Annie's Mailbox

Make amends with dad while you can

August 15, 2009

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Q. I’m 19 years old and haven’t had a real conversation with my father in five years. My parents divorced when I was 3, and I saw my father every other weekend until I was 14 and realized he was an alcoholic. The only time he ever called was to ask me to talk to my mother about dropping the tremendous amount of back child support he owed. He also became violent toward me more than a few times. We’ve been estranged ever since. Recently, Dad found out he doesn’t have much longer to live. He has asked to see me so he can make amends. I am not sure. I don’t want to regret making the wrong decision. What should I do?


A. Go see him. Believe it or not, you will grieve for your father one way or the other, so you may as well give him the opportunity to atone. You’ll feel better.


I’d like to respond to “At the End of My Rope,’’ who has severe irritable bowel syndrome. If her medications are not working, perhaps she has been misdiagnosed. I was told I had IBS and figured out on my own that I have celiac disease (gluten intolerance), even though tests came back negative. After two years of abdominal pain, night sweats, diarrhea, pain in my legs (apparently a calcium deficiency caused by celiac disease), I am healthy as long as I am strict about not eating white or wheat flour products, barley, rye, and oats. She also should see whether she is lactose intolerant. Doctors are often too eager to give out medications to fix a symptom rather than have the patient do an elimination diet to determine what the food triggers really are.


A. Quite a few readers suggested the writer may have gluten intolerance. Read on for more suggestions:

From Boston:

I, too, struggled with IBS for years and took every medication under the sun. Nothing helped. Finally, I realized much of my stress was coming from my emotionally abusive husband. I filed for divorce and was nearly back to normal the next day.


I would be up all night in excruciating pain every three days. Sometimes these attacks would happen while I was in social situations, and that was embarrassing and frightening. After going to doctors for 25 years, I finally found a cure in a nontraditional manner. I went to a nutritionist who was also a psychologist and hypnotherapist. I learned to eat according to the glycemic index and lost 17 pounds. With tapes to use at home, I learned self-hypnosis to calm myself down. Then, with the blessing of my doctors, I went to a wonderful Chinese doctor for acupuncture and Chinese herbs. It was a miracle! It took a few months, but I have not had an attack in eight years.


I, too, have IBS, but don’t take any medication. I accept myself as I am. I keep extra pairs of underwear with me and a plastic bag for ones I may soil. I always keep a bathroom within sight and visit frequently, regardless of how I’m feeling. I refuse to hurt my health by trying not to pass gas. Trust God and smile.

Please e-mail your questions to, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.