Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Back Yard Musings

I had a dentist appolntment this morning.  I have a myriad of details to address. Everyday I'm worried I'm missing something. Calls comer in from everywhere.  Everyone is complaining it takes so long to see me.  Pharmacies want everything yesterday.  Beurocrats and lawyers put 'URGENT" across the top of their communications.  I'm seeing patients who don't come back the next week because they're dead. I feel I have 15 minutes to make a difference. All that training in motivation therapy, all the inspirational work, all the 12 step facilitation therapy learning, DBT and CBT and I don't know if I'm getting through.
I remember being in Jerusalem when the Palestinians were attacking the Israelites. They'd blown up something and burned down something and there was gunshots happening in that other part of the city, over there. Where I was it was business as usual.  It's estimated 3000 will be dead locally by the end of this year.  That's an epidemic.  A thousand dead already.  But there's this sense it's 'over there'.  I looked out my hotel room and saw the smoke a few dozen blocks away.   I'm sitting here now in Suburbia planning on leaving for another shift in the DTES this afternoon.
A hospital administrator said we don't need more doctors and nurses.  Canada has 20 times th administration of the German health care system.  Doctor ratios are much the same the world over. Where there's more than 1 to 500 to a 1000 costs go up where there's less deaths go up.  Administration is excessive and bloated in peace time.  Everyone and their family at the public trough.  No one able to find their ass with both hands.  Pot heads like arrogant communist Justin Trudeau giving money to enemies and foreign nations corruption is greater than Quebec Canada as hard as that is to conceive.  It's wearying .  The media no longer sells news. It's always propaganda with a spin. I remember when there were facts but not there's just money talk.  It's all above my pay grade. But I don't think they see the addiction. They're looking at cashing in on the victims like the tobacco companies that still make great deals. They're now getting into marijuana big time.
I don't like the news. I reacted to the lies of Justin Trudeau. His personal attack on freedom of speech and favouritism of religion by promoting the harrowing lie of Islamophobia.  It's like calling my patients "Rapaphobics'. I see to many Shiites and Sunnis who aren't Wahhabi.  Trudeau likes the Saudis.  I like Tarik Fatah.  There's a fatwa on his head but not on Trudeau's. Terrorists love Trudeau.
I'm half Irish but I didn't like the IRA bombing. I know that government's won't deal with moderates without the threat of the extremists.  Were it not for the Black Panther Martin Luther King would have not been someone government would deal with.  It's about positioning.
I'm tired. I don't sleep before dental appointments or breaks from routine. I stayed up late reading. I've been enjoying reading these days. I have been an avid reading all my life.  Mostly it's heavy.  Texts and science. I just reviewed a dozen journals. I'm skim reading for the new. So much is old for me now.  I like the immunological treatments of cancer.  There are paradigmatic shifts.  Even in my field the understanding of relationships.  So much of the intellectualism of the sterile Marxist ideology is passé. We're listening more to Victor Frankl than Freud in some ways.  The magic bullets remain.
I have difficulty living at times. I'm worn down by the constant criticism, the constant failure, the never good enough, the messages daily of decreased income, more taxes, less resources. Someone gets rewarded. It's not doctors.  The administrators are high on the hog or perhaps we should say say sheep because even bacon one of the great joys of life is under attack. Everything is bad for you and only the government is to be trusted but there's this pot head at the top who refuses urine testing and I just don't know when he's with us.  Who is doing the talking
Multiple Personality Disorders were studied and addiction was seen as an abbreviated condition, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The two administrators on the same computer. Who on.  It's like the Twin Spirited in the Bisexual world or the Transexuals who are au femme and au drab.  There's the stoned and unstoned.  The trouble with drugs is they are psychoactive for long periods in some cases in the human body. Pot acts on an individuals brain for weeks.  Not like alcohol whose effect was days at most.  Of course there were the daily drinkers and we knew them as 'functional alcoholics' but most of the pot smokers , the ones who smoke once a week or once a month are addicted too and best described as 'functional addicts'.  But the question Tom Waits raised was who was writing the songs.  He wrote the amazing song "The Piano has been drinking' and said he quit drinking because he thought the booze might be writing the songs.  That's the question I ask of this government.  Which drug is running Ottawa.
But it's a distraction.  There's sunshine here. The dog is rolling in dirt beside me. I've just read this exciting book about sex in men's and women's prisons and the effect of transexuals on the group dynamics there. It sounds a bit like Gr 8 and 9 with all the hormones but certainly a difficult job with few guards and more division.  I'm also reading about Oxford, remembering times in the city, punting and checking out the libraries, staying in Magdallen College.  I hope to return.  There's a conference of doctors I'd like to attend. Then there's Aberdeen where my grandfather lived and I've not been there so I've got a book on that area of Scotland.
I lunched with John Wylie the great author and finished one of his historical fictions  books recently.  I had lunch that same day with Diana Garabalden and bought her book on audio tape listening to it while I drove my truck about the back woods on Vancouver Island looking for suicidal deer.  I just finished Cry Wolf by Wilbur Smith , the story of the Italian invasion of Ethiopia.  I have been following the persecution of the Coptic Church, in Egypt and Sudan and reading about the cliff churches in Ethiopia. For years I've wanted to go there. My friend is a missionary in South Sudan. I enjoyed reading of Churchill's days with sword on horseback in his autobiographical book, River War.
With travel the world has grown smaller but this summer I've been most enamoured with the back yard.  Gilbert and I have so enjoyed it here.  But time to head to work.
My mind is a muddling mess. I'm glad for work and focus.  Since Zuckerman took over Facebook to pollute it with his brand of advertising and his left wing elite propaganda I'm subjected to this political nonsense daily and find myself forwarding the Alt. News because everyone seems to be selling the kool aid and drinking it.  After glancing through Facebook, not my friends shares, but the stuff Zuckerberg algorithms generate I'm definitely begging Scotty, "for the love of god beam me up!"
But I'm thankful for coffee and yoghurt and work and dentists and especially Gilbert my little joyful one eyed partner.  Thank you Lord.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Blog Manager for Google Blogger

I remember when I had a palm pilot with a keyboard that fit in my breast pocket. I was on a motorcycle trip up by Lillouette and wrote a story on a picnic table beside my tent. That was heaven but it wasn't attached to the internet. Now I've just got the new iphone 7 and had this new iPad Pro but what I like to do is blog.  So naturally Google doesn't keep up with Apple IOS upgrades. So the Blogger Program I'd been using doesn't work with the new Ipad.  I use MarsEdit on my MacBook Pro and love it. The iPad and iPhone were the problem.
Thankfully Blogo worked but it didn't work with uploading pictures.
Now Tuyen Dinh has come out with a $3.00 app called Blog Manager for Google Blogger.  He says it's the best replacement app for the original blogger app. This is the trial run.
These are the two pictures I took with the new IPhone 7 to show the zoom on the camera.  There's two separate cameras in the iphone 7.
(IT WORKED. Thank you Tuyen Dinh)

Friday, July 14, 2017

Apple Store

I'm here again. One of my favourite play rooms. Expensive but worth it. Laura's phone, my former hand me down died so I was obliged to get a new phone for myself so I could give her my iphone 6s which is just perfect. It's a major upgrade for her. I know I should give her a new phone of her own but she's not tech savy and only uses the basic features. My phone the 6s is light years ahead of hers and she says she loves it. The only issue was that I can't see the little one so have the iphone plus size . She says the new phone is a like a 'mini computer'.

