Tuesday, May 23, 2017

First night Truck Tenting, Duffy Lake Road.

First Long Weekend of Spring. Laura says its the Victoria Day Camping weekend.
I left work on Friday riding the Harley Davidson motorcycle home from the clinic. Id’ made my last phone call to a colleague to discuss the long weekend policy.   It was 2 pm Friday. The long weekend had begun.
Laura texted me. “I”m just leaving work. The bus is delayed. I don’t think I’ll be able to get there till 3 or 4. “  I didn’t mind.  I was already busy in the trailer garage finding camping gear from a year before.I was also sorting through the boxes of ‘stuff’ I’d unloaded from my old truck when I’d traded it in for this one. I love my new white Ford F350  Lariat edition with sun roof and long box. It was finally going to used for one of the prime reasons I bought it for, hunting, fishing and camping.
I have a bear tag. I have a Ruger stainless steel 30:06 rifle and Nossler partition 180 grain bullets. I’m loaded for bear.  Though I’ve shot three I’ve no real desire to shoot another. Mainly because I’m not a really great fan of bear meat. Moose and venison are a different matter.  Bear I can take or leave. The smoked ham is great but so far the sausage hasn’t appealed to me.   Mostly I’ve gifted my bear meat to my aboriginal friends who really seem to love it.  I really was taking the rifle along this weekend, just in case.
The main event of the weekend would be the new “impulse buy” Cabelas Napier tent truck.  Aubrey, Dave, Rick and Rick’s Laura along with Gilbert and Emory the dogs had all helped me put it up the first time on Thursday night. “I still think you’re going to get a motel,” Dave said.  Aubrey helped with the colour coded rods and Rick figured that some went on the interior. Laura laughed a lot.  But the tent did get set up.
By the time my Laura drove over in her little red diesel Smart Car I had packed up my winter clothes to put in the storage locker, cleaned out several bags of garbage and packed all I needed for the weekend.  I even remembered my BC hunting license and the Iridium satellite phone and Motorola walkie talkies.
It was 5 pm when we got to the storage locker.  Rush hour traffic was in full swing.  A little delay on the upper reaches.  I’d forgotten the entrance code but followed a pretty Aussie lady in.  I was able to catch the manager and get the code so I could get out and back in.
The locker was a mess. Tom and I on our last trip had barely found room for “Charles’ the Honda 500 Pioneer side by side. Making room we’d just piled stuff on top of it hurrying to finish after a long drive down from Kamloops with work in the early morning. It was a bit of a chore but finally I found Charles, backed him out and put up the ramps for the first loading.  I’d had this special spray for the truck  box to protect it and give it extra grip. It was about to get it’s first trial.  Charles had started up wonderfully and was just purring after a ride  round of the lot.  I lined up the ramps and taking my life in my hands drove up onto the truck box. I wasn’t quite aligned careening over one wheel hub but stopping just short of dinting the back of the new pristine truck cab.
“Laura, it doesn’t fit.”I said.
“You’re kidding. That’s why you got the long box”.
“I didn’t take into account the winch."
“Will we be able to take it?"
“Oh, for sure, I just won’t be able to close the tail gate completely. It will be up and I could haul the trailer with it like this but it’s not perfect."
(When I’d traded my Yamaha 500 in for the Honda side by side because Gilbert the cockapoo couldn’t jump on and off that height after hurting his back, I hadn’t measured the length of the Honda which turned out too long for my last Ford F350 with it’s short box.  With the tail gate down I couldn’t haul the trailer so when I traded the truck in I got the humungous long box which makes the truck almost impossible to park in the city. All so I’d be able to haul the Honda with the tailgate up.  God made rope and bungee chords for people like me.”)
It was 6 pm.
“I think I should shop here at the Saveon Foods rather than waiting to do it in Pemberton.” I said.
“That’s a good idea. I can wait in the truck with Gilbert and watch the gear,” Said Laura.  I like her doing  that  when I have rifles and ammo in the truck.
One never should shop when one is hungry, tired and thirsty. A full shopping cart and $500 bill.  I know I’ll only use a quarter of what I got but I won’t have to shop for groceries for a week or two after as I ‘ll be able to bring it all back. But i just kept thinking I’ll be off the grid and there won’t be any corner stories or pizza delivery.  So like Ialways I over stocked.  Nobody who has ever sailed ,camped or hunted with me has ever faced a shortage of food.I also confess, since I’m ‘roughing it’ in the woods I like to have the a few luxuries, like the apple cheeses and rainforest crackers and best cut steaks.  It’s alright to be decadent when one is miles from nowhere in a tent surrounded by bears.
Driving out of the city I made a wrong turn and headed across Lion’s Gate. The signs don’t allow you to turn till you’re almost downtown.  I’m distinctly different from the other cars heading out to party at the famed Vancouver night clubs and restaurants. I’m driving a humungous Ford F350 carrying a tall Honda 500 side by side with camping chairs and tables lining the sides. The men may have looked envious at me but the women were giving Laura looks of sympathy.
It’s 730 pm when we’re headed up the Sea to Sky High way between ocean and mountains.  I’d  made the last  to fill up with gas. I filled up Charles and a couple of jerry cans as well.  $200.  Camping is not cheap.  The equipment to do a weekend of camping, the truck and gear and everything else, though acquired over years is more than a $100,000.  No wonder only the city rich or country poor hunt  and those who camp like safety of the "people plush” provincial campgrounds rather than the isolation of the wilderness.  The roads to Canada’s provincial campgrounds, really heavenly places, can be reached by Laura’s Smart Car so anyone with a vehicle can enjoy those. It’s the off roading when the costs start, in vehicles and equipment.
“All the campgrounds are free all across Canada this summer, “ Laura said, “It’s because it’s  Canada’s 150th birthday,”
The Squamish Chief is the most majestic mountain face in BC. I never get tired of looking at it each time I pass through Squamish.  It’s beauty is different depending on the light.  At dusk tonight it was wonderful.
We stopped at Starbucks for coffee.  I bought a very large Mocha.
The police had a road block at Breckenridge.
“They’re having a big festival of the outdoors at Whistler this weekend. They must be checking for alcohol,."
“No,” I said. “That’s not a typical breath check.”  4 cars and a half dozen police.
The RCMP said hello and waved us through.
“He looked everywhere inside the vehicle,”  Laura said.
“He sure did. They were looking for someone.  He didn’t even take a whiff inside. They’d ask if they were just checking for alcohol. This was a whole lot more serious.”
The pink sunset over the mountains was incredible just south of Whistler.  Laura tried to get a picture on the iPhone but it just didn’t do the colours justice.  I loved the endless spruce trees and all the memories of driving this road back and forth skiing with Sherry, then motorcycling with Laura and countless times hunting and camping alone.  It’s always different but always the same like high school friends.
We drove through Whistler with only one glych. A drunk or stoned  guy on a bicycle driving against traffic in the middle of the road. The car a head of me swerved to miss him and then I did the same hardly seeing him blinded by the light of the on coming traffic.
Finally at Pemberton I stopped at the gas station for the final fill up before going onto the bush.  Laura availed herself of the last civilized washroom. We even got burgers and fries at the late open MacDonalds .  Lots of young people texting on their phones sitting in booths working on lap top computers.
“You remembered Gilbert’s paddy’. she asked
“Of course,”
Gilbert loves the MacDonald’s plain paddy. He joneses at the sight of the double golden arches.  Laura breaks it up into pieces to slow him down. Still he’s begging for a bit of my burger before I’m finished.  It’s dark outside driving.  I almost missed the Skokumchuk Hot springs turn off on the Duffly Lake Road.
