Saturday, June 16, 2018

Little Italy, Commercial Drive,Grateful

I’m here on a Saturday morning.  An utterly gorgeous young woman just walked by in one of those grey tube dresses that only perfectly fit young women wear.

It’s the people watching. The coffee for sure.  I’m at Continental and it’s always been one of the best. I’m having a delicious mocha prepared for me by a barista with curly cherry died hair and blond moustache. 

I liked that he complimented my gold earrings.  India gold from Nanda Jewelers.  I was asked at a medical conference recently why I had earrings.  They’re studs.

It’s been years but I remembered the first one. I’d known this wonderful old Jewish mariner who had one large gold earring. He told me the sailors and pirates had earrings so if they died at sea and washed on a beach this would pay for the burial.

I asked ‘Which side did  a sailor get peirced?’

I,d thought it was a gay things and didn’t wish to be seen as ‘coming out’ 

He laughed, his face, wind and sea wrinkled. “Not a few of us worried when the gay crowd began that. I’ve forgotten which side. That was decades ago . I don’t think it matters any more.”

My other patient a gay man also in his 80’s had told me these ‘secret signs’ had been really important when. He was young. It was illegal to be gay. “The police were forever trying to entrap people in those days. As soon as they’d get on to what was the fashionable sign, we’d develop a new one, like cryptography. Then the artistic ‘in crowd ‘ would  pick up on the old fashion all to the amazing confusion and consternation of the super straight  homophobic police. They really were lost. If anyone got caught we just figured they wanted to. Some of the  guys didn’t mind the jail.”

I had the single earring for a long time, proud of it. Outside work my life was sailing. An executive member of Blue Water Sailing Association, I was gaining skills in off shore sailing, dreaming of sailing to the tropics of Gauguin. I identified myself as a mariner, albeit amateur, until I sailed solo across the Pacific through winter  storms . Alot of the romance was lost. It became a mode of transportation and way of life. I became accomplished and. no longer needed to declare my belonging. I just was.. I loved sailing but I no longer needed the ‘identification.’ 

One day I got the second gold stud because it spoke symmetry. Besides by then I was no longer concerned to be called ‘gay’. There were a lot of other things I’d care to be called less.

A young man dressed in a long loose fitting suit dress just walked by. He really looked like any young business pperson  but truly unisex.  Handsome, beautiful, gay, straight.  I couldn’t say. He was fashionable, well dressed, and young.  I liked that. 

Immediately following him was a beautiful young girl in a bright turguoise mini skirt. A tight white tshirt emphasized her well formed  breasts.  She was definitely looking to be looked at.In comparison the young man  seemed to walk as if he just wanted to go about his business dressed as he liked. He did know he made a statement.I looked at both identically but the latter gave me a look that said, ‘I’m glad you noticed but if you look any longer than a second I’ll be offended.’

My dog meanwhile had moved in on the two delightful young women chatting amiably at the next table.  He has no sense of ‘timing’ and invariably meeting Fifi he spends far too long getting acquainting himself with her genitals.  Neither Fifi or their owner are ever bothered, female dog owners being like the horsey set, are more down to earth, less flighty and comfortable with animal behaviour. 

I’m embarrassed. I pull him back from nuzzling the young lady’s crotch. She laughs in response, “I love dogs and he’s my little dog who was just sitting on my lap before we came out.” It being Commercial Drive I wonder if she and her friend are Lesbians. I’ll never know.

I’ve just picked up my electric bicycle from Motorino Electric. That’s the Italian connection. I immediately thought of my friend Anil, spending weeks there painting and sketching. He’s posted his work for weeks on Face Book   I loved the fine details of his architectural sketches. 

It brought back memories of reading of the greats of literature in the `18th and 19th century doing the Italian ‘tour’. Byron and others. By contrast I’d loved the BBC documentary sent to me by Graham of the sacking of Rome by the Celts. Being Celtic I love all things Celt.  Which brings to mind sitting writing at a coffee shop in Dublin when I took Laura to Ireland and we searched the graveyards for our ancestors.

Laura always comes to mind when I think of Rome or Milan. She so loved our time there making every fountain and every church special with her laughter. I loved the Vespa ride. We’d been riding from church to church trying to put together the skulls and bones, matching the relics of saints.  

I loved the narrow cobblestone streets, the crazy traffic and the dinner in the cafe with outdoor tables on the lane.  The drivers and waiters would negotiate the passage of  cars through the romantic diners.  We complain of construction in Vancouver. Evening driving in Rome is a whole other matter.

I also think of Suzanne and George and Alive on the Drive whenever I’m here on Commercial.Fond memories. Where does time go. Joe’s on Commercial Drive was the first destination I bicycled to when I first moved  to Kits in the 80’s.  It’s still very much alive. More traffic but still the best coffee shop experience in the city, my favourite people watching. , even if one has to beware of the gaze police and the anti freedom of speech social justice warriors. 

 I love listening to the conversations from other tables. A couple of Huffington Post girls are nearby with their sensitivities and emotions while two men with thick accents are further over and talking business and women as naturally as any men of the world would.  For a moment I forget I’m in Canada.  

I like the Harley parked on the street. I am impressed with the haute couture black leathers a couple are wearing. I watched as they climbed off their machine and came over  for a Continental désigner coffee.  

A lovely lady in long flowing bright coloured flowered summer gown just walked by , straight black hair. Polynesian. Before her was a 50’s lady, young but dressed like she stepped out of a magazine featuring washing machines and baby clothing. She was voluptuous with fluffy western square dance skirt and baby blue frilly short sleeved  top.  Sensible afternoon shoes. No doubt in the evening she’d change to something more revealing with high  heals. She’d want to be most alluring when she brought her man a martini or Manhattan.

Lots of Vancouver outdoors clothes. Beach wear and gym wear and hiking wear worn for the trip to the market. Vancouver’s a kind of Village People athletic wear place. There’s a suspicion looking at some of the bodies the clothing never has served the purpose it was designed for.

 I liked the little tyke riding on his mothers’ shoulders, beach hat to keep the sun off his face.  The baby buggy another mother is  pushing is so sophisticated it may as well have been made by BMW.  Probably has disc brakes on the wheels.  

