Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Knight's Inn, Barriere, BC

Laura and I and Gilbert, the cockapoo, loved our May long weekend stay at Knight's Inn, Barriere, BC.  Barriere is a truly lovely little town about 65 km noth of the beautiful city of Kamloops BC. We'd driven through Barriere several times in the past but never stayed.
Looking at the map and wanting access to lakes, waterways and logging roads we chose Barriere for this long weekend. We had an Yamaha 450, an F350 Ford pick up and had planned to be towing a pontoon boat with our fisherman friend Tom.  Tom became sick before the trip so he and my boat got left behind.
Now we have to return with the boat because I've seen the rivers and lakes.  They are spectacular. Barriere Lakes are especially pristine.  Great fishing.  And in the summer the swimming must be good too.
Planning a week before our trip we found Knight's Inn on the internet and compared this 'dog friendly' place with several other motels nearby.  What was attractive was the in resort restaurant.  We aren't drinkers so the bar wasn't as much of an attraction, but the possibility of an in house night spot to get snacks and cokes was also attractive.
I phoned with a credit card and held a room.
It was raining in almost all of BC that weekend but the temperatures in Kamloops were warmer than Vancouver.  The 4 hour drive really wasn't arduous with the Coquahalla and the beautiful BC Scenery.  Laura and I realized as I drove that we had been too long trapped in the urban traffic jam and parking lot jungle. The wide open skies, blue skies with lots  of cumulus clouds, it was sunny on our drive, and the gorgeous green forested hills as far the eye could see on that high mountain highway: just cleared the cobwebs from the mind.
Both Laura and I love Kamloops so it was nice to stop in the city to get last minute items we didn't think Barriere might have, like speciality cheeses and Blue Sky Gingerale.  As it turned out there actually was a well stocked IGA and local Market store in the town of Barriere.  In the past, when I worked up north, it was the norm for northern towns to be limitted to basic foods and lots of junk foods.  Whatever the reason, it seems increasingly there's a great variety with a whole lot of what was once called 'yuppie foods' available.  Barriere actually has just about everything a small town could want with pharmacy, health centre, RCMP, a couple of gas stations, and mall.
Knights Inn is right in the centre on the highway where the town begins.
The manager was East Indian. An incredibly helpful young man. I asked him where his family was originally from.
"Punjab," he said.
"My grandparents came from Scotland and Ireland."  I told him I'd been to India but only to the south and so wanted to visit the north.
"Sikh or Hindu?" I asked.
"Sikh." he said.
I told him I'd hunted with my Sikh friend, Sonny and had the priviledge to attend an incredibly beautiful Sikh wedding. My Hindu friend's brilliant and beautiful daughter had married a really strong fine charactered Sikh.  The two of them could have been on the cover of a wedding magazine.
This young manager showed me the choice of rooms. Upstairs there were these spacious new rooms with two double beds but on the main floor he also had a single room with queen bed. It was small but the bathroom was spacious. We chose the main floor room because it was close to the back door. This made it really easy to take Gilbert out to the fenced back yard.  Also I didn't have to carry luggage up and down stairs.  As I planned to be daily going out in the truck with the ATV I'd be hauling equipment back and forth.  I asked him and he said that my truck and ATV would be safe because they haven't had a problem with theft because they have cameras around the parking lot. Everything was as the internet said and as we'd been told over the phone.
Laura loved the room.  She's happy if a place is clean and there's a large bath. It wasn't Harrison Hot Springs Spa or the Merriott I've taken her to but it's was a classic northern room. We had fridge and coffee and a view of a meadow with a horse. Gilbert stayed with her when I went out in the woods both of us still concerned with him over using his injured back.  Besides his idea of bear hunting is barking and scaring them away. He's really only a good bird dog.  While I was away,  she and he visitted the horse in the next pasture each day.  The two of them enjoyed nice walks around the Inn. She told me "Gilbert sniffed everything and peed on most everything else."
What we most loved though was the restaurant.  We think it was the hub of the town.  Every day it opened at 7 am and closed around 8 or 9 pm.  All the locals seemed to congregate there. Men discussing machinery and women talking about their children and grand children. It was the best place for great eves dropping. We heard how to fix a water pump, where the best vegetables to buy were, what was happening in the school and all about the local events.
The waitresses were incredible.  Friendly down home. Really good looking. City folk forget what fresh air, exercise and good food does to skin.  They had a great sense of humor too.  Lovely personalities.  The reduced insaniety in the country.   Less  beaurocratic stress,  less of the drugs and alcohol and rage in general makes for a whole different demographic.  People just aren't being shot in the community despite everyone owning guns.  If people are dying it's  not from drug overdoses but from getting into a tractor or logging accident.
The food was to die for too. Knight's Inn has a really terrific chef.
"It's just like my mom's cooking," Laura said.
"This is the kind of meal my father loved best, "  I said.
Each morning we had what Canadians call a 'trucker's breakfast'.  Eggs, bacon, sausages, pancakes, toast.  They had bennies and all sorts of other choices but I just loved their "Mountan Man" breakfast.  Armour Mountain is visible from the Inn, which explained the breakfast sensation's name.
The lunch sandwiches and daily home made soups were equally delicious.  I've tasted a lot of beef barley soups but this one was truly outstanding. As well as a full menu they had daily specials. One night we both had meatloaf and this was the one Laura thought her mom could have made.  What delicious gravy.  We also had a really awesome pizza that they served in the pub.  Better than most Vancouver pizza places.
Alright I loved the home made pie.  Berries and apple with vanilla ice cream. What is northern rural Canada if it's not the home made pie.  Best in the world.  And a bottomless pot of coffee refills kept us sitting there a while reading our phones and sharing the humor on each.
Our city boy Prime Minister Trudeau had just got caught physically bullying in the house of parliament grabbing conservative men and elbowing NDP women, a level of out of control uncouth p aggression  never before seen in the polite hallowed House of Parliament. It was a news filled weekend of 'spin doctoring' and damage control.  With heavy rain outside,  it was fun to sit inside 'playing Facebook', posting political humor and arguing with strangers.
Laura and Gilbert hung out in the Inn when I actually got out on the Yamaha 450 ATV. The rain stopped so I got a chance to really  the cross country ski and snowmobile trails nearby.  I saw lots of deer, a couple of young bucks, a really big black bear that ran away from me really fast, and several big hares that sped away from my ATV. Another afternoon I hiked up the Barriere Lakes trails enjoying the views.  Pine trees and spruce.  Something to be appreciated.
Rather stupidly I ripped the wall on my tire coming too close to a cattle guard.  Thankfully I was in cell range because it turned out I didn't have a jack.  I was actually glad that I'd discovered this deficiency in cellular range relatively near to town.  Having had the truck 5 years I'd never had to change a tire, having got new tires after I purchased the truck second hand from a fellow we only later learned was a truly unsavoury character.
I called Laura and asked her to talk to Knights Inn management because the towing services I found on line were all closed.  The really helpful Knights Inn manager got in touch with the local expert at North River Towing.  There was some emergency phone number they knew and next thing I know this really great guy calls me back.
I explained where I was and  North River Towing found me at the 5 km mark on the trail.  This big bearded guy really knew alot about trucks and towing. I didn't even know Ford had a special locking nut on each wheel to protect against theft and another locking tool to attach to the end of the piece used to unscrew the spare tire.  I had to search the truck all over showing him different parts till I found what was needed.  Then I held the light while he worked. He got right in under the truck with his winch.  I'd unloaded the ATV for him but still, he was amazingly fast and fearless.  It was muddy raining and dark.
I know I've changed tires on cars but not on a big truck in the mud at night on a logging road in the middle of nowhere.  I really did appreciate his skill and knowledge. Told me he'd come to Barriere in 1963 and talked about watching the community develop.  I sure was thankful for his help.  I enjoyed all his knowledge too, not only did the work but explained why he did things. He'd had a lot of experience and could have been a college instructor.
Next day Laura and I were sad to be leaving Knights Inn.  It really was a friendly homey place. They had just done a whole lot of renovations especially inside the rooms but there was just a little heart warming touch of Indian 'juryrig" in the door handles.  They had the northern standard push shut door lock from my childhood schooldays but a piece of wire had been thread through the door so someone could more easily pull them open from the outside.  In India I saw a lot of these 'solutions' . Mountain men think the same way. You see this kind of thinking in the old homesteads. I liked that.  And all round that was the flavour of the place, country homey, clean and friendly, Canadin north.
We really did like our stay there and would gladly come back again.










