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by Abigail Van Buren

Woman Who Fears Doctors Searches for Painless Cure

DEAR ABBY: This refers to your answer to "Out of Ideas," whose wife refused to go to the doctor for checkups.

Your answer was very glib. I, too, refuse to go to the doctor -- my reason is fear, pure and simple. I am so frightened of hearing something bad, I just don't go at all. The word "tests" is enough to send my blood pressure soaring. In fact, I can't get an accurate blood pressure reading due to fear of doctors.

I'm not as bad as "Out of Ideas'" wife; I've gone to the doctor on occasion when I've had uncomfortable symptoms that drove me there. But the experience was sheer torture. The doctors kept saying, "Calm down, calm down" -- but I simply couldn't. I'm in my 50s and I've never had a mammogram, and I never go for regular checkups.

I would be delighted to learn how to overcome this deep-seated terror, but so far, no luck. I think you should consider this in relation to "Out of Ideas'" wife. She may need help, and it has nothing to do with her intelligence. -- SCARED TO DEATH

DEAR SCARED -- and I hope the "to death" is just a figure of speech. I told "Out of Ideas": "Short of hog-tying her, there is nothing you can do. Every intelligent person realizes that routine physical checkups (physical and dental) are essential to maintaining good health; and early detection, should there be a problem, has saved many lives."

The help that both of you need is psychotherapy to overcome your fear of doctors. Literally tens of thousands of women could have added years to their lives had they caught a malignancy sooner.

DEAR ABBY: Our retirement center runs a trip to the shopping center once a week. Recently I noticed one of the residents put a tube of lipstick in her purse instead of in her shopping cart. I was behind her in the checkout line and saw that she didn't declare the lipstick. Since then, I've been watching her. The week before last, she slipped a bottle of fingernail polish into her bag. Last week, it was toothpaste.

If I speak to her about her pilfering, I know she will deny it and say all sorts of unpleasant things. Still, I am uncomfortable now that I know she is shoplifting.

Shall I tell the store manager? Or maybe tell the other village residents? Or just mind my own business? -- IN A QUANDARY

DEAR IN: It would be a kindness to tell the woman privately that you saw her shoplift the lipstick, nail polish and toothpaste. Tell her you fear that if she does it again, she will be caught and asked never to enter that store again -- or worse yet, arrested. This would be not only embarrassing, but a blow to her family -- and it would reflect badly on the retirement center.

DEAR ABBY: More about "dinner" and "supper": So you'll know where I'm coming from, I live in Winona, Minn., a small city in the heart of the Mississippi's famed Hiawatha Valley.

Here when we eat our evening meal at home, it is virtually always "supper" and is our principal meal of the day.

However, when we go "out" to eat, we never call it "supper." Nobody here ever goes "out" for "supper," but everybody goes "out" for "dinner" now and then. -- ROD HURD

Everybody has a problem. What's yours? Get it off your chest by writing to: Dear Abby, P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069. For a personal reply, please enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope.

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