I’ve known my best friend, who’s a boy, since primary school. For the past few years I’ve been away at uni and we’ve only seen each other now and again, but my feelings have been growing for him. The only problem is he has a new girlfriend. Do I risk telling him how I feel and perhaps lose him as a friend forever, or do I stay quiet and see how things progress? Name withheld, via email
How serious is his current relationship? If they’ve been together for a long time and he’s clearly head over heels, then suck it up, stay silent and hunt for other fellas, because this one’s clearly not interested in anything more than friendship with you. But if they’ve just got together and he seems a little indifferent, then take him to one side and start talking, because there’s a chance he could fancy you too. If he does, then slowly set about trying to morph from friends into lovers. And if he doesn’t, then don’t panic. Sure, your conversations will be a little awkward initially, but things will soon settle down and, once they do, you’ll get back to being the very best of buddies.
My boyfriend has a gambling addiction. We’ve been together for two years and I’ve always known he liked a bet, but it’s got more frequent and I’m now getting worried. It’s also affecting our relationship – our love life isn’t great and he rarely even wants to kiss me. Is he just going off me or is it tied into his problem? Name withheld, via email
The issues are likely to be a side effect of his addiction, but what matters is your relationship isn’t working, so you need to fix it or end it. Start by tackling your man about his lack of intimacy, and one of three things will happen. 1) He’ll claim there isn’t anything wrong – in which case you ditch the liar. 2) He’ll admit he’s stressed out due to his gambling problem – in which case you dish out a “seek help or we’re finished” ultimatum. Or 3) He’ll reveal he’s lost interest in you – in which case you dump him, obviously.
I’ve designed a collection of dresses and need advice on how to develop my idea and get it manufactured in the UK. I have obtained certificates from the intellectual property office, but have now discovered a well-known company has a similar idea. Where do I go from here? Sarah, via email
The subject of intellectual property can be a minefield. If someone else has a similar idea, you could struggle to secure protection and it’s important to make sure you’re not infringing any rights they may already have. Check if they have a patent pending or a design registration, then consult with an intellectual property lawyer. Once you have cleared this up, you can then focus on trying to find a manufacturing partner. Government bodies such as your Local Enterprise Partnerships should be able to help – see Bis.gov.uk for more info.
I’m 32, single and have an 11-year-old son. I currently work in an office but I would love to train to be a nurse. How can I do this with my current financial restraints? Name withheld, via email
There are options which allow you to have an income while training. You could apply for a job as a healthcare assistant in the NHS, and after a certain amount of time you can apply to do your nursing training while continuing in your job. For more advice, visit the NHS careers website: Nhscareers.nhs.uk/nursing.
Dear Dr Hilary
I seem to go to the loo an awful lot – I wee around 16 times a day and three times a night, even though I only drink five cups of tea and three glasses of water a day. I saw a poster in a station about overactive bladder syndrome. Is it worth bothering my doctor? Elizabeth, via email
It certainly is – an overactive bladder is treatable. About one in six adults have symptoms of this, including feeling the sudden urge to go, or go more often, or leaking before they reach the loo (called urge incontinence). It’s likely the muscle in the wall of your bladder is oversensitive and contracts when you are not expecting it, and when it’s only half-full. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which stimulate the bladder, and drink around two litres of water a day, as restricting fluid leads to more concentrated urine, which irritates the bladder further. Bladder “retraining” with the help of a continence physiotherapist and anticholinergic medicine can help, or surgery may be required for severe cases.
Dear Dr Hilary
When I walk or stand for more than 15 minutes I get a sharp shooting pain from my bottom down the back of my leg and into my foot. It’s so bad that I’m walking with a limp. What can I do? Susan, via email
It sounds like sciatica, an irritation of the sciatic nerve that runs from the buttock, down the back of the leg to the sole of the foot. Your symptoms suggest that the problem is likely to be in your back – the effect of gravity can compress nerves in that area when you’re standing. You should see your doctor, who will test movement in your back, reflexes in lower limbs, and muscle strength. Your GP may also suggest an MRI scan. Treatment includes physiotherapy, an epidural and, if deemed necessary, surgery.
I’ve been to so many weddings this year I’m nearly bankrupt, and I’ve got more to come! Is it OK not to buy the bride and groom something from their gift list? Anna, via email
Anna, you’re looking at this all wrong. Being a wedding guest is actually a way to make money. Let me explain. Free booze (until they cut you off or the ambulance arrives), free food (I’d focus on the booze if I were you) and one hell of a party! I never, ever buy anyone a wedding gift. Instead, I just acquire a very posh-looking gift tag, write some deeply heartfelt message on it and throw it on to the presents table. The bride and groom just presume the actual pressie went missing. And on the subject of things disappearing, I try to steal at least two things from every wedding reception – be it crystal champagne flutes or the young groomsman’s virginity. Have fun!