Woman in wheel­chair feels need to ex­plain her con­di­tion

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - HEALTH - Abi­gail Van Buren Dear Abby is writ­ten by Abi­gail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Con­tact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los An­ge­les, CA 90069. Abby shares more than 100 of her

DEAR ABBY: I am a par­tially dis­abled per­son in my 70s. Be­cause of arthri­tis in my spine and hip, I’m able to stand for only a few min­utes and walk only 20 to 30 feet. When I know I am go­ing to be some­place that re­quires more walk­ing or stand­ing, I use my wheel­chair.

My ques­tion is: How do I re­ply to strangers who ask me, “Why are you in a wheel­chair?” One lady said, “Oh, is it your knees?” I feel the ques­tions are rude, and I shouldn’t have to ex­plain my med­i­cal sta­tus to peo­ple I don’t know. I try to mum­ble some­thing about not be­ing able to stand for long pe­ri­ods, like wait­ing in line. But I’d re­ally like to re­spond with a fun­nier, more flip­pant re­ply if I could think of one. Any sug­ges­tions? — TRAV­EL­LING BY WHEEL­CHAIR

DEAR TRAV­EL­LING: Try one of these “flip­pant” pos­si­bil­i­ties: “It’s noth­ing I usu­ally dis­cuss in public, but it’s con­ta­gious!” Or, “I broke my tail­bone danc­ing at the Bol­shoi.” Or, “Just lazy, I guess.”

How­ever, jok­ing about a med­i­cal con­di­tion isn’t funny. So per­haps you should re­con­sider and just be hon­est.

DEAR ABBY: I re­cently was in­vited to a sur­prise 50th-birth­day party for my twin sis­ter. Her hus­band had a fam­ily din­ner that in­cluded all my sib­lings.

When my brother-in-law in­vited me, he said my sis­ter didn’t want a big party, but he wanted to celebrate our birthdays with this spe­cial din­ner.

I was de­lighted to at­tend, but I must ad­mit I was a lit­tle hurt when the cel­e­bra­tion turned out to be strictly for my sis­ter. My name wasn’t on the cake, and only she blew out the can­dles and opened gifts. (I did re­ceive two cards.)

I know the party was given for her, and I was a gra­cious guest, but as her twin, I felt awk­ward and ig­nored. Am I be­ing overly sen­si­tive or were they just rude? — TROU­BLED TWIN


Oh, my. I don’t think your brother-in-law was be­ing rude. But in light of the fact that you and your sis­ter were womb mates, you were treated with in­cred­i­ble in­sen­si­tiv­ity.

DEAR ABBY: I’m in a sticky sit­u­a­tion. My hus­band, “Ch­ester,” can’t stand to eat meals with my dad. It’s never both­ered me, but Dad some­times “smacks” or talks with food in his mouth. It drives Ch­ester crazy.

We visit them ev­ery week and meals are al­ways in­volved. What do I do? Should my hus­band just get used to it? We de­cided to ask you for ad­vice be­fore we do any­thing else. — IN A PICKLE IN TEXAS

DEAR IN A PICKLE: Have your mother talk to Dad and “sug­gest” that their son-in-law is used to more for­mal ta­ble eti­quette, so would Dad please make an ef­fort to not chew with his mouth open when the two of you are vis­it­ing. I can’t prom­ise it will do the trick, but it may make your fa­ther more con­scious about what he’s do­ing.

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