It’s a politically incorrect thought but I like that VPL’s are all but absent.  The man who introduced me to that term one summer of girl watching a decade or more ago, is now Ill and housebound.. Hard to believe we once were considered frisky. ‘Visible Panty Lines’.  When they’re absent it’s leaves tantalizing thought that only the thinnest fabric separates the naked from the environment.  The young men are commonly wearing their jeans without underpants.  I did.

Not us old guys, well, things change.  I’m considering going to the Scottish Games today. The first thought was whether I’d fit into my kilt. I’d needed help from Laura getting the belt buckledfor Robbie Burns Dinner.We’d needed all her womanly expertise with skinny jeans. Lying on my back on the bed the two of us got the waist buckle done up.

Then next question was what to wear under the kilt, knowing well, “nothing’s worn under a kilt, because everything is  always in perfect working order.’  

My elderly aunt told me when I’d commented on her concern one outing about locations of the washrooms, ‘they’ll come a day when you’ll be the same ‘. So let’s just say, I don’t know if I’d want to wear nothing under the kilt in public if there’s a shortage of toilets.  I’m thankfully always from ‘depends’ . But when  Laura and I were in New York the idea of waiting on the cold New Year’s eve for many hours, without access to a toilet ,made watching the Midnight Ball fall on the hotel room tv far more attractive. 

I like the girl’s pleasant educated voice at the next table.  She’s sat down with a friend and they are discussing biology and college instructors.

Gilbert loves it here.  So many dogs. He’s blind but the smells must be wonderful. He’s such as social little fellow. I’m suspecting my parking will soon be up. I locked my electric rad bike  into the box of my white Ford truck. Despite that It has been long enough in this district sadly known for drugs and theft. My doctor friend who’d bought a condo nearby left saying it was too depressing to have to pick up used needles in her doorway.

 I love Commercial. I love the shops where I’ve bought the best Italian spices and meats.  I love the coffee shop where the men watch soccer. My Spanish female professor friend could be seen there shouting at the screen. I love the bookstore where I sometimes see my brilliant orthodox poet friend. He always knows the most original literature and so often has guide my reading to the most insightful uplifting creation.

 I might ride my Harley over to Coquitlam now that Gilbert has had a walk and outing.  I missed seeing men tossing telephone poles last year. I do like the pipes and the elegant ladies country dancing. 


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Good Shepherd Catholic Church, Godkids and White Spot

Anna is the consumate mother. She manages the munchkins.  The munchkins are Gilbert's friends.  Kendra, Alex and Izik.  The Godkids.  Kevin is working 100 hours a week. Summer is the key season for the company to do it's work.  Laura and I like their company.  Church and lunch is a tradition.  We ask Momma bear where she wants to go. Which church depends on the level of chaos.  Good Shepherd is closer to their home and a really Christian Catholic Church. Jesus is present.
Kevin says the Sunday School teacher is the best, "She really talks about Jesus'.  They're worried in Canada about creeping propaganda masquerading as education.  Anna watches their physical diet and spiritual diet.  We're just happy to come along.

Polish sermon.  Great choir.  "Really good choir for catholics."  I say to Laura and Kevin.  I believe the Baptists have the best sermons, Anglicans the best music, United the best coffee and Catholics the best ritual.  Since all the rest of the church began in the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Catholic I'm appreciative of their 'emotion' and 'spirituality'.  I loved studying at St. Mark's College on the UBC campus.  Right now I"m re reading Thomas Merton

It really was a lovely service. The building is so uplifting too.

The boys went to the Sunday School but Kendra somehow didn't follow staying at the front of the altar. Kevin ran to her rescue. He took her to join the others.  Later she returned. Apparently her brother had hit her. Anna comforted her.  The brothers were angels.  There's a lot of drama going on in church when the kids are there.  I noticed other parents with their children.  That's the beauty of the church.  Family centered.

We were so impressed too, to hear the news from Luke 15 recovery house.  I know so many who speak highly of it. some who say it saved their lives.

After church we moved on to the White Spot. I love their fish and chips.  Laura loves the legendary burger. Anna likes that they have healthy food for the kids.  Kevin lead the prayers and the god kids actually joined in holding hands. It's not uncommon for one to be a 'hold out'.

Great adult conversation about politics and work and stuff.  It was a sunny day.  God is good.  God is good all of the time.  Thank you Jesus.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Addiction is Isolation;Recovery is Participation