The first concern is about 50 cars parked along the road outside the first of the Lillouette Lake campsites.  It turns out this is an aboriginal festival so we don’t worry about yahoos and drinking and drugs. We see the folk in native costumes and some carrying drums.
The next campsite is a little more concerning. Lots of cars spilling over onto the road and 30 year olds staggering about in the dark.
“I’m not liking this.”  I say to Laura.
“I told you my niece and her friends come up to Skookumchuck to party each weekend. It’s become really popular with the young crowd.”  I’d heard her but ignored her and here was the evidence against the quiet tranquil place of my memory.
“It’s been taken over like the Chilliwack Lake and  Chilliwack River Road. Young people partying. Loud music and too much alcohol and drugs.  Maybe with the marijuana being legalized they’re stay in the city and leave us the country.” I laughed.
At midnight ,the half dozen guys on motocross bikes careening by us at high speed settled it.  Lizzie Lake Campsite had definitely been taken over by aliens. We could hear the music from cars and dozens of campfire were burning around the lakeside.
“I don’t see this getting any better,”  I said turning the truck around.
“I don’t like to be around drugs and alcohol,” Laura said. “I’ve known too much tragedy and unhappiness caused by it. They never think of what their behaviour does to others and I just can’t stand it anymore.  I’m sorry but it really triggers me.  I get so angry at the stupidity and selfishness.  They frighten me too.  I just can’t relax around people who drink or drug. I’m always waiting for the explosion.  They’re nice and then the accidents happen or the explosions or the craziness. I can’t stand it."
“Too much like work to me.” I said as we made our way slowly back over the pot holed logging road.
That’s when I made the mistake of pointing out the big black bear by the side of the road.  Laura freaked.
“Was that a bear.  It was huge,” she shouted.
“Yes. It was just a black bear.”
“I’m terrified of bear."
I remembered the time along this road when she was on the back of the Harley 1200 Roadster. I looked up on a knoll and there was a big black bear looking down at us.  I pointed it out to Laura then thought nothing of it, knowing the bear was most afraid of humans and machines so was probably headed back into the woods.  It must have been 20 minutes further along that Laura, called into my ear, “Do you think the bear has stopped chasing us?”  It’s an epochraphal story and I confess I’ve told it with way too much glee.  Black bears are mostly only a problem if you show fear.  I’ve been knocked down by them and punched them and know them as the big mean dogs they are.  Despite being the cause of almost all bear mauling they’re only opportunistic. Run and they’re haul you down.  Feed them and they’re maul you. But stand up to them and they’re leave you alone. That’s been my experience time and gain.  Grizzlies on the other hand will maul you.  They’re territorial and if you’re in their territory they are going to punish you if not eat you out right. All you can do  wit them is curl up and pray.  Polar Bear who I’ve been chased by a couple of times are altogether different. They see man as walking seals.  Food. So if a polar bear takes an interest in you, all you can do is run and run fast.  They will eat you.
Now Laura was terrified of bears.  And foolish me I’d just pointed one out.
“I decided to come this way because there’s hardly any grizzly bear over here. They’re over by Meager Mountain and Gold River. This is pretty much only black bear.”  I was cursing myself because I’d forgot the other gun I usually bring when I take her hunting. She has her firearms acquisition and is a great shot.  When I go off by myself she stays in the camp with the truck and tent and has a gun just in case.
“I’m not afraid in the daylight. It’s just at night. When you’d leave pre dawn to go hunting I’d just lie awake holding onto the gun waiting to be mauled until the light came an hour later.” she told me.  I guess telling her that there weren’t that many grizzlies this side of Pemberton wasn’t too reassuring either.  To her bear are bear.   I hadn’t planned to go hunting pre dawn this trip anyway. One of the reasons for the truck tent had been to give her a sense of safety when we were camping.
Admittedly, after a skunk shoved up against the side of the tent scratching at my face last year I too was a bit turned off to camping on the ground. I only realized it was a skunk when I got up with the gun and was expecting at most to shoo away a racoon.  Instead I saw a big momma skunk and her little ones.  That was too close a call.  I prefer my RV but as I live in it most of the time it’s just not worth hauling it for a weekend.  If I was going for a week or two I’d take the RV for sure. That’s Laura and my  favourite type of camping now.
I remember my parents moving up from tenting to trailer tenting to their motorhomes. My brother and I made fun of them.  But dad would say, “when you get my age you’ll appreciate not having to sleep on the cold ground.  Besides you know your mom loves her motorhome."
The other reason I’d not gone over the Merger Creek Gold River way was the flooding this year. Long winter and run off had lots of rivers flooding so there were provincial wide warnings about the lowland areas.
As we drove up the Duffy Lake Road, deer were everywhere.  This was their time.  We’d see their eyes in the lights in the ditch and their ghostly bodies as we passed. I wasn’t driving fast not wanting to hit one.  This was my favourite motorcycle route, Duffy Lake Road, winding road, with it’s great mountain views and evergreen forest, is really one of the famed motorcycle rides of the continent.  It’s a great weekend circle route from Vancouver to Abbotsford to Lillouette to Pemberton or the other way.  The combination of Sea to Sky Highway and then the Duffy Lake Road and Coquihalla makes it some of the most scenic viewing of varying terrains one can ever hope to find.  Not surprising all the little campgrounds along the route were full.
Not only that, I was looking specifically for a campsite near a logging road so I could take Charles for a ride in the morning. Having a mule deer doe tag for Pemberton area for the fall I really did want to find a place I’d like to return to hunt.  I was quickly learning where I didn’t want to hunt but when I did find a perfect little solo campsite by the river with a logging road leading up into the mountains, Laura said, “There’s no one else around."
I knew I shouldn’t have pointed out that bear.
We drove on a little ways further and the really perfect campsite appeared, half empty too.  Nearly all the way to Lillouete but just grand.
3 am.  I unloaded the camp gear stuffed in the box.  With the ramps out I took my life into my hands and backed Charles down off the truck in the dark. I survived!
Now I began setting up the Napier tent in the back, sure glad I’d had a dry run with all the help.  It was a bit iffy at times but working methodically I soon had all the tie downs and poles in.  What a great feeling when the whole thing lifts up.
“Voila! a Truck Tent”.  It looked so spacious, it was almost cathedral.
Now Laura who’d been groggily  waiting with Gilbert in the truck helped get all the bedding out.  She really is a little thing and setting up the tent wouldn’t have gone faster with her helping.  Keeping Gilbert out of the way did.  I felt badly with the noise I’d made parking and unloading Charles and setting up the tent. Our immediate young  neighbours had been woken, their dogs barking but then they’d gone right back to sleep.
Now Laura and I and Gilbert were in our Mountain Equipment Coop -20 degree sleeping bags, foamies under our butts and Gilbert at our head lying on my cammo fleece jacket.  This tent truck was luxurious. I was still wide awake. The late night coffee from Macdonald’s still doing it’s thing.
It was 4:30 am.  Laura and Gilbert were sleeping.  I had the rifle loaded beside me.  Nothing in the chamber.  Just ready.  It was comforting. The sound of the running river was splendid. The air smelt so fresh.  I really did like this Napier truck tent.  Despite Laura telling me earlier that bears could climb it was very very unlikely. We were a whole lot safer.   I knew falling asleep I wasn’t going to wake to a black and white momma skunk scratching at my face.  Life was good. It really was good being off the ground. You’re right too Dad, I do miss my bed.