I now have the Iphone 7s plus. It's syncing with my iwatch. I'll have to get Laura to wipe out her iwatch because it was synced with the last phone which is now recycled. We should have disconnected the iwatches before swiping them. Tech helped here and wiping the phone allowed it to be ready to be synced.

I confess I have all the apple technology. I use it all too. The phone is indispensable for work. I find the watch really good for getting directions and messages while driving but because I have my phone with me I don't really appreciate it otherwise. I absolutely love my Mac Pro laptop computer and use it for work everyday, my encrypted patients backed up on it and my reports being written on it.

Now I have the ipad pro. I had an ipad before and frankly I mostly use it for reading kindle and watching educational movies. I watch netflix with my MacPro and tv. I have the apple tv too but my internet connection isn't that good at my place. Hence I use the Ipad pro rather than the Apple TV. It seems I have to re input the passwords and such each time. No doubt there's a simpler way but it was a hassle. So I use the MacPro to watch Netflix on my tv. It just takes a cable.

I think one of my nephew's got an ealier iphone hand me down and Laura got the one before that. When I got the iwatch they came out with a water proof one a couple of weeks later so a nephew got mine and I got Laura the same watch non water proof. I know I should buy her new iPhone but I got her a new IPad . I get her other stuff new too. Like boots. Laura is more pleased with new boots than new Apple gear.

I wore all my brother's hand me down stuff. I have a lot of second hand stuff in my life. I've of an age where no one is giving me hand me downs. Laura and the nephews say they don't care. I feel a bit selfish. A teeny bit of guilt. But I like the new camera on the iPhone 7.

On my own I would have waited for a later version since there's nothing wrong with the 6s. I've had it a year and love it. But since I had to get the 7s I was pleased to get it because the camera is an improvement. It has a 2x zoom and a portrait mode.The 8 is coming out in the next month or two but I don't know if it really is better for me. I'm happy with the 6 and now the 7.

I'm just typing this blog waiting for the phone to sync with the watch and for downloads to complete. I love to use the high speed Apple Store internet  here and ensure all the critical programs are working before I go.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Five Years Abstinent: No Blow Up Dolls and No Goat fucking

In my work as an addiction psychiatrist I commonly advise people of the prognosis of their disease and the successful scientific treatments that have been beneficial.
I like to point to the studies, epidemiological and  anecdotal data which showed that those who attained 5 years of abstinence from drugs and alcohol  routinely had only  a few key points in common.
Number 1.  Persons with 5 years abstinence from drugs and alcohol had a HIGHER POWER.  Higher power in this case didn’t represent a white bearded god on a cloud or a big breasted woman deep in the sea.  What higher power referred to was simply something more important than drugs and alcohol.  Something that the person gave more power over their lives to.  It’s long been recognized that addiction is a religion. The drugs and or alcohol were the addict’s God, their direct dealer the deacon and the supplier the high priest of the cult church with all it’s rituals, paraphernalia and jargon. A higher power represented anything that was more important to the person than belonging to this church and religion.  Over the years patients had told me that their higher power was their children,  their family, their job, anything really.  Others had said that life it self was their higher power.  Addiction was killing them.  Some simply described their higher power as God.
C.S. Lewis the great Christian theologian said simply, “Why look in the wall for the architect?”.  Addicts and alcoholics are the most materialist hedonists.  Addiction is idolatry. They worship their addictive substance.  They commonly say their are atheists or agnostics when its obvious that they are stalwart members of their church of addiction.  They commonly say they don't want 'any religion' simply because their addiction is their religion. Translated they are really saying they're not ready to give up their addiction. Their brain is tricked into believing they are getting ‘high’ or even that what they are doing is a ‘party’.  Spirituality refers to an invisible God or power or force that people have in their lives and experience in their world especially after they’ve known the soul empty experience of addiction.  It is the interconnectedness and relationship of life.  It's there strongest in the prayer of the indigenous for 'all of my relations.'
For people to stay clean and sober there simply must be something else, something with greater meaning that gives more purpose and power to their lives than the slavery of the addiction. Their  dependency is making their dealer high priests rich in ferarri’s and yachts.
Scientifically today we measure a person's 'motivation to change' because it's obvious that it's hard for the addict to admit that they have been suckered or duped by the ultimate con artist. The emperor has no clothes and often giving up addiction and entering recovery means admitting to oneself at least that for years and thousands of dollars one has been going backwards.
The Motivation to change assessment describes a person as 'pre contemplation', a true zealot for the church of addiction, a person in 'contemplation' recognizing that addiction was "fun", now it's "fun and trouble" and actually they might be ready to get off the slow to quicking descent before it was just plain 'trouble'.  Determination phase is when one is there.  They've made the determination that they don't want the lie and want the truth of life instead. In 'Action" phase they're 'walking the walk and not just talking the talk' , they're changing their behaviour and making themselves accountable to a plan of recovery.
Number 2.  Persons with 5 years of abstinence belonged to a group that supported their abstinence. When they look for people at 20 years abstinence or more the majority of people they find abstinent belong to AA, NA or some religious organization such as church, temple or synagogue.  Dr. Carl Jung recognized that people who developed addiction were spiritual people but that they were tricked into seeking the holy spirit in the "spirits" bottle. His famous Latin phrase for this was "Spiritus contra Spiritum".  Dr. Carl Jung said in a letter to Bill Wilson, co founder of AA ,that  the ‘craving for alcohol, was the equivalent on a low level, of the thirst for spiritual wholeness.”  He went on to say, “‘alcohol' in latin is ‘spiritus’ and you use the same word for the highest religious experience as well as for the most depraving poison. The helpful formula therefore is , “spiritus contra spiritum”. Addiction leads to alienation whereas recovery leads to participation.   At 5 years abstinent people found they were part of a better group. "We are not alone.” is the message that comes with recovery.  Though AA, NA and spiritual organizations were the most common groups there were many others that served as well such as community organizations like Kiwanis, Odd Fellows, Masons, Toast Masters.  These were not work associations as addicts and alcoholics commonly maintained work to the very last as work and work associations, professionals , unions and faculties gave them the finances to advance their addictions as well as the respectability to maintain the denial of the increasing desperation and the dehumanization.  With addiction people would rather be alone with their substance or drink or with others who shared their substances or drink than in any other recreational activity.
With respect to relationships and the damage to relationshionships, the delusion of addiction was best described by one recovered addict, “fucking a blow up doll and thinking it was love.”  Another said, “it got me high but it took away the sky”.  
Finally, Number 3.  The person was noted to have had a change in attitude.  The more one does drugs or alcohol, the more one minimizes the abnormality of the behaviour and the associations.  People who once loved to be outdoors will instead sit in a dingy bar all day or find themselves living behind closed curtains all the while thinking they’re ‘not that abnormal’.  Everything related to their addiction is justified and yet in recovery they have an awakening and increasingly see what they had become and want never to go there again.
My favourite description of this phenomena was a from fellow who said, “when I got off drugs my life got better immediately. I had money again. I had friends that weren’t trying to steal from me.  I had time and energy to focus on myself and my work and my family. Being an addict takes up all your time.  I had time and I put it to good use. At five years abstinent I was living in a beautiful condo in the west end, had a job I loved, friends I cared about. Nobody used drugs. No one knew that part of my life in detail, not that I hid it but I didn’t get into the sordid details and they just didn’t know.  I mean they knew but they didn’t know. It’s one thing to know that women and men exchange sex for drugs with the lowest scum of the earth and that we’d steal or lie and cheat. It's another thing knowing it. I ripped off my family. I’m not proud of that. Not the lying, betraying, not the person who  didn't care about anything or anyone.  But I’d changed.  It was a bad time in my life and now I was on the other side of it.
That’s when this guyI knew, I’d thought he had got clean and sober, showed up at my door one night.  I buzzed him in. Immediately he’s pulling out this powder,  showing me it and saying it was the best stuff ever.  He's wanting me to do it with him.  He's saying how he could even sell me some if I liked it.
Well, right there and then I kicked him out. I would have physically thrown him out if he didn’t go. I was really furious.   I shouted at him, “get the fuck out of here. I don’t do that shit any more” . When he was leaving I almost whispered, I was so angry, and embarrassed, I was embarrassed too.  I said ;don’t ever come round here again or don't even talk to me if  you’re not clean and sober. "
He went on to say, “I don’t think people get it.  What he’d done was an every day thing in my old life. But now, it may as well been having this guy show up at your westend downtown apartment. Right there at your condo where people know you as a regular guy.  Then there's this guy standing there with a goat and he's saying,
 ‘hey man I got a new goat.  You're really going to like it.  I brought it over so we both could fuck it. If you like it like before I know where we can get more goats to fuck."
That’s how weird it was for me having this guy I’d known in the past,  show up at my place with powder. "
"I realized my attitude had changed.   I was seeing drugs and addiction the way healthy people see it. I just say now.   If some one wants to do it, just leave me out of it.   Live and let live.  I don't fuck goats. so don’t bring any goats around my place.  I don’t want even to be  seen with guys who fuck goats. "
Dr. Vaillant, former head of psychiatry at Harvard studied addiction extensively throughout his career and noted that at 5 years abstinent the risk of a person relapsing to their previous level of abuse was no greater than the risk of an unidentified user becoming an alcoholic or addict to that extent.
Higher power, a supportive group and a change of attitude were the key features noted in those who remained abstinent 5 years.


