Editor's Note: Hundreds of Ann Landers' loyal readers have requested that newspapers continue to publish her columns. These letters originally appeared in 1999.
Dear Ann Landers: I am a busy physician in a small town. My wife and I have a wonderful marriage, and my practice is thriving. The problem? My parents. I work 12 hours a day and usually bring work home at night. I barely see my kids, and those few moments I can spend with them are precious to me. My telephone number is unlisted because I do not want to be disturbed when my workday is finished.
Patients who are trying to reach me at night often call my parents, who then track me down and insist I call the patients back right away. I have asked my folks repeatedly to direct these patients to my office or to the doctor on call for the evening, but they refuse. They say, "We don't want to offend anyone." Well, when they do this to me, I am offended greatly.
I love my parents and am willing to give my patients 100 percent when I'm up at-bat, but I need some time for myself and my kids. I feel as if I am suffocating. Please tell me how to deal with this. — Going Under in Kentucky
Dear Kentucky: It may be difficult to retrain your parents, but it's not impossible. Inform them that you will not return any calls to patients after hours, no matter who gives you the message. Then, keep your word. If your parents don't want to offend anyone, they should say, "I'm sorry, but our son is not on duty now. Please call his office in the morning and make an appointment. If it's an emergency, go to the hospital immediately."
Dear Ann Landers: Will you please say something on behalf of recovering stroke victims? I had a stroke five years ago.
My left side was paralyzed, my speech was unrecognizable and the prognosis was that I would leave the hospital in a wheelchair. Through sheer determination, I walked out with a cane. My manual dexterity has returned, and my voice and speech have made a major recovery. My legs are still shaky, but I can walk.
People need to know that a stroke can mess up a person's emotions. One tends to laugh at the most inappropriate times and cry at the drop of a hat. Both are uncontrollable.
After my recovery, I had a business making and repairing golf clubs. When I started to deal with strangers, the business went downhill. Recently, a woman at my pharmacy told me she had run into a couple who had been in my shop. They asked what was wrong with me because I sometimes laughed when nothing was funny. Most people think you are mentally incompetent if you do this. I have a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and a Master of Business Administration. I taught myself to design Web sites at the age of 70. I am far from being an idiot. Please tell them. — Bill in Illinois
Dear Bill: You told them in a way far better than I could have. Thank you for educating millions of people today. They never will look at a stroke victim the same way again. Bless you, Bill.
"A Collection of My Favorite Gems of the Day" is the perfect little gift for that special someone who is impossible to buy for. To find out more about Ann Landers and read her past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.