Friday, May 19, 2017


TGIF. Thank you Lord for Friday’s. Thank you for the days of the week, the beginning and the end and the work and the time off and the prospect of camping today. Thank you for showers and heat and shelter and the prospect of going back to primitive living with modern tent materials, advanced 4x4 off road trucks and ATV’s, roughing it with high tech light weight sleeping bags and latest designed air mattress coleman Stoves and this nifty new 600 lumen light that charges in a usb port. And thank you for the generator that will help me rough it and be able to charge my computer when I’m out in the wilderness cut off from all amenities and unable to phone up pizza delivery with my satellite phone. Thank you Lord for the paradoxes and the ironies. Thank you for laughter and humour and good spirits and lightness of being. Thank you for my darling little dog and his constant capacity to bring warmth to my heart and a smile to my face. Thank you for women Lord. They have forever made this camping ritual a lark. I’ve been camping since I was the littlest boy and mom had to untangle my fishing line every cast. I’ve got the fondest memories of my brother and I and the dog out walking in the woods or sitting fishing in the boat. Mom’s always been there when we came back with meals and an interest in our adventures.  

I always remember the base camp in the book Congo by Creighton and am amazed at how futuristic it seems and now today anyone who goes to Cabellas with not really too much money can be outfitted the same as that secret corporate expedition into Africa was .Camping today for me is little different than a Star trek away mission. I’ve been blessed with the compact light weight gear collected over many years and improving all the time.  I’ll load up my truck and go out into the incredible Canadian wilderness.  There’s camping spots by lakes and streams with not even a table, others with an outhouse and table and still others with club house and showers. I’m thinking we’ll end up tonight by a stream with a picnic table and maybe a couple of other campers  about or go all the way to the hot tub area where there will be dozens of others campers but no boom boxes or gangs or juveniles but just a whole lot of people that came along way to listen to bird song in the morning and watch the mist rise on the lake.  Thank you God for the choices that are open to us when we leave this often apparently God forsaken city of Vancouver to go into God’s Country BC.  Really Vancouver is not so bad if you forget about the criminals, drugs and bike lanes.  As ant hills go it’s a pretty one.  I’ve maintained my love hate for it for decades so my actions speak louder than words. As a city goes I love it.  But really only because of it’s proximity to mountains and ocean and wilderness.  Thank you God for this city and the country.  Thank you for the water and the soil.

