Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Yesterday I said to the pianist," Look, there is a doe and a yearling lying on our footpath chewing their cud!" Their front legs were crossed in complete repose; a posture not adapted to rapid takeoff They stayed there for a good part of the afternoon. It's safe here! I guess in another place and time, they and all the Ruminantia were surrounded by predators. Mother Nature demanded rapid food gathering in sites of danger,always ready to flee, with the capacity later to regurgitate and break down the snatched food in found safety and sanctuary! I ask myself from time to time, why I write about such trivial matters when the world is going through such monumental events, war, revolution, economic fears, shaken faith, individuals on the cusp of disaster? And here I am, ruminating along with my deer. Chewing the cud of information and ideas long gathered in a hurry and not fully digested! Much of that information was gathered during the momentum of a hurried life where one was feeding quickly. I guess, to answer my own question ," I am writing for myself!" I call it "reflection" since the psychiatrists have tainted "rumination". In a sea of troubles we have to reach for a plank to stop drowning. It has to float! I guess my plank in life is to celebrate the ordinary stuff of existence that may have some buoyancy. Age gives one time to ruminate/reflect on the information gathered in a hurry! Now I can repose with my legs crossed and let go!

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Whole Truth

Quite a few years ago in Lotus city I was on call for Orthopedics at the Jubilee Hospital. They called about a newly arrived patient with a fracture that needed to be seen. It was a case that needed seeing that evening but not a real emergency. There was an upcoming program on TV I was anxious to see and I looked at my watch and knew if I hustled down, then I could be back in time for my program. On the drive to the hospital I heard a siren behind me and pulled over. The policeman came to my window and said "Do you know how fast you were going in a 50k zone"? "No', I said. "Sir", he said, "You were doing 75k. What's the emergency?" I said, "I'm a doctor and I was going to the Jubilee Emergency department. "Can I see your licence"? he asked. After examining it he took out his phone and called his dispatcher. "Find out if Dr. J Warren is expected at Jubilee Emergency", he asked. The dispatcher confirmed that was the case. "Follow me doc", he said, and put his lights and siren on and we wheeled off to the hospital! When I parked he waved and left! When I went in to the "emerg", I felt sheepish! Worse, I took advantage of someone! The staff knew and I knew! I didn't lie to the policeman. I told the truth and I told nothing but the truth, but I didn't tell the whole truth. I could have told him, " I was hurrying to see a patient that needs seeing, but not urgently". I can't tell why I remember little things like this, but it is a form of a lie when we leave out the bits that round out the truth and fail to tell it like it really is!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

On call Surgeon

Possibly the last time my younger colleagues in Orthopedics allowed me to take weekend calls was in the early 90's! That possibly was also the last time the pianist allowed me to cook for myself! I thought of this today when I looked at all the vitiligo on my right thumb. It was a beautiful weekend in the 90's and the colleagues were all away. The pianist was at Lotus Island potting and I was in Lotus city,meeting the osseous needs of the populace! It was quiet that Friday evening at 8 o'clock or so and I thought I would make some popcorn while watching TV. As I began by heating my oil in a saucepan on the electric range, the phone rang from the emergency with a problem. As I discussed the matter with the ERP there was a flash from the kitchen and my oil was on fire and shooting up to the ceiling. I raced in and grabbed the saucepan with the flaming oil and burned my thumb, so laid the saucepan in haste on the linoleum of the kitchen, which proceeded to burn as well as my thumb. The thumb developed a monster blister on the palmar aspect, and the linoleum, a large black melted welt in the center of the kitchen. I did the weekend call that time, but kept a glove on regularly to contain the swelling of the thumb. The hospital staff were impressed at how tough I was and also how stupid. I got through several surgical cases, and my landlord at the apartment was gracious, and said, "It is time we redid that kitchen anyway!" Serendipity struck: I got out of taking weekend calls any further, obtained a kitchen renovation, reaffirmed that I needed feeding, and provided general hospital merriment! How can they say I wasn't useful?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Punching in

When I was between 3rd and 4th year Medicine, I was living in Olympic City on the North Shore with my parents to save money with my summer job. I was working at the Canadian Fishing Company in the frozen fish warehouse as a piler. I had done this job in Prince Rupert the two previous summers. This was 1955 and the first ferry across Burrard Inlet left the foot of Lonsdale at 6:30 AM and docked at the foot of Gore street at 7:00 AM. I ran one block to the Canfisco Freezer and punched in at 7:04 AM every day, four minutes late for work! The last cheque I got at the end of the summer, was docked two hours for my unavoidable late punch in. For years I always felt a twinge of irritation at the company for being so cheap. I was the only student working there and they had only hired me for the halibut rush as I had worked in Rupert before, so was experienced. During the summer the union had threatened a strike and when we voted I was the only one who voted against a strike. I needed to work. I know the union was irritated! Then, years later, I had a patient who was a manager of the fishing company branch. I told him my story, thinking he would be embarrassed. He said, "I know about that! It wasn't the company! It was the union. They told us if you were allowed four minutes of grace every day, they insisted each member receive the same or be compensated two hours. It was easier for us to dock you the two hours. Besides that, he said, "You took home at least two hours worth of fish in your lunch bucket that summer." Hand in the cookie jar! He turned the tables on me . Don't start what you can't finish! I now extol the virtues of the management at Canfisco!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The hay ride

When I was 14 we lived for one winter in Conquest, a small town in Saskatchewan. I played hockey with the senior team which went to Milden and Dinsmore and Outlook in a league of sorts. The team was composed of big children and adults, of whom a few were a bit skillful. Those of us without transport; the young; accompanied by a few girls, traveled in a truck with a covered box filled with hay and entered by the grain chute at the back. It was cosy and warm and dark with the packed bodies and the smells. There was sensuality to it all that at 14 we could not identify, but knew it was there. There was no rolling in the hay in those days but there was an ill defined excitement for me from the presence of Lily-Mae, a pretty, lanky, snub nosed, freckled,longhaired fan that had come to cheer. Just dream on! We were away from the restraints of school and parents and at close quarters. I was too rapt up in myself at that time to have the energy to foster a relationship. My experience of hay rides was finished that spring until I was 21 and met the pianist for the first time on a hay ride in Winnipeg. This was a party organized by the student nurses. This time the rack was horse drawn and cold so you bundled up and huddled together to keep warm and hear one another through the din. This leads to a "close for comfort" that casts off the restraint and awkwardness that formality or contrivance brings. The excitement this time was less ill defined for me. She was beautiful and fun and I was ready to put some energy into someone other than myself. I don't know what it is about hay,or dark, or cold, or simple pleasures, but I know that the closer you need to be, the closer you will become. There may be something primordial and concupiscent about the influence of hay! It is the stuff of legends!