When someone is addicted it’s like they have separated themselves from the mainstream by their addiction activities.  Over time they become increasingly absorbed in these  activities, thinking about it, anticipating it, doing it, and recovering from it,  so that the addiction takes over more and more of their life.  At first friends who are not into the addiction are lost or avoided then family, and eventually recreation and jobs.  Normal people, successful people participate in life. They are involved in their family, work, community and their political and  spiritual life.
When doctors ‘fix’ a broken leg they don’t try to ‘set’t the leg according to the way it was previous to the break but rather set it according to the best functional possibility for the leg. This information has been acquired over hundreds of years especially from the studies of olympic athletes and obviously from healthy people.
Addiction isn’t just about the drug, the alcohol, the substance, the process. It’s like a virus that invades the whole body and can indeed be a total epidemic and public health crisis as we see today in many parts of our world.
If you consider addiction socially, really, it’s more like a religion than anything else. The addiction will have ‘no other gods’ before it. The dealer or promoter is like a priest. There are ‘places’ like crackhouses, casinos, bars where the addiction is practiced mostly.  There is a language and a particular way of thinking. “If you had my life, you’d do what I’m doing’ along with other popular cognitive distortions.  To healthy normal people people with addiction often sound like fanatics and sometimes frankly psychotic.
The most successful people in society belong. Freud said mental health is the ability to love and work.  The WHO extended this to what has been summarized as ‘love, work and play’.  In addiction the person finally have only  their addiction.  Addiction has been called the ‘great eraser’. The earlier one can intervene after the ‘it’s fun stage,’ to when it’s fun and trouble, before it’s just trouble, the more successful the outcome. Indeed those with intact family and jobs and still socially active in their communities are most likely to ‘kick the habit’.
In addition to medication, individual psychotherapy and social therapy I encourage people to ‘participate.  Studies have shown repeatedly that those who are abstinent from addiction at 5 years belong to some group that supports their recovery.
Vaillant’s work showed that those 20 years clean and sober were most likely still attending a 12 step program or some other spiritual based program.
But the cornerstone of recovery is participation. It doesn’t have to be a spiritual program.  The loner is at highest risk.  Addiction presents as a ‘friend’ just like the dealer is a ‘friend’.
I had one senior government worker  patient heavily addicted to marijuana and asked her if she had any friends. She insisted she had one friend. That friend was her dealer.  We used to joke in adolescent psychiatry that if your only friend was your social worker you were in trouble. Well, in addiction psychiatry, if your only friend is your dealer you really are in trouble.
When you drive into a town there are usually two large lists of clubs.  One is the so called ‘spiritual club’ so you’ll see a surprisingly long and wide list of churches, synagogues, mosques and temples. Also you will see another list of ‘social’ or ‘community clubs - Elks, Kiwanis, Odd Fellows, Masons etc.  In addition to these emotional and spiritual community clubs there’s a garden variety secular club commonly called a ‘gym’ but also called a dojo, a yoga studio or ‘running club.’  The majority of successful people without addictions belong. Addictions eventually like other major mental illnesses are increasingly isolated and alienated.
12 step programs and spiritual clubs and some physical activities don’t ‘cost’ an arm and a leg.  The Yacht Club or the Jockey Club by contrast are usually well beyond the means of the person in recovery.
12 step clubs and most spiritual clubs welcome people without expectation of any more than a ‘buck’ and please fill a chair.  There are specific recovery ‘clubs’ like the Alano Clubs, a kind of coffeehouse atmosphere hang out, or the similar Recovery Club. The Avalon Society hosts  houses specifically for women. There are a new set of ‘sheds’ for men and a wide variety of ‘drop in’ clubs for mentally ill patients which welcome people in recovery as well. Since addiction is so depressing it is common for people in recovery to come to a realization of their depression and benefit from attendance at the mood disorder clubs or anxiety disorder clubs which are increasingly part of the urban landscape. There are specific support activities commonly, fully or particially funded by government.
The self help or community based services usually have a higher functioning capacity.  The average synagogue, church, or temple or YMCA/YMHA/YWCA will have a wide spread of highly successful to marginal individuals. This is like the 12 step programs where those who have long term recovery and ‘are’ back on their feet again are encouraged to hang around to help the next person.
Society is generally set up like a membrane with only a few ‘gateways’ where the addict or alcoholic in recovery can ‘mix’ with those who don’t suffer.  Part of the function of the health care system has been ‘quarantine’.  The local golf club doesn’t advertise, ‘heroin addicts welcome’.  It may not be right but it is real.
So Im forever encouraging patients to participate. To this end I encourage all the standard ‘health care based resources ‘but then encourage what was part of the patients life before the addiction kicked in.  Just as the addiction stopped a person from working and contributing and in recovery we encourage a person to return to work I encourage a person to return to those activities that they did before the addiction isolated them.  Not those activities which contributed to their addiction but the other ones.
Over many decades of work I’ve been pleased to be a part of  real success stories. Patients who were in school but dropped out have returned to school, often starting with a night school course and often going on to completing trades, bachelors, master’s or phd programs.  Recovery is that amazing.  So many of my patients have joined gyms and this has been the take off to their return to health and self esteem.  Yoga, Tai chi, martial arts programs, swimming, YMCA are all amazing places for increasing what has been increasingly called ‘recovery capital’.  There’s a lot to be said for ‘healthy body, healthy mind’
Actual human longevity has been associated with ‘relationships’ , the more connections one has the better off one is. What a contrast to the crack addict sitting alone with pornography in a single room with the curtains drawn. What a contrast to the grossly obese person who sits alone at the smorgasbord.  Or consider the addicts whose only contact with a neighbour is sharing a needle or the alcoholic  nursing their bottle in the lonely drinking bar.
Many of my patients have benefitted most from going to AA or NA or CA (Cocaine anonymous) or OA,  Overeaters Anonymous, or GA, Gamblers Anonymous, or Debtors Anonymous or Sexaholics Anonymous, Codepents Anonymous or Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous.   There are literally millions involved in the 12 step (or anonymous ) recovery programs. And now increasingly SMART another cognitive behavioural pseudo self help program is increasingly available.
Churches, temples, mosques and synagogues are a cornerstone for recovery. If you ever attended or your parents attended any then you’re really welcome back  Besides that being a ‘club tourists’ is always welcome and I encourage people to simply ‘drop in’ a few times to these ‘clubs’ in their neighbourhood, and put a ‘buck’ in the basket and go a few times to see if it ‘fits’. Anything is better for recovery and depression than being with ones self or one’s dealer.  We joke by saying that ‘I may not be much but I’m all I think about’ and “my brain is a bad neighbourhood, I shouldn’t go their alone.” It’s equally important to consider ‘volunteer activities’ and become involved in the countless volunteer clubs and activities increasingly available to get one outside of themselves. It’s old adage that if you haven’t shoes then you can still help a person without feet. So much of recovery is ‘perspective’.
I’ve had countless patients benefit from returning to the spiritual organizations that they attended as a child. Commonly addiction makes one critical of all those activities that don’t promoted addiction. These spiritual organizations are themselves reaching out to the recovery community with a local synagogue having a weekly group for people in recovery, countless churches of all denominations having weekly dinners and services and the various HIndu, Sikh and Muslim temples encouraging people to forsake their addictions and participate in community. In Malaysia the mosques have methadone clinics situated in their buildings with a combination of spiritual and medical personal available for people seeking help with addictions.  The local indigenous community has a variety of native healing communities involving sweat lodges, drumming societies and smudging.
A lot of my patients have been welcomed back open armed into the HIndu and Sikh temples where their extended families are so happy to see them engaging in their communities. Yoga is especially helpful in recovery while mindfulness meditation is increasingly recommended.  The taoist tai chi organizations are further ‘clubs’ where people can get healthy and learn a wholistic approach to their recovery.
Each ethnic and cultural group has it’s own ‘community’ clubs.  Where a person might have rejected their ‘catholic roots’ they might well find ‘participation’  and extended friendship in the local ‘buddhist’ temple.  The key is ‘participation’ .  Going from isolation to ‘participation’ is what works and where it begins isn’t necessarily where it ends. A number of my patients have gone on to leadership in community organizations that are at variance with where they began. A United Church minister left aetheism by joining the vaguely theistic unitarian church  to move onto anglicanism and eventually becoming a united church minister.  The key is movement.  Get out.   I have patients who have done exceptionally well in organizations like Kiwanis and Masons.  A number of women I had as patients in the country gave up drinking wine alone by joining the local quilting society.
The ‘meet’ app is an amazing resource for activities for people to participate in.
I am also encouraging people to join political parties. To date 99% of those who have followed this advice have joined ones other than my own. The key is that political parties in Canada at least are ‘cheap’ to join and have a wide variety of community interests and activities.  It’s uplifting for people who once were the greatest ‘critics’ to be seen voting and participating in the political process.
Some of my patients have stayed sober in Toastmasters, others have overcome depressions and gained a whole variety of skills theres. Still others have joined a variety of dance organizations, including Salsa International, Arthur Murray’s, Fred Astaire, and all the different ethiic dance organizations including square dancing and high land dancing.  As much as we like to demonize leaders of the different parties individually they are truly amazingly accomplish social individuals.
Addiction is isolation.  It carries a large component of shame.  Recovery is participation.  Rather than a ‘phoney’ or ‘fake relationship’ with one’s substance of choice or addiction of choice, one moves out of being a mental wanker to being a part of community and participating in all the wide variety of activities that people do where addiction is frowned on and certainly isn’t a selling feature.
Some ‘clubs’ require ‘caution’.  For a while some Legions were glorified drinking clubs dominated by alcoholics though increasingly I hear that these organizations and other veterans organizations are working actively to identify and counter addictions that not surprisingly  follow combat experience. A third of those with ptsd and no other history of addiction vulnerability developed addiction. Underlying all addiction it can be said is anxiety, most commonly social anxiety and sadly ‘if you don’t use it you lose it’.  However, there's also a lot of 'yes, but' in addiction. Prochaska encouraged maximum resource input into those who were willing to be 'active' in their recovery. "Show me, don't tell me."  Many patients are indeed looking for someone to blame rather than wanting to 'change'.  It's not surprising that the phrase 'If you talk the talk, walk the walk' is so prevalent in treatment centres.  Many addicts want to say they are seeing a therapist only to 'appear' to be 'participating' and of course will get very angry if you don't 'collude' with their outright 'refusal to change'.  Not surprisingly 'drug testing' is common place in early recovery for those returning to work.
Dr. Paul O., famous for recovery, said “I can find a problem with a white wall and if you don’t see the problem, it’s an even greater problem.”  Addicts who would shoot up in a church basement without concern or get drunk at any church wedding or funeral would suddenly say they couldn’t attend AA or whatever because of the ‘god’ stuff. Thankfully SMART was developed and atheists can as well join ‘philosopher’s corner’ or ‘political parties’. Most commonly the ‘criticism’ reflects’ lack of willingness to change.  This is sadly indicative of high risk for relapse since commonly people’s previous life is adapted to support the addiction and people feel most comfortable with what they know. All change is anxiety provoking and initially discomforting. The obese are, in my experience, least likely to jump at the suggestion to join a gym.
It’s not rocket science.  It’s really very simple. Yet it’s not easy.  Those who want to change most will eventually make the effort or sadly die or end up in jails or hospitals as a consequence of their persisting addiction and isolation.  Now of course there are ‘exceptions’ and not all people with addiction are ‘isolated’ in this way. Some are merely ‘isolated’ in themselves . But that’s a specific sub group.  The generalization addiction is isolation and recovery is participation is just garden variety main stream.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Saturday morning with Laura, Gilbert and George