Thank you for this day. Thank you for the work I’ve yet to do before I’m free to have camping fun and therapy. It’s all I can do to crawl to the outside of the maddening crowd and regain an element of equanimity.  The wilderness has been so much my greatest healing.  Away from the loudness of people, the press of the crowds and out where there’s not the constant regulations and endless laws and policing and beurocrats at every turn.  There’s beggars everywhere and charlatans and the liars Lord, please protect me from the liars. I don’t mind the psychotics but the psychopaths and sociopaths and the liars and all the rules that protect them and allow them to do even greater harm.  Help me Lord to forgive and continue to follow in your will. 

Thank you Lord for the world of bear and lynx and cougar and snakes and sharks and slippery rocks and steep ravines and worn out roads and all those things that don’t matter because they’re just there and don’t lay siege to your soul demanding your time and interest for months and years because they have no soul and lost their heart and lack empathy and hide before mounds of papers and play with themselves endlessly as the wankers of the Kaffka Castle. 

Help restore my sense of humour Lord.  Forgive me for taking the politics of this world seriously. Let me rest in you. Thank you for the inner spaces Lord. Thank you for meditation and prayer. Help me more in thanksgiving and praise. Help me to be less negative and less critical of my enemies but help me to duck and evade and return fire in the timely way so that I can live to sing your praise another day. Help heal my scared and broken heart and restore my faith and still my doubts.

Thank you Lord for a mother day of dancing with you. May all my family and friends know love today. May this day be a day of peace and joy. Thank you Lord. TGIF!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

University of Arizona Neurology Grand Rounds Podcasts

University of Arizona Neuroscience Department has an excellent podcast series of their Neurology Grand Rounds which I have accessed through iTunes U on my iPhone 6s.  I’ve been listening to these driving to and from work for the last couple of years.  They have always been most informative and extremely well presented.   The presentations have visuals  which I cannot access given I’m driving but I’ve gone back and reviewed some later.  However the presenters seem to appreciate that a lot of us aren’t watching them so make a point of explaining the most relevant information.
I’ve just listened to Sheena Aurora MD presenting on Migraine Pathophysiology and it’s been a real treat. She’s an amazing researchers with obviously well deserved awards and credits. Much to my surprise she explained that the MRI and fMRI angioplastic imaging blow the old idea of vascular migraines right out of the water. I’d heard this was being challenged as a theory a few years back but now it’s clear that the old idea of vascular constriction and ischemia just doesn’t occur.  What does occur is a hyper perfusion of the brain with a cortical depression. It appears that there is an increase in blood flow but that the brain is unresponsive .
The genetic predisposition for migraine phenomena has been found in variations on Chromosome 19.    80% of migraine sufferers have first degree relatives with migraine also.  There appears to be an channelopathy abnormality , the very area of neurology Dr. Robert Stowe studies here at UBC.  It appears that the presynaptic channel gate allows greater flow of potassium causing changes in the sensitivity of the tissue.  The techniques with various perfusion and scanning approaches used first in animals and later in less invasive forms in humans has been a long hard struggle to delineate the actual problem areas.
The generation of pain appears to be in the brain stem but the actual location is uncertain, though the research focus now is the hypothalamus.
The attempt too is to sort out why the variety of medications used in treatment of migraines appear to work with some not all.  Tryptans, topiramate, Coenzyme Q-10, possibly magnesium, etc.  The issue of inflammation exists too because the standard anti inflammatory medications like ASA, and NSAids (ibuprofen, and naproxen) continue to be beneficial.
There was much more that Sheena Aurora MD covered but those were the points that mattered most to me clinically. I certainly will be trying Coenzyme Q - 10 and watching for newer medications to come along shortly given the advances that are really coming along quickly.
I really did enjoy my commute to work thanks again to the University of Arizona and Sheena Aurora.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

