DEAR AMY: My husband had knee replacement surgery at a Catholic hospital last week. The first few weeks of his physical therapy are done at our home. The first session was today. Everything went well and when it was time for her to leave, the therapist asked if my husband wanted to pray with her. She said this was totally up to him. He said yes, she said a short prayer and left. I was stunned. Is this something new? I have been seen by a lot of health care professionals and no one has ever asked me to pray with them. We live in the Bible Belt, so I thought this might have something to do with it. Your thoughts?
I’ll Pray by Myself
DEAR I’LL PRAY: My research into this has led me to read a number of studies regarding the practice of praying between health care workers and patients. Although most seem to reflect attitudes regarding patients asking health care workers to pray with them, one study reflected a situation similar to your husband’s. Quoting a 2018 study published by the National Institutes of Health: “Most Americans pray; many pray about their health. When they are hospitalized, however, do patients want an offer of prayer from a health care provider? This project allowed for the measurement of hospitalized patient’s responses to massage therapists’ offers of a colloquial prayer after a massage.
“After the intervention, 78 patients completed questionnaires that elicited quantitative data . . . In this sample, 88% accepted the offer of prayer, 85% found it helpful, and 51% wanted prayer daily. Patients may welcome prayer, as long as the clinician shows ‘genuine kindness and respect.’ ”
Even though it might be unusual, I don’t think it is necessarily unethical for a health care provider to offer to pray with a patient, even in the patient’s own home. Doing so might help to build a connection between the therapist and patient. Prayer might help to relax the patient and “center” his intentions toward his own health and recovery.
The offer might also feel like coercion.
How did your husband feel about this practice? He should prepare himself to respond before his next appointment.
A reminder that this is his treatment, and he gets to decide how to handle it, regardless of how you feel about it.
DEAR AMY: My boyfriend and I often run into another couple at our favorite watering hole. They’re very friendly and seem to like us a lot, but they’re always absolutely plowed whenever we see them. The husband will latch onto something and say it over and over. Last time we ran into them, he kept telling me to stop crossing my arms because it was a defensive position. He even yelled it from across the room. I’m 62, and I’ll cross my arms anytime I please. But more seriously, he made some very specific and pointed remarks about my boyfriend’s body. Yes, my guy is extremely good looking, but this was completely inappropriate and creepy. I’m so grateful that my boyfriend didn’t hear it, but I did. How can I shut him down if it happens again?
Back Off, Buddy
DEAR BUDDY: Note to you: People wearing beer goggles usually lack depth perception.
Just because this blowsy couple latches onto you and seems to like you a lot does not obligate you to like them in return.
The best way to respond to a drunken person in a bar is to politely disregard him. I do not suggest trying to reason with him or to engage in any kind of word play: this will only add fire to his alcohol-fueled feedback loop; it might also enrage him.
The next time these two very friendly people plow into you while plowed and you don’t like it, you could say, “We’re going to sit over here and have a private chat now. You two be careful getting home, OK?”
DEAR AMY: “Curmudgeon in California” wrote in describing a Zoom-based baby shower including more than 100 people! For me, the thing that made in-person showers tolerable was the food, treats, drinks and goofing around with people at your table. Without that, it is just something to get through. No one should be hosting a virtual event with more than 30 people. It’s obnoxious and impersonal. Break it up into smaller events!
DEAR ZOOMED-OUT: I continue to be stunned by the sheer number of people some people know!
Yes, smaller events are much better, whether virtual or actual.