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Dear Annie: I am a happily married woman. I am also close to “Tom,” whom I have known for 15 years. My husband is friendly with Tom, as well.
The problem is Tom’s girlfriend. There has never been anything sexual about my relationship with Tom. He is four years younger and I think of him as a little brother. I have done everything I can think of to welcome his girlfriend. I’ve called her. I’ve emailed so she can get to know me better. I’ve invited her for dinner. I’ve offered to invite Tom over only when my husband is home. None of it seems to matter. She still thinks he’s cheating on her with me.
Tom has been there during the toughest times of my life. He doesn’t drive due to a physical disability, so I’m lucky to see him a few times a month. His girlfriend sees him almost every night, but even when she’s with him at my house, she gets jealous and picks a fight. Tom does not condone her behaviour, but I’m beginning to feel angry that she is accusing me of things I would never do — like cheat on my husband.
Tom is like family to me. How can I make this woman understand that we are friends and nothing more? I’d love to hang out and have fun with both of them, but she is unwilling. Any suggestions? — At Wits’ End
Dear AWE: Tom’s girlfriend is very insecure. She is unreasonably jealous because she cannot control the relationship Tom has with you except by eliminating it altogether. That is her ultimate goal and the reason why your friendly overtures are not working. If Tom cannot reassure her sufficiently, he will continue to distance himself until he breaks it off with her — or you. Sorry.
Dear Annie: I have a large extended family, with many aunts, uncles and cousins. We try to get together once or twice a year. My aunts and uncles usually attend these gatherings, but few of the cousins show up. I have first cousins I haven’t seen in years, and we all live within 30 miles of each other.
The children of these cousins are now graduating from high school, getting married and having babies. My mailbox is overflowing with wedding and shower invita- tions and graduation announcements. I send gifts to those cousins whose families I am in contact with, but I resent receiving all these announcements from cousins I never see and who make no attempt to have a relationship with me. When I receive these invitations, I ignore them. I know other family members agree with me but still feel obligated to send gifts.
How do people have the nerve to send invitations to people they never see? Do I tell them how I feel or just continue to ignore their mail? — Related in Name Only
Dear Related: If you have no connection to these cousins, never see them and don’t particularly care about them, there is no reason to attend their functions or send gifts — unless, of course, it is to reciprocate for gifts they have sent to you.
Dear Annie: You printed a letter from “Guilford, Conn.,” who discovered she had been taking her thyroid medication incorrectly, which was why she wasn’t feeling any better. She was supposed to take it 30 minutes before breakfast. Her doc- tor had not given her this information.
I am an RN and have been taking thyroid replacement since 1962. In addition to the timing of the pill, you are supposed to take it with a full glass of water. You also should not take vitamin-mineral supplements within four hours of taking the thyroid medication.
“Guilford” is right. If you take the drug properly, it can make you function at a much higher level. Thank you for your column. You do a world of good. — J.G.
Dear J.G.: We appreciate the kind words and your expert suggestions. Anyone on medication should double-check with the pharmacist to find out precisely how to take it.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I ask you for an honest opinion on a potential medical-legal matter. My 82-year-old father has been treated for Parkinson’s disease for almost two years. The medicine prescribed didn’t improve him one bit. I took him to a neurologist for a second opinion about a week ago. It turns out my father doesn’t have Parkinson’s disease; he has progressive supranuclear palsy. Could those two years of treatment for an erroneous diagnosis have made him worse off ? I think they could have. — S.S.
ANSWER: As honest and impartial as I can be in this situation, which is so charged with emotion, I believe you’re wasting time and money seeking legal redress.
Progressive supranuclear palsy, or PSP, is a relatively newly described illness whose early signs and symptoms mimic those of Parkinson’s disease. It often takes a couple of years before a doctor arrives at the correct diagnosis. Furthermore, drugs used for Parkinson’s disease are often used for PSP, although they are not as effective in PSP. Your father’s prognosis would not have been materially altered if he had had the correct diagnosis from day one.
Difficulty in walking and a tendency to fall are early signs of PSP, and they are signs of Parkinson’s disease, too. Rigid muscles and slow movement are two other PSP signs, and they are Parkinson’s signs also. In time, however, a sign develops that’s unique to PSP. It is the inability of the patient to move his eyes downward and then upward. That inability increases the risk of falling and makes reading impossible. The patient cannot aim the eyes correctly to follow the next line of print.
I can tell you something that would benefit your dad much more than the time spent in seeking legal advice. Contact the Foundation for Progressive Supranuclear Palsy. The foundation will supply you with the latest information on it and will give you a better understanding of what’s going on and what to expect. The foundation’s phone number is 800-457-4777 and its website is www.psp.org.
Incidentally, the famous musician, writer and actor Dudley Moore, who starred in many films, including 10 and Arthur, was a victim of PSP.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: My doctor is an older man and a good friend. I respect him greatly. He has been an excellent doctor for me and my wife.
The doctor harps on us to get a tetanus shot. We are both 67. It seems like something that should be done for younger people. Do you think this is necessary? — R.M.
ANSWER: It is necessary if you want to be protected against tetanus — lockjaw. It’s an illness that is pure torture.
In both Canada and the United States, older people are the ones most likely to be infected with the tetanus bacterium. That’s because protection from the vaccine lasts only 10 years. For that reason, recommendations are for 10-year booster shots of the vaccines until death.
I’m with your doctor.