Dear Annie: Every week, a group of my neighbors and friends meets for dinner. “Veronica,” a friend of our neighbor’s for many years, is morbidly obese. For the past few months, she has had an overwhelming and offensive odor of stale urine. It’s so prevalent that eating dinner in her proximity is next to impossible.
I am racking my brain to come up with a tactful way to say something. I don’t know if Veronica realizes how horrible she smells. She is a very nice person, but her hygiene has become nonexistent. What can I do? — Need Tact in Indianapolis
Dear Need Tact: If this is a recent development, there could be physical reasons behind it rather than laziness about hygiene. Incontinence and a strong odor can be the result of a urinary tract infection or, in some instances, diabetes. If Veronica is morbidly obese, she could have a bladder control problem as well and may mistakenly believe she is the only one who can smell it. Talk to your neighbor and ask if she’s noticed this and if Veronica is aware of it. One of you should bite the bullet and tell the poor woman she needs to see her doctor.
Dear Annie: I just suffered through a dental visit, and the suffering was not from the pain of treatment, but from the dentist’s rude attitude. And this is not the first time, nor is it the only dentist who has behaved this way.
I am a senior citizen on Social Security, and it is impossible to have regular checkups due to the extreme cost. Put that together with a lifelong phobia of dental work, and my teeth are hardly in good shape. But dentists don’t seem to have any understanding of money issues. I have been rudely lectured time after time. One even came in with my X-rays and slammed them down, saying, “You are going to lose all your teeth,” as if I had done this on purpose. I started to cry and he just stared at me. I never went back.
I just had X-rays and a teeth cleaning and the bill was $340 — half my monthly income. What do they expect us to do? The dental schools need to teach a class on compassion. — Disappointed and Furious
Dear Furious: No one should be browbeaten into having dental work done if it is not affordable. Most dentists are quite helpful about the bills if you discuss it with them beforehand. Explain that you have a phobia, that fixing everything is cost-prohibitive and ask how they can ease your fears while maintaining some regular care. You should leave any practice where the dentist berates you — and be sure to say exactly why you are walking out.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Knowing We Did the Right Thing,” who donated their daughter’s organs and hadn’t heard from the recipients. I’d like to address this to them on behalf of all of us:
Dear Donor Parents: I received a liver transplant on Aug. 1, 2004, in Birmingham, Ala. You will never know what a true gift of life is until you get a second chance. I am so very proud of the decision you made. My donor was a 29-year-old man. I didn’t know this young man or his family until my transplant. His family and mine have gotten together several times since then.
I have two daughters and a son-in-law who are organ donors. Several people became donors after they saw what a difference it made in my life. I want to offer you my heartfelt condolences on the loss of your daughter. I think she would be very proud of you for the number of lives you’ve saved. May God bless you. — Edna in Alabama
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Published in The Messenger 3.19.08