Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Husband With Swollen Ankles Refuses to See Doctor

DEAR HARRIETTE: My husband’s ankles swell sometimes -- really, kind of a lot. Whenever I bring this up to him, he shrugs it off.

My husband is big on health food and vitamins that he reads about on the internet, but he is horrible about going to the doctor. I think it has been five years since he had a physical.

I am so worried. My brother-in-law died of colon cancer. His father died of a heart attack. I’m not trying to wish anything bad on him, but I do think there is value in getting an annual checkup. How can I get him to go? -- Against the Doctor, Seattle

DEAR AGAINST THE DOCTOR: Start by doing some research. There are many reasons why a person's feet and ankles swell, and most of them are signs of poor health. Among the causes are congestive heart failure, kidney disease, cirrhosis of the liver, hypertensive heart disease and more. In other words, there are serious health concerns that could be the reason why his ankles swell. For more details, go to:

Point out to your husband that it is worth it to find out if he has a serious ailment that needs treatment, or if it is a less serious situation like a fracture. Remind your husband of how much you love him and want him to be healthy. Tell him you are scheduling a doctor’s appointment for him, and urge him to go.

Read more in: Health & Safety

After Visiting Friends, Kids Want a Dog

DEAR HARRIETTE: My kids spent the weekend with good friends from school while my husband and I took a much-needed mini-vacation. When we picked them up, all they could talk about was how much fun they had playing with their friends’ dog. They have talked nonstop about wanting to have their own dog, which is not in the cards for us. For one, I am allergic, but even if we got a hypoallergenic dog, I don’t have the time or the inclination to walk or tend to a dog, and I know my children ultimately won’t do it. My husband won’t either.

How can I break it to my kids that I’m really not going to give in to their endless begging for a dog? -- No Furry Friends, Boston

DEAR NO FURRY FRIENDS: Stay firm in your convictions. You have to be clear about what you can manage for your family. You can also get creative about how your children can experience more doggy time in their lives. Perhaps they can visit friends who have dogs with more regularity. You can also check in with the local ASPCA to see if your children can volunteer there to help support their work on rescuing and re-homing animals. Your need to not have a dog at home does not mean that your children cannot get to know dogs.

I am similar to you; what I did was talk to a local pet grooming shop to see if my daughter could volunteer there. They happily agreed, and she goes in from time to time to learn about how these people groom dogs. Occasionally she gets to play with the dogs, too.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Health & Safety | Friends & Neighbors