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Newsletter Vol. # 7 That's how I see it!

Hello and welcome to vol. #7-especially to you new readers. I guess some of you are listening and are spreading the word/newsletter.

I am feeling better and capable of swinging a golf club again (see article Trip to Cayman 2015); Reader Response: a poignant article written by one of our readers on the death of a loved one (Conceptualizing Personal Loss: Thinking Symbolically); a survey on healthcare (Private or Public...); apparently Diets Don't Work; another dirty article-Too Much Cleanliness Is Bad For You; a golf story-I should be so lucky; and if you want to learn the art of How to Start a Fight, read on.

Private Or Public? Or Private And Public?

A survey of 34 countries shows Canada near the top of the pack per-capita spending but near the bottom for results.

We are paying for a world-leading healthcare system but aren't getting the product.

Counting resource inputs such as hospital beds and doctors per capita does not tell us very much about the care that consumers actually receiving. The amount of time the average person has to wait for an MRI is a much better indicator of health care quality than the number of MRI machines in a particular country. (Ben Aisen and Arne Bjornberg, authors of the survey)

The authors looked at five measures that impact patient care. They are:
-Waiting times, where Canada trails almost all of the 33 European countries in the survey.
-Patient outcomes, where Canada is closest to the other end of the spectrum...either "fair" or "good" for each subcategory measure.
-Range and reach of services where, despite the fourth highest per capita spending Canada is in the middle of the pack.
-Pharmaceuticals, where Canada is tied with Lithuania for the lowest level of subsidizing needed drugs... A mere 45 per cent, compared with up to 90 per cent in most of Europe.
-Patient rights and information, where Canada's performance is getting better but is still well below most of Europe.

Added up and Canada finished 25th out of 34 countries, unchanged from last year when we were 23rd of 32.

The nine countries we beat did not include France or Sweden or any of the wealthy ones with the pricey social safety nets. We can brag only that we finished better than, in order, Slovakia, Macedonia, Malta, Albania, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Romania and Bulgaria.

This survey is most disturbing! Most Canadians, and for that matter most Americans, believe that Canada possesses the Cadillac of medical services-and it appears it doesn't! So what is the problem? A great deal of money being thrown at our healthcare system and it's not delivering! How come?

The Canadian government literally bristles at the mere mention of allowing private clinics to exist. Is this where the problem lies? Should specialized clinics be allowed to exist and people who can afford to go to these clinics, be allowed to do so? Would this cut down on wait times in hospitals? I suppose the great fear of having these specialized clinics is that they would skim off the most talented medical personnel, thus leaving fewer and less skilled doctors for the remaining "Public" hospitals. This two-tier system (or some form of it) of medical care seems to be working in most of the countries that are considerably ahead of us in the survey-why are we not exploring how they do it?
What do you think the answer is to Canada's medical system woes?

Feedback please.

Diets Don't Work!

Is it true that diets don't work?

I've read that dieting sets up a war between the body and food! When we eat what we think we should instead of what we want, this leads to a sense of deprivation that eventually leads to overeating. So that when people focus on weight loss they just might be contributing to their own weight gain. Focusing on weight can also lead to obsessing about food and the distortion of a normal approach to healthy eating.

Apparently we are born with internal cues about when to eat and what to eat. If we trust the body's intuitive expression of hunger, a desire for particular foods, and we acknowledge this without restriction, we often eat less because we feel satisfied and full.

What do you think?

What is your story about whether diets work or don't work?

That coffee house I mentioned last week:

Grant & Wilton Coffee House
   1077 Grant Ave. at Wilton
     Sat. May 16, 7:30, $12
Special guest: Amanda Fandych

Continuing from a previous article on the benefits of dirt:

Too Much Cleanliness Is Bad For You

I came across an interesting article claiming that perhaps "too much cleanliness is bad for you, we need dirt and germs" and was called the "hygiene hypothesis". Germs and dirt provide challenges that strengthen the immune system and are particularly necessary during one's early stages of growth. However in this day and age, parents are almost obsessional about cleanliness.