I remember my Mother

I remember my mother
Holding me, wrapping her  loving arms around me
And pulling me close in to her soft warm body
I remember my mother
Protecting me from all harm when I was little
Always watching over me
Always being there to run to
Always being there to come home to
I remember her grilled cheese sandwiches
Fishing with her
Going for walks and holding her hand
Snuggling beside her in bed with her and Dad
I remember mother
Sitting upright in church with a colourful spring hat
Listening to the minister then standing and belting our gospel hymms
I remember mother making meals upon meals upon meals
(especially Red River cereal, and venison hash and moose roasts, pan friedfried pickerel)
For my father brother and me (and the dog we fed meat bits under the table)
I remember mother crocheting, knitting, quilting, mending.
I remember mother gardening, eating fresh home grown vegetables, especially the carrots
And her purple lilacs, and lots of daffodils .
I remember my mother arguing with the teachers and principals
About me and how she didn’t like the when they hurt me
I remember mother wailing out at me when I was bad
I remember hiding under the bed to get away from a spanking
And her laughing and getting me finally after a wild chase
And the spanking not hurting very much at all.
I remember sleeping soundly and dreaming forever play dreams
Knowing my mother and my father were there in their room
And my brother was beside me.
I remember my mother taking me weekly to the library
And reading books with me until I could read on my own
I remember my mother taking me to school my first day.
I remember camping with my mother and father and tenting and boating.
I remember riding on trains with my mother and visiting my family out east.
I remember long car rides with my mother and her making up games and songs
I remember my mother taking me and my brother to and from outdoor hockey games
In the coldest of winter and always having an oreo cookie for us on the way home
I remember my mother’s glorious red hair and her talking on the phone on the wall
I remember her typing up columns for the newspaper in the sunroom with her Christmas cactus
I remember her cheering in the stands and watching and encouraging as I played baseball poorly
I remember my mother helping with my homework and making sure assignments got done
I remember my mother coming to graduations and being very proud
I remember her calling us in from play in summer as the sun went down
I remember watching tv and eating kraft dinner with her and dad and my brother
In the living room with the dog and mom laughing because dad blamed the dog for farting
I remember my mom caring for my grandmother until one day my grandmother died in our home
I remember my mother taking in our cousin after her surgery and nursing her back to health
I remember mother as a peace maker resolving disputes between us boys and us and Dad
I remember mother making turkey thanksgiving dinners with her sister and all of us enjoying celebrations
I remember Christmas and birthdays because my mother remembered them and celebrated them.
I remember my mother laughing and crying and singing
I remember my mother teaching me to pray on my knees beside my bed
I remember  my mother always supportive and always encouraging and always forgiving
I remember my mother dancing with my dad and loving my dad and my brother and me
I remember complaining that Dad wasn’t at a hockey game and mom scolding me and saying
“Your dad is working hard so we can have a roof over our heads and food on your plates so don’t you ever complain about your dad"
I remember my  Mother screaming in the little plane Dad’s friend took us flying in like she did on the  fun rides at the fair
I remember her making rhubarb pies and giving my brother and me one orange each watching tv in winter
I remember mother making the NHL hockey nights special for us watching black and white tv with my brother and I in team shirts
I remember us all watching Lawrence Welk and Ed Sullivan on evening tv and listening to CJOB Beefs and Bouquet  morning radio
I remember my mother loving my brother marrying my sister in law and proudly telling everyone how smart she and Ron were
I loved when she had grandchildren and how she beamed and smiled a continent wide with joy for the babies
I loved that she was always there for me when I was sick, rubbing vapour rub on my chest when I was young
Bringing me soups and stew when I was old.
I remember my Mom always inviting me in and often telling me not to tell my father when I told her  some trouble I was in
I remember my father telling my brother and I not to tell my mother about some adventures we had together
I remember her listening to my woes and then making me tea or a sandwich and saying that it was going to be okay
I remember my mother helping out at the community club, game and fish, church and the local parades.
I remember my mother always helping out always remembering things others forgot and always making sure everything worked out
I remember my mother writing letters to me when we got older talking about the same old things, gardening, the neighbours, church, and stuff
I remember her coming over for dinner when I was married and Dad had helped me pick out a house and she was so happy for me
I remember my mother being so generous and gracious with the women in my life loving each one and showing them kindness and goodness
I remember her remembering my friends names and asking me about Wes and Keith and always loving Kirk and Garth.
I remember my mother getting old and sharing pictures of the cruises Dad took her on and pictures of her with natives in foreign lands laughing
I remember her in hospitals visiting her and her smiling and asking how I was
I remember my mother in her last year in a wheelchair, Dad pushing her in a big circle around the outside of hospital spring and summer, fall and winter
Dad told me she liked to hear the birds and I remembered all the bird feeders she had over the years especially the one outside the kitchen window
I remember her shovelling snow to get out to it so she could keep the bird seed full in the coldest times of the year when the birds needed her seeds most
I remember her and my dad, her in the wheelchair, my Dad standing bent over beside her, tucking in her scarf, her hands bundled in mittens on her laps
The two of them were the greatest love story I have ever known and my mother made my Dad and her sons happier than anyone else could ever know.
And I remember her dying last days and her telling me she was tired and she wanted me to let her go.
I remember my mother loving me. I remember my mother always loving me even when I made her angry or sad.
I remember my mother as love incarnate
I remember my father and brother and I bereft at her passing, my father who never cried, crying like a baby.
I remember my mother.I will always remember my mother.
On the best of days I dream of her and my dad and my brother and my aunt  and the dogs waiting for me
Often I feel her close to me.I remember my mother.
She was always there for me.
And now she is always here for me.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

