Monday, December 30, 2013

Assassination Games - Movie

Assassination Games, directed by Ernie Barbarash and written by Aaron Rahsaan Thomas, is a European action thriller intensely captivating.  Something about the light and filming and focus, but it had me in the faces and the people from beginning to end. Jean-Claude Van Damme playing assassin Vincent Brazil and Scott Adkins playing assassin Roland Flint are superb individually but make a magnificent duo when pitted against the formidable crime lord, Polo Yakur, played demonically by Ivan Kaye.  Marija Karan plays October though her youth and the purity of the impure is springlike even in winter.  I loved the invalid Culley, played by Kevin Chapman but especially loved Andrew French’s portrayal of Nalbandian, the key executive in the assassin “service industry’.  Valentin Teodosiu is also excellent. Indeed everyone’s acting was flawless. The characterization and play was Casablanca tight.  I loved it.  Jean Claude Van Damme just gets better and better, his development as an actor reminding me of Clint Eastwoods progression from the original classic spagetti westerns to the brilliance of his latest movies.  

Sunday, December 29, 2013

2013 Gratitude

Thank you for my life, Lord, and the lives of my family and friends. Thank you for Gilbert, my cockapoo and the fish and plants in my life. Thank you for O2 and all the elements of this universe, the earth and the sky and the sun, stars, and moon. Thank you for work and my profession and training and teachers and patients.
Thank you for the colours. Thank you for the Word. Thank you for knowledge and logic and understanding. Thank you for wisdom.  Thank you for perception.
Thank you for locomotion and activities, sports, swimming, outdoors and indoors.
Thank you for my loved ones who are now passed away but live alive in my memories, especially mom and dad  and family.  Thank you for my pets who have passed.
Thank you for the opportunities to serve. Thank you for the guidance. Thank you for the solace. Thank you for my church, St. James Anglican.  Thank you for my meetings.  Thank you for the Dug Out, Whitecliff, Nooner and the clubs. Thank you for International doctors. Thank you for writers and the CAA and Drug Prevention and boards I serve on. Thank you for round ups and conferences
Thank you for this great country of Canada and my home of British Columbia and city of Vancouver. Thank you for the arts and sciences. Thank you for music and dance. Thank you for the BC Ballet. Thank you for Pacific Theatre. Thank you for Third Day and Steve Bell and Sirius Radio, the Message and comedy channels.  Thank you for writing and blogging and my book, Love between the Sacred and Profane, my assistants and office. I thank you for Ruth Anne.
Thank you for John, George, Tom, Kirk, Luke, Anne, Wes, Wayne, Chuck ,  Laura, Ben,  Victor Vivian, David, Marion, Barb, Margaret, Dennis, Hannah, Mida, Aim, Mark, Joanne, Dave, Leila, Karen, Ken,Graham, Bill, Elizabeth, Art, Hugh, Julie, Margot, Jonathan, William,  Richard, Bernice,  Jeremy, Jackie, Antonnio,  Gary, Colin, Willi, Anna, Phillip, Janine, Alyson,  Ganesh, Bill, Andrea, Don, Ray,  Dan, Anil, Marilou, Eric, Jon, Curt, Chris, Randy, Jean, Robert, James, all the usual suspects and all the special people I'm blessed to know and share with, a glorious cast of characters in the great theatre of the absurd , this mystery, called life (there is no hierarchy in the list - love the one you're with - where two or more are gathered there to am I, said Jesus)
Thank you for family again, as they are here passing through this kitchen,  and I’m enjoying my brother, sister in law and nephews their girlfriends and friends and home. Thank you for Ottawa. Thank you for fun. Thank you for parties. Thank you for movies. Thank you for snow.
Thank you for birthdays and holidays and weekends and evenings and night and sleep and dreams.
Thank you for the travel I’ve done this year. Thank you for my Mazda Miata, my safe rides to work, the easy parking, and the trips to Seattle and other places in BC.  Thank you for my F350 truck and trips hunting and fishing and pulling the RV. Thank you for the Keystone RV and camping. Thank you for the Harley Davidson and trips to Harrisons and Sturges South Dakota. Thank you for SVGiri, my ofttimes home and sailing in the Straight of Georgia, English bay and the awesome outdoors of west coast British Columbia.  Thank you for Air Canada and Westjet.
Thank you for toilet paper and indoor plumbing and electricity and computers and electronics. Thank you for indoor heating. Thank you for clothing. Thank you for food and water and canned drinks and chocolates. Thank you for grouse and moose and venison. Thank you for bear and cats.  Thank you for salmon.
Thank you for city government and garbage collection and road cleaning and courts and settlements of disputes non violently. Thank you for banks and the financial system despite it’s flaws. Thank you for government despite it’s flaws. Thank you for Prime Minister Steven Harper and the Conservative government. Thank you for Premier Clark and the provincial liberal government.  Thank you for the opposition NDP, Mulcair and the liberals, and the pretty boy.
Thank you for entertainment. Thank you for diversity. Thank you for death. Thank you for cures for disease and health care. Thank you for the police and military. Thank you for protection. Thank you for democracy and differences of opinion. Thank you altruism.
Thank you for Scotland and Ireland and all the ideas that have come from the Celts. Thank you for Colonel Hadfield and Davie Bowie.  Thank you for Bare Naked Ladies and Sarah MacLaughlin. Thank you for CBC programs despite their news propaganda.  Thank you for good people, good men and women who hold true in spite of the corruption. Thank you for all those in Quebec who didn’t take bribes and objected to the corruption in the city of Montreal.  Thank you for the do gooders and those who sacrifice their lives and livelihood to correct wrongs .  Thank you for the whistleblowers even though they are condemned in Canada.
Thank you for the Royal Family, especially George,  and all the good folk in the Senate. Thank you for all the Peace Keepers and all the folks around the world who stand up to bullies and tyranny and resist evil and corruption. Thank you for all  those in Mexico, London, Baku, Azerbaijan, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Washington, Colorado, South Dakota, Ontario, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia.  Thank you for tourism and travel and study. Thank you for the universities.  Thank you for my profession. Thank you for soul, heart, mind, thinking, feeling, sensing, and action.
Thank you for Gilbert’s enthusiasm. Thank you for tennis balls that serve as dog balls.
Thank for speech and sound and MAC and PC and iPhones and internet.
Thanks for Love. Thanks for virtue. Thanks for all the volunteers whose contributions go unsung. Thanks for pro bono workers. Thanks for this day. Thanks for everything. God is good all of the time. Thank you for all I should be thankful for but forget to be thankful for. Thank you for the gratitude I have.  Especially thank you for Grace.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Upper Canada Village - Morrisburg

