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Doc, give patients their own medicine

November 30, 2009

Dear Amy: I am a 53-year-old physician, and my weight bounces up and down about 15 pounds. I am not happy about it, but I also do not want to hear about it from anyone. I see many people during my day who are, for the most part, strangers to me. I think it is extremely rude to comment on anyone's weight, whether there is a weight gain or loss. I usually laugh it off, but it really upsets me. Ironically, these comments usually come from people who are grossly overweight.

Am I being too sensitive?

Dieting Doctor

Dear Doctor: Your "weight bouncing" malady is familiar to many people. Given what you do for a living, you are being too sensitive, so you're going to have to find out how to wring some enjoyment out of these uncomfortable encounters -- because no matter what, you won't be able to stop them.

Of course, you could use your own weight struggles to discuss healthy dieting strategies with some of your more overweight patients, but if you don't want to discuss your personal health issues, your profession has handed you not only the perfect comeback -- but also retaliation.

When someone says, "Doc, you've fallen off the snack wagon!" you can answer, "Fortunately, we're here to talk about you. Now why don't you take off all your clothes, hop onto the finely calibrated scale over there and wait patiently while I very slowly nudge the weight indicator ounce by ounce until we determine your exact weight. Then we can give your chart a little look-see."

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Dear Amy: Let's call me "Single Guy." My girlfriend, "Casino Girl," took my money and lost it at a casino. When we started dating, she told me she was separated from her husband and headed for a divorce. Now I find out that they were never officially separated and aren't necessarily getting divorced.

So tell me, I didn't know this fact before, so who is committing adultery?

Single Guy

Dear Single Guy: According to some of the stricter definitions, both you and "Casino Girl" are committing adultery (regardless of your marital status). In my view, she is committing adultery. You are committing stupidity.

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Dear Amy: I certainly related to "Linda's" problem with friends pontificating about their political point of view. This seems to be happening a lot lately.

When my friends start spouting off, I like to ask the following questions:

1. What life experiences led you to your political view?

2. In what areas do we agree?

3. Is there anything President Obama (or whomever they're pontificating against) has said or done that you approve of?

4. Has anyone ever told you that you converted him or her to your point of view?

5. Have you ever changed your mind due to something someone else said?

Most folks have never thought about these things, and it invariably leads to fascinating conversations and a lot of bridge building.

Paula From Fresno

Dear Paula: You are exceedingly civilized. Unfortunately, in my world, people just don't talk the way you do in Fresno. I tried your technique with an opinionated family member, who let me get all the way to question No. 2 before saying, "Amy, shut the hell up," and walking away.

Send questions to Amy Dickinson by e-mail to askamy@tribune.com or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.

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