Dear Ann Cannon • A coworker recently switched doctors and now she goes to mine. She has been going to this doctor nearly every other day since this whole COVID-19 started because she’s afraid of catching it.
At one of her appointments she told me she talked to my doctor about me. She said she was concerned that because of my age that I might be immune-compromised and that I will get the virus and spread it to her. She told me she told the doctor who I am and the doctor then proceeded to tell her that because of a thyroid medication I take, it’s possible, which further fueled her fears, but I digress …
Here’s my dilemma: I feel like this coworker has now put me in a very awkward position that I didn’t want to be in, not to mention my doctor revealing information that she shouldn’t have. My daughter, a nurse, says that doctors aren’t allowed to discuss such things with others and that maybe the doctor didn’t reveal all that much. My daughter thinks I should just drop it so I don’t have to start all over with a new doctor.
I haven’t discussed this with the doctor yet. I have a yearly appointment with her in April, at which time I was going to talk to her about it. In the meantime, I did get after my coworker for doing what she did. I told her she was out of line.
Here’s my question: Am I making too big a deal over this?
— Feeling Awkward
Dear Feeling Awkward • Are you making too big a deal over this? Clearly, the experience has touched a nerve and I think it’s appropriate for you to acknowledge that, which is why I believe you should bring up the subject with your doctor, who should NOT be sharing information about patients with other patients. Doing so will give you more information about what actually happened. You’ll then be in a better position to decide whether or not you want to stay with your current health care provider. Meanwhile, I’m sorry for the anxiety this has caused you.
Dear Ann Cannon • How do you deal with a mother-in-law who is constantly giving unwanted advice about raising my children and running my household? I feel belittled by her comments. I’ve asked my husband to talk to her about it, but he thinks I’m being overly sensitive and tells me to just ignore her, which is how everybody else in his family deals with her. Is he right? What do you think I should do?
— I’ve About Had it!
Dear Had It • Reading this reminded me of that Allstate Insurance television commercial with Tina Fey and Mayhem dressed up like her mother-in-law. Turns out dude can rock a pair of clip-on earrings. But that’s not the point. The point is that unwanted advice from a mother-in-law — especially if it comes off as criticism — can sting. The fact that her family has tuned her out is probably part of the problem. She’s looking for a way to feel relevant (or at least be noticed), and she’s settled on targeting you. At some level she probably senses your vulnerability.
So, what can you do?
Well, I suppose you could stop inviting her over to your home. Sometimes the best way to deal with a toxic person is by limiting your contact with her or him, right? Perhaps equally or even more effective, however, would be a deliberate decision on your part to NOT let her comments get under your skin, as hard as that will be. Actively remind yourself that her comments have more to do with her than they do with you — and then go ahead and ignore them.
Or, you could always bring up the subject with her. Politely but firmly let her know that you find her comments hurtful, not helpful, and that you would like her please to stop making them.
Best of luck to you!