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Jane Bates: Constipation is nothing to be embarrassed about

Dispatched to the pharmacy for medication to ease a friend’s bowel problems, Jane Bates wonders why buying personal items causes such discomfort, even for nurses. 

Dispatched to the pharmacy for medication to ease a friends bowel problems, Jane Bates wonders why buying personal items causes such discomfort, even for nurses

So you would like tablets that soften the stool?

Yes, thats what SHE would like, I said, emphatically. The medication is for SOMEONE ELSE.

It must have been the third time I had issued that disclaimer. What was the matter with me? Problems in the bowel department are nothing to be sheepish about, so why did I feel ill at ease?

The backstory is that a friend was suffering from constipation. Even prunes, that remedy par excellence, could not shift things along. She needed something akin to dynamite to get her system on track again, but felt too self-conscious to ask her local pharmacist. So I offered to go instead. Nothing embarrassing about constipation, as

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Dispatched to the pharmacy for medication to ease a friend’s bowel problems, Jane Bates wonders why buying personal items causes such discomfort, even for nurses 


Picture: iStock

‘So you would like tablets that soften the stool?’ 

“Yes, that’s what SHE would like,’ I said, emphatically. ‘The medication is for SOMEONE ELSE.’ 

It must have been the third time I had issued that disclaimer. What was the matter with me? Problems in the bowel department are nothing to be sheepish about, so why did I feel ill at ease?

The backstory is that a friend was suffering from constipation. Even prunes, that remedy par excellence, could not shift things along. She needed something akin to dynamite to get her system on track again, but felt too self-conscious to ask her local pharmacist. So I offered to go instead. Nothing embarrassing about constipation, as long as they don’t think it’s me. 

My discomfiture reminded me of a friend’s husband, who was dispatched under duress to buy her some tampons. When he reached the pharmacy he specified that he wanted the ones ‘for ladies’.  

I cannot imagine Boots having a great demand for sanitary products for men, but it was his way of pointing out that this embarrassingly intimate commodity was not for him. 

I cannot fathom his behaviour, nor mine. Perhaps asking for something so personal makes us feel vulnerable. But I was being ridiculous. I am a nurse, and an adult. Constipation is nothing to be ashamed of. The wig and false moustache were completely over the top. Human beings, what are we like?

 

Jane Bates is an ophthalmology nurse in Hampshire 
 

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