Dear Abby: While standing in a serving line at a restaurant, a man commented to my wife about her weight. She was very upset. My take was, “Don’t talk to strange men.” Later, I wondered whether I should have confronted the guy, slugged him or waited for him in the parking lot.
As a young man I was prone to rash actions. I would like to think in my golden years that I have outgrown this tendency. Still, I’m not sure I handled the situation correctly. I want my wife to be confident that I would come to her defense. Please advise.
Dear Texas Tom: Although as a young man you were prone to rash actions, as a mature one you gained the ability to control your temper. Had you confronted the boor, the situation would have escalated and you could have wound up in the pokey charged with assault. I’m advising you that you were correct to do nothing. The man is lucky your wife didn’t “serve” him a fist sandwich. A lesser woman might have.
Dear Abby: When my husband, “Jeff,” and I married, we drew up a medical proxy and health-care directives should future incapacitation arise. Jeff is now terminally ill with brain cancer and has about five months to live. Over the last two years he has been through four surgeries, 25 doses of radiation, countless doctors’ appointments, physical therapy and enough pills to fill a steamer trunk. I had to quit working because Jeff is now my full-time job.
As his illness progresses, we have discussed placing him in a hospice. But the closer he gets to death, the more he changes his mind. He demands that I lift, jerk and pull him in and out of bed. When I can no longer do this, he wants me to install a hoist. He needs assistance eating, dressing, bathing, using the toilet and is in a wheelchair.
Jeff’s tumor is growing, causing pressure and affecting his mental attitude. He’s impatient, demanding, selfish and nasty. I’m caring for him at home because it’s his home and I am his wife. Somehow, his illness makes him feel entitled to act like a selfish child. At what point do I put him in a hospice facility without his family calling me a nasty witch and Jeff kicking and screaming to be let out and return home?
End of My Rope
Dear End: Please accept my sympathy. Your husband is sick and in pain, probably frightened and the cancer may have affected his ability to think rationally.
If you haven’t discussed this with your husband’s doctor, you must. It may not be necessary to place Jeff in an in-patient facility because many terminally ill patients can receive the same care in their homes. However, it will take a referral from a doctor, certifying that your husband has six months or less to live. Much of the cost is covered by Medicare, and most insurance also covers it.
Hospice provides visits from doctors, nurses, home health care aides and volunteers who can help with bathing your husband, changing his linens and some of the lifting that you’re worried about. For your sake and his, you should contact the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. It can help you find a hospice provider. The toll-free phone number is 800-658-8898 or log onto www.nhpco.org.
Because you’re afraid of criticism from Jeff’s family, tell them that he — and you — need them to step in and help with his care because it has become more than you can handle alone. If they agree, it will give them precious time with him. If not, they’ll be in no position to criticize you.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.