Sunday, May 15, 2016

RATE YOUR DOCTOR

Every year or two I look at ‘rate your doctor’ and consider retiring. There are such vehemently angry complaints that it’s hard to forget the obvious truisms:
1) You can’t please everyone.  I want to but I don’t need to.  I was actually ‘mr. popularity’ in school. To be ‘popular’ one has to be a ‘people pleaser’  and I can be a very good people pleaser.  However good doctors simply aren’t functioning on the same basis as ‘car salesman’ or ‘government beurocrats’.  Doctors who are no longer clinicians rarely admit to themselves their cowardice and how hard front line work is.  It’s the same with soldiering. Leading from the rear is very popular today. It wasn’t always so. When I was a family physician I was really loved and admired.  As a family physician one is there to ‘serve’ one’s patients and rarely is in conflict with the patient except ,as I found, the ‘psychiatric’ patients or the ‘criminals’.  In ‘physical medicine’ while a ‘diagnosis’ might be unwelcome, like ‘cancer’, it’s not ‘blamed on the doctor’.  By contrast as a psychiatrist I have been spat in the face when I advised a patient of my “diagnosis’ because ‘psychiatric diagnosis’ and especially ‘drug and alcohol abuse’ diagnosis carry stigma and ‘consequence’.
2) You chose psychiatry despite an extensive interview process in which those doctors before you explained that you as a psychiatrist you would be necessarily ‘unliked’ and even ‘vilified’ if you did your job well.  So why I am saddened today when I have such vicious and deceitful attacks on my character and my behaviour 30 years of practices and tens of thousands of patients later?  Probably because I’m increasingly told to treat the patient as a ‘customer’ and give them whatever they want even if it kills them.  Just make sure you ‘record’ what the authorities want to hear and ‘cover your ass’ like they do.
3) The College of Physicians and Surgeons across Canada have had to acknowledge that doctors working in the field of drug and alcohol addiction are the most complained against and those working with criminals are the second most complained against. Indeed there are class action suits against “Rate Your Doctor’ by psychiatrists because our ‘duty’ to society requires us to report people who are dangerous to themselves or others.  I am forever hated by a number of pedophiles I diagnosed in my practice and reported to the authorities or ‘forced’ them to self report.  I am forever despised by a number of people who felt they had the ‘right’ to kill their ex and I reported them to the authorities when they were not open to discussion of alternatives.  I am forever loathed by a number of people who I ‘locked’ up because they were acutely suicidal or extremely psychotic.  They lived and they got sane but they didn’t come back to see me because to them I was part of the ‘bad time’ and they thought I was ‘authoritarian’ and ‘over reacted’ and maybe felt they had the right to say they were going to ‘kill themselves’ and had a gun or planned to jump off a bridge that night.  I am forever hated by the men who I have told the RCMP I believed should not have the ‘right to own a gun’.  One has actually come to my office after learning this and threatened me.  I believe I made the right decision but I saw a very ‘reasonable sounding ‘ Rate Your Doctor ‘complaint’ the next day. I looked because he did say he would hurt me as I hurt him.  Some of the patients I consulted on  told me they were going to kill themselves then ran out of the office leaving me ‘with their bombshell’ and I phoned the police rather than having to live with the consequence if they had killed themselves.  Never as a family physician did I face any of this ‘level ‘ of responsibility or decision making.  As a general psychiatrist and psychotherapist I didn’t either.  But as a consultant psychiatrist working with patients with drug and alcohol problems and specializing in trauma and head injury (with their particularly interesting forms of psychosis and dissociation) I have had immense levels of difficulty that I can’t imagine how I would have handled years past when I only had 12 years of education and experience but a psychiatry specialist degree fresh on the wall.  I liked when I worked in the hospital or university or mental health team because we never had as much work as I do today and always got to sit in committees or consult each other and think about cases and work as ‘team’ so I was never so alone making a decision.
4) Forensic Psychiatry - I’ve worked with a whole lot of criminals, murderers , pedophiles, drug addicts, thieves, institutionalized criminals and not a few ‘jailhouse lawyers’.  Most of my colleagues simply never encounter these folk or avoid them out right. Naturally ‘anti social’ people account for the majority of complaints but rarely tell the truth about what happened including  a key component in their complaint  like ‘dr hay refused to give me valium’ or ‘dr hay refused to give me opiates or oxycontin’ or “dr hay refused to diagnose me add and give me speed," or ‘doctor hay refused to give me medical marijuana (he prescribed it to another guy I know)” or “doctor hay refused to say I was ‘disabled’ for life so I can collect disability for life.”  or ‘dr hay wouldn’t say I couldn’t work ever again because of my depression’ or ‘dr hay refused to take out of his report the part about my doing crack cocaine and heroin’ daily’, or ‘dr hay’s report told my insurance company that I was working two jobs and they cut me off my disability insurance because he fucked me over’ or ‘dr hay said I needed to join some group but he doesn’t understand that I have social phobia or agoraphobia’, “dr hay said I need to join a group if I have drug and alcohol problems and all I wanted to do was see him and talk about how everyone else puts me down’.  “Dr. Hay disagreed with my diagnosis that I read on Google that fits me.”  “Dr. Hay won’t order me an MRI because my lawyer says that would help my case.”  “Dr. Hay told my lawyer I had three previous brain injuries and I didn’t want my lawyer to know that.”  “Dr. Hay told my family physician that I had a half dozen complaints against doctors to human rights and the college and now my family physician won’t see me anymore’.  “Dr. Hay told my family physician that I’d never been in the military and that I hadn’t been wounded and that I was lying to get medications. I was getting oxycontin from this guy for a year but can’t now  because Dr. Hay fucked me over.”
5) Cherry picking - this is the way most doctors run a lucrative and successful practice.  If you avoid a) personality disorders especially ‘cluster b’ or ‘borderline”  b) impoverished c) divorcing people d) people with drug and alcohol history e) ptsd and anger issues f) people with pain disorder and major medical disabilities g) ethnic and aboriginal people with the increased complexity of problems h) LGBT patients with their long histories of discriminations and consequent sensitivities…etc…you can indeed have a very lucrative and successful psychiatric practice. Another way is to see the same people indefinitely at weekly intervals and mother them.  Never say anything that is ‘disagreeable’.  Indeed most ‘counsellors’ and most ‘psychologists’ dependent on the patient as ‘customer’ are very adept at this approach.  However as a psychiatrist I am by contrast ‘consulting to a family physician’ as opposed to just seeing the patient directly. Therefore every patient has another person in the room with them. Further I am held to the highest standard of ‘diagnostic’ and ‘treatment’ protocols which have must have a high association of reducing morbidity and mortality. I can’t do all the shit the homeopathic doctors do for the ‘worried well ‘ and ‘rich’ and ‘get away with it”.  By contrast ‘holistic healers’ are play acting in the real world of medicine without ‘accountability’ and yet have much of the benefits that have been long fought for by physicians.  No wonder we have ‘rug doctors’.  I am accountable to ‘science’ and ‘scientific evidence’ and can lose my license as well as my business as well as be sued and yes I can have complaints against me, if I don't. These complaints, not on ‘rate your doctor’ ,but in other forums routinely cost me $10,000 a piece in time and cost and loss of income. I would gladly avoid them but believe if I did that I would increasingly not be practicing medicine or psychiatry but rather practicing law, bureaucracy or some easier more lucrative thing like say, being a “ drug pusher for the multinationals’ .   If I’m in the ‘business’ of medicine I avoid these hazards routinely by ‘cherry picking’.  I ‘specialized in seeing ‘borderline personality disorders’ for many years as a psychotherapist and moved on to ptsd and then drug and alcohol addictions.  It’s common for me to see a person with a half dozen diagnosis and multiple failed treatments or to be seeing a patient with at least a half dozen other caregivers and often a lawyer or two involved in their care.  Summed up I have concluded that I have chosen over the years to work in the areas of ‘greatest need’.  When I worked as a fly in doctor in the north, the Northern Medicine Unit had advertised for the position I took for 2 years and I went to many Indian reserves that hadn’t seen a doctors in years.