We slept in till 9 am.  Laura and I changed the sheets before bed.  She likes that and I notice I do after she initiates the process.  I understand how easy it would be to ‘let go’, stop with the clean sheets and showers.  I have to clean the place because of the cat hair and dog toys.  It’s always a whole lot better walking around in bare feet without the grit.  I miss when I had a cleaning lady.  I find I’m paranoid about strangers since I lived in Shaughnassey where the cleaning ladies were the girlfriends of gangs and cased places for the robberies.  It was probably a rare case, like the news stories of pit bulls running through the streets of Vancouver but it’s stuck with me.  I cleaned the carpets myself a few weeks back.  A tangent of thought and writing brought on by the memory of how nice it felt to sleep in clean sheets with Laura and Gilbert and George all in bed with me.

Tom came by last night and Laura informed him that Doug Ford, the conservative, had won the Ontario provincial election. He’s an engineer. His eyes lit us and he said, « So the witch is gone. She destroyed the province’s energy matrix. She didn’t just shut down coal plants but destroyed them. Meanwhile China is building one a week, a month or year. It takes 5 years to get a plant up and running again.’  I was upset with the billions of dollars wasted in Ontario on health care administration and devastation of the doctors in the province and the horrors of growing waitlists under the Liberals . He was upset with the cost of heating and all the taxation for Liberal cronies. 

This is about war, economic and potentially more.  India’s building more coal plants.  It all just takes me back to the decades of living with wind power , solar power, water power and diesel on my homestead and sailboat. Most Canadians sadly only know about the propaganda.  I’m intimately aware of the pros and cons and costs of all the forms of energy production and use  as is Tom who as much a hermit in the country as I was a survivalist for years. I don’t like that the ‘green industry’, totally subsidized by government money, is allowed to misinform the public about the real costs and the real limits.  I love alternative energy and advances in research but hate the constant Climate Change fear Monge ring and the Green Energy Billionaires lying. 

 I like my latest windmill but the first ones were really erratic and expensive. My solar panels have always been a treat but the battery storage and the batteries themselves are major eco hazards. It would take only one dirty bomb to obscure sunlight for weeks in a war where the other guy has coal, nuclear and oil to manage their invasion and take over of all our pretty little energy toys. 

