Dear Ann:

Please tell me if this is something new in medical circles and I am out of the loop. I happen to be one of those people who is nervous when I have to see a doctor. Lately, it has become the practice of my various doctors to invite guests into the examining room. Now I am subjected to a parade of pharmaceutical salesmen and an assortment of other strangers who have been invited in to observe me during my examination.

Is it not extremely presumptuous of a doctor to invite anyone but his nurse into the examining room, especially during a breast exam or Pap test? I can understand having others in the room if you are teaching at a hospital, but is this appropriate in a private office? Please tell physicians that medical exams are not a spectator sport, and that some of us resent the intrusion.

Overexposed in Ohio

You have every right to feel violated. It would have been appropriate to express your feelings to the doctor at the time. Even at most teaching hospitals, patients are asked in advance if they mind being observed by medical students. But pharmaceutical salesmen?? Give me a break!

Dear Ann:

Eighteen months ago I allowed my mother-in-law and sister-in-law to move in with my husband and me on a temporary basis. We have a small, three-bedroom apartment. My sister-in-law wanted to find a part-time job and go back to college. My mother-in-law wanted to save money to buy some good furniture. She said she would be happy to pay us room and board once she found a decent job. We refused to accept any payment until she was on her feet.

Since then, they have made no attempts to get jobs, and my sister-in-law has dropped out of school. Our generosity has produced two leeches who lie around the house all day. One is glued to the TV, and the other is shackled to a beer can and the Internet. They are both healthy and capable of obtaining quality jobs.

I told my husband I expect his family to carry their own weight, and I have given him an ultimatum. He refuses to throw them out or even discuss the matter, and says I am creating conflict in his loving and close-knit family. I am becoming tremendously angry toward all of them. This situation is also affecting our son and daughter. They are too old to be sharing a room, and are very resentful. Discipline, dinners together, chores and playtime were never a problem until now. Any suggestions?

Exasperated in Arizona

Enlist the assistance of a family counselor or your physician -- or both. Get a letter stating that your living conditions are creating anxiety, which is threatening your health and upsetting your children. Inform the leeches that they must be out within 30 days. Offer to help them find another place to live. Unless you move aggressively, these two freeloaders will be with you until you are ready for an old folks home.

Dear Ann:

How's this for your "most ridiculous lawsuit" file? I laughed when I read it.

Helen in Belleview, Fla.

I laughed, too, and am awaiting the outcome of the lawsuit. Here is the story:

The family of an Orlando, Fla., woman who was killed in a car accident has sued the rental company, claiming the company should have known the driver was likely to drink because he was Irish. The attorney representing the rental company said, "The absurdity of the allegation speaks for itself." He said the company cannot be expected to violate the Constitution by discriminating against people based on their national origin. He called the lawsuit ludicrous.

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