Health diagnosis fills wife’s head with doubts

Published 8:45 am Monday, November 6, 2023

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DEAR ABBY: I have recently been diagnosed with a chronic illness. I am only 40, and I always took for granted that I had plenty of life left to live. I’m happily married, but I worry because my husband, “Al,” has become my caretaker. I feel terrible about it.
My condition is very limiting. I’m in pain all the time and may have to stop working completely. I have developed depression and often cry at home. I feel so guilty, as if I have ruined his life. Al swears he just wants to be with me no matter what we have to go through. I’m just not sure I can handle holding him back from the rest of his life as well. I love him so much. What should I do? – CHANGED IN TEXAS

DEAR CHANGED: Please allow me to offer my sympathy for your diagnosis. Having a painful, life-limiting health condition at such a young age would depress anyone. Please stop adding to it by burdening yourself with guilt for needing your husband’s help. He loves you, and has assured you he “just wants to be with you no matter what.”
It’s important that you discuss your depression and guilt with your doctor. You may need counseling, medication and perhaps a support group to help you with the life adjustments that may lie ahead. Please gather your resolve to fight these negative emotions and reach out for the help you need. It is there, and once you do, you will realize you have a whole team ready to help you through this.
DEAR ABBY: I’m in a book club I started with friends 13 years ago. The 12 of us have grown close and value, appreciate and respect each other. I recently invited a childhood friend to join. She’s an avid reader.
Abby, although she’s a nice person, she simply does not fit in with the group. She talks too much, tends to brag a lot and makes insensitive comments. An example: Two of us are leaving on a cruise soon, and she shared how tacky and claustrophobic she thinks those trips are. The rest of the group were appalled, and I feel awful that I introduced her into my longtime book club.
On the other hand, I cannot fathom telling my childhood friend the group would prefer she not attend. I am sure it would be hurtful. A few of us are hoping you will have a solution. Please help. – READING THE ROOM

DEAR READING: How about being completely honest? Tell your childhood friend that if she wants to remain a member of the book club, she will have to brag and talk less and refrain from making insensitive comments. If she asks what you mean by that, repeat the example you shared with me.
P.S. While I can understand why the two of you who are going on the cruise might have been shocked into silence, it would have been better if those two had spoken up and confronted your friend about why she would volunteer something so negative.
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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: “Abby’s Favorite Recipes” and “More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $16 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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