 By contrast I love liquid fuel for it’s certainty.  Coal was great too for heating houses when I was up in the north. Southerners know nothing about ‘heat’ and Canadians are forever being talked to be slick LA types worried about their air conditioning.  Mainly I think I loath Liberals these days for the CBC propaganda.  I just can’t listen to news out of Canada for any more than 10 minutes without hearing lies.  So hopefully the media will be required to stop smoking dope and actually report rather than just making stuff up.

Oh well, the Ford victory provides hope. The propaganda was that Conservatives care for the rich and the other parties care for the poor when each party just has it’s resident corporations. . The Liberals have their big buck corporations, the NDP their’s and the conservatives theirs. My favourite billionaire this year is the aboriginal guy who got rich off casinos and cigarettes while the natives are claiming that they only good and poor and want clean water but spent the money for clean water given them on Zamborni Machines. There was great song, Everyone Hurts that came out in the 80’s and I don’t disparage anyone’s pain except perhaps Sophie who suffers with 2 nannies and claims she has 3 children so needs another.  The poor thing.  

When people vote it’s not rich and poor its this rich guy against that rich guy.  Steal a little and they put you in jail, steal a lot and they make you king. I just don’t like people who spend other people’s money like it was their own.  I don’t like tax and corruption either so that affects my voting.  I found that when I was student and didn’t have to work all day for years I thought it was great that the Trudeau government of the day taxed us all billions so Quebecers could get French on both sides of the Andy Warhol tomato can.  Today working  hard and long, money is scarce and I just can’t stand this Trudeau government’s waste of our pension funds which we paid into and weren’t a ‘entitlement’ . I don’t like him  giving money to terrorists.  It doesn’t sit well with me that a man who murdered an American soldier should get 10 million dollars from Canada. It’s an Hanoi Jane moment.  I just can’t get the taste out of my mouth.   Oh well, I have a classmate who thinks the world of him because he has nice hair. I don’t think she’d appreciate me wanting Pamela Anderson for Prime Minister but ‘different strokes for different folks,’ right Stomy. 

Good to see Tom.  I even had to get out the Bible to discuss Psalm 50 and 51 and the use of hyssop as it pertains to diverticulosis.  

Great pizza last night from Me and Ed’s.  Great Greek salad too. 

I really like the clean sheets.  Laura got me to get the 18 inch kind to fit my mattress.  That stopped the ground sheet from pulling off. Amazing.  Never learned that in the old Boy Scouts. The new scouts will probably get that. Laura was a Girl Guide and she says when I put the first 18 inch sheets on I’d had them on sideways.  She was quite exasperated and wouldn’t go to bed till she’d undone my work and re fitted the sheets.  I think she’s a little OC but the sheets surprisingly stayed on where as I’d been having put them back every hour or so.  I got tangle in the undersheet one night.  So obviously there is some science to this sheet business. Gilbert and George didn’t know what the fuss was about but enjoyed all the activity. 

We’re talking about going out to look at camping stores. It’s a ‘turn down ‘ day. I’ve been reading a History of Crimea and enjoying what a muddle politics was back then with the Ottoman Muslim Caliphate killing Christians Willy Nilly.  Russia protected them and freed up all those Eastern nations before the aetheist communists subjugated them.  They’ve got independence again but the religious war between Christians and Muslims continues, it’s last ugly head being Sarajevo.  I enjoyed learning that the Muslim war machine was stopped at Vienna with the Germans and then by the Polish a hundred years later. No wonder tha some of the  young male migrants in Europe today claim they’re going to do with rape what they couldn’t do with weapons. The Religion of Peace sure has a very war like faction.  Meanwhile Christians the world over are persecuted with more Copts killed by the Egyptian Muslims.  Pakistan Moslems are back to killing Hindus.  Our Christian friend in Bangladesh are fearful today of the persecution of minorities.  The Muslims killed 250,000 Sikhs in one day.  Buddhists continue to be genocided like the Armenians. The aetheists Chinese are successfully taking over Tibet and wiping out the Buddhists but no one cares because Anti sémitism has everyone focussing on Israel the only stable democracy in the Middle East.   Meanwhile Canadian media seems fixated on news from centuries past when Christians behaved badly but by the local behaviour of the day better than any others.  FB doesn’t monitor the persecution of Christians, Buddhists or Hindus but protects it’s own favourite religions Islam and Aetheist. Friends say that in England weekly people are going to jail there as freedom of speech has died as it’s being strangled in CAnada. I couldn’t help but miss Christophers Hitchens, my favourite Aetheist who would truly object to this barbarism in name of godlessness.  It’s all above my pay grade but Christianity has been the religion of truth and truth is simply not acceptable as such in Postmodernism.  

King Lear said to his daughter we can talk of courtly things, whose in, whose out.  I’m old and unfashionable and clearly these are the age of fashion and it’s quite possible we’ll soon see a war with wet noodles fight between the hatted people versus the hatless. Monty Python rules.  There’s an absurdity in the news in Canada which personally I think can be explained by the Cigarette Industrie’s promotion of Pot and the increasing promise of free heroin and euthanasia. Even Ireland has embraced the death culture with it’s new laws promoting abortion.  I’m saddened that Canada which once was a leader in technology is now world renown like China for it’s abortion industry.  I’d be a whole lot richer today if I’d stayed in that trade rather than doing this business of trying to save lives.   

It’’s all above my pay grade. I was talking to Elizabeth about the love of Jesus and the persecution by aetheists murderers of our Christian friend Philip.  Tom told us of visiting Wiillie’s Pentecostal meditation group where hundreds repeated ‘thank you jesus’ for an hour. Good religion since we’re supposed to sing praise and thanksgiving. Given  my personal penchant for  whining and complaining I truly admire those souls who call on the Holy Spirit while I’m usually having looking to Hagen Daz Ice Cream for salvation..