6) Cherry picking - Psychoanalytically trained we all learned that the ‘best’ (safest and most grateful and most responsive) was a YAFFIE.  Young, Attractive, Anxious Financially well off, Fun, Intelligent and insightful and Expressive was the best patient. The psychologists and counsellors have like in every other field of endeavour taken this ‘cream’ of mental health work away from the doctors. It’s the same with obstetricians and midwives. The midwives do the ‘easy’ work and the obstetricians are left doing the tough work.  As doctors we are all now doing the heavy lifting and being paid less than those who are specifically living the life  of O’ Reilly because the minute anything becomes ‘tough’ they ‘refer it’ to the doctor or ‘worse’ , the ‘specialist’.  Being a ‘specialist’ is financially fucked today.  When I began I had a practice of loveable ’neurotics’  (they get under their skin”) and 20 years later I found my practice was mostly ‘personality disorders’ (they get under your skin).  Meanwhile my pay scale had decreased, my job satisfaction had reduced, my psychology colleagues were by contrast richer and everyone enjoyed referring their failures and difficult patients to me because psychiatrists and other specialists are the ‘last resort’.  We are lifes’ ‘garbage dump whereas the lucrative and really happy happy easy work and well paid work has been taken over by the ‘alternative health care’ and “allied health care professionals”.  They system is fucked and doctors are striking in England and working to rule in Ontario. And most of my colleagues at my age with my experience and training are trying find ways to avoid seeing difficult case rather than embracing them as they would if the system wasn’t fucked by the incredibly incompetent, inexperience, overpaid, lazy, entitled unaccountable administration.  
6) A week doesn’t go by that a referring gp asks me to see someone and confesses that as many as 50 other psychiatrists have refused to the see the patient. I turn down 10 consults a week.  Apparently I’ve got the lowest standards.  I routinely hear “ I’m sorry to ask you to see another one of my tough cases. I tried referring this to someone else but I called up 20 psychiatrists and they’ve all refused and I know you would but I feel it’s not fair to ask you again.’  I try to keep a few spots for ‘less complicated’ cases. I’m getting phone calls through the night and weekends and even when I’m out of the country, mostly because. “no one else will listen to me’.
7) I used to have two thirds of my patients as what I called the ‘ferraris  did ‘tune ups’ on while  a third of my practice could be described as ferrraris needing complete overhauls.  Somehow that became flipped and now I’m lucky if I’ve got a tenth of my practice who could be described as more ‘neurotic’ than otherwise. I’m really thankful when I see patients that have jobs.
8)More and more patients want me to ‘collude’ with their being off work or on insurance.  They are not looking for ‘therapy’ they are actually shopping for a ‘diagnosis’ which will suit their ‘work requirements ‘ and ‘insurance concerns’. A week or two doesn’t go by when someone objects to a diagnosis because it could ‘hurt’ them and we are in conflict.  As a result I increasingly am compromised. I record “situational alcohol abuse’ rather than ‘alcoholism’ because the patient threatens me in some overt or covert way.  I can’t know for sure but I’m worn down. I also get to read consults by my university colleagues and they’ve mostly sold out. They don’t even record the personality disorder, or the substance abuse or anything that the patient might be ‘offended’ by.  Meanwhile I’m condemned outright for being patient advocate and going to the supreme court in a pro bono fight for the right of doctors to be the advocate of the patient when the courts and the state want the doctor to work for them. I was with the psychiatrists against political abuse of psychiatry and have defended the most down and out patients repeatedly against the full weight of the ‘system’ and have been smeared by association.
Ian Magrew  summarized my patient as a ‘coke addict’ in the Vancouver Sun and was 180 degrees wrong in his reporting like half the reporting in the news today. Journalists today are so collectively considered ‘bought’ or ‘sold out’ or ‘biased’  or ‘corporate’ that the ‘comments’ on their articles are essentially the equivalent of  ‘rate your journalist’.  CBC closed down feed back because of the incompetence of journalists and how unpopular journalists are for their reporting of stories. They condemned the readers as ‘haters’ never considering that their journalism was the cause of such negative feedback which extends throughout the society.  Increasingly people have to turn to the internet to get the ‘facts’ because mainstream journalism is so ‘corporate’ and ‘biased’ or often just ‘outright wrong”. In the case in point,  I couldn’t even respond at the time to the highly offensive Vancouver Sun article because the case was still in court. So  paid scribblers like Ian Magrew can write the most outrageously erroneous material without fear of rebuttal because in most cases the lawyers advise those involved not to respond to Ian Magrew’s yellow journalism as it would negatively affect their on going cases.  Ian Magrew reduced my patient to ‘coke addict’ despite her being a decade clean and sober. But his stigmatizing the mentally ill and those who suffer from addiction killed her as much as journalists have killed countless with their condescending words and careless reporting.”Loose lips sink ships” They are not held accountable for their bias and irresponsibility and mostly don’t believe in truth which is possible for those who only work in ‘words’ . There was no stigma attached to general practice but there is a hell of a stigma attached to treating the mentally ill, especially those with drug and alcohol abuse and especially those with HIV or Hep C.  The head of the American Psychiatric Association says that Stigma of Mental Illness is shared by the psychiatrists much like no one wanted the “leper doctors’ to come to dinner.  It didn’t matter to Ian Magrew that the patient died or that eventually my lawyers defended me successfully. He had his ‘sensationalism’ and got paid his pieces of silver.   He never mentioned that all the cases he condemned me in were pro bono cases, that my assistance in the court cases was because the people I assisted had been financially ruined and marginalized and I had helped them because I believed they were being bullied and abused because they were mentally ill not because they were wrong. He’s a word smith and a review of his work shows he plays to the rich and to the judges.  He plays it safe and smart.  My friend Dugald Christie who started the Pro Bono Lawyer association said the failure of the courts today is that they no longer serve the lower classes or even the middle classes. I believe Dugald Christie would say the same of  Ian Magrew.The now dead woman had been bankrupted by the courts that have made Ian Magrew a very wealthy man.  That woman’s family  had mortgaged their house and been financially destroyed by the man that Ian Magrew championed.  That man who Ian Magrew chose to champion had in deed lost his license to practice.  The judge took the child from her mother who was ruined defending her and Ian Magrew summarized her as a ‘coke addict’ despite her long and arduous road to recovery. .  Ian Magrew himself hasn’t faced being drug tested.  He can dish it out but certainly can’t take it.  The only one involved in that court who had been drug tested was the poor mother who Ian Magrew continued to stigmatize as a  ‘coke addict’.  10 years clean and sober fighting for her child didn’t count to the sanctimonious Ian Magrew who would never dare to truly offend the courts because they, not their victims, are his bread and butter.  The stigma against the mentally ill and those who have suffered drug and alcohol abuse is very very real and the courts despite the 10 to 20% of judges and lawyers suffering from addiction has been slow to respond.  Journalists collectively have refused drug testing and newspapers, especially Vancouver Newspapers refuse to drug test their journalists en mass despite the rest of Canadians in ’safety sensitive’ industries being subjected to this only to be criticized by actively addicted marijuana, alcohol or heroin users who act out their drug induced aggression against those who have recovered from theirs. Countless research studies in psychiatry have shown that the  Media continues to be as outdated and ignorant as Ian Magrew for they continue to stigmatize and sensationalize the mentally ill the addicted and those who serve them.   