Mental Illness and the Holidays.

Christmas is not my favourite time of year, in fact I kind of dread it.  Aside from the well deserved break from the craziness that is school, it’s a time of year when I wish I could just quickly skip over it and start the new year fresh. I used to love the holidays, but the past few years have brought about some negative memories that I now associate with the holidays. Particularly the last two Christmases were especially emotional and hard to get through, it triggers my PTSD and anxiety similar to how I experience the same symptoms in…

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Strategies to calm the anxious brain.

Negative thoughts can bring you down. This is part of a series looking at micro skills – changes that employees can make to improve their health and life at work and at home, and employers can make to improve the workplace. The Globe and Mail and Morneau Shepell have created the Employee Recommended Workplace Award to honour companies that put the health and well-being of their employees first. Read about the 2017 winners of the award at tgam.ca/workplaceaward. Does your mind sometimes create thoughts – ones that make you anxious or worried – that you’d rather not have? When our unconscious…

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Human antidepressants building up in brains of fish in Niagara River.

Researchers studying fish from the Niagara River have found that human antidepressants and remnants of these drugs are building up in the fishes’ brains. The concentration of human drugs was discovered by scientists from University at Buffalo, Buffalo State and two Thai universities, Ramkhamhaeng University and Khon Kaen University. Active ingredients and metabolized remnants of Zoloft, Celexa, Prozac and Sarafem — drugs that have seen a sharp spike in prescriptions in North America — were found in 10 fish species. Diana Aga, professor of chemistry at University at Buffalo, says these drugs are found in human urine and are not stripped out…

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Breathe.

Lately I have been anxious: unbearably anxious at times. Maybe it is all of the impending changes in my life. The next nine months of my life. Reflections of the past year triggering flashbacks. Or maybe it is just my damn anxiety disorder, but whatever it is I find myself on almost constantly on edge. My heart has been racing and my mind has been chasing after random thoughts and barely formulated ideas unable to concentrate on the tasks in front of me. I am afraid of a monster I cannot see, of a future I cannot predict, of the…

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Meet the ‘doctors’ who will talk to you whenever you like.

Could health apps and chatbots eventually replace your traditional doctor? “Let’s talk about how you’ve been feeling over the past 30 days,” says Joy. “This will help me get a sense for your current state.” Joy probes a bit deeper, asking a series of questions: Do I feel hopeless? Do I feel restless? When I respond that I’m a bit stressed, Joy offers me several de-stressing techniques. Joy might appear to be my counsellor or my life coach, but the conversation I’m having is actually with a chatbot that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to track emotions and provide…

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Tragic case of Robert Chu shows plight of Canadian medical school grads.

After he was passed over twice for a medical residency program, after he quizzed university officials and career counsellors about the reasons for his rejection, after exploring his legal options and shortly before ending his life, Robert Chu wrote a letter. It was precise, but penned with passion. It showed the persistence the 25-year-old medical school graduate had demonstrated throughout his accomplished life. But he also expressed his despair at what he believed is a flawed system used to match medical school graduates to residency programs — the final, obligatory stage in a doctor’s training. Each year, a growing number…

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You Can Save a Life.

I realize this post won’t be for everyone on my friends list, but I hope it might encourage some of you to consider donating. I grew up TERRIFIED of needles, I was that girl that would cry every time I had to get a shot. I’ll be honest, needles still erk me, but I know that getting over my fears means someone else gives someone else a chance to live and that to me is a small price to pay. The Canadian Blood Services is in dire need of donations for the upcoming long weekend (ie. The goal is 150,000 donations),…

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Life’s Changing Tides.

Naturally, life is a bumpy ride. In the flash of an instant, it can go from being downright cruel to magnificent the next, but then it can hand you days where you feel like you are permanently wrecked. But, I am a firm believer in the fact that the universe will never hand us things that we won’t be able to get through. For that anytime I was knocked down by a wave, I came right back up stronger than I was before I went down with the tides.  But it will suck you through a tsunami of tears, of…

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The 5 percent solution for depression.

Selective Seratonin Reuptake Inhibitors: Who would pass up the opportunity of saying that mouthful on a regular basis? Well, okay, anybody who isn’t a biochemistry nerd would. But in case you don’t know, it’s a class of drug that throws some light in the amazing ways in which the brain works…and helps anyone immobilized by a clinical depression start to function like a normal person. Now, I’m a yoga teacher, and yoga teachers are known for pushing holistic solutions, not psychotropic drugs. But what if you suffered from a crippling depression because the chemicals your brain cells use to communicate…

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How Social Isolation Is Killing Us.

My patient and I both knew he was dying. Not the long kind of dying that stretches on for months or years. He would die today. Maybe tomorrow. And if not tomorrow, the next day. Was there someone I should call? Someone he wanted to see? Not a one, he told me. No immediate family. No close friends. He had a niece down South, maybe, but they hadn’t spoken in years. For me, the sadness of his death was surpassed only by the sadness of his solitude. I wondered whether his isolation was a driving force of his premature death,…

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Where Will All the Old Folks Live?

If you’ve ever been a caregiver to aging parents, you’ve likely been through the battle over when to move them out of the home they love and into something more suitable to their changing needs. That’s only going to get more common as the U.S. population ages. Demographic experts say the population over age 65 will swell from 50 million to nearly 80 million in the next two decades. And all those people will need a place to live. If history is a good indicator, that place is unlikely to be their current home–though that appears to be changing. Even…

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The Secret Work of Nurses.

Recently, I admitted a patient in early labor and the first thing she asked me was when her doctor would be there. In my head, I laughed. I had not seen her doctor all day, even though I thought her doctor would make rounds in the morning. I knew there was a laundry list of reasons why she had probably not made it in by that afternoon: she had lucked out, and not a single one of her patients had delivered that morning, which would have forced her to come in. She had been unlucky before 7 a.m., and had…

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Basic Income in Ontario.

A Canadian province is to run a pilot project aimed at providing every citizen a minimum basic income of $1,320 (£773) a month. The provincial government of Ontario confirmed it is holding public consultations on the $25m (£15m) project over the next two months, which could replace social assistance payments administered by the province for people aged 18 to 65. People with disabilities will receive $500 (£292) more under the scheme, and individuals who earn less than $22,000 (£13,000) a year after tax will have their incomes topped up to reach that threshold. The pilot report was submitted by Conservative ex-senator Hugh…

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The story of Resuscitation Bed 1.

Here are 3 remarkable true stories about the very same bed space in our emergency department. Resuscitation Bed 1. The first story I wrote after an incident with a colleague at work. The second two were written responses to that story…… ——————– I was working with Nurse K in resuscitation today. K has only been working in ‘The Sus’ for a few shifts now, and as we chatted she mentioned that Resuscitation Bed 1 had some special significance for her. “Oh?” I said, “How come?” She told me that when she was 10 years old her mother came into our…

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