For then, pregnancy and nakedness are the norm.

The stories we are telling you here today are meant to give you the comfort that you deserve in the sense that nakedness is not only culturally determined but is also context bound. For example, the midwife cannot deliver the baby of a clothed mother and nakedness is the order of the day.

Take heart in the knowledge that the doctors will not remember the fact of your nakedness. Following a road accident, a woman with serious injuries worried that the doctors might be confronted by her torn underwear! Is this the reason for your concern?