DEAR HARRIETTE: I have had a pain in my neck — literally — for several months now. I think it’s because of the way I have been sleeping, but I’m not sure.
I do not have insurance, so I haven’t gone to the doctor. Plus, I have a friend who had a pain in her stomach for a long time. When she finally went to the doctor, it was terminal cancer. I’m afraid something like that might happen to me.
My best friend says I’m stupid for not checking it out. What if the worst is true, and I am sick? I can’t afford to deal with that. How can I get out of this fear? It’s got me doing absolutely nothing.
Face You Fear
DEAR FACE YOUR FEAR: Your friend is right. You should go to the doctor to see about your pain. There is no way for you to know definitively what it is without evaluation, especially since it’s chronic.
Do your research. Find a teaching hospital. Sometimes they will offer care to patients without insurance. Research other health facilities in your area. Most cities have health care establishments that will treat you even if you are uninsured.
If the pain is so intense that it seems like an emergency, you can go to a hospital. They are required to see you, though you will have to pay the bill eventually.
DEAR HARRIETTE: A close friend of mine is very negative, and lately it feels that the negativity is always aimed at me. She throws subtle jabs at my career choices, the people I date, the other friends I have and even the things I wear.
I went to lunch with her recently and decided I wouldn’t say anything about my career because I didn’t want to give her a chance to make a negative comment, and she still found a way to talk down on my job.
I don’t understand it. I also don’t think that she means to make me feel bad. She has always been a negative person in general. Is this something that can be solved, or should I think about distancing myself from this friend?
DEAR NEGATIVE NANCY: Looks like you are just now waking up to something that has been happening for a long time. Step back a moment and evaluate what you like about this friendship.
Do you really enjoy this person, or is she a bad habit that you finally realize you need to break?
Make a list. Write down what you like about her. Be specific. When have you enjoyed her company? What were you doing at the time? Record as many good things as you can recall. Then make another list of things that irritate you or hurt your feelings. Compare your lists.
Using the objective lens of the lists you have made, answer your own question. Should you continue to be her friend? Sometimes seeing things in black and white makes it easier for you to make a clear assessment. Nobody has to stay in your life forever — even family members if those relationships are toxic. Let your own answers guide you to your next steps.
Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.