Hallelujah. What gives me hope is the god kids of Anna and Kevin, Kendra, Alex and Isek, Aim’s and Marc’s Paxton,  Derek and Naomi’s Faith, and the amazing courage of friends like Jeremy and Jenny,  Daren and Kate.  I talked to a guy last week who was so uncertain of  the future that he couldn’t bring himself to give even a while of solace to a rescue dog.  I love the mothers and father’s I know. But then I love the transsexuals and gay people I know who are struggling in stable relationships rather than being single hedonists like Hollywood celebrates for all.  I dream of being alone at sea or a fool on a hill meditating but frankly I liked having clean sheets and sharing my Sealy Posturpedic King Size mattress with Laura and George and Gilbert.

In Douglas Adam’s book , Dirk Gently’s Holistic Détective Agency, the old gods’ of England like Thor have disappeared because they prefer the clean crisp sheets of nursing homes to living rough.  Laura and I are considering alternatives to sleeping on the ground today. She’s a bad influence but I confess I like her ideas.  Last year we had the tent in the truck and off the ground. However I didn’t count on the  huge sign saying beware of Grizzly Bears as this was their breeding ground.  This caused Laura some concern. I’d camped here for decades and didn’t appreciate that suddenly billboards had arisen and just when I needed a little Fake News here was the honest truth for Laura to digest. I caused her to be a tad anxious.  After years of tenting on the ground  I agreed moving up to the back of the truck   mostly because I was tired of crawling around.  So we’re off to consider alternatives today. 

I do like camping though if only it makes me appreciate how much I love my Sealy Posturpedic King Sized mattress, especially with clean 18 inch sheets.  Thank you Jesus. Thank you Jesus. And I guess thank you for Trudeau because after him Andrew Scheer will seem all that much better. I think I’d prefer Ford to Scheer but compared to Trudeau, Scheer is Thor and God incarnate.   For now we have to be a third world nation giving money to terrorists and playing teen ager to Papa Trump.  At least Andrew Scheer will not ‘piss on the rug’ like the former famous Canadian pre Trudeau Liberal Prime Minister did.  The  American president of that day lifted the grandiose adolescent Canadians up by his lapels and remind him how to behave in another man’s house.  At least Pierre knew he was a mouse.  To listen to Justin’s pot fantasies Justin is an elephant when in fact Canada is at best a gopher.  I like gophers.  Marmots are even cuter.  .  

So Saturday morning.  I started the eggs boiling  and Laura put them on the plate with toast.  I’ve made a couple of cups of coffee. Maybe showering is in the cards soon.  Gilbert and George having had breakie have gone back to sleep.  I love my large windows and the brightness of summer.  The light is wonderful. Thank you Jesus.  God is good. God is good all of the time.   Thank you for the clean sheets and hope of more nights of good company and good sleep.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018


I laughed when I heard the joke , “if you remember the 60’s and 70’s you weren’t there.” Alice Cooper who made his first four shock rock albums drunk and stoned and his next 20 clean and sober joked recently about reading celebrity autobiographies.”I was there and I know that they’re only vaguely true... the memories of then are more like a dream’
I just enjoyed one of many neurological and psychiatric podcasts I’ve been listening to on ‘constructive memory’ The last neuroscientist said the implications of the research are huge and should revolutionize the legal system. Unfortunately it remains 19th century in a 21st century world. Nothing was more trubling than to listen to the OJ trial handling of DNA evidence appreciating how scientifically outdated the legal system is regarding some aspects of evidence.The same holds true regarding memory and testimony.
There are state and trait factors affecting memory. Mood,  attention, group agreement, social acceptability, medication, drugs , marijuana, time of day and pre conception are all factors involved in memory. The basal ganglia affects attention as the hippocampus affects memory but short term and long term memory are also affected by neocortical and subcritical structures.
The reason I remember Beatles songs is as much to do with them being replayed endlessly through my life.
Retrospective falsification is the phenomena of consciously or unconsciously mis remembering events previously held true. The simplest near ubiquitous example are the post divorce claims “I never loved him. I never loved her.’ despite the obvious hard evidence of wedding children and photos and then the change of heart with anterograde ripples. It’s been said that after WW2 not one German could be found who said they’d supported the Nazi party. Even Peter denied Jesus until the cock crowed.
False Memory Syndrome was a term that arose when biological fathers were serially and routinely accused of infant rape and pedophilia not just for psychopathic reasons but based on the fallacies of emotional memory. Metaphors become reality and marketers like Goebbels knew even a lie repeated loud and long enough becomes the perceived truth. Individual memory is like the collective memory of history. There it is said the winner writes history. In the individual there are similar characters
Competing for the dominant narrative.
It’s all further complicated by research on time, causation and perception. The questions regarding time travel are complicated by the multiplicity of possible pasts. This are all sobering considerations to be considered in this latest mental health epidemic of memory and false memory. All this of course is occurring at a time when an aging population fears forgetting their car keys is a sign of dementia. Time really to study neuroplasticity and how that affects memory and read again the classic ‘The man who mistook his wife for a hat’

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Gratitude Sunday

Thank you Lord for this day. Thank you for all the blessings you bestow on me, all those I see and acknowledge and all those I take for granted. Thank you for my family and friends. Thank you for Gilbert the dog and George the cat. Thank you for work and purpose. Thank you for health and study. Thank you for my continued interest in learning.  Thank you for my sense of meaning even if it may be arbitrary.

Thank you for the rain. I had planned to run this morning and the rain was just the thing to relieve me from that obligation. Help me to exercise Lord but not too much. I am so thankful for the venison barbecue last night. Thank you for the fine food and the television and couch. These are the things of Sultans and here I am blessed with the joy of entertainment and company. Thank you for walking the dog. i enjoy his excitement with every smell. The fragrances have been rich Lord. Thank you for for Costco and the Mall and all the stock of so very much and Amazon and it’s mail order supply such that I can access readily my needs. Thank you for a fridgerator full and cupboards full of food. I could survive weeks with just the bags of wild rice I bought at Costco. Thank you for toilet paper and soap.

