Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

DEAR AMY: My brother's wife is pregnant and I'm concerned for the health of the baby. She is addicted to Percocet. She has even gone as far as getting injections of more "pain" medication. My fiance and I are worried about what can happen to the unborn child with all the drugs she is taking. My brother is very naive about the potency and side effects of taking this type of medication, especially during pregnancy. She has him convinced that, at most, the baby will just be "cranky" after it is born. I don't think he realizes how dangerous and harmful it is to the unborn child, not to mention the withdrawals the baby will have to endure after it is born. We don't know what to do as we are worried about this baby's health. My fiance wants me to confront my brother and let him know how serious this is and that it shouldn't be taken lightly. I want to, but feel that it isn't my place to do so. I know that if I say anything to him he will tell his wife what I said and it will then create even more problems. This is affecting the whole family, but no one wants to say anything. What should I do?

Worried

DEAR WORRIED: Percocet is a pain medication with both Oxycodone (narcotic) and Acetaminophen. According to WebMD.com, both drugs carry potentially significant side effects, if abused. Percocet may be addictive.

It is hard to imagine a physician prescribing a narcotic to a pregnant woman who is dependent or addicted.

You don't mention what underlying health issues caused her to take this medication in the first place, but I agree with you that this is alarming. Your sister-in-law is acknowledging that she realizes this could affect her unborn child, so she obviously realizes this is possible.

You should talk to your brother about this. He should accompany her to an obstetrician appointment and ask the doctor about all of his wife's medication. This baby is his child and he has a duty to safeguard the child's health, even if his wife will not.

If your sister-in-law is on pain medication, it will impair her ability to take care of her baby after birth -- and your brother should responsibly intervene. Don't try to please or bargain with your sister-in-law, and assume that she will respond poorly.

DEAR AMY: My question involves a specific social and, at times, professional situation that I have puzzled over for years. Let's say I need to speak to a person already engaged in a conversation in a public area. (I would never walk into someone's office to interrupt). I don't want to interrupt their conversation, so I wait politely (on the periphery). I have found that many times the individuals who are speaking to each other simply ignore me. They see me there, I make eye contact with one or both of them, but they continue with the conversation as if I were not there at all. I feel like an intruder, and try to make a gracious exit. I always come away feeling embarrassed and childish, wondering, "What did I do wrong?" Am I missing some social code of conduct?

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Trying not to Intrude in Houston

DEAR TRYING: This is a common occurrence (I just experienced it myself). After standing awkwardly and unacknowledged for several beats, you should lean in and say, "I'm so sorry to interrupt, but Cheryl could you pop by my cubicle when you're done? I have a quick question for you." The person will either turn to you and invite you in to finish your thought, or will quickly acknowledge and follow up later.

DEAR AMY: The letter from "Grieving Sister" reminded me of when my father-in-law started dating soon after his wife died. My husband and his siblings were furious. Then their priest reminded them that their parents promised to be married "till death they do part" and that my father-in-law had kept this promise. Also, the happier their parents were in marriage, the quicker the man wants to remarry.

J

DEAR J: Very wise. Thank you.