DEAR ABBY: I recently began going to a new doctor after the one I had been using retired. I like her. She shows a genuine interest in my well-being, seems to diagnose well and I get good results from her treatments. She doesn't keep me waiting and has a charming, warm personality.
So what's the problem? She's not very clean. There is sometimes dirt under her fingernails. Her white coat is tattered and filthy, and when she gets close there's an odor that's less than pleasant. Once after touching me, she washed her hands by sticking her fingertips under cold water for a few seconds -- no soap or scrubbing. She had not washed before touching me.
There are so many good things about her I hate to lose her as a doctor. She'll be insulted if I say anything. If I cancel an appointment, it will raise questions and lead to hurt feelings. What do I do? -- FREAKED OUT IN ALBANY
DEAR FREAKED OUT: Find another doctor. (I was tempted to say, "Run for your life!") As warm, charming, caring and attentive as your doctor may be, her poor hygiene is a danger to your health. That she would present herself to patients in the condition you have described and practice such poor hygiene makes me wonder how qualified she is to practice medicine.
One other thing you should consider doing -- because you like her -- is to write her a letter explaining why you won't be seeing her anymore. She obviously needs a wake-up call.
DEAR ABBY: My mother is dying of old age and heart failure. It's not unexpected and we are preparing for the end to come soon.
The problem is I'm not a good housekeeper, and I am in marginal health. My husband is disabled and is, frankly, a slob. I have given up trying to keep a clean house while caring for him, my mother and myself. I just don't have the strength to do it all, and my husband does nothing except lie around on his bed watching TV or sleeping all day.
I know when my mother passes, people will want to come here to visit or bring food. My house is so dirty and deplorable I don't want anyone to come here. What should I do? I have thought about hiring a service, but I'm not sure I can afford it. Any other suggestions? -- OVERWHELMED AND TIRED IN TEXAS
DEAR OVERWHELMED AND TIRED: Please accept my sympathy for the impending loss of your mother. Even when death is accepted as inevitable, it is nonetheless heart wrenching. I'll offer two suggestions:
The first is to talk to your religious adviser about your concerns, because it's possible some volunteers from your mother's church -- or your own -- might be kind enough to help you get your house in order to receive guests after the funeral. The other would be to request that guests meet afterward at the church reception hall or funeral home for refreshments.
DEAR ABBY: I find it hard to deal with my P.E. teacher. She is rude, mean and she always calls me out. When you need to make a correction on your test, she throws the quiz at you and then you have to pick it up. She is very impatient also. Do you have any advice on how to deal with such a person? -- DONE WITH HER IN NORTH CAROLINA
DEAR DONE WITH HER: Your teacher appears to be a troubled woman. The way to deal with her would be for your parents -- and the parents of any other students she is treating this way -- to bring it to the attention of the principal of the school so it can be addressed.
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