In 1989, David Strachan an epidemiologist at the London School Of Hygiene and Tropical Diseases noticed that kids growing up with lots of siblings had a lower incidence of asthma, hay fever, and childhood eczema. He hypothesized that older siblings might be bringing home all sorts of infections and spreading them around, which somehow benefited their brothers and sisters. "Over the past century declining family size, improvements in household amenities, and higher standards of personal cleanliness have reduced the opportunity for cross infection in young families," Strachan stated in the British Medical Journal.

When I was a kid I remember parents bringing their healthy children over to homes where the child were sick with mumps, measles, and chickenpox. The belief that was having these diseases at a young age was not all that dangerous or bothersome but as an adult it was much more serious. Little did we understand that these childhood diseases could actually toughen up the immune system-build up antibodies, as did dirt and germs; they were actually promoting long-term health. Today's parents do everything possible to prevent their children from getting sick or dirty-what a contrast. The problem is that in trying to be helpful to their children, they may be putting them in harms way by creating under functioning immune systems.


Two women were playing golf. One teed off and watched in horror as her bald headed directly towards a foursome of men playing the next hole. The ball hit one of the men. He immediately clasped his hands together at his groin, fell to the ground and proceeded to roll around in agony. The woman rushed down to the man, and immediately began to apologize. " Please allow me to help. I'm a physical therapist and I know I could relieve your pain if you'd allow me, she told him. Oh, no, I'll be all right. I'll be fine in a few minutes," the man replied. He was an obvious agony, lying in the fetal position, still clasping his hands at his groin. At her persistence, however, he finally allowed her to help. She gently took his hands away and laid them to the side loosening his pants and put her hands inside. She administered tender and artful massage for several long moments and he asked, " How does that feel?" He replied, " It feels great, but I still think my thumb's broken."

Readers Response:

Conceptualizing Personal Loss: Thinking Symbolically 

In November 2013, my wife died of cancer. She was diagnosed in August 2011 and lived bravely with the disease for more than two years - longer, as I later found, than the doctors would have given her. I'm convinced that this is a testament to her determination from the start to be a person "living with cancer" as opposed to being a "sufferer" or "victim" of cancer. She refused to give it that satisfaction. During those two years, we grew closer together than at any other point in our 15-year relationship. Paradoxically perhaps, the key to this was accepting the inevitability of her death in the relatively near term. This gave us the determination to make the most of whatever time left together we had.

For me personally, part of this acceptance was facing up to the fact that I would relatively soon be forced to live without her - that was my emerging reality. Denying this would only have made things worse - I believed that at the time and believe it even more now. However, as I was to discover, no amount of acceptance could have possibly prepared me for the enormity of her loss. We were alone together in her room at Riverview when she died, and watching her take her final breaths was a completely overwhelming experience. Then, almost immediately, the realization that she was gone forever began to sink in with full force. There's no way to prepare oneself for dealing with "gone forever".

Even before my wife's illness and death, I had been the type of person who thought a lot about what life truly meant, not just on the level of day-to-day experience but in terms of a bigger picture - what does LIFE mean? I am not a religious person so have never thought that there was any inherent purpose to LIFE in the sense of "fate" or "destiny" - a blue-print already laid out for me, I certainly am unaware of one for myself. The fact that my wife should never have been a candidate for any kind of cancer - let alone the rare and virulently aggressive form that she contracted - only reinforced this scepticism. There's no way that her death made any sort of sense to me in terms of a broader "grand scheme of things".

Rather than search for LIFE meaning in "grand plans", I've tended to look for it more immediately and presently through symbols. This approach arises from my university studies where I developed in interest in philosophies based on the idea of the world around us as made up of symbols - each laden with meaning. As meaning is inherently subject to interpretation and, therefore, dialogue and change, symbols are in no way static forms. Indeed, they are inherently flexible, comprising multiple layers of meaning. Diverse aspects of this meaning can emerge in different contexts and situations.