If anything Ian Magrew’s writing shows its the continued ignorance of  journalists and the stigma against the mentally ill, the courts bias against the poor, and the terrible need for education and drug testing of journalists. When will a person be ‘good enough’ for Ian Magrew.  If there was a ‘rate your journalist’ I’d rate Ian Magrew as a outright unforgivable ’toadie’, a sensationalist yellow journalist, whose biases are blatant and whose writing is downright stupid.  Half the time reading him  because of his  tangentialism I want to ask what is that man smoking. He seems a terribly spiteful little shit as well so I would guess that few would care to challenge a man who has used words to beat up on the mental ill and those who have recovered from mental illness.  I miss the days when court reporter criticized the judges for their poor decisions and held the court to a higher standard rather than such obvious toadying and politically correct protecting the authorities with the kind of reporting that was celebrated in Pravda but should not be the staple of the Vancouver Sun.  Rather than Paul Simon singing where have you gone Joe DiMaggio we should all be singing ‘where have you gone court reporters’.  Ian Magrew is to court reporting what Kanye West is to music.  Court Toady.  Were there a College of Journalists to revoke his hack license, he’d be kicked out and depend on writing jingles for marijuana for his income.
9) I’m seeing an increasingly older population with worsening health so my patients have increasing health problems, a half dozen or more right now with major cancer illness, a half dozen or more with severe Crohn’s disease, a dozen or two with unstable diabetes, a dozen or more with severe endocrine disorders, many with heart disease, ex smokers with severe COLD, Hep C, HIV, dozens with major head trauma, I’ve only a half dozen or so conventional schizophrenics and I enjoy them as a ‘break’ from the world of ‘personality disorders’ I’m usually mired in.  Schizophrenia is easier for me to treat than schizoaffective disorder but I have a dozen or so schizoaffectives.  I enjoy the helping the transgendered patients and LGB patients because like my severe PTSD patients they’ve had a whole lot of persecutions.  The torture patients I treat are surprisingly the most grateful.  I’m treating dozens of muslims, christians, catholics, sikhs, hindus, pagans, and atheists, people of every colour. .  It’s complicated.  I am a Christian and I envy my Christian psychiatrist friend whose practice is 90% Christian and white.  I’ve done cross cultural psychiatry for decades but increasingly the ‘cherry picking’ is with a colleague who works with ‘predominantly LGBT” or “women only’  or mostly aboriginals’ and then they have the advantage they can ’skew’ their practice to the ’special needs’.  There was even one psychiatrist in Vancouver who following on the YAFFIE selection only treated ‘doctors’ and was greatly admired.  
9) I ask myself daily if I’m doing a good job. I use the old fashioned criteria that includes 30 years plus of ‘referrals’ and continued referrals from the family physicians I most admire in the city.  I also receive personal referrals from the heads of several university departments and treat people from all walks of life. I’ve treated multimillionaires, many olympic athletes, famous media people, professors, and countless street people. Most colleagues I know have practices with a very narrow focus  in comparison. The family physicians I most admire are as stupid as I am because  they go the extra mile for  patients.  I love them each individually because despite most often not knowing them personally I’ve heard some tidbit about them from the dozens of patients I’ve seen of theirs over the years. Just last week I heard of one of my favourite guys who refers to me making home visits to a patient who didn’t understand how rare that was.  Patients usually don’t realize what they’ve got till it’s gone. I’ve had dozens of patients come back to me and frankly tell me that the other psychiatrists only saw them for 10 minutes and only prescribed medications or didn’t tell them anything about themselves.
10) When I was a conventional psychoanalytic oriented psychiatrist no one knew anything about me and when I was doing strict psychopharmacology no one knew anything about me anymore than they did when I was a city gp. But when I was a country gp everyone knew everything about me, the same as when I was a country psychiatrist.  Further when I began to work in the area of personality disorder, ptsd and addiction I learned that ‘story telling ‘ was one of the most effective therapies whereas if I retained the ‘aloof’ parental position as opposed to the ‘uncle or aunt’ role in therapy I got nowhere. People ‘rejected’ outright what had been told to them ‘directly’ but couldn’t reject what was told to them indirectly. Years of extra advanced training in these forms of psychotherapy, structural, hypnosis, 12 step facilitation, and strategic all contributed to a very high success rate in getting people ‘back to work’ , off drugs and alcohol or healthy and moving on from therapy.  “i want to feel happy’ isn’t what the government is paying psychiatrists to do.  One pays out of ones own pocket for a ‘feel good’ counsellor but my job as a psychiatrists is as the ‘high paid help’ We are expected to judge our therapy on ‘morbidity and mortality’ and by outcome measures such as return to work, community involvement, stopping negative behaviour.
I will never forget when I shared how broken up I was by a patient suiciding at a local conference of psychiatry and one of my colleagues 30 years older at the time, stood up and said condescendingly “I”ve practiced psychiatry for 30 years and never had one patient committ suicide.”  I will forever love Dr. Brown who was Head of Riverview at the time and had the most experience in the city with the most difficult cases, standing up to my defence saying, “I know Dr. Hay is practicing psychiatry but I don’t what the hell you’ve been doing for 30 years.”  As anyone knows that if you are a soldier and hang out in Ottawa you will certainly not shoot anyone or be likely to get wounded. As every surgeon knows if you work in the front lines you will lose a patient or two. Indeed the more ‘risky’ the patients you treat the greater the risk of the patient dying. It’s become a problem in the US with Legal medicine that patients with severe problems not only can’t get insurance for them but can’t get doctors because the doctors can’t afford to take the risk that losing a patient would have on their insurance  coverage.  Canada is rapidly moving in this direction. One of the principal reasons for patients being unable to see doctors or have a doctor under the MSP public health care system is because doctors get paid the least and face the greatest risk seeing patients.  When I worked on salary with a government agency I saw 10 patients a week at most and had countless committee meetings instead.  We all congratulated ourselves too. In Private Practice I see 50 to 100 patients a week as a specialist where as private practice generalists see 200  to 300 patients a week.  A psychologist once told me that she had seen 10 patients with anorexia and considered herself the local ‘authority’.  At the time I ‘d seen some thousand or so patients with eating disorders but consider my colleague the ‘authority’ as he did an extra year of training beyond specialist level and has seen tens of thousands of patients with eating disorders.  It matters.  My gp colleague is delivering the children of the mothers he delivered and knows his patients for decades. I have several patients I’ve seen off and on over 30 years.  I’ve seen all the family of one patient over a 20 year stretch so have an amazing in depth and extended knowledge of this patient.  One visit with me every 5 to 10 years after that first year of therapy saves the health care system tens of thousands of dollars such a case. The horrendous lack of training and competence in health care administration is that there is literally millions of dollars of duplications of services.