Thank you Lord for the little sparrow that landed on the ground near the bushes where Gilbert pees each day. Gilbert was prancing on before me on his leash and the little bird landed. He bypassed that place respecting the little sparrow and moving on to lift his leg further along,. I watched as the sparrow pecked about a bit then flitted off.

I woke up then. I saw the grey blue morning sky and noted the smoke tinge in the air. The fires in the north have been raging for days. I looked again and saw the happy purposeful briskness in Gilbert's walk. His mission this morning as in most mornings was to take us to the path by the river where he kindly does his business ,by the garbage bin specifically labelled for doggie waste.

What got me was that until the sparrow landed I'd been on automatic. The alarm went off. I jumped out of bed. I stopped in the washroom, pulled on my sweats and t shirt and hoodie, then stepped into my sandals in the living room, grabbed my keys and his leash and went out the door locking it. We were out the door and down the road before I actually became aware. The morning ritual was so ingrained that it was as if I was sleep walking.

The sparrow wasn't different from other sparrows. Small and nondescript. Greyish with a touch of brown. But it was like a gift from God that brought me into the present where I appreciatred the day, feeling the breeze, seeing the sky, smiling at my little dog's bouncing determined walk, aware again of the wonder of creation≥

Thank you God for the little sparrows of life.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

My God

My God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipotential. My God is OM.  One Mind. Sounds like HOME.  Also AMEN or ALM.  We are created in the ‘image of God’.  This is the imagination as it were. I was surprised by a friend still dichotomizing reality.  He actually believed there was God and something else.  But Phillips addressed this best in “Your God is too small.”
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth etc.  In the beginning there was God and not ‘God and building blocks”.  God the Creator.  The creator created creation of the creator.  No of nothing else there’d be God and nothing.  The essence of the message of the great mystic, St. John of the Cross, who wrote Dark Night of the Soul was NADA.  Not God. There is nothing in this creation that is NOT GOD and to think of some thing like money, or an individual person, or substance, or a book as God is to make that thing an IDOL.  NADA means that’s ‘not god’.  CS Lewis the great Christian theologian and Jew lover said, “Don’t look for the architect in the wall.”
So this computer, my fingers, the seen and unseen, the indivisible divisibleness, the alpha and omega, are all God.  God is one.  God is love. These are statements of God or the nature of God or attributes.  Medieval theologians seriously asked how many angels could fit on the tip of a needle.  That was even before electron microscopes and that was before the Haldron collider particle accelerator.  Looking as deeply inward there is as much expanding mystery asthere is looking outward into the galaxy with the Hubble Space Telescope. The sacred is in the ‘aha’ moments.
Dr. Carl Jung talked about the 4th dimension, that world of synchronicity, where the 12 steppers are spiritually ‘rocketed’ , and what to the genius is commonly known as the “flow.” Right now my friends are asking if they write the poem or the poem writes them but that’s because in moments of insight the separation ceases to exist.
I like words.  My schizophrenic patients were as much an influence on this as the Oxford Dictionary.  But a world like “I-DEAS” holds in it the NADA truth of ’thoughts’ as ‘creatures’ the term C.S. Lewis used for them, not to be ‘idolized’, not to be given God like power, not to be worshipped.  Sensations are like this.  The drug addict, a true materialist hedonist, seeks that sense of ‘pleasure’ and worships it.
The idea of Jesus is profoundly different from the notion of Krisha.  In the eastern religion man evolves upward, much of his own doing, reaching higher and higher to greater and greater complexity until eventually he becomes God, experiencing Nirvana and passing beyond this dimensional world, beyond time and space into the One Mind.  This is contrasted by the western idea of enlightenment inherent in Jesus.  For Jesus is God come to meet and lift man up as on eagles wings to be with God.
The Christ Conscious yogi or mystic chants, “I am he I am he, make me the sea”.  By contrast the western Jesus aware saint says.  “Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me.”
Prayer is speaking to God. Meditation is listening to God.  And the Sufi's twirl. In the experiences of dissociation there is a crack in the consciousness which lets The sacred in.  Carmelite Nuns meditating under PET Scans showed orgasmic brain waves enlightening all regions and special parts of the brain brightening and glowing for days after.  With cocaine, like other drugs, the functional MRI shows the blast  followed by the lights of the frontal lobe, or last developed, most human aspect of brain, shut off for weeks and months.  Devolution as opposed to evolution. The language of the left, getting high is really getting low whereas the language of the right in going slow is really going fast but neither matters because all roads lead to Rome where there is but one God and God is both heaven and hell. The concept of eternity or infinity wasn't the true translation of the Biblical and ancient texts because that waited the mathematic abstracts of Cartesian thought, the contribution of "Zero" of the east , (the story of Zero by Given a must read for the scientifically mystically minded). To the agrarian mind , 'a long time' is all that they measured time in, more truthful in reality than the abstraction of the mathematical without all the false prophecies of computer projections and numerological worship. One goes to hell for instance 'for a long time'.
Martin Buber the great Jewish theologian and mystic described the relationship of God and human as Person and God.  I and Thou.  HE said the primitive experience, or paranoid experience as psychiatrists would experientially describe it would be as fear based, I and It, whereas I and Thou is love based.  The immense beauty of the Sistine Chapel Ceiling and the mystical genius of Michelangelo was in showing an awakening languishing Adam reaching up with his finger as God is reaching down.
I am not Alone.
God is love.
God is chasing me as I am chasing him.
Jesus is dancing with me.
Jacob fought with  the Angel.
In the dance, in the struggle, in the crisis and calamity, it is all still God but I in fear retract into my own alienation and refuse to open up to the feeling of the sunshine on my face or the breeze in my hair.
When Alexander the Great met Diogenes, the cynic he asked him what he wanted and Diogenes answered that he wanted him to stand a little out of the sun.
The Wisdom literature is great.  The teaching stories are a delight. The path of virtue is the challenge.  We crawl as children and walk as men and women.  We have but this day that begins with a program of the past which we can not ascertain except with circumstantial evidence.  The past is a linear hypothesis that science says may indeed not exist except in the changing imagination of the collective unconscious.  Similarly we are part of God’s imagining of the future and can be in the here and now where the omnipotential is the greatest and we can embrace “Thy Will Be Done” or insist on ‘my will being done’.  Indeed the two are inseparable because separation is an illusion. The fish in the water don’t know the water any more than we listening to a gesticulating lady are rarely aware of her using the movement of the air to massage the relationship as she might be adding perfume to the conversation.  The subtlety upon subtlety is mostly beyond us unless we meditate and pray. Still the cacophony of the world. Still the senses
Be Still and Know That I am GOD.
Time to shower, another day of work, an experience with soap and water, then a rush to dress in fine clothing, the product of 80,000 years of industry and tailoring talent, then the immeasurable joy of climbing into a vehicle and experiencing the wonders of the scientific age, combustion and electricity and the pavement and city planning and law and order and a true genius of potential.
My little dog is patiently waiting for another walk that he might sniff the air and go with me to wherever I might take him today.  And I am to God as he to me.  I love that Dog spelt backwards, the words again, with their curious insights, spells God and the nature of the relationships.  I walk with Jesus as the footprints in the sand have taught me.  There is Grace, thank God.
I am not alone.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Dog Day Afternoon

Thank you God for Gilbert
and this Dog Day afternoon of summer in the city

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Fentanyl Epidemic

“I’m a doctor just like you,” he said.  I knew him in passing.  A good fellow.  Well intentioned. Most of his life a drug addict.  Now he and a friend like two teen agers going fishing patrolled the Downtown Eastside with Narcan kits they got free from the pharmacy.  Instead of trout he caught life slipping away in the gutters. Occasionally, he brought it back with drama and flourish.
“I’ve saved a dozen lives,” he said.
It was good entertainment. He used himself. The suboxone helped him and only a few times a week did he ‘party’.
 “We like the fentanyl because it’s strong enough we can push through the suboxone.” he said.  The patients liked the oral methadone and suboxone because it stopped the withdrawal sickness.  They could have a life separate from the daily grind of finding the money and getting high.
Their faces linger in my memory.  Only weeks ago I saw them.  A couple of young Caucasian women, in their 20’s with boyfriends.  They came as couples to get their opiate replacement medication.
I talk up a storm about AA/NA/SMART, the non pharmacological treatment groups, Detox and Treatment Centres and Recovery Homes..  We really only get paid for the prescriptions. The doctors break into two groups. The rich ones who write a lot of prescriptions and the poorer ones like me who do counselling and try each time to push the patients closer to recovery.
Recovery isn’t Harm Reduction.  Recovery is a proactive program of wellness leading to abstinence from mood altering substances.  Harm reduction is supposed to be a step on the way. But now our Prime Minister is so vocal about smoking pot and all the tobacco company wealth is back in the business of smoke everyone in the DTES is either smoking marijuana or cigarettes or both.  The trouble with drug addiction is that it really dulls the senses and their addiction to smoke is seen as nothing compared to the heroin and crystal meth and crack cocaine.  Then there’s the sex addiction, gambling and pornography and crime.  It’s a smorgasbord of free choice in the DTES.
But mostly they tell me they don’t want God or any of that spiritual or religious stuff.  They want drugs.  Addicts are materialist hedonists.  They are sometimes even like the monkeys we studied back in school with the electrodes in their amygdala pleasure centre who would live to pull the lever of pleasure.
More and more they tell me they don't want any of the recovery options. "I just want that free heroin. Can you direct me to where I can get my injections for free.  I don't want to stop using. I just want to get the stuff free."
Each of the women was demure with whimsical smiles and street smart eyes. College drop out. They’d been into opiates only for a year or two at most. They’d started with pills they got at parties and then became hooked. With their boyfriends they now needed fentanyl pills every day, at least one or two, sometimes more. They ground up the pills and snorted them.  They smoked marijuana too.  A lot of the marijuana had been sprinkled with fentanyl so the herb was hurting folk bad.  Even the organic shops marijuana had been tested and come back positive for fentanyl. I imagined with the fentanyl so cheap dealers were going about sprinkling powder here and there to increase their clientele.
Drug dealers are lizards who want to be your friend.
The Fentanyl was coming from China.  It was sold on line and brought in over the border en mass.  My hypochondriac patients complain that it and crystal meth are in the air in the DTES.  The paranoids are afraid of the food outside in the markets. They’re crazy but no more so than the neighbourhood.
It’s just that their faces linger. The two women from last month. I've mostly forgotten the patients that died before them.
Sometimes I remember Gordon Lightfoots song, “Only a go go girl in love with someone who doesn’t care.”  I think of their mothers.
They’re dead now.
Their boyfriends each on different weeks came in and told me the same story.
“We got high together and overdosed.  I woke up but she didn’t”.
They were sad but it hadn’t changed their own drug habit.  If anything they did more.  Running from the demons. Burying the pain.
“Sometimes you see the shadows out of the corner of your eye,’ the older guys tell me.
I talk about higher power and participation.  I repeat till the cows come home that it’s a disease of relationship and that they have to find a way to associate with people that don’t use.  I hand out pamphlets and point them to all the different groups and services that we have.  The government pays for drug and alcohol counsellors but it’s like getting adolescent boys out of gangs, one on one care doesn’t work. They need a new group, a new club, a new association.  Their religion is addiction. They see their drug as god and their dealer as their priest.  It’s high ritual.  The language doesn't tell you that but it's there as bold as the body bags.
I ask him if he’s stopped using.
“Not yet. “ he says telling me about the great feeling saving a life gives him with his free narcan kits.  I think of it as band aids.  It’s like a lone medic in Afghanistan. Every life counts.  Don Quixote charges another wind mill.  There has to be a Dulcinea.
I expect the feminists would call me chauvinist because I remember those two women more than the half dozen more young men I’ve known who are just as dead in these last few months.  It’s wrong to even speak of gender. Freedom of speech is dying as quickly as youth.  It's only okay to speak of what we're told to speak.  Designated truth or fake news.  More illusion of choice. There are so many divisions today.  I worry I’ll offend someone even by asking them to live. The Prime Minister is proud of his new physician assisted suicide programs.  They’re opening more and more needle injection sites with dilaudid and some are even giving free heroin.
They once assisted the Tong, Euro Gangs and Hell’s Angels who brought in the Heroin profiting by the government taking care of providing drug clubs, keeping their business alive with safe injection sites  and carrying all the costs of bad drugs.  Now they’re actually going toe to toe with pharmaceutical grade product versus the ‘shit they call down’, the gangs provide.
“It’s not heroin anymore.  It’s not been for a long time. Synthetic shit. That’s why the fentanyl is attractive. Cheaper and it does the trick better.” he said.
The uppers go with the downers.  Jib, or crystal meth is everywhere as well. Not as much crack smoking as doing jib these days.  There’s a lot of doing jib then heroin to get to sleep and then getting onto straight heroin and maybe cigarettes or pot. After the drugs get happening big time the alcohol which may or may not have been there in the beginning becomes less important.  Some say drugs account for 80 or 90% of the material theft.  The insurance companies are not suffering.
Legalization which is what our Prime Minister was pushing means that a drug could be sold in a school candy machine. If it’s legal, it’s legal. Like mother’s milk.
Decriminalization is accepting the disease model and treating the whole matter not as a moral issue but rather as an epidemic.  Harm Reduction, really palliative care, a term with a marketing twist came out of the cancer treatment and then the Aids Epidemic.
Harm reduction may not be that good for the individual. Individuals do best if they get into AA or NA , treatment, recovery houses or join a church.  When they look at people 20 years abstinent individually they mostly work,  belong to spiritual organizations and have replaced their previous habit with community participation and love.  Love of God, love of family, love of fellow man and woman.  Drug addiction is at best mental masturbation.
The Harm Reduction is good public health and ultimately may be preventative as the profit in drug sales moves into the public purse. It’s hard to say if there’s any less gambling today but the government gets the money rather than the Mafia.  Now one then wonders what’s the difference between public sector crime and private sector crime.
But I’m a medic in D Day and the enemy in this case, the drug dealers, they don’t provide medics for their ‘side’.  I still think I'm on the good side. I just don't know some days if I'm doing righteous work or enabling.  There’s a whole lot of other types of medicine I could do.  But I’m down here in the DTES with more and more young people. When I began in the 80's working in a detox the clientele was mostly in their 50's.  Not a lot of really old people in this work.  Living past 60 not so common here as in the suburbs.
My patient is going off with his buddy to look for more bodies in back alleys in hope he can revive them.
I’m just doing what doctors do, pushing life, where the profit always seems to be more in pushing death.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017


I've been adapting to new tec. I bought the latest IPad Pro and now man trying to get differents apps working that I previously had working on the old iPad. I've ordered the keyboard and case that was made for the iPad Pro from apple.  Right now I'm using the Microsoft Universal blue tooth keyboard which really is good but I find it a bit sensitive and needing to adjust to. It's the tiniest easiest to carry in a jacket pocket and I like that
Blogger didn't work on this. I use Marsedit for blogging with my Apple LapTop pro but it doesn't come with one for the Ipad. What does work is Blogo which I used before on the iPad but forgot how well it worked. I"ve reinstalled it.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Canada Day, Burnaby, Laura, Ipad Pro and the One Eyed Dog

“I heard Justin Trudeau left out Alberta in his Canada Day speech.” she said. We were sitting outside at a picnic table in Burnaby. The birds were singing joyfully.  Gilbert was at our feet chewing lazily on a ball and thinking of Fifi, rabbits and roast beef.  He’d had his eye surgically removed because of genetic glaucoma but was now healing very well. His  protective cone had come off when the sutures came out last week. He really did not like bumping into things with that cone.
“It was all over my FaceBook Feed. That beautiful and hilarious Conservative MP from Alberta, Rempel, really did a a great job of roasting him.   Probably a Freudian Slip on Justin’s part.  He hates Alberta.  The Trudeau’s have always feared the west. His old bisexual father taking Justin’s silly stoned little girl mother was more a muslim conquest than a western Christian wedding.  Dennis messaged me that father Pierre  had called BC “the whore of confederation”.  I said.
“They just care about Quebec. Quebec. Quebec. Quebec. That’s all the Liberals give money to, Quebec and foreign countries.  I can’t stand it.”  she said, pouting, seriously.
“I don’t understand because Pierre Trudeau, though communist, had grandparents who were french and scottish.  Maggie Sinclair’s family was scottish.  I just can’t see why all the self loathing of the Scottish side of themselves by the Trudeau’s especially Justin."
“Maybe it’s Sophie’s influence. I think of her as a non entity but she’s French.” Laura said. “ The French are for EU.  Scots aren’t for Brexit.  They wanted to stay in the EU. That’s what Anne was so angry about in Scotland.”
“I realized that I didn’t think of the IRA as my people when I was in London during their terrorist attacks.  I’ve got that Loyalist thing going but really I’d be in favour of Brussels to if it wasn’t so dominated by the old communist guard and the anti Israel Islam world dominance group.  I still don’t even know how Catholic I am because the whole Hay Clan was Catholic at one time. In Ireland my mother’s relatives were all Northern Christians and against the Catholics.” I responded.
“I’m Catholic.”  she said demurely.  Blond, petite, flashing eyes with ample bosom  showing above a black summer sun dress with just a sliver of lace along the top.
Gilbert adores her.
Our friends are every colour, religion and creed.  The story of Babylon though is not only Biblical.  With all the forces that bring us together there are equal forces keeping us apart. We’re not enjoying the divisiveness in Canada today brought on by the Liberal divide and conquer buy votes  campaign with Islamaphobia, government corruption and favouritism.  We were sitting in the backyard drinking soda pop in the heat of mid day.
“I like the history of Canada with confederation and the railway. I remember in 1967 boarding the Canada train, singing the ‘we are Canadian’ song.  I really was proud to be Canadian bicycling across Europe back then.  My father and all the men and women of Canada of our parents generation had fought in the war that vanquished the evil Axis of power, Germany, Italy, and Japan. Then there was the USSR and the break up of that Empire.  The British Empire and the Commonwealth gave way to the American Republic.  The European Union isn’t holding together.  India broke into Pakistan and India over the Muslim Hindu Sik divide.  China and Russia have gone capitalistic. The central control and planning of socialism has broken down everywhere. It’s limited value and mediocrity have failed over and over again despite the counter claims of revolutionaries. .” I said.
Gilbert had succeeded in cozying up to Laura so she would rub his back.  I really did enjoy the birds outside.
“I asked a Romanian man I know what it was like under communism.  He said. “Everyone was poor except the communist leaders. They were rich.  Nobody could speak about anything or they got arrested. No body could go anywhere. Everyone had to do everything as they were told. “
 "What was it like after, “ I asked.   "Much the same," he said, "the communist leaders now called themselves businessmen.  Everyone was even poorer.  But nobody got arrested for talking and you could travel.  But everything is so expensive just like it’s become here.  Canada is becoming what it was like there. he said.”
“Elizabeth, living in Islamic Saudi, didn’t like that women needed to ask permission of a man just to walk outside,” Laura said. “Canada really is a great country when you consider the comparisons."
“Yes, I did love the people I knew when I lived in Britain and in the US but I’ve always come back to Canada. "
The greenery in Burnaby is something very special.  I love the Pacific rain forest for it’s emerald coloured lush greenery.  Emily Carr captured the sacred wonder of the  forests in her incredible paintings.
“There’s a Monet exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery,” she said.
“I’d love to go,” I answered.
“I loved the Monet at MONA in New York.”
“I regret I missed the Van Gogh exhibit last year. I love our Art Gallery. They really host some fabulous shows.  I just don’t know why I don’t get to them.” I said.
“Lets get to the Monet. It’s showing till October and the Gallery is open to 8 pm on Tues, We could leave Gilbert at my place. George would enjoy the play date.”  she said.
We’d just been at the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra with organ/pianist Barry and his friend Andrew.  The saxophonist Marsalis had been quite spectacular. I love the Orpheum.
“You know I’d not been to the Orpheum before the VSO since I saw Izzy Izzard there  with Marc and Aim."
“Before she had baby, Paxton.” Laura said.
“Yes, at least we get to the Ballet BC at the Queen Elizabeth each year because I get seasons."
We did go to Bard on the Beach this year. I loved that.” she answered.
We’d been camping at Pemberton and Clinton on the weekends before that. We'd stayed at Harrison Hot Springs in the Bungalow Cabins too.
We really do enjoy Canada.   I like Vancouver but it’s not as real a city as Toronto or Winnipeg.  It’s more like San Francisco than Portland or Seattle.  What Vancouver has is it’s in the middle of God’s Country.  The Pacific Northwest with is ocean coastline, Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands,  then the interior high country with sage and the Coastal Mountain range is something altogether spectacular in a different way.
 We really do love our home and Canada.
“I’ve enjoyed the cross country views of Canada people have been posting on Face book,” she said.
“Yes, my friend Wes has put up some great ones, commercials, really, but showing what an immense and glorious country we live in. JJ McCullogh’s summary clip was the best though."
“That was funny,” she agreed.
.While I ‘d been talking to her I’d been gearing up for riding my Harley into the city.  I wanted to go to the Apple Store to pick up the new Apple Pro. I’d given my Surface tablet to the nephews because they really love PC and I’ve got to accept I really just enjoy Apple.  It is a work purchase but it gives me as much pleasure as if it were just a purchase for myself.
I kissed Laura on her pink lips then donned my helmut and straddled the big bike.  When I cranked up the engine the Lead Zeppelin cd I had in the stereo blasted just as loud as the engine.  I was off. The day was so hot I was only wearing an armoured shell, helmut and gloves.  I loved the wind on my face. Being Sunday the free way wasn’t at all packed like it was during the week.
It was  great ride.  Page and Plant are unsurpassable but I really enjoyed the drums on the ride.  Carolyn is drumming in a band and her sharing clips of her playing has increased my appreciation for drummers the unsung heroes of Rock and Roll.  Joy’s son is probably still bashing skins.  Laura and I had really enjoyed Munford and Sons and U2 at the Roger’s Arena. I’d been playing Mumford and Sons cd’s in the truck since the concert and only changed out the U2 on the motorcycle for the Lead Zeppelin this week. My favourite motorcycling music to date has been Steppenwolf. Which is why though we do love U2 , Laura and I couldn’t understand why Justin Trudeau would not have a Canadian band play at the 150th Anniversary of Canada.
“If he likes Sophie’s singing, it explains why he wouldn’t appreciate Sarah McLaughlin, Bryan Adams, Loverboy,  or Burton Cummings.”  Laura said.
“I Just can’t figure why he rented a $100,000 yellow duck for the 150th Canada  Anniversary when Tom Greene could at least get a huge duck taped  Canada Goose for his show.” I said.
 I loved downtown Vancouver without the crowds or the rain. It really is a pretty city with all the glass architecture.  Lots of folk about just not the traffic jams that go with all the construction these days.
I love the Apple store in Pacific Centre. A young man from Brazil and a girl from Paris helped get set me up with their latest technology.  I really just use the iPad for reading Kindle, looking up medical material, blogging and having this lighter weight smaller back up to my old Apple Pro lap top.  I like the technology that changes my cursive writing to typed print.  I’ve also got a lot of medical research data on the iPads and like that with me when I go to different clinics.  I mostly use my iPhone. If anything I could get along with the I phone but older like the bigger platform.  No longer having the eyes to squint at little writing. I have even bought a large print Bible  for comfort in reading.
Back on the motorcycle with a new Ipad Pro and stylus in my saddlebag,  my  Canada gift to myself for the work I do, I felt pretty darned good.  Lead Zeppelin screaming, pipes blasting I headed back to the burbs. .
When I stopped the motorcycle outside my place Gilbert was ecstatic, jumping up and down, barking crazily. My one eyed dog buddy and the beautiful Laura with him. When he finally settled down and let me un-gear back into shorts and t-shirt and sandals, I actually got it together to barbecue some hot dogs for dinner. Laura had brought potato salad and beans.  So we ate outside, a little Canada day weekend picnic, much like we’d had as kids. .  The birds were singing.  We didn’t get to the fire works or go anywhere for crowds and celebration.  It was a cozy Canada Day weekend.  Lawnchairs, chatting, walking the dog.  Glorious sunshine and summer heat..
 I’d first stayed in Burnaby in 1971 but I’d first visited Vancouver in the early 60’s.   I was born in Canada but an eastern transplanted west.  Laura has lived in Vancouver her whole life. Her father was a tug boat captain on the coast.
“I love the bird song here ” she said as we sat reading novels.
“I do too. I especially love the green forest, ” I said.
About 9 pm, still very light out, we gathered up our books and cups to go inside.  As the sun was  going down the refreshing breeze that had come up now seemed a bit cool for shorts and t shirts.  During the day the sun had been hot and I’d got a red tummy despite sunscreen.  We’d enjoyed being able to go inside to air conditioning this weekend. Last weekend when it was even hotter the air conditioning had packed it in.  I  loved that when I’d called Eric he had  been able to come by and install a new one.  Now it was nice to be inside in the warm.  The indoor temperature was just right so we didn’t put on sweaters to go outside again but settled in to watch a Netflix movie on the television.   Laura and I went to bed early Canada Day.  Gilbert begrudgingly gave up his place close beside her when I crawled in under the covers. He prefers sleeping at the foot of the bed.  He’s least likely to be disturbed by big people thrashing about in the night.  I expect if he could talk he’d say he’s got a pretty good life for a dog.
Truth is, reincarnation folk joke that they want to come back in their next life as a Canadian dog.  Canada is good that way.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Gilbert 's Cockapoo Glaucoma

