Thursday, April 23, 2009

A tale of two cultures

Finally I made it to the doctor, i have been so scared of checking things like cancer, so on and so forth but at long last i have made it. Made it in the sense that the doctor has taken samples to the lab, whatever outcome, i will take it like a woman.Ofcourse i have been seeing doctors for various ailments but never for cancer conditions. In anycase, my tale is that i started off going to a private hospital where i was attended to by a rather young doctor, by the look of things he is from east Africa judging by his accent, his degree of blackness and of course his physique. To make my condition blunt and known, i had specifically come for .... well women things, i really cant come close to saying it just as it was difficult to relay my problem in front of this doctor.As I entered his room, there was immediate tension.During our rather long conversation there was no mention of calling any part of my body except the phrase down there or you mean there much to my satisfaction.
But then later on I was referred to a white man who appeared older , he must come from East Europe, again the same tool of determining his race was applied as above. But then in this scenario again there was tension, first and foremost the language used was blunt and precise, there were no blinks and no euphemisms.While this made me shrink, i also understood that the message had to be clear so that we don't misunderstand issues. Instead of down there, the concerned body parts were clearly spelt out.

The thing is could the tension and mood that was there in the first scenario been there had the white doctor been young as the African doctor? I speak for my mother who is so afraid of seeing a doctor and I also speak for older women in rural areas who are are very uncomfortable with being examined by young doctors.In fact polls through radio, kgotlas, newspapers, students around the country complain that parents do not talk about health and reproductive issues in straight language but rather employ metaphors and parables to relay such information. I remember vividly my dear mothers aunt, Mma Tshelang at one point of my growing up asking me, if you tell a child where he comes from, how then do you tell her how he was made? the only reasobale explanation is to say from high up.A generation down the line I still havent figured how to tell my 15 year old daughter any of the two questions.Likewise she hasnt asked me yet much to my appreciation.

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