Increasingly no one wants to do more than a ‘consult’. Consults get paid more than ongoing therapy but if one focuses on the loyal and happy ‘customer’ then one can indeed have an ‘easy’ practice whereas I’ve always had a combination of ‘consultation’ and therapy. Increasingly the patients who I don’t think would benefit from therapy are angry with me for refusing to accept them because frankly no one is willing to see this person weekly for an hour on the ‘government’ dime and these patients who are most wanting to be in therapy can’t afford counsellors or psychologists.  One of the essential keys to ‘rationing’ scarce resources and to ‘triaging patients’ is to decide if therapy would ‘alter’ the outcome of the patients case. Hence i have some patients I see for psychiatric psychotherapy because I believe I can improve their ‘morbidity’ or ‘mortality’.  I see a patient with heart disease for many years because he was told he would die and we both enjoy seeing him outlive the ‘predictions’.  I see some cancer patients because it improves their longevity.  I further have seen some students who were failing but now have gone on to getting masters and Ph’d’s.  I have enjoyed the ‘external’ criteria for success like using the ‘recovery ‘ and ‘days abstinent’ for assessment of my work.  I also encourage patients to leave my practice when they are well or have made as much progress as I believe they can at this time, while I leave the door open for return.  If I was in a private psychology practice I wouldn’t discourage a paying ‘customer’.  Psychoanalysis started as a year long therapy and because of the lucrative nature and the desire of the satisfied customer went on for 10 or more years. This is fine in a private paying system but in a public health care system I have accepted that I have a responsibility to the group as well as the individual.  One of my colleagues saw the same 40 people for 40 years roughly. If that was in the private pay system it would be good business.If I want to go to the same masseuse once a week for 40 years and pay out of pocket for this service it’s just fine.
However I did two years of community medicine and public health training in addition to psychiatry so I’ve been forever ruined because I think of the health care system and encourage ‘good’ patients who ‘love’ me to leave home without me.  In fact when I’m really looking forward to seeing a patient this is one of my counter transference criteria for raising the question of termination of therapy.  With psychopharmacology in contrast there is a diminishing need to see the patient and from initial assessment period of visits the frequency and length of time of visit can reduce to the standard every 6 month or year visit or transfer back to the general practice.  Mostly patients don’t want to transfer back to the general practitioner and most general practitioners want you to continue to manage the complex medication so the system gets bogged down and waitlists grow.  Also because everyone is trying to avoid upsetting patients because upset patient complain to the college and college complaints cost the practitioner thousand of dollars a lot of ‘dependent personality disorders’ and “hypochondriac’s are seen ad infinitum with no change in their health because they are ‘addicted to their therapist’ like a drug.  I get as many complaints from refusing to continue to see a patient as I do from seeing a patient. It’s like the horror i went through getting patients off benzodiazepines  The withdrawal process was as bad as the disease and the same occurs with ’termination of patients’ in therapy.  It’s so tough that junior doctors avoid it like the plague and everyone colludes to a very expensive tea time rather than doing the work of therapy which involve ‘learning to leave home’.  I am facing a complaint right now because a patient using alcohol and crystal meth wants to talk with me and wants me to diagnose him as being well and without a mental disorder. However I have explained to such patients without giving them a psychiatric diagnosis I can’t get paid. A week doesn’t go by that a patient doesn’t expect or ask me to do something for free but they’d never do this to a lawyer or a mechanic or any other business owner.  They get angry that I won’t do something and yet don’t understand that I do hundreds of hours of pro bono work and give thousands to charity and do all manner of volunteer service but in their eyes “you’re just a selfish uncaring bastard to not do this for me.” Every day my secretaries are asked to do unpaid services for patients who are incredibly entitled.  Often someone  sees the photocopy machine or fax machine and wants the secretary to work for them doing things wholly unrelated to their mental health issues. One patient used my secretary as their answering service having her forward their calls.  I’ve lost several staff because of patients threatening and bullying them.  Only other business owners in my practice understand the whole idea of ‘overhead’ and don’t assume the doctor is a ‘free service’.
I was in charge of the suicide ward at an asylum where the suicde rate was 5 -10 per year with 30 attempts per year. I reduced it to no deaths and less than 10 attempts only to see administration wanting then to cut back the resources because the ‘problem had been solved’.  Administration in psychiatry penalizes good work. The doctors who are most rewarded do not ‘cure’ but rather maintain the illness at a ‘manageable level’.  Hence in addiction right now the doctors most lauded are those introducing ‘safe injection sites’ which do not cause ‘abstinence’ but keep people sick but alive.  It’s probably not intentional but it’s fairly factual.  The Abortionists could make more  than the Obstetricians and I’ve been offered more money to prescribe marijuana than I was ever offered to get people off marijuana.
11) But increasingly I don’t want to justify myself. I’m looking forward to dying because most doctors I know don’t see themselves being able to ‘afford’ to retire.  Further none can find anyone to take over their practices so are even more hated for ‘abandoning’ their patients.  I dreamed of a ‘retirement’ or even ‘cherry picking’ a ‘safe practice’ by avoiding seeing any of those people who are ‘haters’ and ‘complainer’s and ‘liars’. My favourite Rate Your Doctor complaints are the active ‘crack addict’ who worked for me and hurt so many of my patients because she lied so much about her past and was promoted by a minister and some men who subsequently told me were her customers.  I fired her because she hurt a number of my patients but the damage this psychopath did to my patients and practice was amazing. In spite she also wrote a half dozen ‘rate your doctor’ complaints.  My other favourite is the old millionaire alcoholic I saw with a 40 ounce habit a day who wanted to see me for psychotherapy to talk about his ‘stress’ but became incensed that I diagnosed him as having ‘alcohol abuse’ in the first ‘assessment hour’.  As a psychiatrist I am required to make an assessment in 1-2 hours and was criticized by the licensing body when I had not made one in 5 sessions, apparently 3 sessions being some ‘unwritten maximum’ . Our
Royal College Examination requires that we have a diagnosis after 1-2 hours.  I have reviewed dozens of diagnosis from university departments and all of the psychiatrists there would not pass their Royal College exams today for their ‘missing diagnosis’ .  The diagnosis they most often ‘miss’ are ‘drug and alcohol abuse’ and ‘sexual diagnosis’ and anything deemed ‘political incorrect’.  They are “playing the game’ and are not doing their job of setting a high standard but cowardly doing ‘feel good’ psychiatry and avoiding at all costs anything that could be controversial such as a ‘axis II diagnosis’.   So ‘sins of omission’ are rewarded and ‘sins of commission’ condemned.
12) My windows were shot out.  Countless times I’ve had empty bottles smashed at my door step.  My cat was killed. My dog was murdered. My girlfriends car had empty beer bottles smashed on it. My family have been threatened and I have had my life threatened repeatedly.  Right now a man is emailing me telling me he is going to kill my dog.  Every one of these cases has involved a diagnosis of drug or alcohol abuse and in every occasion the person’s job was affected because they were told if they didn’t get ‘treatment’ then they would not have their job, so they have tried in every way possible to ‘kill the messenger’.  If only doctor hay  had not diagnosed them as ‘drug and alcohol abuse’ then all these bad consequences would not be occurring.  I have to date met with very mixed  support from my superiors but continued to do what I was taught and followed the laws and recommendations.  But a day doesn’t go by that I don’t think of retiring or just ‘cherry picking’ is the answer.  On really bad days, I think I’ll completely sell out and become a  court reporter.  I could go into administration and escape the front lines.  The trouble is I don’t think they want truth or experience. The key today is in constructivism and marketing. Propaganda, political correctness and platitudes.  There is physician assisted suicide.  Get in on the ground floor like with early abortions when the extreme cases were being used to sell another of today’s  most lucrative death industries.   Death sells.  Follow the money.  Get with the program.  Do no harm and patient advocacy are clearly ‘on the wrong side of history’.  It is 2016, to quote Trudeau.