While language itself is powerful type of symbol, and it's certainly true that words like "devastating", "horrible", "awful" "tragic", even "unfair" and "unjust", all apply in my case, I realized that words alone lacked adequate interpretive power.  In order to make sense truly of what had happened, I needed a visual image of some kind that captured the essence of this terrible event.  Making some sense of her death through a symbolic form, I understood would be a necessary first step towards "healing" and a new beginning in life for me. (more in Vol. #8)             


How to Start a Fight!

I took my wife to a restaurant.
The waiter, for some reason, took my order first.
"I'll have the rump steak, rare, please."
He said, "Aren't you worried about the mad cow?"
"Nah, she can order for herself."
And that's when the fight started...


My wife and I were sitting at a table at her high school
reunion, and she kept staring at a drunken man swigging his
drink as he sat alone at a nearby table.
I asked her, "Do you know him?"
"Yes", she sighed,
"He's my old boyfriend. I understand he took to drinking
right after we split up those many years ago, and I hear he
hasn't been sober since."
"My God!" I said, "Who would think a person could go on
celebrating that long?"
And that's when the fight started...
Trip To Cayman 2015     (pt.1)
There is only one day until I return home from our visit to the Cayman Islands. It is 90+, the ocean is blue-green, and I am reflecting on this last month.

We (wife Drinda, daughter Lisa, grandkids Miliah and Conner) left Winnipeg on a Wednesday afternoon at 4:20 pm with connecting flight to Cayman the next morning. We decided to over-night in Toronto rather than get the grandchildren up at 3:30 AM for the direct flight to Toronto-Cayman. We have taken this flight a previous year with rather disastrous results - they were out of sorts the entire flight and the following two days.

The only drawback to staying overnight in Toronto was the loading and unloading this huge pile of luggage. Four suitcases, two car seats, three backpacks, and of course my golf clubs. Half my reason for this yearly pilgrimage is that I get to visit with our Brad and one month of golfing daily. Last year I managed 26 out of 30 days on the course. Little did I know what was to come?

We arrived in Toronto and set out for our hotel. We started out on a particular traffic island where the hotel van would pick us up-but not too soon. No, it was a half-hour wait in the rain and cold. Eventually the van came, we checked in, went for a swim, had pizza and watched TV--all was well!

The next morning I loaded the entire luggage onto a rack. It felt to me like we had a family of 10 instead of five. I am the type when traveling I don't even have a carry on-everything is in my suitcase or in my green travel jacket-totally uncomplicated. Now I get to travel with a rack of luggage that is taller than I am and I am still dragging my golf clubs behind that.

We got through all the lines at the Toronto airport, had some breakfast, and are quite relaxed. I decided to take Conner, who is 2 1/2, for a walk. He walks ahead, suddenly gets the idea it would be fun to step-up on the ledge of the moving walkway and hold on to the moving ledge. The problem as I saw it, was his hands are moving, feet planted, but now being dragged towards a huge round support pillar next to the walkway. I dive for him and try to knock his hands off the moving ledge. I arrive too late to and he starts being dragged through a very small space between the pillar and the walkway. I try to grab him, stumble, he gets through the tiny space but I do not. My arm gets stretched and my body gets squeezed. I don't hear a pop but I feel like I was just run over by a bus. I am on my stomach and I can't move. Two airport people come over and ask, "Are you okay?" I find myself answering, "No... I am not okay." Generally in situations like this, when I stumble or fall and feel embarrassed, my ego forces me to answer, " Oh yeah I'm fine." Not this time! My wife and daughter looked at me when I arrive back at the restaurant table and knew immediately something was wrong. Little Conner was crying and wanting his mommy and, apparently, I am as white as a sheet. (more in Vol. #8)

Have a great week, stay warm and cover the plants.