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Modesty, Humility, and Humiliation

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen 

When using the word nurse, context is very important because of the variety of possible meanings. For many people, it is the noble field dominated by females who provide medical services. Many are usually under the authority of doctors or nurses with higher training and education levels. 

My recent surprise hospital admission caused me to think on a number of things, sometimes helping me complete thoughts from those thrilling days of yesteryear. This time it is about personal modesty.

Most people do not want to be seen unclothed by others. It may seem humiliating, but in a medical situation, nurses are simply doing what is necessary.
Nurses and IV pole, Pexels / Anna Shvets
Nurses in hospitals, clinics, and so on have pretty much "seen it all." This is something that I discussed with various nurses. People are often at their most vulnerable and are dependent on medical folks on many levels. Many actually care about patients. I have had my private parts exposed and touched (the Foley catheter hurt me plenty, especially since they couldn't get it right until the fourth attempt.) Worse, it is important for the patient to notify doctors and nurses of discomfort and pain even though we don't want them to touch our naughty bits yet again.

Stop for a moment and consider modesty. Until they sinned, Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed. (I do not believe that they were ashamed to be naked with each other, as the "act of marriage" was given to us for both procreation and celebration.) Most people do not want to be seen in various states of undress, which is when modesty is in effect. Why do we wear clothes and feel this way? Go back to Genesis 3.

Humiliation happens when modesty is removed and ridicule is applied. Also, people can feel humiliated at vulnerable times, but since nurses have seen it all, they don't pay the client no nevermind and get on with their work — which may not stop for quite a spell.

I felt humiliation when I was exposed, but also because of being vulnerable and dependent. It is depressing to call for help to go to the restroom, a task I have successfully  completed on my lonesome for over six decades. But the heart monitor and IV tree full of fluids either have to go with me or get suspended for a short time and get reattached later. Those and other humiliations were my perceptions, and nothing malicious was intended. It got a little easier as time went on.

Humility and humiliation are mutually exclusive except when someone may want to humiliate another person to "humble" him. Perhaps it helps humility when realizing that the "degrading" experiences in medical care are necessary, so shut up and let the work get done.

Hopefully, this article will help someone who has intense embarrassment in clinical situations. They are doing a job, you are not a thrill or subject of amusement. Also, there is no rational reason to think that you have sinned.

Here is a very short video of a heart monitor alarm going unanswered and an IV tree: