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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Like other people my age, I'm supposed to get a colonoscopy. The difficulty is that someone has to go to the two-hour appointment with me, as well as supervise me for 3 to 4 hours afterward until the anesthesia wears off.

I don't have family here, and my friends all work full time, so I hesitate to ask them. Can I hire a home health aide to go along with me? Is there a volunteer organization that provides companions? Could I stay in the recovery room for several hours and then take a taxi or drive myself home? The lack of a person to accompany me is the major reason I haven't gotten the procedure yet. I know I must not be the only person in this boat. What do you suggest? -- ON MY OWN IN BLOOMINGTON, IND.

DEAR ON YOUR OWN: You're definitely not the only person who has faced this problem, which is why I'm printing your letter.

Do you belong to a church? If so, contact your clergyperson and ask if he or she knows someone in your congregation who would be willing to accompany you for the procedure, drive you home and stay for a few hours. If not, because you live in a university town, contact the school and ask if one of the students would like to earn some extra money by providing you with transportation and supervision.

Or, ask your doctor for a referral to a healthcare aide who might be available to help you. Now stop procrastinating and schedule this very important appointment.

DEAR ABBY: I'm a 28-year-old married woman. I work full time, own a house with my husband and have a great family life. As an only child, I have always been close with my parents. I talk to Mom sometimes twice a day and stay at their house when my husband has to work the night shift.

I mentioned to my parents that I want to get a small tattoo on my foot. They went nuts. Mom screamed at me to get out of her house. She said if I get a tattoo I am no longer welcome in her house. I tried explaining that I am an adult and although she may not agree with my choice, the decision is not hers. Dad said tattoos are trashy. Mom wouldn't speak to me for two weeks. I had to send her flowers to smooth things over.

I don't know what to do. I still want the tattoo. My husband isn't wild about the idea, but respects my decision. How do I get my parents to come around on this matter, and on my judgment in general? -- TIME TO CUT THE CORD

DEAR TIME TO CUT THE CORD: You might start by being less dependent on their approval. Tattoos have become so common they are now mainstream -- worn by doctors, lawyers and people in just about every profession. A tattoo on your foot would not be a sign you are a fallen woman.

However, think carefully about this decision because once it's on, it's there to stay. And be sure that getting it isn't a delayed form of teenage rebellion on your part and that you can live with the flak that's sure to come with it.

Your letter reminds me of the time I told my mother I wanted to get my ears pierced. Her response was: "I gave you a perfect body. If you want two more holes in your head, it's up to you." I did and never regretted it, but it made me think twice. And that's what you should do.

DEAR ABBY: Many of us have old electric typewriters that go unused. Why not donate them to a nursing home or to an elderly person who can no longer write? Even people with severe Parkinson's disease can still hit a key with one finger and write letters they were once unable to do. -- SUSAN IN ARKANSAS

DEAR SUSAN: That's a great idea, and one worth pursuing for anyone interested in recycling.

To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)