Surgery – Overcoming Embarrassment

One major battle when one is recuperating from surgery is to overcome embarrassment. People create an enormous amount of stress for themselves by keeping their worries a secret. To get best advice, you need to be able to be completely honest and open with your doctors, your nurses and your family.

Shyness is a waste of time

I have had some very difficult conversations with friends and family who could not talk to anyone else about their problems because they were too embarrassed. They usually approach me with vague questions and euphemisms in order to describe the issue. I then have to ferret out the information so that I can help, while they sit and squirm in discomfort.

These questions are usually related to sexuality, constipation, incontinence, or other very personal issues. While these things are very private and hard to open up about, they are also very often side effects of surgeries and health problems and are often easily addressed.

Anesthesia, injury and emotional discontent can affect you mind, body and spirit. And can come with a multitude of side effects. These things are normal; they happen to everyone, and you need to be able to talk about them so that you can get appropriate assistance. Living with these problems is stressful and sometimes unhealthy.

So, take a deep breath, and ask your doctor the tough questions; get that burden off your mind and start feeling better. The embarrassment will pass, but you will feel better for a long time.

Here are a few common ones I have been asked about:


This is a common side-effect of pain killers, and can be exacerbated by lack of exercise when you are recuperating. There are a lot of solutions to this: Lots of fresh fruit, bran and flax-seed are all high in fiber and can help. Your local pharmacist can give you a number of over the counter solutions that will fit the bill. And your doctor should be able to recommend something if you ask.

Talk to someone and get a solution. This can become a real problem if you ignore it. It can lead to back pain and upset stomach.


Having your period can be embarrassing, and because you often cannot use your own supplies in the operating room. This means that you can’t get through it without talking about it. Most of us are not accustomed to talking openly about this, so it can be really awkward.

The good news is that the nurses have seen and heard everything. Even if you may be uncomfortable, but they won’t be. Just need to tell the nurse what’s going on; she will usually have a solution at hand. I have had surgery with my period, and it was weird, but they gave me a very large pad that worked just fine, and brought me a little bag to put it the old one in when I needed to change it.


This can be the result of some specific surgeries, usually related to reproduction. If it happens, talk to your doctor, it may be temporary or it may be a side-effect. Don’t be embarrassed to use some of the over the counter incontinence products like diapers or pads. People will not know you are wearing them.


This can be a side-effect of stress or of certain medications. There are a number of ways of dealing with it. The BRAT diet is very effective: bananas, rice, apples and toast. And if the hospital knows you are having a problem they can provide a suppository that will solve the problem in the short term. Just talk to the nurse and she can recommend something.

Check my Hospital & Doctors posts for more