Thank you for my being a winter Christian church person. Thank you for the summer vacation when I don’t feel so obligated to attend but still appreciate the sun and celebrate the Lord in Celtic majesty.  Celtic Christianity is always about nature, tradition and gospel.  Thank you for nature. Thank you for the greenery of this season and all the flowers and buds.  Thank you for my motorcycle. I have enjoyed wind therapy these last weeks. Thank you for vehicles that make otherwise tedious commutes more enjoyable knowing that the cars and trucks are reliable.  Remember the cars of young, the Baja bug that didn’t like the rain, the Rabbit that died, the van that stunk. I am so blessed today. Thank you Lord. And thank you for the high ceilings of my home and that I no longer have the mould and my breathing is better in doors . Thank you for the sunshine and spring. Thank you for the hope of camping and thoughts of fishing.  Thank you for trout and salmon.  Thank you for days without schedules. Thank you for people who respect your age and service. Thank you for experience. Thank you for reality. Thank you for people who are pragmatic. Thank you for those who speak from their experience and not from their beliefs. Thank you for my colleagues and teachers. Thank you for the fireplace. Thank you for propane and gas and diesel.  Thank you for electricity. Thank you for cell phones and radios and communication.

Thank you Lord for the sense of connection. Thank you for life and afterlife and the feeling that I’m not alone. Thank you for the We-ness.  Thank you for those who are developed souls and tell the truth and aren’t just driven by greed and selfishness lying for their nefarious purpose and falsely accusing others for personal wealth and gain. Thank you for those who are honest and have integrity by comparison. Thank you for the majority of people who believe in karma, retribution and the golden rule of do unto others as you would want them to do unto you. Thank you for the mature women and mature people of every race and culture who do not live their lives in blaming others and seeking fault and explaining themselves as victim. Help me Lord to overcome my own tendency to self pity and castastrophing.  Help me to remember thy will be done not my will be done. Help me to overcome the pointing finger.

Help me Lord to focus on the positive and not give attention to the negative. There are those who would streak on stage and those who would upstage and those who would shit on stage to get your attention. Help me to ignore them an focus on the good and righteous and all the creative people that are making life good for themselves and others. Help me look on the bright side and see the good when the bad is so obvious.  Help me to give attention to the healthy, like a surgeon, like an immunologist.  Help me to be more aware of the goodness Lord. Help me to see the law and order. Help me to pay attention to all the positives and blessings. Help me to lift my head. Help me to smile and laugh more Lord.

Thank you for happiness and joy and laughter. Thank you Lord.  Jesus Christ Son of God have mercy on me a sinner. 

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Pregnant Doctor Delivers

Now that I’m older I have the true luxury of remembering. Those who died young didn’t know this.  As a physician I’ve been blessed to be present at so many pivotal, and one might well say ,sacred times.  I’ve heard countless stories and felt the lives of those who have come to me to share.

This morning, for no reason, these memories seem to rise up like that, I don’t even know of a trigger. Yet this one came to mind and I smiled as I so often do remembering work, the colleagues I knew and the patients who brought us together.

This occurred in a busy teaching hospital.  An obstetrics ward in the wee hours of the morning.  We were all gowned and masked.  We had these little paper booties that covered our shoes.  I remember them most.  The white walls and bloody red sheets. The laundry piling in the corner as all were needed for the work at hand. Later there’d be time but at that moment it wasn’t something we could think about.

“There must have been a power outage over the whole city 9 months ago,” the nurse joked.  

I was at the foot of the bed watching as the cervix dilated and the woman pushed. She’d been screaming for an hour before between contractions when the pain should be least. In addition the anesthetist had just given her a spinal block and begun to administer epidural analgesia.  She should be feeling less pain and be screaming less. If anything her screams had grown louder. 

 I’d asked the nurse about that, as an aside, concerned that something might be amiss.  She nodded to the door where a thoroughly terrified young man was there at the window peering in. He’d come to the little square glass then walk away with an older man comforting him.  I’d seen the older one put his arm around the younger man’s shoulder.

Then the father to be would pull back his shoulders, stand tall and return to peer in the little window.  There were tears in his eyes as he waited helplessly, overwrought I presumed with his inability to do anything but wait.   I’d been glancing out at him now and then while waiting, patiently, for the delivery to progress. 

While the anesthesist was speaking to the patient, the nurse was reviewing the continuous monitoring data strips.  In a low voice , beyond the hearing of the patient, who was either  listening to the anesthetist or screaming her lungs out, the nurse shared. 

‘That’s her husband and father,’ the nurse told me. “They’re old school Portuguese.  Our patient is okay but the more she screams the more the men will care for her and the baby after.  They’ll be helping her now for the whole of the coming year,’ she said smiling.  “It’s a good thing. It’s cultural. She’s going to be okay and she and her baby are going to get a lot of well deserved breakfasts in bed.’ She laughed.

I reflected on the aboriginal patients I’d delivered who’d been a different challenge. Their stoicism and silence had been the means to recognition in the family and  community.  As a doctor I had so much to learn about how people express themselves in sickness and in health.  I had to listen for the different cues that something which might be normal had changed to something that might be more concerning. The older nurses especially in Obstetrics were a wealth of experience and insight. Early days I felt like a hamster on a wheel forever playing catch up. 

I was brought back to the present, not by a fresh crescendo of screams but by the door bursting open and another gurney rolling in as it was pushed quickly  in place  by two sweating hurrying orderlies.   

“We’ve run out of anesthetists.” One said smiling as our anesthetist began to busy himself with the new arrival.  “All the delivery rooms are full and we’re  doubling up.”

I was suddenly very anxious. I was very new to this, only a few deliveries under my belt. My lady was almost fully dilated and here was this new lady well on her way by the rate of the her contractions.  

I think the older anesthetist could see I was concerned if not outright terrrifed.  He said, “Her doctor will be on the way. She was just delivering another lady before I came here.  If all else fails I’ll gladly help at your end.  I’ve been there many times before,” he laughed with the infectious confidence of maturity and experience.  My patient screamed. The other patient screamed.  The nurses eyes twinkled.  It was already a long night.

At that moment a very very large young female doctor burst into the delivery room and went to the side of the newest patient taking her hand, speaking kindly and calmly to her as she looked over the monitor.  