First my brother showed me the Lighthouse where the Battle of the Windmill took place. It was 1812.  First go the Americans came across the St. Lawrence and attacked Canada, and next Canada kicked America's ass.  Ron takes pictures of the reenactments in this area.  We were here to see the lights of the Upper Canada Village.  The parking lot was packed.  It was worth the hour and a quarter drive from Ottawa.  I loved it. Gilbert got to come along, on leash.  He met several other well behaved dogs.  Adell and I sang Christmas carols in a very old church.  Ron took more pictures. I took some pictures.  We only found out as we were leaving where we could have got on the horse sled rides.  Another time.  I missed riding an elephant in Cambodia and now I've just missed a sleigh ride so pretty soon I'm going to have a great ride. It's something that I feel is building.  Adell took a picture of me with Gilbert in front of the Doctor's house. I took a picture of her in front of the School house.  Upper Canada Village was awesome.  IMG 2311

IMG 2313

IMG 2318

IMG 2316

IMG 2320

IMG 2321

IMG 2323

IMG 2332

IMG 2336

IMG 2338

IMG 2339IMG 2341

IMG 2344IMG 2349

IMG 2357IMG 2363

IMG 2368IMG 2371



IMG 2372IMG 2378


I woke from nightmares.  It's a fairly common phenomena in my life times. My dreams are the royal road to the unconscious.  When I'm feeling threatened the old themes come back.
In this dream I was passing through a building in my childhood city.  Just wanting to get across this area of the city where there was no road and I had to pass through this building.  The city is a city that appears often in my dreams, on a hill surrounded by water, rivers and oceans or lakes. I've sailed round it, travelled through it. It's a kind of template for the numinous dreams. Jung described as numinous those dreams that had a deeper sense as if somehow connected to God. I often find them pointing to something.
In this dream I'm talking to a group of men. They're criminals and addicts. I'm just letting them know that I'm passing through.  I sense threat and say that the police are my protection and they laugh.  They have no fear of the police. I realize then that even mentioning the police to criminals is a sign of weakness to them.  That brings out the savage.  There's a security guard in the building and I turn to him. He works for the gang, obviously. But I keep holding onto childhood beliefs in symbols long invalidated.
Next I'm fighting with the security guard trying to escape the building with one of the first men following me.  I've a wallet full of money and a ring. I don't know what the ring is, perhaps from the Hobbit, or a depiction of lost marriage and the death of love, as a protected and respected 'institution'. The money is at question:
I find myself going through a quick checklist of what I could do which wouldn't show more weakness and invite more attack. This is while I'm circling these two the one having done all those jumping and kicking ninja things and i've fingered the knife I'm carrying in the back of my jeans.
It's the Crete knife of the man there.  I picked it up travelling, a bull's horn handle. The whole symbolism of dreams is that the isle of Crete men always carried a knife for self protection and protection of their family.  I was there to see the oldest western palace, the home of the Minoans.
I'm reading the story of William Wallace.  When the English illegally invaded Scotland by manipulating the law then breaking promise after promise, Wallace with the support of the supreme Scottish Bishop Wishart protected the people from the depradations of English soldiery.
The principle tactic of these villains was to bring a false witness against a scottish home owner, then imprison him to take his land and by the way raping his wife, sons and daughters.  William Wallace gathered these 'Greens' to Selkirk Forest and poured down vengeance on any English who 'bore false witness' to steal the land from the Scots.  It's one of those tales I was raised on and later saw Braveheart. This is Jack Whytes, historical fiction, Forest Laird.
In a fist a cuffs these young men are superior. Disarming the citizenry always disarms the old. I get injured more easily and the injuries take months or years to heal today if they do.  I have the same brute strength of youth and a determination that once raised won me free from gangs leaving bodies in my wake. But I was only in my teens and 20's then and learned not to fight but over the years I've had so many bullies and guns and knifes thrust at me and survived.  Only 2 years ago I escaped from a group of muggers elbowing one in the face after having my gold cross ripped from my throat.
So this dream is a replay of that. Only in this dream I have a knife.
When I was in Mexico a young man pulled a gun on me and demanded I give him my camera and money. I had a knife then so pulled that and lunged at him. I'd put a whistle I carry for such purposes in my mouth and was blowing that as I did. The young man ran and jumped on the back of the little Honda motorcycle they'd driven up on with me chasing the pair.
In this dream the two men are older and tougher.  I don't think a knife will dissuade them and if I pull a weapon I must always be willing to use it.  Which I am but those who aren't are the ones we hear of killed by their own 'bluff'.
In my dream I run through a half dozen scenarios of offering half the money only to have them attack me once I showed weakness so they could take it all, as it's always 2 or more against one, dealing with criminals, they're 'nests', and depend on numbers like wolves.
In another scenario I've pulled the knife and slit the throat of one so the other runs.  I once hit a kid in the head with a rock and the other bullies dispersed. I pulled a knife on a gang in a northern fight, one of the guys had a bicycle chain, and they backed off but I was with two friends similarly armed though outnumbered 3 to one.  I always laugh at the city boys and girls who haven't worked beyond the law.  My male friends usually have experienced bullies but some of the women have , their experiences more often one on one whereas ours are weapons and numbers.
The courts and lawyers are symbolic warfare. They're supposed to replace the battlefield because of the higher code of diplomacy and compromise.
But the English courts of Wallace were corrupted to the core. And St. Francis confirms the failure of the courts of the world to do anything more than serve the interest of the bullies.  Diplomacy and justice were satisfying because they were valued for their own right. They maintained peace because the rich would occasionally pay. There was the basic 'eye for an eye'.
I felt in court as so many of my peers feel these days.  I was called a liar and a cheat and the man who was a liar and cheat and a bully of the lowest order was preferred.  Of course the crown can declare black is white.
Edward the Plantagenet did just that with the Scots.  Might is right.
Ours is an age of lies, cover ups and confusion. I find it hard to be loyal to the crown when the crown so cavalierly supports the psychopaths and sociopaths.  Locally where I live the drug dealers are the richest and those in power are beholden to the dirty drug money.
I hear the Mafia may take out a hit on St. Francis.  The political story of Jesus is actively being removed from school curriculums because it is simply too revolutionary. Better to replace it with hindu or buddhist slavery.  The western liberal decries St. Paul's words about slaves being good to their masters but overlooks the centuries of untouchables and foundation of the 'religious caste' system, which maintains the status quo far better than even Constantines rewriting of Christianity for the sake of empire.  So the secular world prefers the slavery of African paganism or the slavery of the east to the Western world with it's rich and poor and the poor at least hopeful of achieving citizenry through American Idol or the Lottery.
And if I kill my attackers the court has a means to kill me.  Self defence was no defence in Scotland in the times of Edward.  Wallace's wife's family were killed but he was the villain for revenge.
The first rule of state according to Jared Diamond, anthropologist, in Traditional Society, is that the 'keeping of the peace' is the duty of the king.  Yet the King today is showing little capacity even to address the admitted law breaking dope smoking of his opposition.
If I can smoke dope I can defend myself and kill my attacker, says the vigillante.
And the citizenry turn to the police who are no longer tasked to protect them but rather have "task forces" or some such nonsense that leave the streets unsafe for common citizens.  As night falls in my neighbourhood I feel less safe walking the streets. I don't feel unsafe in any other sense than that I would be faced with the dilemma of my dreams.  I know women of character don't come into my neighbourhood at night.  I felt safer in the strange city of Singapore than I do in my home.
So where is their hope.  I would put my hope politically in Harper for his mandate is to help the elderly but then I'd see hope in Mulcair too whose mandate has long been support of the elderly.  I don't feel safe with Justin as he doesn't seem to know my dilemma and could never comprehend the tale of Wallace or Jean Val Jean.  I watched Chretien on the news last night and enjoyed seeing that old rogue I met so many years ago. I trusted him like one trusts General Patton.  When I met Harper I felt the same as I did when I met Pierre Elliot, in the company of senior statesmen, very smart men, and I believe Harper is wise.
But I'm backed to the wall in a dream trying to escape a building, just wanting passage, the very thing that the Romans maintained their empire with, the 'right of passage', the 'right of same passage', 'safe streets'.  I don't feel safe on the streets older.  In my dream I have to pass through a building controlled by thugs and have money and a knife.
My nephews are playing games.  I played Duke Nukem and Diablo and some other role playing games.  Life is cheap in these games but the young are faced with my dilemma day in day out a thousand times in games ,and the one who hesitates loses.
I'm reading Parker's latest book with Marshal Virgil and Deputy Hitch. It's the same issue of shoot first or be shot. The zombies are another metaphor.
I'm a healer.  All scottish warriors serve as healers first. The navy seals learn first aid to care for their fallen.
I've always put my faith in the RCMP and Vancouver Police. They live and work within such restrictions. In their game, they play hockey according to the rules whereas the criminals can bring AK47's onto the rink anytime they want but the RCMP and Vancouver police are expected to win the hockey game with only sticks and skates.
The rule of law is failing since 'truth' is like 'rule'. If you and I come to the game and you bring an AK47 and I bring a hockey stick then it's a whole different game.
St. Francis is hope.
For the old death is hope.
I know that my brother and sister care less for their lives than they do for their children. The baby boomers and the yuppies are of the age where their own lives count less than the future and their children.
There is hope in that.
I sat at a table in Vancouver where one of the rulers of the society, rich and powerful, complained of having to have his men shoot a union agitator.  I think of the mothers and fathers today who have sent their children to universities and now find that they could have saved themselves hundreds of thousands of dollars because the sons and daughters of the drug cartels of Canada didn't need an MBA since they could buy a lawyer and they had AK47's and knew how to use them.
I'll fee safer when women carry purse guns again.  I'm tired of protecting them disarmed. They're so unhappy. Yet every Hitler has an Eva Brawn.
There is hope in St. Francis. There is hope in court reform. There is hope in the fear of the guillotine.  In the end William Wallace died like Jesus.
Scotland is vying for independence today.  Krishna said to Arjuna that the war among family and friends will always go on and the only question is whether we join or not.
I've already been poor and naked and raped and I've always wanted to be a missionary so maybe the way out of the building is naked and walking, or dead , or simply with blood on my hands.  We all have blood on our hands in the west.
The Enders Game movie is out. My nephews have seen it. "not as good as the book'.  We all could use an alien war. Everything is civil war now the Space Station has given us Major Tom again.  That's why zombies and the fight with nature and science and biology have more mean.  I like that Gates is facing up to disease. It's the most manly of fights.  Wrestling with the devil or wrestling with God. In the background Cain kills Abel.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Floaters, flashes, and pain

Reading lying down is a dangerous sport. Yesterday, on the couch, I was hit smack in the eye by a mis-tossed rubber ball, the dog quickly retrieved while I held my eye closed, letting the pain subside.
The pain was 5 out 10 and 'sore' initially but I did feel like my eyeball had been compressed, the ball smacking into the open eye.
My vision was unaffected but later in the evening I began seeing frequent flashes in a circle around the periphery of my vision.  It was irritating.  Tiny pinhead lights flashing on and off rapidly then with diminishing frequency.  Floaters came next. That concerned me.  I didn't think anything of the flashing lights because they'd gone from every minute to minutes.  But the floaters moving about and not obstructing vision bothered me.
I am a doctor.  I don't react appropriately to injury.  I do most of things I tell my patients not to do. I live in denial. I depend on denial. I minimize matters to the maximum.  If I even considered for a moment the risks I take daily in my work, sick strangers with unknown diseases,  ex convicts, ex murderers, HIV, Hep C, psychotic, drug crazed, delirious, lice ridden, MRSA, new diseases, flus, coughing, wet sores dripping……that's good days. I'm now one of those unknowns and some doctor will see me. Like soldiers walking through dangerous enemy controlled territories doctors (and nurses) face the unknown routinely.
When I've been injured, ill or sick, I don't want to know what it is. I believe that if I think something is bad I make whatever it is worse. I believe in mind over matter. I'm now a psychiatrist.  I did rural and emergency physical medicine, started in Surgery , but today I know it's all in my head. If only I pray right or ignore something sufficiently then I'll be healed. Isn't that what SECRET and all that NEW AGE stuff implies, as well as HEALTH and WEALTH Christianity.
Lots of Yuppies and Baby Boomers live circumscribed lives of quiet desperation avoiding risk and stress. Their God is money and the talisman health supplements and political correctness group think. The Money Conscious Superstitious Chinese wear face masks and now teen agers are avoiding shaking hands and bumping elbows because the environment is unsafe. Like cave men before them the superstitious are random targets of a merciless world. They don't even have Karma to protect them but live in an arbitrary atheistic reality where their insignificance is their vulnerability. Even the rich most consumer capable can't hide sufficiently from life. And I'm a front line worker and people think my recreational life is risky.
Disease is not to be invited. I've limited my 'dare devil' escapades especially now I'm older. I avoid some adventures I might have earlier indulged in ,but there I was lying on a couch reading when I was nearly blinded.  Smaller harder ball and I wouldn't have needed a tv villain to crush my eyeball with thumb. The random tossed ball would have done the trick.
I know a man who was blinded in one eye when a champagne cork hit him as a friend 'popped' the top without consideration of trajectory at a wedding.
Accidents happen. Whether they are accidental, attracted or brought on by masturbation in one's past , it's not certain. Judges in high court would declare a 'culprit', blame being more easily 'ascribed' than 'proven'. Truth isn't so conveniently man made.
JOB is still the most interesting book in the Bible, least read and least preached on. It overturns all manner of prejudice and theological crap.  Today Job would have HIV and Hep C as would his family but we can't talk of that.  Job wasn't homosexual so no one in some churches wants to reflect on Job. The Old Testament explanation of disease or even Jesus and the 'demons' doesn't fit as neatly as stigma. Lepers live among us but they have a different name. We have our distances and districts.
I'm not innoscent.  I have a whole lot of sins. I'm a doctor.  No doctor is without imperfection and we all know it.  We pit ourselves against death and disease and we don't always win.  We won when we competed against exams and each other but not when we wrestle with the devil and advocate with God for our patients.  We try desperately to change the direction of life and death, extending it or relieving pain. As psychiatrists we mess with reality.
Maybe someone deserves to experience rats gnawing their genitals according to their own ideas and culture but we change that.  We stop the rats and the rat like thoughts.  We do things.  We act.  I touch my patients.  I move out with them into community.  There are institutions and associations that cause disease.  To help my patients I must stand with them. The stigma of mental illness and addiction is passed on to the caregivers as much as the patients.
Today I woke up and the flashes were still there.  There were more floaters.  Denial wasn't working. This really could be a retinal detachment or retinal tear. If it was, an opthalmologic surgeon could just zap it with a laser and "cure' the process that could otherwise lead to blindness.  Jesus used mud to cure the blind.  The son of man and healer of all time. Now doctors have supernatural skills and talent.  I might not be able to think myself out of this injury.  I might have to ask for help.  I hate asking for help. I hate asking for help from physical doctors as much as they hate asking me for help with mental illness.
I would rather have gone to a psychologist, a shaman or a minister.  Maybe prayer would work if I got someone else involved. St. Thomas is a scientific sort of doubting saint. My kind of guy.
I asked my brother to drive me to the hospital.  He wanted to take me to the optometrist. He had to take my dad to the hospital dozens of time and wait hours and hours every time till someone our elderly father with heart disease and kidney disease.  He'd taken his children and his wife to hospital. He told me about one seizing in the seat where I was.  I realized how diabolical the governments health care rationing and consequent  'wait lists' were. Not just the ill were off work and in limbo, so were the caregivers.  
I heard him tell me about taking his children to the hospital,when I told him "I don't want to see a fucking optometrist or optician, I need to see a doctor."  I knew that even the ER doctor, if he was like me, might want to have me seen by a eye surgeon.  I knew all the time my brother had devoted to my father in the final years.  I loved him more for his love and sacrifice.  My dad was special like my brother is.
It's just that that's what these symptoms say one needs. Ophtalmologic assessment. I know. I've sent patients to ophthalmologists and they've had emergency eye surgery within an hour of my seeing the retinal detaching with the fundoscopic examination.
I needed a fundoscopic examination now. Once the denial stopped working,  I couldn't hold back the gates of despair and fear any longer.  I began crying.  Doctors make the worst patients. It's because it takes so much denial and so much energy and we know so much about so many really bad things.  If I even let my mind off the chain leash I was blind and dying .  I hold back the gates to despair.  I rationalize and convince myself moment by moment everything is going to be okay.
But these days I'm under attack by bureaucrats,  lawyers, judges, and the media and all those people who are so far removed from reality they couldn't find their ass with both hands. They even know what is right in their mind even years ago because they can ignore and choose all manner of what they think is relevant.  They're also easily duped by sociopaths or maybe incompetence or maybe they just sell out.  They think it's okay to 'bear false witness'. At least the military courts respect the 'fog of war'.
They, all these institutions, defend the wealthy who lie and blame me when I tell the truth.  I'm a truth teller and it's not a healthy trait in a deceitful society where our leading politicians admit to breaking laws, smoking dope,  and everyone thinks that that's okay.  It's okay if our leaders break laws in office and  do drugs.   But I don't do drugs. I tell the truth but even that doesn't protect you here.
And I'm afraid of hospitals.  Because my life was threatened by a doctor who was a friend of a doctor who I reported for killing a patient and I've never been forgiven for 'doing the right thing'.  All the doctors who are 'loyal to the group' and 'covered up' the killings were promoted to high position. I may well be the last surviving witness.  As a witness to the truth I live in fear. I know judges who despise me for telling the truth.  I know doctors who hate me.  I know nurses who think I shouldn't have stopped a serial nurse killer but then most people don't know the truth. The media is propaganda and cover up.  I've seen the bodies.  I don't think of all the good people and good doctors and good judges and good lawyers and good experiences in hospital.
I'm afraid of being sick.  I've seen too much sickness and disease and death.
I'm not afraid of dying. Being dead has it's own attraction.  It's the getting there.
I'm  afraid of dirty doctors, dirty hospital administrators, dirty judges, and dirty nurses.  I know they're rare. They're as rare as HIV but I can't wear a condom when I go to the hospital.
I'm crying.  I'm terrified.  My brother drives me to the ER. Queensway Carlton Hospital, Ottawa Canada.
The nurse is some kind of really beautiful, she has a row of earring on her right lower ear lobe.  She is efficient and caring and asks all the right questions.  The equipment is older. The waiting room is full.
I am thinking of the dead man in the Winnipeg Health Science Emergency.  He sat dead for 34 hours before someone noticed him. I'd taken my dad to the Victoria Hospital emergency there after he had a car accident. The seat belt had crushed his chest. He'd had chest pain. He's had a heart attack. He'd had multiple physical injuries and back trauma in his life working as an engineer, doing hard mechanical work, and now was hobbling and worried about his breathing, chest pain. He has a  pace maker. He was in his late 87 at the time. We didn't see a doctor for 9 hours.
I never tell people I'm a doctor.
I never tell people I'm a doctor, well, mostly.
I watched a senior bureaucrat from the Ministry of Health in Manitoba get a hospital ward cleared for his care alone, very special, very special, very privileged health care. He was sick and needed the emergency care but I didn't like that beds were closed for him to have more privacy.  I believe that the deterioration in the Canadian Health Care system which has gone on these last 20 years is directly a consequence of senior levels of government being able to bypass the health care system and get care across the border or with special insurance get private care.  If the officers eat what the men and women eat then the men and women are going to get better grub.
