Cranky Hypochondriac

9 Jul

Dear LetterBalm: My grandfather is driving us nuts. He won’t get the cataract surgery his ophthalmologist says he needs. He says he doesn’t want anybody poking around in his eyes. Meanwhile, he’s pestering his doctors to examine him and prescribe new glasses, and he’s annoyed because he’s having trouble seeing TV and reading his newspapers and magazines. We took the car keys away from him because he can’t see well enough to drive. (One time he sideswiped the house as he drove up the driveway.) So, he pesters us to chauffeur him everywhere. He goes on about every detail of his eyesight endlessly. He’s grouchy, too. I think he’s scared. The whole family has had it. What can we say to him?

–Jeepers Peepers

There’s nothing more annoying than a grouchy hypochondriac. You’re very astute to figure out that your granddad is scared. Ms. L.B. understands that messing around with the eyes is something for the experts. But cataract surgery has become routine and safe. Can your grandfather’s doctor locate other patients his age who’ve had the surgery successfully to talk with your grandfather? Have any of his friends or family members had it? In any case, the senior member of your family has to sit privately with him and say something like this:

Dad, I need you to listen and not interrupt. You’ve been on about your cataracts to the whole family and nothing is getting done. You’ve been cranky that you can’t drive, and you can’t read your newspapers and watch your news shows. Doesn’t this tell you something? Dr. Gray has told you that you need surgery and he’s explained everything to you – the sooner you get it, the better. He wants you to talk with a couple of his patients your age who have had the surgery that’s done wonders for them. You can ask them all the questions you want. When it’s your turn, the family will be with you every step of the way. We all love you, and you won’t go through it alone. Dad, you’re a smart man. You can understand the implications of the surgery. You will regain your life. It’s as simple as that. Now, can we call Dr. Gray and get the process started?

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