Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Father's Personality Changes After Stroke

DEAR HARRIETTE: My father just suffered a stroke and is in a terrible state. He has started yelling and cursing at the doctors and nurses in the hospital. He has been incredibly rude and disrespectful in ways that are downright shocking to the family. He has said racist things to doctors from other countries. It’s awful. He never behaved like this before. My siblings and I went back and apologized to the people he offended, but we are beside ourselves. He isn’t listening. How can we get him to stop this ranting? -- Stroke Effect, Seattle

DEAR STROKE EFFECT: After reading a range of materials on the side effects of stroke, what I have learned is that emotional outbursts can happen in stroke victims, especially in the early days. Dementia can be exacerbated as well. For many patients, medical professionals suggest that over time there are improvements and some sense of normalcy may return. This depends, of course, on the severity of the stroke. For now, you and your siblings should continue to offer love and support to your father, making sure he knows that you are there for him and that he is not alone. If he continues to exhibit rude behavior toward others, you will have to continue to follow up and neutralize the situation until, God willing, he calms down. For more information on stroke and its side effects, go to:

DEAR HARRIETTE: There is a lot of construction just above me in my building. It has been going on for months. Recently, my neighbor and I have noticed mouse droppings in our apartments. Well, it could even be from a rat. The excrement was kind of big, and every trap that I have bought has not worked. I am so upset. I have two small children and am worried for their health and safety. Something has to be done about this.

When I mentioned this to the landlord, he didn’t seem to care. I need the building to take this seriously. It is not healthy to have a mouse or rat in my apartment. Should I report the building to 311? -- Rat-Free Life, Bronx, New York

DEAR RAT-FREE LIFE: Before going to 311, contact your landlord again both by phone and in writing. Request extermination services based on the rodent problem you are experiencing. Take pictures to prove what you have seen. Explain in writing all that you have done to get rid of the problem, to no avail. Ask for the landlord to get the exterminator in immediately to rectify the problem.

If you still get no satisfactory response, then call 311 and explain the situation. Describe the supporting materials you have to prove your concern. Ask the city to help you. The 311 number exists to help citizens deal with non-emergency municipal issues. This certainly should qualify as that.

(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.)