I know the way things are is right in a certain way.  I have patients jump queue all the time. Queues in medicine are to be decided by 'need' but increasingly people are 'buying' the 'express lane'.  In medicine that means someone is dying. It's not like airplanes and first class. It's different but the fact is I can pull rank and I have.  It's a hard call and 'baksheesh' in Canada is 'institutional."  I believe doctors need to be the ones who make the call based on the 'emergency' of the case, not on 'money' alone.  I know that my symptoms are 'emergency' material. I couldn't deny them and haven't described all of them.  They are the kind of thing that gets attention.  Some people now read the internet and get all the symptoms then present to the emergency with classic hypochondriasis.  They don't know as I do that hypochondriasis can get you killed. I have a healthy respect for 'investigations'.  Do enough and something will be wrong and if something is wrong then someone will try to put it right. I err in the other direction.  I  depend on denial to breathe.
I know some animals are more equal. It's not right but looking for justice in the courts is like looking for love in a whore house. Just as our courts and health care system are better than most alternatives I'm blessed beyond belief.  God is good.
When my father was in congestive heart failure and had pylonephritis and was delirious and the woman at the front desk was doing her nails and superciliously obnoxious, telling us to take a seat like sick people were inferior,, well,  she'd call a doctor, but I watched her and watched my father and 15 minutes later knew she'd just continued her union job talking on the phone to someone, not a doctor. She'd not called a doctor. I was watching.
Well I did, walk over, tell her who I was.  I don't like to tell people I'm a doctor to get special care but I sure let people know I'm a doctor to get appropriate care.  Walk softly but carry a big stick was the way my grandfather figured. I told her that if my father with the swollen feet,  short ness of breath and increasing heart rate,  I'd told her,  with his rapid breathing getting worse, if he died because she was fucking talking on the phone some other fat cow,  I'd hunt her down myself so she would beg me to call a lawyer so I wouldn't take matters into my own hands. The doctor, a very good doctor, quite amused by the response, obviously aware of the weak "union' link in the 'system' saw my dad immediately and had the lasix in minutes later. My father's breathing and colour improved immediately. I don't know what happened to the woman but I hope she left health care.
I'm afraid of petty women with power.  I'm afraid of the Borg.
I'm afraid a lot but really afraid when I'm now thinking I might go blind. It's possible. The denial hasn't worked and there aren't a lot more defences.
The nurse really was beautiful and efficient and competent. I knew because she asked exactly the right questions and did exactly the right thing. It's like watching a Canucks game when the doctors and nurses are doing it right, and you know because you're in the league.
Then the girl who took all the money information had that bit done.
And another nurse checked my vision.
And then a doctor arrived and he did the history and asked the right questions, and was calm and examined me with the fundoscope and told me what he saw, as I hoped. There wasn't a detached retina. You can see that with a fundocope and you can see blood.
And he referred me to an opthomological surgeon. He did that because otherwise he'd have to dilate my eye. When I was alone in the north and didn't have specialists to refer to I dilated the eye to look more closely. It's hard to see. I had slit lamps and all that stuff too. I've actually seen retinal detachments and tears in the opthalmoscope. It's not that common.  I've been around.
But if you're going to see a surgeon, he'll do all that dilation stuff and then you don't do it.
It was vacation and I'm on my way to see an ophthalmologist on call at the eye centre. No one was at the hospital available but that's okay, I'm not going to blind.
The pace of everything has changed to  okay now. I can see. I'm not going to be blind today.
When the doctor was discussing his findings with me I told him I was a doctor, had been an ER doctor, and was now a psychiatrist.  He understood I understood and could just send me on my way without a much longer explanation.  He was a very good doctor, Dr. Chandria, I think his name was, really fine young doctor.
I'm going to see the specialist in an hour.  I"m not going to be blind.  The pace is slower. There's no emergency of minutes or hours. Maybe days. Maybe there's a concern today but it's not like a sneeze is going to make it worse now.
I'm going to be able to get back to denial mode soon. I can feel the panic backing off.  It was silly of me to swear and cry.  A better person wouldn't swear or cry.  All the superior people I deal with so often,, they'd not swear and cry.  I know they're perfect. I'm not. I'm going to be okay, though.
I've got half my smell and am only a bit of a gimp, chronic pain and getting older.  I worry way to much about my patients.  I'm a mess.
But I'm able to see and write and I will still be able to suture someone up if I need to and I'll be able to see if they're anemic and watch for jaundice and study their expressions when they are lying to me or holding back something essential, because they're afraid.
It's going to be okay. I 'm praying. I m breathing. I don't think I was breathing normally there for a bit

