Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Reader Must Seek Doctor's Opinion About Bruises

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have noticed dark bruising on random parts of my body recently. I have not done anything (like bumped my arm or leg) to get these bruises. Family and strangers have asked me where these bruises are coming from, but I don’t have answers to give them. This leads to them questioning my boyfriend and making wild accusations. These are truly random bruises! Do I have to get a physical examination to prove these bruises are harmless? -- Black, Blue and Accused, Seattle

DEAR BLACK, BLUE AND ACCUSED: Your next step is to go to your doctor with haste. It is not common for a person to suddenly experience bruising all over her body. The people who encounter you, family and strangers alike, are seeing that something is wrong. That’s because something is wrong. If you are telling the truth that your boyfriend has not been abusing you, and no one else has -- including yourself -- then it is time to run to the doctor to find out what is happening in your body to bring on the bruising.

Do not take this lightly. Your body is clearly screaming out to you for attention. Take heed. Find out what is going on and tend to yourself so that you can be healthy. And, yes, in case you wonder, there are serious conditions that cause bruising, as well as less serious ones. Find out.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My wife's children call her by her old nickname, which is a play on their last name. Since marrying me, my wife has changed her name. I know my stepchildren do it to anger me and get under my skin. I have suggested calling her by a better nickname, and was met with snickers. How can I stop my wife’s old surname from being shouted throughout the house? I don’t like thinking about her ex-husband. -- “Mom” Only, Jackson, Mississippi

DEAR “MOM” ONLY: Give up on this strategy. Your wife’s children will never let go of their father and his importance in their life. Likewise, they will likely hold onto this old moniker. By accepting it and potentially even embracing it as a nickname, you may be able to help all of them to hold on a little less tightly.

Do not put yourself in competition with your wife’s ex-husband. Instead, make your own mark. Be yourself. Build a unique relationship with each family member. Let the children know that you care about them, their happiness and their future. Assure your wife that you love her and want to grow your relationship with her children. Ask her to help you to build a bond with her children. Know that this will take time. The best way to forge this bond is with your wife’s help. Naturally, her children will be suspicious of you and possibly jealous. Together you must show them that you are a positive part of their lives. You can do it. But you must have patience.

(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.)