Life Advice



Ask Amy: Serious illness is dismissed as psychosomatic

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: When I was pregnant with my first child, I was diagnosed with a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum.

It causes debilitating nausea, uncontrollable vomiting and dehydration, and in severe cases, can be life-threatening.

During the course of my pregnancy, I had to go to the ER eight times, and was admitted to the hospital for four days at one point.

HG also led to other pregnancy complications, and I delivered my son by emergency C-section 10 weeks early.

It was by far the most difficult thing either my husband or I have ever been through.

I am now pregnant with my second child, and thankfully am enjoying a normal pregnancy.

The problem is that my mother-in-law has taken my good health now as a “sign” that I was never really sick the first time.

She has expressed that my first pregnancy distress was really a psychological issue because I was “so afraid I wouldn’t have a healthy baby.”

I’m not sure why she says things like this, and it really upsets me when she raises the topic.

My husband says I need to learn that her opinions just don’t matter, but I’m still upset.

Any advice on how to gracefully shut her down?

– Not “All in My Head”

Dear Not: Because of her lack of compassion toward you, your mother-in-law has surrendered her privilege to know about or discuss your health. Your health – past or present – should be off the table.

If she raises her theory about your first pregnancy again, you can say, “I’m going to have to interrupt you mid-thought. Let’s not discuss my health, OK?”

Your husband is right: His mother’s opinions about your health struggles don’t matter, and your behavior will demonstrate that from here on out, it is not up for discussion.

Dear Amy: I have a family member who lives in another state but has a second home in my state.

They come to their second home but are never willing to come see my family.

I have tried to meet them, given them ideas to get together, and have even offered to meet halfway so they don't have to drive so far.

They are never willing to come to see us or drive to our house.

In six years, we have seen them once.

It has gotten so bad that I just assume I will never see them.

The worst part is, they send us messages saying, "We will be in your state for the next week and would love to see you," but they always make excuses.

My children always ask when they will see this family member's kids (their cousins), and I am honestly tired of telling my kids that they have canceled on us.


What should I do?

– Tired of Trying

Dear Tired: It sounds as if it is something of a journey for your family member to travel to their second home, and that you live some distance from this home.

They obviously are not willing to extend their journey to visit you.

The next time they message you that they will be in your state, you should be honest and say, “We really want to see you, and the kids are eager to get together, but we never seem to make it work. What are your suggestions?”

They may ask for you to drive to their home. They may hedge or make a plan and then cancel.

I agree with your sentiment that if these family members really wanted to see you and the kids, they would work harder to make it happen.

It is a tough realization that your family values are different from theirs, but if you’ve exhausted every reasonable effort to see them, you will have to accept it.

Dear Amy: I enjoyed your “Best of” column devoted to the occasional challenges faced by short people.

Years ago, our firm hired a super-duper Mr. Fix It guy.

He had a series of conference phone calls, and always sounded very tough and gruff.

I pictured a John Wayne or General Patton type of guy.

I met him in person one day, and he was short and petite, but with a booming voice.

I said to him, "You sound much taller on the phone.”

He laughed and responded, "No this is the tallest I have ever been!”

It was great.

– A Reader

Dear Reader: What strikes me is that any person outside of what might be considered the “norm” (whatever that currently is), seems to need a great comeback line.

That’s unfortunate.


(You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

©2022 Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.



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