U2 Joshua Tree Tour

My nephews, Graeme, Andrew, and Alan and my sister in law Adell gave me U2 tickets for my birthday. Laura and I have been so looking forward to this. We’d loved U2 in concert when we saw them here a few years back.
Getting to the concert was it’s own adventure. The Vancouver Taxis as usual were not available on the weekend. The city really does need Uber.  We wasted a half hour waiting and then finally opted to take the bus.  Apparently the bus services are more reliable.  I was driving my truck and it’s a tad too big for Vancouver on a friday night.    I got to take my annual bus ride adventure.  Laura rides the bus daily to an fro work so it wasn’t so exciting for her. It reminded me of my student years and youth, and bussing when I’m travelling.  I remembered we'd taken the bus to then first concerts I attended.   I didn’t have a car when I saw those great early concerts like Lead Zeappelin, Iron Butterfly, Pink Floyd, and Guess Who.  Come to think of it,  back then , I might have thought a car a psychedelic ostrich.   Half the people on the bus seemed dressed to party . When the bus stopped we all seemed to be headed for the concert. .
The line up area was chaos.  It was a scene of increasing bedlam.   Security was necessarily tight, people getting frisked and bags checked but that really was done efficiently. The confusion was way before that.  Once inside everything was fantastic.  Our seats were directly in front of the screen but I was glad I’d brought binoculars.  BC Place is huge. U2 and Fleetwood Mac that last concerts I’d attended in Vancouver had been in the smaller Roger’s Stadium.  Vancouver really is blessed with huge venues.
When Mumford and Sons began to play the place was only half full. Everyone else still outside mulling about. It was odd to be in a concert in daylight too. After the long dark winter the light is still a surprise.
Mumford and Sons were fantastic.  Laura thought the singer  was Bono. I had the binoculars told her these guys looked in their thirties.  Either they were someone else or the whole of the band had cashed in on some kind of youth elixir.
“No,” Laura said, “Bono and Edge are ageless. They never get old.”  She told me loved listening to their records in the eighties after she put her kids to bed. That’s when I first fell in love with U2 too. Danny Donahue the great Winnipeg musician and producer waxed poetic about their ‘wall of sound’ and incredible rhythms.  Danny was so far ahead of the curve on what was great music.
Mumford and Sons was a favourite of friends in Parksville,  psychologist Marion, now living in Mexico.  She also had one of these great ears for music, registering talent early.
Mumford and Sons  are incredible. A truly original sound. They’d started as more of a folky group and graduated to this big stadium sound . Here I appreciated most the maturity of their voices and the way they filled the auditorium with their music.
I had trouble believing they were Mumford and Sons when we learned that after the first song. Laura and I  couldn’t believe we’d lucked out with 2 such great bands on the same ticket.  Laura told me that a friend had told her she was going to hear Mumford and Sons and she’d replied that she was going to hear U2. Her friend was coming for Mumford and Sons not U2 as we were coming for U2.
On Facebook we learned that a half dozen of our friends were here and one of our favourite people somewhere very near us.  We exchanged locations with one group.    I could tell how close some others others were from the view of their photos they took so similar to my own.
When Mumford and Sons finished a great set dusk was setting in and the place was finally packed. Celtic Crazy.
U2 exploded onto the stage with their famous wall of music , Edge on guitar and Bono rocking lyrics, He really has a powerful soothing voice, Everyone was on their feet.  The girls in front of us like most people only sat down for the lullabies. Everyone was dancing. It’s that kind of moving music.  Alright I was up and dancing too but I wasn’t waving my arms about in the air.  I save that for church gospel.  Here it was full body boogey to U2 and everyone was doing it.
I usually try to get up close but this view gave me that sense of the whole thing as  theatre.  It’s perspective. I liked watching the hundreds people thick immediately in front of the stage. They were constantly moving, everyone with their hands in the air.  Where we were was perfect for the huge screen, the musicians like Lilliputian people were in front of this.  That huge screen took up half the width of the stadium.  I love best the movie of the road back ground to the incredible ‘town with no name.”  The joshua tree was perfect. The Salvation Army Band was brilliant.
Typically Bono did his famous activism bit.  The power of the people.  The celebration of women so wonderfully Irish.  My mother would have liked Bono.  He credited a French producer for the following  movie back ground of Syrian refugee camp. U2 is about love and freedom.  I really loved the U2 show.  It’s truly was an extravaganza event with visuals as original as the music.  Stadium  art on huge scale. Even in the intermission between Mumford and Sons and the U2 there had been large screen freedom poetry.  The tribal in the celtic tradition resonated with aboriginal. The music was everywhere. Every nook and crook and cranny was filled with U2 sound.  
Too soon it was over.  Laura was happy. I was thankful to the family for a terrific gift. It wasn’t too difficult to get out. I bought Laura a U2 hoodie and myself a black U2  t-shirt, A change from the black Harley t shirts I normally wear.  I downloaded Mumford and Sons, Wilder Mind album and  U2 Joshua Tree from iTunes as we slowly moved with the crowd to the door.  The U2 concert album will be available June 2.  I couldn’t help but notice everyone really was in good spirits after the show.  Lots of radiant smiling faces.  Probably helped along by U2, “it’s a beautiful day’ number.
And we caught the bus right away.
Pretty soon we were back at Laura’s. Gilbert, the cockapoo was so glad to see us, like we’d been away for days not hours.  While I gave him his late night walk I reflected on the experience.  Wild really.  Thousands of people gathered for this great light and sound extravaganza.  Lots of grey and white hairs like me. But a whole lot of children and lots of young people.  U2 and Mumford and Sons attraction spans three generations.  Amazing.

CMDS 2017 - Psychiatrist Meeting

At the CMDS Conference there was a meeting arranged for psychiatrists to discuss the new euthanasia legislation.  We had several practicing psychiatrists, retired psychiatrists, missionary doctors and a couple of new residents.  Concern was expressed by all who noted that when people are suicidal they are most often not in their right mind to be making a life and death decision. Further if they are given the option of suicide then they can cling to that without consideration of alternative simply because it is a drastic permanent solution to what is most commonly a temporary problem.  The residents stated that it was already being discussed with patients as a potential option.
The psychopharmacologists present, especially the older ones, listed countless cases of patients who presented suicidal because of untreated psychiatric illness whose suicidality stopped once their mental illness was addressed. It was such a common psychiatric practice and all had observed that a new medication could be literally life saving.  Of those present several commented on observing this just recently with the latest of our medications for depression and anxiety, TRINTELLIX, PRISTIQ and ABILIFY.  Patients who had previously had no relief experienced this with a change of medication and almost miraculously they stopped being suicidal. Their lease on life was restored.
Emotional pain was discussed as similar to physical pain. and Once the emotional pain was addressed hope was restored. There was further the idea that suicidal thoughts were common in the general practice and especially in the psychiatric practice but the obsession with suicide and suicidal behaviour could often represent psychotic thinking.  Again once the psychosis was treated the obsession to suicide lifted.  Everyone had seen such cases and expressed concern with the new almost beurocratic approach to death appearing to encouraging suicide.
There was also discussion of various psychotherapies which had worked to shift a patient from negative thinking to positive thinking. Cognitive behavioural therapy and paradoxical interventions and now dialectic therapies all have been shown again and again to cause a patient initially suicidal to simply rethink their options, choose life and move forward. The original psychoanalytic approaches still worked miracles.  But every year there  major advances in the potential psychotherapeutic approaches to the treatment of mental illness and especially suicidality.
Everyone present had known a suicidal patient and seen the devastation that suicides caused for the families and friends who felt helpless and seemed invariably to think that of it as the ‘wrong’ decision, ‘irrational’, or 'premature'.  Yet the patient often presented 'as rational' and so often insisted they had really thought of or tried all options which we as psychiatrists most often saw was simply untrue.
There was a sense too that this paralleled the abortion issue which had similarly begun with extreme outlier examples and lots of mobilization of public support and moving quickly to  the present state of the most lucrative abortion industry with its powerful financially invested lobby.  How long would it take before psychiatrists might face being arrested for not encouraging euthanasia.  Further given the financial realities of child rearing costs in Canada, increasingly abortion is forced on even the middle class. To call it ‘choice’ is a joke when in Toronto and Vancouver professionals with two incomes can’t afford a house and often barely manage to manage with prohibitive taxation. How long before the 'choice' of euthanasia is similarly forced on individuals. That certainly was the case in Holland where the older depressed patients were getting euthanasia rather than psychiatric care.
I especially liked the youngest person present who said , “I don’t like the euphemism, MAID. It’s euthanasia. I think my generation isn’t as stupid as the politicians think that they can candy coat a thing and eveyone won’t recognize it as euthanasia."
Personally I was thankful to be with other caring clinicians. I’ve been devastated by many suicides working in the highest risk populations. In this fentanyl crisis I’ve had several young patients overdose. Frankly I’m not sure if this wasn’t suicide given the increasingly callous disregard of the mentally ill and marginal by the privileged elite of our society.  Increasingly I feel that my patients aren’t wanted. I am thankful for the Christian Medical and Dental Society because the clinicians, especially my colleagues in psychiatry, demonstrate such compassion.
We also discussed the pseudoscientific positions  the increasingly aetheist authorities misuse and misrepresent science mostly to increase taxes and reduce services.  There just aren't enough resources for the mentally ill, not enough acute or chronic beds and not enough psychiatrists or recovery options.
As clinicians working in the field of psychiatry in Canada most of us really feel we need spiritual solace in dark times.  Being with these colleagues I remembered again that I must never forget that Jesus was a healer.  I personally can solace in the Lord and comfort in the fellowship of faithful healers.
Praying with fellow psychiatrists was the highlight of my trip.  Thank you Jesus.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