One afternoon my little therapy cockapoo dog Gilbert just curled up whimpering in his doggie couch at my office while my disheartened patient shared the depth of his melancholy with me. I just thought that my assistant had again forgotten to take Gilbert out for a walk and he was desperate to go.  I was working overtime as usual, but realizing something more serious was wrong with Gilbert, apologetically wrapped up my session .  Sadly Gilbert was stiff and in obvious pain. I picked up my loving little guy in my arms and carried him to the car.  On the way to Oak Hospital I called only to hear they were closing and wanted me to go to Oak Hospital’s Burrard location.
With the little guy whimpering and traffic a mess I was devastated with thoughts of self recrimination raging in my head and the physical pain in my chest.  At the hospital I told the girl “Gilbert’s got a red and  is in such pain he’s frozen.” I’d noted the red eye while I carried him in. She spoke to the veterinarian in the back and returned saying rather matter of factly,  “We can’t see you now. The earliest would be at midnight.”  It was 6 pm.  It seemed impossibly long.
Then I thought of the tens of thousands of parents and children across Canada desperately waiting in emergency rooms for over worked suicidal doctors.  I couldn’t judge.  Even though I personally had given my life to healing, working in the areas of greatest needs, gravitating to those least cared for and most marginalized.
What could I do. I’m a doctor and have all my life responded to emergencies and given all I can.  I just held my stiff whimpering little dog in my arms and  cried in my car ,praying to God to help us.   I drove to Laura’s knowing Gilbert would be more comfortable with her present. She loves him as I do.
At midnight I returned and learned that Gilbert had glaucoma, increased pressure in his eye, a true ophthalmic emergency that because of the delay had already likely lead to blindness. Thankfully Dr. Douglas made the correct diagnosis. I’d diagnosised the condition in humans and saved the sight of some patients when I worked as a country family physician. I’d used a Schiotz Stainless Steel Tonometer and was impressed that Dr. Douglas had a much more advanced digital device.
When I told him I’d treated glaucoma in humans, Dr. Douglas, a bright young Irish doctor, explained, “It’s easier with humans, only because they can tell you their eye hurts. In dogs we never know early because for them it’s just like having a headache until it gets really bad and then it’s like the worst migraine. That’s when we realize something is wrong and find the glaucoma too late. It’s common in cocker spaniels and poodles.  Usually coming on in older age.  The optic nerve is damaged by the intraocular pressure on it.   There’s a real risk for both eyes going blind and the hope is that we can save the second eye knowing the dog is now at risk. “ I really appreciated that Dr. Douglas was frank but caring in his sharing of the facts with me.
That night he provided the drops to lower the pressure in the eye and addressed Gilbert's pain with an injection. He gave me tramadol to take home with the eye drops. . Somehow. Gilbert and Laura and I made it through that first night.
At the follow up with sophisticated veterinarian ophthalmologist Dr. Ford I learned that Gilbert, who liked Dr. Ford,  was indeed blind in his left eye.  He was also at risk for the same in his right. Her examination confirmed that the drainage from both eyes was decreased.  “I know it's still awful, “ she said, “but blindness in a dog is not as bad as it is for humans. A dog's sense of smell is like sight to a human.  A lot of older dogs are blind and no one knows it because they experience the world and navigate mostly by smell. I’ve a blind dog myself and no one really knows it."
If the medication didn’t bring the pressure down then the usual option she explained was to have the eye surgically removed .There was a procedure for injecting the eye but it was used mostly in older dogs and not as certain as the surgery.
I continued Dr. Ford’s recommendations of the Dorzotimol 2% and Travopro .004% eye drops,  to be given 15 minutes a part ,three times a day for the next three months.   The problem was Gilbert did not at all like these drops and even growled at me after a few days of tolerating the treatment. I think they must sting or it was just too much of a nuisance for him.
I was so thankful that Martin, Tiny’s dad, gave me some ‘wild salmon treats’ he’d used on Tiny. “Tiny will let me do anything to her if I give her one of these treats.” Martin said.  Well, armed with the gift pack of ‘smoked wild salmon treats’ Gilbett’s whole attitude towards his medication times changed.  It became play and a reward for him. Grizzly Super Treats, USA made are what  continues to work for us today.
Gilbert and I moved to the care of the Western Canada Veterinarian Eye Specialists. Lori the assistant has been with them for years and made Gilbert so at home. I loved her professionalism.   Dr. Christina King examined Gilbert with touching sensitivity and agreed with Dr. Ford.  His pressure had remained in the 40’s despite treatment and he really seemed less happy overall despite the eye drops and the daily Metacam, an NSAID , like ibuprofen, for dogs.  We discussed surgery and I agreed, arranging a date.
Laura and I took Gilbert to Big Bar Lake as his pre surgery treat. He loves the wilderness. He was able to be off leash on that trip as well.  We knew he was blind now as he’d miss the yellow ball when we threw it on his left side. Gilbert never misses a yellow ball.  He loved sleeping in the tent too. Tenting is his favouite.  Laura, a real trooper, says, “Tenting is not my first choice of sleeping accommodation but I’m glad to do it because you and Gilbert love camping so much.”  Gilbert was in dog heaven camping. I just had to make sure Laura has a comfortable camp chair and a cup of coffee waiting for her when she stumbled out of the tent in the morning.  It was a great weekend.
On Tuesday at 8 am I took Gilbert to the Western Canada Veterinary Eye Specialists.  I left him with confidence with Lori.  She loves animals.  They love her.  Gilbert was happy and trusting.
I don’t know how I compartmentalize. I’m under incredible stress with conflicting demands of government and patients and no resources, daily threats and emergencies, and always afraid I’ll miss something but thankful for the  great staff and colleagues I have toda.  Despite that I couldn’t help but worry between patients standing distracted at times.  Mary Lou and Judith, the office staff,  knowing what was happening, made extra certain everything was covered for me. I was so thankful.
I got the call that Gilbert was out of surgery and had done well.   I was surprised by the depth of my relief, tears welling in my eyes as I said a silent prayer of gratitude . He’d be over his anaesthesia and ready for pick up in an hour.  I managed to see more patients . I was thankful when it slowed that Dr. Horvath,  ever considerate,   said he’d cover anyone else who came,  so that I could go to Gilbert.
The little guy was stumbling like he was half asleep when I saw him.  He wore the Cone of Shame that would stop him scratching. I was overjoyed to see him.  My little trooper.  That first night was tough. He was moaning in pain and I was so thankful for Tramadol because twice I had to give it to him and twice he settled.
Seeing what a wonder drug opiates are I couldn’t help but question the recent Justin Trudeau government’s attack on opiate prescribing and legitimate patients in face of the illegal fentanyl epidemic of deaths caused by the importation of Chinese fentanyl and heroin trafficking. Just like with the Liberal attack on the law abiding gun owners because of criminals killing people with illegal guns here was another example of how good citizens were punished by the incompetent Liberal authorities all the while they promoted cost saving euthanasia. Well I was thankful in the wee hours of the night holding my little dog post surgery that I had tramadol for him. Holding him comforted him till the tramadol took effect bu the metacam just hadn’t done the trick.  Aging I’m terrified of this young pot smoking super rich PM.  Pierre Trudeau exploded abortion into Canada with ultimately millions of babies killed mostly because Canadian families can’t afford to have children with the high cost of living.  Now the Liberals were giving us euthanasia  pot smoking and denying us opiates and real pain relief.  I feared myself opting for death rather than living under this  evil regimen. I can’t say how many times I’ve thanked Gilbert for keeping me alive.  Like parents who tell me they wouldn’t suicide because of their children I just know that Gilbert gives me that extra reason for living that gets me through the hardest of days.
After that first night Gilbert was fine.  He didn’t like the Cephalex antibiotic.  Nortoriously acidic, he event spit it out when I sneaked it between slices of roast beef.  His eye healed remarkably fast and with no swelling or redness I stopped forcing the cephalexin on him after three days. He didn’t need any more tramadol after the first couple of nights. By day 3 he was only on the Metacam.  Mostly he hated the cone.  He loves to lick his paws. He also loves to sniff other dogs genitals. Well he couldn’t lick his paws with the cone and other dogs didn’t like being coned by Gilbert trying to sniff their genitals. It was a rough time for the little guy. He’d also bang into  everything, blind on the left side and catching the cone on every step.
What a truly intelligent little guy. By the weekend he was scooping his yellow ball in his two paws and tossing it in the air to catch it in his mouth.    We stayed at Laura’s several nights  and she patiently rubbed his tummy and his back for hours. He’s such a suck.  She gave him all his favourite treats and with less clutter at dog level at her place he banged the cone less often.
Dr. Christina King had said what Dr. Douglas and Dr. Ford had, that the condition was progressive and that he might well lose his sight in his other eye.  She gave me Cosopt, a dosalomide and timolol combination ophthalmic solution for his good eye, a drop twice a day. Thank’s to Martin’s wild salmon treats Gilbert doesn’t mind the twice a day imposition.
Ten days after the surgery, on Thursday I took Gilbert back to the Western Canada Veterinary Eye Specialists for his suture removal.  Lori was as delightful as ever. Gilbert was surprisingly glad to follow her to the back despite that being where they’d taken out his poor little eye.  Moments later he was back again with me, without the cone and his wound looking healed and splendid.
Dr. Christina King could have put a prosthesis in the eye . Having trained in surgery I expressed concern about the complication of any foreign body.  She reassured me that they did really well but yes there was a slight risk.  As well, she said,  “ I mostly don’t recommend them for dogs like Gilbert whose hair normally covers his eyes. In less hairy dogs, the prosthesis really does look better but once Gilbert’s hair grows out I don’t think anyone know.”
As a sailor I’m now on the look out for a little black pirate patch for my side kick Gilbert
He’s happier now.  His old playful exuberant self is back.  Both Laura and I have noticed that his personality has changed with the surgery. “He’s his old happy go lucky self” Laura says.. We suspect that despite the drops he probably had  chronic pain and was out of sorts.  But now he’s really happy.  He’s such a joyful little character.
“Gilbert’s now the one eye pirate companion of Sailor Bill”, a friend quipped.  Dad called him Monkey Dog.  Another friend says I should get Monty Python’s dead parrot for Gilbert to wear on his back.
In my low period, thinking of Gilbert going blind and feeling helpless, vulnerable  and unloved by God, Laura sent me a picture of a blind old dog with a younger dog tied with a rope beside him.  The caption to the pictures was ‘dogs have seeing eye dogs too’.  If getting him a seeing eye dog is the worst the future holds, life is good.
We are so thankful to Dr. Christina King and Lori for their continued care of Gilbert.