Alternatively I could just not read "Rate Your Doctor" until they allow "Rate Your Judge".

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Ballet BC Program 3, May 2016

"I and I and you” was choreographed by Jorma Elo to the music of Bach.  At first there was disorganization with dancers taking on grotesque inhuman shapes that at times reminded me of the frogs I pithed in the science lab. It was jarring and unaesthetic to my taste yet the music was divine.  Then slowly the most amazing transformation occurred as the dance became more elegant and orderly. The pas de dieux were traditional. The harsh softened into the lyrical and the piece ended with resolution of conflict and celebration of movement and dance.  A truly wonderful performance
At intermission the doors to the outdoor patio were opened so we could wander outside in the centre of Vancouver looking out at the CBC building and up at the half moon in the sky. As always the audience out did itself with studied fashion, a whole range of avant garde designer ward robes.  I can’t say it enough but "people watching" at Ballet BC is the very best fun in Vancouver. What a collection of characters and definitely some of the usual suspects.
"16 + a Room” choreographed by Emily Molnar in collaboration with artists of Ballet BC to the music composed and arranged by Dirk P. Haubrich was in stark contrast to the first piece.  “We are all being shot backwards and forwards on this plain to make a pattern” quotation of Virginia Woolf accompanied the piece.  Harsh, bleak and Kaffkaesque the dancers seemed trapped in a prison like space with an individual holding a sign, “This is the beginning”.  This seemed like a bit of hope juxtaposed with what seemed at times to be Dante’s Hell.  As the sense of a New York street, the urban anomie came through the performance, “This is the beginning” seemed more a curse. Then the lighting and sound effects took on a flavour of helicopters and war.  I thought of the UN’s Agenda 21 with the aim to round up people in camps like the Pol Pot had,  in an attempt to protect holy mother earth from human infestation.  Dancers fleed from side to side but there seemed only the tangled space of encroaching borders and a new sign as equally enigmatic, “This is not the end”. The curtain closed.
Applause and more applause.  “That’s what I like,” said a young man beside me at the coffee bar where I was buying chocolate to sweeten the experience, “Intense,” he said "I liked the intensity of that piece”.  It was definitely intense I thought contemplating suicide.
My companion laughed when I said I could use with a little Swan Lake about now.  
Emily Molnar ensured we got something more and together all of the program made an organic whole
“Bill" was a Canadian premiere but first performed by the Batsheva Dance Company. Choreography was by Sharon Eval, born in Jerusalem, and Gai Behar of Tel Aviv. The music was by Ori Lichtik.
A single male dancer in white strutted almost smaltzilly across the stage. The music was East European Middle Eastern and each move of the dancer’s body was unique display of peacock finery.  As more dancer’s came on stage there was a shifting of music to increasing drums. At one point the dancers seemed like a collection of prehistoric birds calling cries to one another as they congregated. Again they transformed to a tribal grouping.  I found myself thinking of Africa.   Amazing choreography.  So much for the eye.  A group moving in ritual here while another combination of dancers erupted off to the side as three or more interpreted the music centre stage, layers upon layers with individuals flying off to the sides only to coalesce in the amazing drum beat.  A primitive chief arose, then it was as if Basheba had graced the stage.  Ancient movements of utter sensuality contrasting with the rhythmic abrupt frenzied patterns danced in the background. It was a kaleidoscope of dance that crescendoed to the falling of the curtain.
The whole audience erupted  in applause bursting to their feet with bravos and more. .  Bows and bows and more bows were made by the appreciative dancers. Everyone loved the piece.
What a wonderful night.
Outside I found my friend waxing poetic about the incredible emotional ride the collected works had provided. He especially loved the last one and was explaining the symbolism he saw to the beautiful young dancer who accompanied him.    We joined in, excited.  Voices entwining like dance.   It was all so novel, so visual and moving. Then we were laughing, parting, waving good byes and off to our cars.
What an incredible night at the Ballet.  Ballet BC, thank you.  Emily Molnar, Thank you.  Thank you to all of the dancers.
IMG 0275IMG 0274IMG 0273

