DEAR ABBY: I recently got genital herpes. I am very depressed over it and am experiencing a lot of difficulties, not to mention the expense.
The man I caught the virus from, "Jack," claims he didn't know he had herpes. I don't know what to believe, except that I should be compensated. My life has been destroyed. I hate the fact that this happened and, to top it off, Jack has changed his phone number! Is this a criminal act? Should I take action? -- OUTRAGED IN MISSOURI
DEAR OUTRAGED: Please do not allow having herpes to define who you are. Your life has not been "destroyed." You contracted a virus, as millions of other Americans have. While inconvenient, it is not the end of the world. What you need is emotional support, and it's as near as your computer. There are support groups for people who have herpes -- just Google "herpes support groups-USA" and you'll find groups galore.
As to whether to take legal action against "Jack," please remember that lawsuits can be expensive. And to determine whether he knew he had herpes at the time he was involved with you, you would have to get a hold of his medical records -- which could be complicated. Your time and money would be better spent in other ways than looking backward, and that's what I recommend.
DEAR ABBY: I am 35 years old and the mother of two children. The oldest is 4 and my little one just turned 1.
My mother-in-law had gastric bypass surgery two years ago. She lost a lot of weight and looks great, having gone from a size 16 to a size 4.
My problem is the comments she makes about my weight in the presence of others. For example, "Do you see that 'Cate' is so big-boned and I am so petite?" It hurts, and I don't know what to do about it. What can I say to her the next time she says something like that? -- "CATE" IN OKLAHOMA CITY
DEAR "CATE": Don't wait for your mother-in-law to say something about your weight in front of others. Tell her clearly, in advance, that her comparisons are hurtful and you want them stopped immediately. And if she doesn't comply, the next time she does it, smile and say, "We can all see that you're petite and I'm not, but I'll always be younger."
DEAR ABBY: Early this year, my mother went to the curb to collect the empty trash bin and put it away for the week. As she wheeled it behind her home, she slipped on the ice and broke her hip. She lives alone and was in the back of her property where nobody could see or hear her.
Fortunately, she'd had the foresight to grab her cell phone before she went outside. Because she was unable to stand up she could have frozen to death. She called 911 and within minutes an ambulance arrived to take her to the hospital.
Mom had surgery to repair the hip and is recovering, but it was a close call. This is a reminder to your readers that if they live alone -- or have parents who do -- to make sure to have a cell phone available at all times. -- RELIEVED SON IN ELKHART, IND.
DEAR RELIEVED SON: I'm pleased to pass along your important message. Your mother did, indeed, have a close call. It must have been her guardian angel who handed her her cell phone as she left the house that wintry day. Please tell her I said so and that I hope she's better soon.
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby -- Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)