Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Flying to Reno for IDAA 2018

Laura came by this morning to take care of Gilbert and George while I was away. I enjoyed showing off my new KTM 690 Enduro Motorcycle.  “I”d like to ride on the back of that on Saltspring Island,” she said.
Mack said, “I like that. I’ve been riding off road bikes for 30 years. Had 500 and that’s even more powerful. I’d love to ride that in the mountains.  The big Sasquatch race with thousands is held each year by Yale. You should go."
I was sorry to leave Laura, Gilbert, George and the  Austrian (the KTM).  My Harley didn’t seem to mind having a little brother parked next to him. After taking me to and from Surges and keeping me safe for thousands more miles he’s got nothing to prove. No doubt he’ll tell the young KTM a story or two while I’m away.
I’d packed last night and drove the Mini Cooper S to the Airport Jet Setter parking lot.  It’s a routine now. Today all that interrupted it was a comatose man on the street. I arrived along with an off duty police woman riding her Harley. No one saw how he got there. I checked for lateralization, a pulse. Breathing was obviously fine.  But he was unresponsive till the experienced and very beautiful police woman 'caressed' his chest to 'wake' him. His eyes came open and I saw pin prick pupils. Then he was spluttering and paranoid.  I asked for any other medical causes, asked what drugs he'd done but he wasn't helpful. I asked if 911 was called when I arrived and another woman was calling.
 The fire department arrived and took over while he was moving about and talking lucidly. The 'discrete' police woman hopped on her bike and headed out as I got back in the Mini to head on to the airport.
Now I'm waiting for the bus.  Getting off at the terminal.  Passports, tickets, check in, luggage.  I’ve done it so many times with Gilbert that without him it’s a lot less work.  Laura has come with me on the international jaunts. This little Alaska Air hop to Seattle and then Reno is nothing like the Alaska Air flights I made to Japan when I worked in Saipan.
I was late for my flight and Alaska Air was very accommodating.   With an  upgrade to first class got me on the otherwise full  later flight.
To pass the time I bought Laura some Miss Dior and got Pacific Northwest Maple Smoked Salmon gifts for friends.. I sat in Starbucks and ate sandwiches and drank Mocca coffee. Airports have tired air. They’re a bit like space ports.  I’ve not known space ports yet but feel the comparison fits.  I like airports.  I like planes. I still retain the adventure of flying. My father took us up in little planes when my brother and I were children. Now I’ve taken so many flights in bush plane taxis when I worked as a fly in doctor in Northern Canada, weekly flights then monthly flights for years. Later I’d do the same in the Marianas Islands. I took my first international flight to England when I was 20. Now my nephew is working there.  I’ve loved returning to London and look forward to it again.
This IDAA conference is an Oasis in my year. I’ve been listening to the tapes of the meetings for the last 2 years. The USB sticks work great in my Mini and in my Ford F350 truck. I love the CME in Addiction Medicine but mostly like listening to the friends I’ve made over the last 20 years of attending this conference regularly. They’re the leaders in the field and I’m honoured to know them.  The psychiatrists I most admired here are older and retired. The psychiatrists I know and most admire in IDAA continue to come back even when they retire.  I love seeing the internationals too. Steven   from Australia and Alistair from Scotland are especially amazing. Steven doesn’t fight crocodiles but at least Alistair like me hunts deer.  Not only that he maintains the herd.  Steven has always been a source of inspiration, one of the finest human beings I’ve even known and a fine academic and clinician.
I so look forward to to seeing Art and Carole. Art has been a wonderful source of sage knowledge about the practice of psychiatry. He bow hunts elk and has arrived with fresh jerky.  An Air Force Colonel.  Amazing. His wife is so beautiful and life wise, the mother of adult children I’ve met and enjoyed.  Cheryl and Dick are another couple I am truly blessed to known.  Cheryl is so spiritual, a minister and an amazing runner.  Dick is just plain delightful, a glorious raconteur and leader among leaders. Gordie, a surgeon followed Dick as the leader of IDAA, their leadership in their outstanding careers in medicine being turned to making this organization one of the finest in the world.  I would never have been able to tolerate the dirty politics and corruption of medicine were it not for the inspiration of these men and women.  Ray and Graeme and Dave from Canada are often there and remind me that there are “like minded doctors’.  The “Like Minded Doctors’ group actually began there ,clinicians concerned that the humanity of medicine was being lost to the bean counters and robber barons.
I’m isolated by my own morality and ethics, devastated by the lies and callousness of administration and horrendous plight of those of us on the front lines with the patients suffering most.  Here I find those who’ve carried on. I love that Nathan another psychiatrist held true to his ideals despite the financial losses.  There are just so many here. Ever since Hank and Art, and then Hal took me under their wing I’ve tried to carry on inspire of my ever present desire to flee the abuses.  These men and women here help me remain sober minded when my thoughts ping pong between homicide and suicide in the Being John Malkovich mind I have.
Between meetings I keep in touch with Cyberdocs, our on line private community of doctors sharing their trials and tribulations and questions about sanity in face of the bureacracy, the holding onto hope when patients and family are dying, the carrying on without resources, the struggle and also the gratitude and grace that we experience. I am forever uplifted by the sense of community this on line experience gives me. Right when I’m all alone I get on line and see how people like Steven and Nathan carry on despite the burdens they face. I’m a whiner and complainer , a screamer and
a wailer yet there’s Art and Dick and Gordie all stoics of the first order. Tom is great.  Bobby makes me laugh.  She and Carole and Cheryl got me entering the 5 km run walk each year and now I enjoy that.
I feel badly as there are so many I am close to and it’s these that come to mind this moment. I hope George makes it, the altitude tough for him last year.  Brett seems to thrive on altitude. I’ll miss Dave.  In another moment there will be a half dozen more I’ve been close to over the years, going for dinner, meeting up, having coffee with,  writing emails back and forth, discussing cases, getting advice, talking about the death of family, sharing ignorance about love and women and hearing how others raise their children. All these loving people. And Jerry Mo and those family members and friends. We gather and support the next group as we were supported, passing on hope. I’m so looking forward to it as I am each year.  I hope Julie is here. I miss Beth.  Randy is fantastic. I laughed hearing him introducing speakers on the USB collections of the meetings he hosted.
I’m just so honoured to be a part of this. I’m so priviledged to be told toe ‘keep coming back’ .  I’m so glad that I laughed at the jokes of ‘some are sicker than others’.  It’s really a blessing. I like to be spiritual alone on a hill, or off at sea or roaring down a highway on my motorcycle. But this community is strangely my monastic retreat, a collection of truly brilliant men and women who are for me the Glass Bead Game, Narcissus and Goldmund, the actual hewers of wood and carriers of water who make up the action part of the spiritual life. I think of Merton and Brother Lawrence and know each of these are ‘doing’ love in that hands on way that we do.  We come together in mutual support and see relationship for the spiritual boost we once sought but didnt find elsewhere.
The plane is descending now into Reno.  It’s always a thrill to see who makes it again.  I look forward now to the hugs.  I’m pretty stand offish in my own way, aloof and comfortable mostly with so very few and even then a tad paranoid given the hurts I’ve cause and hurts I’ve had.  Now I’m going to a safe place.

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