Friday, May 13, 2016

Turning Point Recovery Society Gala 2016

The 9th Annual Turning Point Gala this year was a great success.  I love the elegance of the Four Season Hotel.  It’s a perfect backdrop for the glamour the lovely ladies in the latest fashion in gowns, dresses and accessories,  bring to this night of nights.   Many of the men mostly in black and grey suits were sporting wide ties again.  Dressed in a brightly flowered spring frock, the delightful Radene Neill was the very best MC. Later she interviewed David Crosby with the charm and wit that makes her warm presence and beauty so appreciated in this city.
The evening opened with a short film of founder Jim Ross talking of the 1982  humble beginnings of Turning Point. From one person saved in a room Turning Point Recovery has grown to several homes throughout the city with the finest reputation for safety recovery and community relationship.  It was good to see all the dignitaries, the Honorable Terry Lake there again this year, and the red serge of the RCMP.
David Crosby, before coming to the gala had sat in a Turning Point Recovery House meeting with those fresh from the downtown streets and addiction sharing his experience, strength and hope.
Brenda Plant, Executive Director welcomed us all there, sharing anecdotes of her meeting Nash then awe at meeting David. She spoke of his humility and compassion while knowing his genius.  Howard Blank was hilarious as the auctioneer who helped to raise a hundred thousand for Turning Point.  Special  thanks are due the generosity of Westjet, Bear Camp at Chilko Lake, Red Rock Casino, Palladino Jewelries, the Okanagan wineries, 54-40, Fairmount and Four Seasons Hotel. Those bidding were  competitive  for the best of causes.
David Crosby shared that his recovery from drugs and alcohol, in a Texas State prison, was the hardest thing he’d done in his life.  His loving partner was his greatest gift of recovery.  He’d sailed oceans, scuba dived for the sheer joy and beauty of the sea, ridden motorcycles despite the dangers and contributed the world over with the unforgettable music of the Byrds, Crosby Still Nash and Young, and now his songs, solo, or with his son and CPR.  He said that his greatest regret was the people he’d hurt and the time he’d lost.  His creativity was harmed by his drug and alcohol abuse.  Sitting in that Texas jail he found that the poetry he’d thought he’d lost through his addiction came back in his recovery.  Having  just completed a new acoustic album, he described the joy he finds with music.  His preference these days is for the intimacy of audiences he can see compared to the nights playing to  stadiums with tens of thousands.
Yes he spoke of Woodstock but the special significance of Turning Point Galas is that those invited are there to speak about the personal not the iconic.  He shared his deepest sorrow as one day he wrote the names of those who he’d known as dearest friends but were killed by drug addiction.  It went on for two yellow foolscap sheets single spaced. " They were my friends,” He said.   “Think of what music Janis would be making today.  Think of what Jimmy’s guitar playing would be like today.”  "When someone says that alcohol or drugs is needed for creativity,  I say no….  Alcohol and drugs are a scourge that destroys creativity."  At 74, two heart attacks and a liver transplant later he is grateful for his continued creativity  so thankful for the  life that recovery has given him.
When he ended speaking, when Radene had asked her last question, when the audience had put their last question to him. When he spoke of anxiety he had for America today, what remained for me was that wonderful line he shared, as memorable as countless others his gift has given us for so many decades.  Paraphrased,  ‘war brings us down, music lifts us up. I’m so thankful to have had a life of making music. Thanks to recovery I'm still  making music."
He was a beautiful man.  As a teen I learned  guitar to play and sing his songs. It was the late sixties and early 70’s  when his music harmonized with an era.  Tonight his humour,  humility, depth and sincerity enthralled us still.
We all stood to applaud, thankful to have been apart of something rare and beautiful and intimate.
I felt truly blessed.
Thank you, David Crosby.  Thank you Turning Point Recovery Society.

IMG 0266IMG 0259IMG 0243IMG 0253IMG 0248IMG 0249
IMG 0242IMG 0241IMG 0257
IMG 0262IMG 0264  1

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Turning Point Gala coming May 12, 2016

I am already excited about the Turning Point Gala.  Brenda Plante makes it the very best event. I love the Four Seasons. It really is an elegant venue and the service has always been superb. The meals are mouth watering delicious.  The stories of the recovered addicts and alcoholics are moving and inspiring.  I love seeing the gracious dignitaries each year. Minister Terry Lake is really a caring and bright fellow who I was blessed to meet one year here.  But there are always many.  The Silent Auction and Prizes  are the best I've seen in the galas I've attended.  The community really supports Turning Point. The generosity of the guests is fabulous.  I've  seen some businessmen, now flush, who once were on their knees, show that recovery really works.  Their reaching back to help the next person up with open wallets speaks admirably of their open hearts. Everyone has a family member suffering from addiction so there are those pillars of society that show the true depth of their souls by their presence and support of Turning Point on this night.  I personally like the glamour.  The ladies and gentlemen that come to Turning Point really prove that Vancouver is more than pack sacks and yoga pants.  And the speakers are the best.  This year it's David Crosby of  Byrds, Buffalo Springfield and Crosby Stills Nash and Young.  My favourite music.  I'm so excited.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Courage to Change Awards Gala, 2016

