DEAR ABBY: What a pleasure it was to read your column in which you urge your readers to pay their physicians and dentists. I have been a practicing urologist in Los Angeles for 13 years, and during that time, my office expenses have increased dramatically, but my income has decreased due to severe cuts in reimbursements by Medicare and other third-party payers.

I start my hospital rounds at 6:30 a.m. Then I go to surgery, followed by a busy office schedule and post-operative evening rounds at the hospital. I usually do not get home to my family until 8 p.m. - unless I have a late meeting; then it's even later. This doesn't leave much time for my family.The other day, a patient whom I was evaluating for prostate cancer was telling me about his son, "the doctor." When I asked him what kind of doctor his son was, he replied, "Oh, he's retired." I asked him how old his son was, and he said, "He's 43."

It seemed odd that a 43-year-old doctor could retire, until I learned that he was a veterinarian. Apparently, people have no problem paying the vets for their pets, yet they can't seem to understand that physicians have to earn a living, too. And never mind paying them on the installment plan. (Just try to offer your auto mechanic or plumber 30 percent of his bill, or an employee 30 percent of his paycheck.)

If I sound bitter, I'm not. I am just frustrated because I'm not able to spend as much time with each patient as I would like to, so they can ask me questions.

My fear is that because of these time constraints, there may be more missed diagnoses and more errors in judgment. This is a real problem for the patient and the physician, as this may lead to an increase in malpractice litigation.

Additionally, why should bright American students go through four years of college, four years of medical school and possibly six or seven years of surgical training, finishing at age 32 with $150,000 in loans to pay off?

Now, all they have to worry about is how to earn enough money to pay off the loans.

Abby, if we are destined to have socialized medicine in this country, or an increase in government control and rationing of medical services, I doubt very much if the American people will be very happy.

I realize that this is already much too long for you to print, but I hope you will find it sufficiently important to run at least a part of it in your column. Thank you. - ONE VERY FRUSTRATED M.D.

DEAR FRUSTRATED: Your sobering message is one I think my readers need to hear in full.

Now, what am I going to tell all those 50-year-old veterinarians who are still in the saddle when they ask me how a veterinarian managed to retire at age 43?

DEAR ABBY: I am writing regarding the letter from the "retired Navy nurse" who found true love at age 62.

She says she is a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Navy, but as far as I know, the U.S. Navy has never had a rank of lieutenant colonel. It does have a lieutenant commander, but lieutenant colonel is strictly Army, Air Force or Marines.

Maybe you misread her rank in her letter, or maybe she couldn't get her story straight. Sign me . . . A "FOR REAL" LT. COL. USAF (RET.), GREENVILLE, S.C.

DEAR "FOR REAL" LT. COL.: My error - not hers. (A correction

was sent before the letter was published, but apparently not all my newpapers received it.) Her letter read, "I am a female lieut. comdr. in the U.S. Navy." It was hand-written, and apparently written in haste.

DEAR ABBY: My husband is a good person. He doesn't beat on me, or run around as far as I know. But we just don't get along anymore. We have little spats about everything. He says he still loves me - and I love him - but we are terrible to each other!

We have two children, and it is affecting them, too. I've even considered leaving him before we really get to hate each other. Please help me. - END OF MY ROPE

DEAR END: You and your husband need to find out what went wrong in your marriage. Please get into counseling - both of you. Don't wait.Everything you'll need to know about planning a wedding can be found in Abby's booklet, "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." To order, send a long, business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054. (Postage is included.)