Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Reader Needing Surgery Questions Scheduling

DEAR HARRIETTE: I was scheduled to have surgery to repair a hernia when the COVID-19 virus broke out. Every elective surgery was canceled, including mine. I was going to have this surgery because where the hernia is feels uncomfortable, and the doctor recommended it. This isn’t like a boob job or something -- not to put anybody down for what they do. But this seemed essential for me. In my town, they are now allowing elective surgeries. I need to have this hernia repaired, but I am worried about going into a hospital with COVID-19 possibly lurking. How do you know when it’s safe to go? -- Elective Surgery

DEAR ELECTIVE SURGERY: Talk to your doctor. Express all of your concerns, and find out what his or her recommendation is under the circumstances. Also, do your own research. Find out if the facility where you will have the procedure has seen cases of COVID-19. If so, are there still coronavirus patients?

Know that elective surgery is the way that doctors make money, so they are likely eager to reopen their practices and offer as many elective surgeries as they can safely handle. With that in mind, you will need to weigh the risk versus the need. Ask your doctor how long you can safely put off this surgery. It could be that there is little risk if you delay it for a few months. On the flip side, if you do it soon, your recovery time won’t be a problem for work since you have to stay home anyway.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I haven’t gotten my stimulus check from the government for COVID-19 relief yet. I started asking around to see if any of my friends had gotten theirs yet, only to get embarrassed. Most of them blew me off, saying they make too much money to be eligible. I have a good life and all, but I don’t make a lot of money. That never seemed to be an issue within my friend group, but this simple question put me in an awkward situation. Now my friends know that I am broke. I feel embarrassed in a way that I never did before. At the same time, I need that check. How should I handle this? -- Embarrassed

DEAR EMBARRASSED: While many Americans have received their stimulus payments, there are still millions of people who are waiting. You can go to the IRS website to find out your status at Be aware that while it seems simple, the website is automated, so you can’t ask questions. If you are unsuccessful in figuring it out, you can write to your member of Congress to ask for assistance.

As far as your friends go, chances are, you are more embarrassed than they were. Your reality of needing that money made you hypersensitive to the differences between you and your friends. It is likely that they haven’t given it a second thought. Stop worrying about what they think about you, and focus instead on taking care of yourself. If these people are true friends, they aren’t going anywhere just because they learned that you need some cash.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)