12 steps to restoring sanity.

I love when ‘you’re feeling kind of lonesome and crowd calls out for more’  and you can turn your back on all the demands and go to a place where pretty soon everyone really does know your name.

I’d been trusting and vulnerable and the old paranoia that wasn’t paranoia but reality came back.   I began feeling scared again.  There’s that place where you get in a fetal position and just rock because people who are supposed to be caring are hurting you. I didn’t know that as a kid.  I learned that as an adult.

I was forced against my will.  Sometimes it just comes back. That feeling of helplessness and terror.  They always begin their hurt with claiming you hurt them but you didn’t. You weren’t even in the country when they claimed you hurt them. Their stories unravel with layers and layers of lies but no one cares about the truth anymore. They tell you that it’s okay to feel but the moment you let down the guard the keys come out.  The locks and bolts and the pain seems unbearable. They don't want to hear what you have to say. They say that but all they want to hear is what they've told you to say. It's an education in political correctness. If you say this the pain stops. But it only stops when you figure out the words.
I still remember the pain.  I’d had surgery and they came.  After surgery you just want to lie safely and heal.   You don't want to be marched about on display.  I was expected to perform tricks and smile.  I remember limping.  There’s a thing called spasticity.  The muscles can all go into these bundles of pain. It’s a reaction.  It comes back to me at times. When I’m threatened. When the falsehoods are piling higher and higher.  
It’s called catastrophising.  What I'm doing.
You’re not going back there.
I repeat, "All shall be well. All shall be well.  And all manner of things shall be well." An Anglican minister, himself falsely accused, taught me that nearly a quarter of a century ago.
Breathe in, breathe out.  I remember St. Augustine. I try to focus on Brother Lawrence.
Everything I've  done for work is for life.   Now they want me to kill.  It’s an option they say.  When someone is vulnerable and afraid and you're just supposed to say matter of factly, " we could end it now."
It’s so terrifying to think how easily I would have. Back then. When they would have if they could and I would have because there didn't seem much to live for after all the lies and betrayal. I was wrong.  There was life after.  In so many ways life began then.
The pain was unbearable. The lies were excruciating. The love so betrayed. It’s hard enough carrying on when death is discouraged. But now they’re actually encouraging it.
I hear them saying, "You cost too much." I remember all the fights I had to get a bed or stop someone being turfed. Administration hated me.  Not a team player.  Wouldn't let people die on my watch.  Now I'm told it was a mistake.  I should have killed them outright. My life's work an error.  It all could have been so much easier if I'd just been a 'team player'.
I feel all used up. Like Jack Nicholson in What about Schmidt. I feel old.   I can't go back and undo the damage.  I can't kill people now.
I’m poor by comparison too so there's no future for me.  I'm looking at death. Some young do gooder with a lethal injection smiling to please his superiors, thinking he's doing well. Like I was when I helped people live..
I guess they don’t like us crowding the streets. I don't like the congestion in the city either but I don't have the power to do something about it.  Maybe if I did I'd stir up war and get more people to kill themselves and sell drugs and get rid of the trouble makers who've lived here a while, bring in some easier lead cattle.  It all seems like Solyent Green, just they haven't started feeding us to each other. Maybe that comes later when they've diverted more resources to their own palaces and jets. I don't know. It all seems so far above my pay grade. I'm just trying to live and I'm finding that's my mistake.  
Young people are now being taught to kill us. Not outright in plain speak English. They speak beurocratese, legalese and doublespeak and legalese but what it comes down to is, “WE want you dead,  Dr. Hay. You've always been a trouble maker.   We need your bed for someone else. You thought you earned it but they're entitled to it.”
It’s not like the new ones attracted to this, the predators, they're not going to come right out and say,"  I got this job because I like to kill people”. That’s what the pedophiles did who joined the priesthood.  There weren't even one in a thousand but that's all it takes if that one has power over you. Doctoring is more attractive without the hippocratic oath to some. Especially the powerful who know it won't  happen to them.
All the guilt and shame and regrets and self pity assail me at times. I devoted myself to the company job. I  gave  my all healing and  to saving lives.  Now that looks ridiculous in retrospect.The lengths I went to saving people. The risks I took.
I thought I was a salesman for life. I convinced hundreds to live.  I argued against death daily. I  still do. It’s ludiculous. I’m the fool. I see the disdain in the faces of the  powerful politically correct.    What an idiot they think I am.  I feel their censure as they grow more powerful given  the option to kill.  Recreational marijuana and heroin and dealing addiction and death but calling it medical and health care. It's all in the name.  There's a book called a Tyranny of Cliches I must read.   I can't get into see a doctor but here's a little dope and death while you wait.
It terrifies me because I remember that my doctor gave me hope. Doctors aren’t supposed to hold that out any more.  It’s all reduced to boxes. I'm to ask people to check their choices. Fill out the on line form and we're arrange your medical marijuana and medical death for you and throw abortion in for free.  Family deals in death. If your score doesn’t add up quite right up by some computer projection scale  then we give you  death anyway.  Really its humane. There's even new euphemisms for euthanasia.  It's all in the marketing.