I was seen by Dr. Thomas K. Lee, MD, FRCSC (2211 Carling Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario, K1Z 8R1 - tel 613-226-7061) at the Retinal Centre of Ottawa in Ottawa General. He and his colleague were the epitome of professional competence and concern.  They were extremely thorough in their examination.  They said that the retina was fine, I could fly home and that things should be okay but if they weren't I could contact the UBC Eye Centre. I told them that my ophthalmologist was Dr. MacIntosh. I said I'd be sure to tell her that their examination had caused psychosomatic retinal healing of my retina by inducing my placebo response. They laughed and I was really thankful.  Dr. Lee and his colleague saved my sight today.

The Eye Clinic had had 15 patients book and was inundated with another 50 emergencies. The staff were as amazing as the staff we have in our Methadone Clinic in DTES Vancouver. The patients, though were better behaved. We all waited hours and when I left there were more waiting.

My brother picked me up. With dilated pupils I was thankful for the shades my sister in law had offered as I left.  Driving home I remembered the incredibly good care I got in Winnipeg General the time I was hit by another car and mine bounced head over heels before rolling sideways and righting itself. Then I remembered the time I was on my bicycle and hit by a car going through a stop sign.That day the UBC hospital doctors saved my life. The ER care was beyond good.  Now I'm going to live I'm able to see that whole catalogue of great doctor experiences I've had. I can remember all the good nurses and know that I was working there for years and helped countless people myself in a half dozen different hospitals.  But on the way to hospital, all I could remember was the horrors, especially the corruption.  Perception is so keyed to emotion.

Dr. Lee may well be a world renowned retinal specialist but he's a pretty good psychiatrist too.    

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty - the movie

"I loved Ben Stiller in the museum movie," I said.
We were standing outside Empire Theatres in Kanata trying to decide which movie to see. That seemed to sway the group.
The Secret Life of Walter Middy is based on the James Thurber short story.  Ben Stiller directs and stars as Walter Middy, a reticent negative asset manager at Life Magazine. He's trying to find the courage to ask out Cheryl Melhoff, played fabulously by Kristen Wiig.  Sean Penn is perfect as the Marlon Brando type Sean O'Connel hot spot adventure photographer. Eventually daydreaming Middy is pulled into real life by a need to speak to Sean. To this he must overcome his reticence, face his fears, embarking on the adventure of a life time  find Sean  whose literally gone to the ends of the earth.  Shirley MacLaine plays Middy's wise mother.  This is humour at it's best and boy meets girl at it's finest.
I loved it.
My brother is a wildlife photographer and my nephew is an amateur film maker. My sister in law is an academic. We all loved it.  After, it was one of those great movies where everyone was describing their favourite part in the movie.  Having been a fly in doctor in northern Canada, I loved best the scene of Walter in a northern bar with a drunk pilot who offers to fly him out to a fishing trawler in the North Atlantic.
A really good family feel good movie . Perfect pick for the holiday season.
I loved it.

