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Our readers asked:

Do I Address the Fact that My Friend’s Spouse Ignored His Medical Needs Out of Embrassment?

Neela Kale Answers:

Situation: My friend had a severe allergic reaction at a party. His wife was embarrassed by it and suggested we all keep eating and drinking. A nurse tended to his needs but he wouldn’t go to the ER or even urgent care. I was surprised at how his wife was more concerned about the party and the guests than her husband’s health. Do I address this with him?

This sounds like a good moment to check in with your friend. Ask how he is recovering and see if he needs anything. Then inquire, gently, about what happened at the party. There may be more to the story. Perhaps the reaction which seemed severe to an outside observer was not actually that serious. Your friend and his wife, presumably experienced with his medical condition, would know when a visit to the ER is truly warranted. Another possibility is that dealing with a serious allergy is stressful for the relationship, and he could use a supportive friend. Don’t begin the conversation assuming the worst. Remind your friend that you are happy to be a listening ear and stay open to providing the support that he needs.

The Author : Neela Kale
Neela Kale is a writer and catechetical minister based in the Archdiocese of Portland. She served with the Incarnate Word Missionaries in Mexico and earned a Master of Divinity at the Jesuit School of Theology. Some of her best theological reflection happens on two wheels as she rides her bike around the hills of western Oregon.
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  • Michael

    I agree, Neela. During the winter we live in a senior community that has an abundance of “arm chair physicians and nurses”. Each has an opinion about how the symptoms or conditions of another should be addressed, often without even a scrap of medical knowledge or history. On the other hand, were it not for these frequent debates, our social interaction would be substantially limited. I tend to view these incidents as ‘filler’ to an otherwise social vaccum in which we find ourselves. When I have had my fill of such ramblings, I suggest that we all simply pray for the afflicted party. This brings on an abundance of head nodding or, conversely, head shaking and usually puts the matter to rest.

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