I met Barbara 17 years ago at the Alano Club at 7th and Granville.  I can still remember her incredible smile.  We’ve been friends ever since.  I’ve been blessed to walk along with her through her university years and share the gifts of recovery with her.  I’ve always loved her laughter.  It’s infectious.  A kind of inclusive, ‘we cheated death’ kind of laughter.  Everyday is then a gift.
Dancing with her is divine.  I complain that most Canadian women can’t dance with men and at dances seem to have forgotten their poles.  Barbara’s  a very graceful ball room dancer.  As a former teacher and student of the world champion I’m just so thankful to meet another who knows the language.  Ballroom dancers meet like speakers of a rich old language delighting in the opportunity to dialogue. .  Years later  going out for dim sun in China town  I  learned from Barbara that she  had once been a stripper and a pole dancer.
"It’s hard to believe I used to work there as a stripper,” she'd dropped as we walked past a still seedy hotel.  At a 12 step meeting in her honour I heard more of the dark side that makes her light so bright today.
Maybe only those who have known the absence of elegance can most truly reflect it and appreciate it.
There’s a lot Barbara doesn’t talk about unless she feels you need to know or if you are fortunate enough to be trusted.
I was once as private until the corrupt used my silence for naught. Perhaps that’s why I so appreciate that former UBC professor, Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverly Mclachlin is such an advocate for transparency. I was glad to see Barbara come forward to accept the Courage to Come Back Award.  In doing so she shared some of her story,  which combined with her studies, contribute to make her the  healer she is today.
I saw her guitar when I dropped by her apartment one day.  “Do you play?”
Sure enough she did.  Beautifully. She sang too.   Very accomplished. I was serenaded with a country classic, maybe Loretta Lynn. The song will ever be Barbara for me though.
Another night, I was so honoured to be invited to a university meeting with aboriginal leaders and social work faculty. One of those better times at the university when everyone rises above the politics, ego and money to actually reach for the pieces of Hesse's  Glass Bead Game.  I thoroughly loved Barbara’s mentors and profs.  I remember discussing sailing as a metaphor for life and society with a native professor who sailed as well. He told me how moved he was seeing Killer whales in bays where he anchored and knew his ancestors had camped generations before.
Barbara started her private practice in my offices. It’s a difficult transition time for young counsellors when they first begin,  gathering clients word of mouth, before they can even pay the rent.  I rarely use my office in the evening and some afternoons but the issue is trust. I’m particularly concerned about my files and my patients confidentiality.  There’s also sentimental mementos of my family and  travels which if lost or stolen insurance companies could not replace in kind.  Barb appreciated all this and in really little time had a full roster,  needed more space and time. Now her own practice continues to grow and flourish so she actually needs two offices.
During the Residential School Reconciliation we shared clients, doing countless assessments together. Dozens of chiefs, leaders, medicine men and women, and just the common everyday folk came through my doors to tell their stories. We put these oral tales of pain, betrayal and abuse down on paper, ‘documenting’. With Barb’s help then these individuals could take their place in the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions and receive their compensation awards  Apparently we helped bring a million or so back  to those who had lost so much more.
It was a great day when Barbara finally got her doctorate.  Dr. Barbara Harris.  Nice ring.  Hard work. Long hours. Determination. I am honoured that Barbara counts me as her friend.
Now her story is told in the Province newspaper and countless articles. It’s a story worth hearing.
It was really a privilege then to be asked to be apart in her Courage to Come Back Award.
For 18 years Coast Mental Health has held the Courage to Come Back Awards Gala.  This was the largest ever with 1600 people gathered in the Vancouver Convention Centre.  The 6 recipients were all in their own way like my dear friend Barbara, people of the light who had fought their way out to the light.  With courage,  faith and endurance they fought on.  Today they are the torch bearers.  The awards ceremony  celebrates their courage and overcoming adversity.
Dr. Barbara Harris’ award was in the category of Mental Health.
Tom Teranishi was in the category of  Medical. Christy Campbell was in Physical Rehabilitation.  Jamal Damtawe was in Addiction. Colton Liu was in the Youth Category.  Meredith Graham’s was for Social Adversity.  Each story is as special and moving in it’s own way as Barbara’s is.
Kevin Evans and Randene Neill were cohosts and really did make the evening flow.  The RCMP E Division Honour Guard’s presence was so appreciated.. I loved as well  the uplifting bag pipe music that heralded the arrival and seating of our beloved Lieutenant Governor of BC, the Honourable Judith Guichon.
So many distinguished guests were there this night.  Nearly a million and a half dollars were pledged.  The Segal Family generously gave $50,000. Minister of Health Terry Lake on behalf of the Christy Clark and the Government gave $100,000.  A table of students pledged a hundred dollars each.  While other philanthropist families famous in BC pledged hundreds to thousands more.  Looking at the spectacular view of the north shore mountains it was so inspired to see these individuals, families, corporations, and government giving to the work of Vancouver Mental Health.  The room radiated hope and fatih.
Each recipients story was shown with filmed vignettes  done so impressively by media geniuses with true empathy for their subjects.
When the presentations were done and the applause of 1600 people died down I couldn’t help but think, seeing those six on stage, that this is the real Oscars. This was truth. The other was fiction.
Lorne Segal, OBC, Chair of Courage to Come Back, ended the evening with a tribute to all those who had faith and courage and overcame adversity. He brought their message and example home to all of us individually.  His words truly captured the reason so many of us cried to see these life Olympians come forward to take these  awards and yet speak with such humility.  Their impossible journeys had been told so succinctly but Lorne Segal reminded us how arduous those journeys were.  His graceful words celebrated their stories.  He called the six “heroes’ and reminded us there were always  heroes among us.   As their stories had uplifted us, his words also left us all richer.
The applause that followed went on for a long time.
I hugged Barb one more time, said thanks and farewell to the other most enjoyable dinner companions I’d met that night.. The Vancouver Convention Centre dinner and service had been exceptional.  The view of the north shore mountains was hard to leave.  Looking out that amazing wall to wall window I felt like I was on a Starship. A  fitting location for a night that made the very best future possible no matter what adversity might come one’s way.
IMG 0196IMG 0162IMG 0157IMG 0155IMG 0167IMG 0178IMG 0181IMG 0169IMG 0186IMG 0187IMG 0195IMG 0191IMG 0190IMG 0198IMG 0201
IMG 0211IMG 0205IMG 0207



Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Pacific Theatre

Laura and I loved the improvs at Pacific Theatre.  Great cast of actors.  Definitely all the usual suspects. Hilarious.  Amazingly talented with music and acting. I've never seen such accomplished and funny musical improv.
Hannah and Caleb, the beautiful young couple whose wedding we'd attended such a short while ago were there.  Caleb volunteered to provide the sound effects for one improv.  It was especially funny. Of course, Caleb made all the difference in our eyes.
The Pacific Theatre announced it's new season.  Some really great shows.  Lucia Frangione is back with one of her award winning plays.  Every year is different at Pacific Theatre.  The defining and unifying feature of the plays is excellence and integrity.  Every year I have a favourite play though I've never not liked a performance. This year it was Common Grace.
The Christmas season performances are always special.  Stooge or Caribou Christmas or something else special.
They're all theatre at it's finest. Years later I'm still telling people about the Quilters, that Prairie play made from the letters the mail order brides sent back to Britain.  Another play, Chairs, documented the deaths in Vancouver from HIV, the tainted  blood transfusions, needles and bathhouses.  Such a rivetting performance.  They're from years ago.
But Pacific Theatre tackles those big plays, the Death of a Salesman type theatre, where the big questions are being asked in the way only theatre can.  There's something so alive in theatre that computers and televisions simply can't get near to. Human experience.  Acting out stories goes back to cave men 80,000 years ago.  Tragedy and Comedy.
And then there's the Christian perspective.  The ethical and moral considerations.
I love Pacific Theatre. I'm glad I've got my season's tickets already.