Boxing Day

Boxing Day. It's an English and Commonwealth Tradition. I didn't know the Americans didn't celebrate it. They have their Black days after Thanksgiving.  I wondered if the elevation of thanksgiving was a consequence of secular society.
I'd always thought that Boxing Day was the day you had all these boxes after Christmas and traded the stuff you didn't want for the stuff you did at the store before you'd lost the box.  However I was told it was related to "Boxing" as a sport and that after Christmas and all the church and family events the English men went off to sporting traditions.  Then I read that the boxes were what churches collected charitable goods in and on Christmas day delivered these to needy and homeless.
Pagans were promoting 'pre Christian' values and notions on the internet. I always love how they downplay the human sacrifices.  Human sacrifice isn't part of the 'attraction' to pagan religions these day, not like it used to be.  These days all the sexual aspects of pagan religions are promoted with the Gaia, earth mother traditions thrown in as a kind of porridge smorgasbord stew sort of thing.
Consumer society is downplaying the Christian aspects of Christ-mas.  A giving obese white bearded old guy giving away presents fits with consumerism.  Now we have to take the place of the old guy.  Shopping is at it's max Christmas season.
I slept in.  Andrew and Graeme had been up at 5 to be at the stores for 630 so they could get the door crasher deals and really cheap hard drives and other computer components.  I liked sleeping in.  Gilbert didn't mind either.  The adults in this family were moving slowly.
I had a couple of cups of coffee and read more of Jack Whytes, The Forest Laird, about the life of William Wallace. Love it.
I walked the dog. I even had a shower. Now we're going to a movie.  That's this boxing day.  Restful. Adell said she liked it that way. Ron's been practicing a new strum on the guitar. Gilbert's had everyone throwing the ball for him.
I like Boxing day, whatever it's official meaning.  Peace.  St. Stephen's Day.  Thank God.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas with Family, Friends and Gilbert, Ottawa

Merry Christmas!  Graeme was up at 5:30 am ready to open presents. Andrew slept in. Tanya got Andrew here in the morning. I had coffee with Adell's sexy Bosch Tossimo coffee machine.  Gilbert ran outside for a quick piddle in the snow and came back as fast, glad to return to the heat of indoors.  Ron played guitar.
Graeme and I had the first of the cake and fruit Adell had prepared for breakfast. Yesterday it was bacon and egg sandwiches. From my point of view, the very best bed and breakfast experience. Allan appeared with Erica. She'd driven in from the United States.  Allan wore an Alcatraz psycho ward t shirt his brother Graeme had bought him.  Andrew arrived with Tanaya.  They're getting married in a few months. She has her dress. I heard the ladies talking about this.
Gilbert had everyone throwing the ball for him. Natasha and Asha would join us. Asha grew up on a BC lighthouse ofg the west coast an hour by helicopter.  Eventually thanks to Graeme's  management training in advanced engineering, we all got settled in to present opening.  Ron's distraction was a guitar finger strengthening athletic instrument.  Adell had guitar lessons. The two of them, long time musical adepts, have taken up guitars this year. Ron's been playing a tune he played on the ukule when he was 16.  Adelle was the soprano for her church.
Tanya got soft moose pyjamas she insisted she'd never take off. All the boys had scottish buckles which we'll wear for the wedding when we'll be wearing Hay Hunting tartan kilts.  There were books, earrings, necklaces, celtic socks, money, chocolates, computer games, electronics and all that sort of gifting that goes with Christmas.  I was happy to put my new poetry book, Love between the Sacred and Profane in the stockings. It's either a reflection on my poetry or the love of family but everyone was pleased.   Gilbert got 3 different balls and a squeaky toy  as well as a parka.  There were funny hats and toilet rolls. Apparently toilet rolls conceal what is really inside the wrapping and of course everyone needs toilet rolls. Ron got an apple magic which he proceeded to use on the potatoes.
Far better outfitted for our cold walk, Gilbert in parka and me in a smart wool sweater under my jacket we enjoyed hiking about the neighbourhood .
For dinner Malvine and Velma arrived.  Adell's turkey was incredible. Gilbert loved his under the table experience to the max.  There was mashed potatoes and gravy.  Mariah Carey sang Christmas carols in the back ground. Blueberry cobbler and ice cream made a perfect desert.  Gilbert helped Graeme, Andrew and Allan clean up the plates after the meal.
Andrew beat me at billiards.  Graeme tried to set up a movie shot of Gilbert running across the snow. Gilbert went through the crust on the top of snow.  I think he didn't like the experience of hauling his bare little belly out of the hole he'd created. After that refused to take further direction even though tempted by ball.
We all listened the Queen's moving message this Christmas day.  I wore a cowboy shirt like the one Jeff Golblom wore in Buccaroo Bonzai.  All the guys and Tanya had already been to see Ender's Game and loved it.Tanya is a Dr. Who fan.
Allan talked about his thesis in psychology and Graeme talked about the latest movie he's made.  They are the finest men surrounded by the finest of women.  Ron and Adell are amazing parents. I'm blessed to have such a remarkable brother and sister in law with their amazing family.
 Gilbert thinks this is the best place in the world for a dog.

IMG 2241IMG 4502
IMG 4501
IMG 2247IMG 4498
IMG 4494IMG 4504
IMG 2248
IMG 2250
IMG 2258IMG 4505
IMG 2259IMG 4508
IMG 2260
IMG 2264
IMG 2268
IMG 2271
IMG 2273
IMG 2277IMG 4510
IMG 2281IMG 4512IMG 4517
IMG 2282
IMG 2285
IMG 2289
IMG 2294
IMG 2295
IMG 2301
IMG 2306
IMG 2307