Aug 18

I was blindsided by a humdinger of hilarity this afternoon, overcome by convulsions of cheer: I laughed until tears streamed down my face and I gasped for breath.  My abs are killing me – I’m sure I pulled a muscle.

But I was left feeling utterly cleansed, restored, invigorated.  The occasional good belly laugh is critical to good health after all, more restorative even than coffee enemas or any of the other wacky “wellness” solutions and potions peddled by the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and Dr. Oz.  It’s no accident that medieval monarchs, weighed down by the stresses of presiding over the peasants, employed court jesters to crowd out their worries.

My earliest acquaintance with laughter as elixir came when I was a lad, long before I entertained the notion of becoming a doctor.  Laughter is the Best Medicine, declared Reader’s Digest (that staple of my TV-bereft youth) each month as caption to a collection of (mostly) corny jokes.  Some of those jokes were even funny. More reliably humorous were the anecdotes related in Life’s Like That at the back of the magazine – funnier because they actually happened to real people. Read the rest of this entry »

Aug 18

I wound my way back to Calgary with my family last week, bronzed and recharged, albeit lungs a bit blackened after summer vacation in the “Smokanagan”.  The road trip, normally a six-hour trek, had stretched to ten hours by the time we pulled our Suburban into our Calgary driveway.

We spent hours idling on the tarmac in the forest-fire-generated haze that has choked much of Western Canada this summer, peering dimly at road crews restoring and building roads and bridges.  Winter and road construction constitute the only two seasons in much of Canada, practically speaking.  Harsh Canadian winters play havoc with our highways and byways, heaving asphalt and cracking pavement, spawning huge potholes that can swallow entire vehicles.  It’s likely that Amelia Earhart, hopelessly off course in her attempt to circumnavigate the globe in 1937, flew her plane into a giant Canadian pothole, never to be heard from again.

And with August winding down sensible Calgarians have teed up the swapping of tires for winter treads:  random September snowstorms are Nature’s ways of reminding us who’s boss around here.

For the Conservative Party of Canada the deep freeze has already arrived, its hopes of evicting Justin Trudeau from office next year iced by malcontent Maxime Bernier. The party was already in plenty of trouble before Bernier’s bombshell betrayal last week, the great, lumbering vehicle of the Canadian right cratered not by a pothole but by a dimple - by two dimples, actually, twin depressions surrounded by Andrew Scheer, the large man at the helm of the party who has mirrored his surname by remaining invisible, inexplicably, to the Canadian electorate. Read the rest of this entry »

Aug 18

November 1, 2018

I shuffled into the prison library this morning looking for new material to ease the boredom of my cell, orange jumpsuit chafing my neck and groin – nine days of incarceration and continuous wear haven’t improved its fit.

I sat down briefly to flip through newspapers strewn across the battered reading table and was blasted immediately by “Goodbye Victoria, Hello New Speak!” splashed across the front page of the Halloween edition of The Globe and Mail.

Inspired and invigorated by the bold John A. Macdonald-toppling actions of Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps last summer, Premier John Horgan of British Columbia has decided to rechristen the province’s capital as the City of New Speak, effective immediately.  Queen Victoria was Canada’s monarch when John A. authored the ruinous residential school system, Mr. Horgan pointed out; she presided over the whole mess.  Far worse, she was sovereign of the British Empire, the global invader that ripped lands and life and dignity from indigenous peoples in the first place.  “Queen Victoria can no longer stand as symbol of our great capital,” declared the premier, “New Speak shall be the cradle of a new beginning, the impetus for a new way of speaking and reconciling with our indigenous peoples.”

According to The Globe Premier Horgan was flanked in his announcement not only by the usual assortment of aggrieved tribal leaders but also by Justin Trudeau, current Prime Minister of Canada and eraser of Sir Hector-Louis Langevin as namesake to his own parliamentary offices. Read the rest of this entry »

Aug 18

My life as an emergency physician is irregular at its core, governed by a constantly mutating roster of clinical shifts carved around my wife’s bustling obstetrics practice, and set against the backdrop of raising four busy children.

The practice of medicine is itself a study of all things “irregular”, a quest to diagnose and correct the astonishing array of bodily pathologies that stalk us.  Irregular heartbeats impair cardiac output; irregular breathing precedes asphyxiation; irregular behaviour mandates psychiatric analysis; and irregular bowel movements, that time-honoured conduit to prolonged analysis of the daily news atop the porcelain throne, can lead on to invasive enemas, and, in its extremes, manual disimpaction.  The ritual test of whether a young medical student has what it takes to be a doctor continues to be the gloved, manual evacuation of the obstipated emergency department patient:  if you can survive that affront to your senses as a young physician-in-training you can survive anything.

I fancy myself a top-notch healer, most days, no less skilled in the art of the medically irregular than Pavarotti was in the delivery of operatic tenor.  (My ego, like Pavarotti’s, requires no inflation – although, in contrast to the late King of High C’s, it’s unmatched by my girth).  So I know irregular, and when that term began cropping up in the Canadian news cycle, joined to the ongoing immigration debacle, it caught my attention. Read the rest of this entry »