I really did believe there would be a pasture.  I really hoped for a meadow to hang out in.Maybe I'd have some more sailing time. Maybe a bit of fishing. That all costs money. Once you’re finished working there's  a better place for you.
I was supposed to be at a banquet.  The people are all lovely but they’ve mostly not been on the other side. They've not been locked up. They don’’t know personally the minority of their colleagues who are psychopaths,  take pleasure in pain,  and live for control and only protect their own.  They're good people. They've invited me into their home.  I'm kind of rough. A prodigal son.
I rode motorcycles with a lot of different folk.  Outlyers mostly. I loved when I finally joined the Biker Church. We've all got scars and tattoos. I first heard Third Day at the Biker Church long before I'd attend their concert, after their songs got me through some really wild storms.  I could finally play spiritual music without falling asleep barrelling down the highway.  I still like Steppenwolf.
There’s a real insanity in speed.  Believing leathers will protect you.  Knowing grace every time you step on and step off the big bikes. There’s a thrill.  They marginalize and reduce us.  Make what we are a disease,  ‘adrenaline junkies’ they say.  But they don’t climb mountains or sail open seas or race motorcycles.  I think I'm conservative because I don't jump out of planes like some of my friends. A lot of guys and girls I know are ex military. Then there's the cowboys and cowgirls.  Rural folk. City people think everyone is like them and they think they're tolerant and understanding. We wish.
 Sometimes in their churches we don't feel welcomed.   Gospel is meant to be praise and thanksgiving but to go to some churches it seems people are acting like there’s a special merit in  passive aggressiveness.  Not the right sort of people.
I liked the the biker church.  It was alright.  Gospel riders talking about god and love long after the talk of lust and power had worn thin.
I guess I’ve known too many deaths that weren’t planned.  I’ve lost friends. I’ve lost men to death and women to divorce. The fact is the older I get the more afraid I am to get close to anyone.  Bernie and Hank gone. Family gone.
Old is good among the bikers.  Not anywhere else in this bigger society called Canada anymore.  If I was aboriginal or Chinese maybe it would be okay to be old.  Old and male and even white are the new discard words.  Past shelf life.  
Thankfully there's another place where it's okay to get old.  When I'm feeling insane and want to be among people who God has restored to sanity or is supposed to be in the process of doing there's this place I can go.  They don’t care what colour your skin is. They don't care what car you drive. It's a Travelling Wilbury kind of place.   So I just picked up the phone in my hotel.  Sure enough the city had a central office and someone was doing service manning the phone.  A man answered stating his name and condition.  I responded in kind.  Kind of a special verbal handshake. “I’m looking for a meeting.” I said.  I can tell now when I'm feeling kind of insane.
He told me the nearest one to where I was. I knew I could have asked  and  someone would have come to take me there.   I hopped a taxi instead.  When I walked in  sure enough the room was full people. I was pretty sure some of them had had a struggle to get out of the safety of their rooms.  There was coffee. Even cookies.  I sat down.  Asked if there was anyone from out of town. I raised my hand.
“Welcome,” they all said. The healing rituals began to take hold.   I knew the reading. I liked them talking about the futility of thinking of yesterday and tomorrow. I knew I got into the trap of worrying and regretting.  I just couldn’t break away from the crazy thinking. The dark places in the city were starting to look attractive. It was them or the fetal position.  Prayer and meditation weren't holding up against the pressure of endless demands and the chronic threat. It's a seige and they don't care how it messes with the mind. The process is the punishment.  I feel more and more alone.  The past and future get a stranglehold on the present.
But listening.  I begin to feel glad to be old. I applaud the newcomers along with everyone else..  It going to be okay.  Just for today.  Everything was going to be okay.
A white haired guy was asked to speak. He shared his inner story of failure and redemption.    He even talked  of miracles and no one ridiculed him. It was like at the meeting I was at when all these men and women did intercessionary prayer and no one was offended. Everywhere I go people are offended. Knee jerk offence mechanisms and name calling. I feel like I'm in a re run of the moving Invasion of the Body Snatchers. I 'm afraid to speak.  But here we all laughed.
In the background in this poorly lit basement of a church there was a banner. It wasn't part of the meeting but it was there for only me to see.  It said “Christ is risen.”  I thought about how we are all inter related, children of God.  Not some accident or random explosion.  But the product of an act of love. That felt better than the intellectual pseudoscience soup.
I drift in and out of the story the man is sharing. His own story.  Another prodigal son.
I’m at home.  I get to know the strangers on either side of me. It’s safe here.  At the end of the meeting we pray together saying words I’ve said so many times before with other strangers.
 I could go for coffee after. We do that. But I walk alone into the night and head down Avenue Road. On University Avenue passing  Queens Park I remember as a child being fascinated by black squirrels play there.
Eventually I turned at King street. Soon I was  in bed watching Vin Diesel XXX save the world. He's a funny guy, that Vin Diesel.  The stuntmen in his movies are incredible.
Another day is done.  One day at a time. I just have to live one day at a time.
They’re not going to kill me today.  They’re planning it. They’re getting all the legal work ready so they can claim they were doing me a favour. They're changing the words to make it sound right. But it’s not happening today. And I survived all those yesterdays.
And tomorrow. Well thats today.  Today I can make it again.  I just have to do the next right thing.