Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Reader Shaken By John Singleton's Death

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am so upset about the fact that film director John Singleton died. He was only 51 years old. I didn’t know him or anything, but I read that he had high blood pressure, and that’s probably why he had a stroke. It is so scary to me that a man who must have had enough money to have good health insurance and who should have been able to afford to go to the doctor could die from this.

I have high blood pressure, too. I find it difficult to keep up with my appointments and meds because of the expense. But seeing that this man died so young has shaken me to my core. I am trying to follow the directions that I’ve been given, but now I’m worried I could end up dead. If it happened to this great man, how do I stand a chance? -- Afraid to Die

DEAR AFRAID TO DIE: John Singleton’s death is surely a wake-up call for many people. High blood pressure is often called the silent killer because it is possible for you to have no noticeable symptoms and for your body to be in crisis. You are doing the right thing by going to the doctor and doing your best to follow her recommendations. Talk to your doctor about your concerns about medical costs. Try to work out a payment plan there, or ask for a referral to a clinic that might be more affordable. You should be able to find a fit that you can afford.

In addition to regular checkups and taking your prescribed meds, you should also exercise and eat healthy, low-sodium meals. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are a number of things you can do to help yourself, including cutting down on caffeine and alcohol. If you smoke, you should stop immediately. For more information, go to:

Finally, do know that just because someone has money or fame does not make that person immune to health concerns. Singleton was a great director who contributed significantly to our culture. It is a tragedy that he died so young.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My relationship with my mother is strained. She was always hard on me growing up and has yet to validate any of my accomplishments as a woman. I am 44 years old now and have had many personal successes. One of my greatest is my 2-year-old daughter.

I was previously told by doctors that I couldn’t conceive any children, so having my daughter was a blessing on my life. However, my mother ignores this fact and constantly lashes out and shows her disapproval with the fact that I am not married and had a child in a nontraditional way. My relationship with my child’s father is the most stable and happiest one I have been in. I want my mother to stop looking at me through such a negative lens. This hurts, and I wonder why my mother does not show me the support that I need. -- Mother's Approval

DEAR MOTHER’S APPROVAL: Sit down with your mother and tell her you need her help. Outline your concerns just as you did in this letter. Tell her how much her judgment hurts you, and plead with her to offer you love and support instead.

If she refuses or seems unable to bite her tongue, you may need to distance yourself from her for a while. Your absence may help her to think about you and your daughter differently.

(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.)