VSO, Jazz and Branford Marsalis

Jazz is America’s truest contribution to world music.  Whenever I hear really fine jazz I’m taken back to my youth, in the early 70’s, swing dancing with the beautiful Baiba in the London England jazz clubs. In Winnipeg we’d fall in love with scat singing Cleo Laine at her concerts in the park.   At the Winnipeg Jazz Festival I remember seeing and hearing the unforgettable Dizzy Gillepsie.   In Vancouver I became a regular at the Hot Jazz club dancing all night every weekend  I could get off call.
The Vancouver Jazz Festival is truly one of Vancouver’s most endearing perennial music events.  Vancouver’s jazz community is rich and sophisticated. Jazz Vespers at St. Andrews Wesley United Church is ever a joy.
Last year I ate shrimp jambalaya in sweltering  New Orleans literally in love with Jazz at the Satchmo Summer Jazz Festival.   This last Christmas I was blessed to be with lovely Laura at Lincoln Centre attending the New York Philharmonic’s performance of Marsalis’ Jungle.  Never before had jazz been more frankly spiritual.
Hearing that Branford Marsalis was playing this year with our finest Vancouver Symphony Orchestra,  part of this years TD Vancouver Jazz Festival,  I think I must have been one of the very first to buy tickets.  Barry Waterlow, my best source of lore on classical music, told me, “Branford Marsalis is very likely the greatest saxophonist in the world today. His whole family are gifted musicians.”
We attended An Evening with Branford Marsalis and the VSO  in the exquisite architectural theatre , the Orpheum, built in 1927 and designated today a National Heritage Site.  We sat with Barry and his visiting linguist friend, Andrew.  Laura told me at intermission with adoring Catholic eyes, “Did you know Barry actually played the organ at the Abbey?”.
The VSO spectacularly conducted by Gordon Gerrard were at their finest with Knopp and the brass section definitely enjoying the music. Marsalis really was exquisite with alto sax. Such purity of tone.
"As a rescue scuba diver,” I told Laura,  "I can honestly say that man’s lungs are utterly impressive."
The first half of the night with VSO, there were  pieces by  Bernstein (from Candide) , Milhaud, Gershwin, (from American in Paris) and  Williams.   “John Williams was the composer for the Star Wars films ” Barry shared, making me really perk up for that particular piece.
The standing applause at the end of the first half was explosive.
In the second half Branford Marsalis performed a duo with pianist Joey Calderazzo. Joey Calderazzo, a great in the jazz piano world, was an extraordinary surprise and joy.  As a gifted soloist he was also the most sensitive accompanist  demonstrating the finest balance between pride and humility.  It was also just so apparent that Marsalis and Calderazzo enjoy playing together. Grown men having as much fun as boys in a sandbox.  Marsalis added the soprano and tenor saxophones and played each with splendid transcendence.  Repeatedly I was simply transported ,experiencing being ‘carried away’ by his music as his skill and grace touched that other realm. From the softest pianissimo to loudest forte Marsalis on saxophone was  terrific.
I was  so thankful that the Vancouver audience shared the joy of this moving experience.  their resounding standing ovation brought these two wonderful men back on stage for a truly splendid encore. At the end I felt like a fat man who has had a magnificent musical feast, only to have somehow topped it off with a decadent triple layer chocolate ice cream cake.  What a performance!
Saying a fond good night to Barry and Andrew in the Orpheum foyer, lovely Laura and I, feeling all special and cozy,  drove home with the top down on the sportscar, crossing Cambie Bridge beneath a crescent moon on a warm Vancouver night.