Woman refuses to cater to lying, alcoholic sister
ear Annie: I adore my husband of 20 years, and we have the best kids on earth. The problem? My parents. My older sister is divorced and has several small children. She is also an alcoholic and a horribly toxic person.
In the past few years, “Hettie” has pulled several stunts where her drinking has put herself and her children in extreme danger. She insists she is sober, but I know from several reliable sources that she is not. She won’t admit that her cheating and drinking drove her husband away, and she has my parents snowed into thinking it was all his fault. She swindled her ex and my parents out of enough money to net her a nice income, yet she twists everything so that she comes out the victim.
I do not allow my teenagers to babysit for her or get in her car because she allows strange men in her home and drives drunk. She only calls when she wants something, and if I don’t drop everything ( I work full time), she screams at me.
My parents believe I am a horrible person because I don’t buy in to Hettie’s lies or give her money. I’ve tried to help in the past and it brought nothing but trouble. She is a mean, lying drunk. My parents say I need to look past this because she is “ family.” I cannot deal with the drama anymore. I am cordial to Hettie, but won’t make her our charity poster child like my parents do.
I have done my best, but I am still the “disappointing daughter.” Last year, their intense dis-
Dapproval sent me into the hospital with a major anxiety attack. Talking to them doesn’t help. This is breaking my heart. — Refuse to be an Enabler
Dear Refuse: Your parents have blinders on when it comes to Hett ie . Accepting that she is a “ mean, lying drunk” makes them fear it’s their fault, and that is why they blame you instead. You cannot change the way they think, but you can change how you deal with it. If you need help, get some counseling to learn better coping skills.
Dear Annie: I have repeatedly told my daughter to remove her things from my home because we no longer have room for them, but it does no good. We plan on moving soon and cannot take along 10 boxes of our daughter’s books and clothes. She lives out of the country and visits two or three times a year. Each time she visits, she buys more than she can possibly take back and leaves the rest here. It is prohibitively expensive to ship boxes of books to her. What do we do? — Out-of-Space Mom
Dear Mom: Notify your daughter that you will pack up her things and put them in a storage facility for six months or until her next visit, whichever comes first. After that, you will stop paying storage fees. She can then decide whether she wants to keep paying the fees herself, ship the items to her current location, sell them or make other arrangements that don’t involve you. The important thing is that you stick to your guns.
Dear Annie: “Might As Well Be Single” said her husband couldn’t hold on to a job. Thank you for mentioning the possibility that he is suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder. The fact that he has had many jobs could mean he is making an effort to be employed.
I am 70 years old. I had job and school problems all my life and only recently discovered that I have ADD. I always managed to make a decent living, but might have done a lot better had I known earlier what I was up against. And my wife would have had a happier life. — Wish I’d Known
Dear Wish: ADD was not a realistic diagnosis when you were younger, but we’re glad you know now.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: My daughter started smoking as a teen. Twenty years later, she developed asthma. Two years ago, she stopped smoking and her asthma worsened.
The doctor gave her steroid inhalers, and she gained an enormous amount of weight. I am concerned about her. Can you tell me about alternative medicines? Or breathing exercises? — J.H.
ANSWER: Your daughter is an exception to the rule. Stopping smoking improves asthma for most patients. Even if she feels that she was better off smoking, she wasn’t. The dual insults of smoking and asthma are too great a burden for anyone’s lungs.
For asthma treatment, steroids are drugs of the cortisone family. Cortisone drugs are the most potent anti-inflammatory medicines available. In asthma, airways (bronchi) are inflamed and produce thick mucus, which obstructs the inflow of air to the lungs and the outflow of air from the lungs. Steroid inhalers have been a boon to asthmatics. The side effects of steroids are minimized when they’re delivered by an inhaler. I checked five steroid inhalers for mention of weight gain and couldn’t find it listed for any of them. Weight gain is a side effect of orally administered steroids. I’m not positive that her weight gain is due to them. I’d hate to see her stop using them. She would be losing one of the most effective treatments for asthma control.
However, other medicines do exist. She should have a talk with her doctor about making a change if she wants to. Singulair, Accolate and Zileuton are effective asthma drugs, and they are not steroids. I haven’t mentioned all the possible asthma medicines.
Asthmatics are encouraged to be as physically active as they can be. Breathing exercises are not likely to make a big impact on asthma control.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: Is shortterm memory loss dementia? My husband has it, but he is still sweet, loves to paint and acts normal 99 per cent of the time. I put him in a