“You didn’t think I’d miss this for anything,” she quipped to her tired but smiling patient. “We’ve been planning this for 9 months.  Now we’re going to see that it was all worth it!:

The doctor was 10 months pregnant herself if she was a day.  Bigger than a house and nearly the size of a whale. She’d moved fast into the room but could hardly bend to speak to the patient.

Going to the foot of her patients bed she peered down and said to the nurse.  “Already crowning”.  To the patient, she said,   “ We’re doing very well.’ Not much longer now especially given how well your last delivery went. “

“Hi Charley’ she said to the Anesthetist. 

“Hi Annie,” he replied, in the tone of old friends.

“Good morning, Doctor, “ she acknowledged me kindly. 

Looking over my shoulder she saw that my patient was just beginning to crown too.. 

“Primip” she quearied,  smiling at my patient.

“Yes,” I replied

“This is Sarah’s second, could be a close match! ‘ she said looking at her patient and returning to where she could view her.  Turning to me she said, “I’m not going to say it’s a race but if this were Vegas they’re be laying close bets as to which child would come out first.‘ 

“Not much longer now , just a few more pushs Ladies.” She said to both.

It was clear that my patient was more relaxed now that this marvellous woman doctor had arrived, even if she was the size of a house and some at Vegas might be including her in the betting . 

The poor patient  was no longer dependent on me a young doctor obviously wet behind the ears. Her screams had changed  now to more like grunts as she pushed responding to the nurse who’d taken a position right beside her head , letting the patient  hold tight to her hand. 

“Here we go”  Dr. Annie said to her patient just as my patent  became fully dilated and the crown  began to appear.   There was no need for an episiotomy. Everything was going smoothly.  I reached forward as the baby came , cradled the  head, then the shoulders and the bum and finally the legs came too.. The nurse was there beside me taking up the baby in clean linen and, wiping off the amniotic fluid, then giving the beautiful little boy baby to the mother.  The placenta delivered. All the bits were there. The new mother was smiling beautifically, pleased with her little boy. I clamped and  cut  the umbilical cord.  

Normally the father would be invited into the room but with the two deliveries happening and the nurse being more aware than me she’d wheeled this bed out into the hall where the father and mother and family and in laws were all waiting to celebrate the new addition to their family. The nurse returned immediately to be there for the second delivery.  I stood by waiting to be of assistance, not knowing what else to do. 

Just as my lady was being wheeled out, with her baby clutched to her chest, the other baby was delivering.  I’d only glanced over to see the mountain of a pregnant woman doctor between the woman’s legs in stirrups.   She’d been leaning awkwardly forward , stretching out and over the mound in front of her  assisting the delivery.  Her arms had the vague resemblance to the Tyrannasaurus Rex but somehow she managed.   Lifting the baby into the air she exclaimed,  “It’s a girl!”  as she handed the baby to his mother.  

I was about to leave then when the lady doctor said, “I’d appreciate if you ‘d not go  just yet. “

“Sarah” , she said, “Congratulations, but if they don’t get me another bed I might have to ask  to share yours.  My waters broke in all the excitement of your delivery! “ She laughed. It was obvious thought she was  just a bit strained. 

The nurse with the strength of a Sumo wrestler and the speed of a jaguar  muscles  another bed into the room with my helping with the guidance.

 Sarah’s husband had joined her and the two were google gaga over the new baby as the two sweaty orderlies were moving the bed out of the room. I don’t even think they noticed us so caught up in love they were.

Dr. Annie was now  standing partially bent over grabbing hold of her thighs and Lamaze breathing as another contraction passed.  The anesthetist,Charley,  was right by her side. 

“I’m going to have to ask you to help me up on the bed,” she said, “ I don’t think I can stand much longer.”  Together with Charley I helped her onto the stool the nurse had brought forward.  Together we hefted her up onto the bed where she collapsed with a huge sigh.  Lying on her back she looked like an Anaconda who’d swallowed and elephant. I couldn’t believe how far along she’d been and delivered two babies that night before she was about to deliver her own. 

‘Could you tell me how far along I am?” she asked between panting.   Charley was establishing an IV.  The nurse  was spreading the jelly for the  ultrasound monitor.  The baby’s heart rate was suddenly visible and looking just  just fine on the screen.

I examined her then. She was fully dilated and just beginning to crown.    I said so.

“I thought as much, “ she said, between breaths and pants. “I called my own doctor before Sarah. If he doesn’t get here,  I’d appreciate you’d stay and assist. I’m rather occupied myself. “ She smiled and I could see Charley’s eyes twinkling as well.  I really was rather awkward and uncertain in those early years. I stayed of course. Never thought I’d do otherwise. 

“Of course,” I said. 

Her beautiful face was flushed and sweating profusely as another contraction took hold.  The nurse had given her her hand and she was squeezing tightly.

At that very moment,  another rather  tall doctor,  burst through the doors. He stopped abruptly beside the patient and said. 

 “I’m glad I’m not late, Annie. I hope you didn’t wait just for me. ” Another contraction came.

“Good to see you, Charley,” he said coming down to the end of the bed beside me. 

“All’s well?” He said, Charley, myself and the nurse nodding. 

I never was more happy to stand aside and let an older doctor take my place.

“I see a head Annie.  Shan’t be long.  Just another push or two if you don’t mind.”  Dr. Annie gave a powerful push and the baby’s face began to slowly appear, the obstetrician carefully guiding.

And sure enough, another baby girl was delivered that morning.  A lovely little girl.  Five fingers and five toes.  

Dr. Annie’s smile was as beautific as the other women’s.  Her husband came in as I began to make myself scarce.  Even as I was leaving, Dr. Annie, turned her beautiful eyes on me, and said,  “Thank you. ” Then her attention was all for her baby and her man.  I looked back over my shoulder at this wonderful family tableau knowing I had been blessed to be there this night. .  

I made my notes at the nursing stations surrounded by the doctors who’d been called in for this most productive night. 

 I will never forget that beautiful lady doctor 9 months pregnant delivering another woman’s baby before giving birth to her own.  That’s a memory I feel  blessed to have. Looking back I’m just thankful to have been there and thankful to have been of some service to all those amazing colleagues and patients and especially Dr. Annie.  Sacred times.