After a series of delayed flights, we finally made it back home from Portugal on Friday morning. I was so exhausted and irritable from being stuck in airports and planes for 24 hours that I didn’t pine over the end of our trip too much. Even when travel is not painfully delayed, my favourite thing about going away is always coming back home. You appreciate things so much more after some time away.

Friday was a write-off with bleary eyed laundry, grocery shopping, meal prep and picking up Charlie from his sitter. He was so happy to see us!

We arrived home just in time for a crazy heat wave. We are talking a feels like temperature of almost 40 degrees Celsius. Our current apartment has terrible AC circulation and it has not been very pleasant. I had been missing my hot yoga practice a lot in Portugal. I do a solo practice, but I love the energy of a class practice so I decided to hit up an earlier class before I was too dehydrated to go!

Post sweaty flow I came home and made this recipe from Wholefully over basmati rice. After dinner we decided to walk over to Light up the Knight being held at Dundurn Castle. There were a few stalls and a light and sound show planned for 9:30 and 10:15 p.m. If you know me, you know that I am a cantankerous 90 year old man at heart and 9:30 p.m. is far too late for anything to be starting. We decided to hit it up early anyways to peruse dessert options.

We got some ice cream from Foundry’s (their london fog- so lovely!) and some smores with from scratch graham crackers AND marshmallows!

I was a bit disappointed at the food truck selection. Their were only two for a fairly large event so I was glad we had eaten at home before we left. After watching a very cute 1920s inspired dance routine (interrupted by many twirling toddlers lol), we wandered through the garden and then sat down in the grass for a while. The weather had finally cooled down and there was a lovely breeze. It was a great welcome back home to Hamilton.

Sunday morning I was up bright and early to walk Charlie before the heat became too oppressive. I hit up yoga for another 9:30 flow class. This time the heat really got to me and I left feeling not so great. I find in the summer, hot yoga for me is best practiced early in the morning.

Sunday night we headed over to Toronto to take my parents to Fat Pasha! It was a combined Mom’s birthday & Father’s Day celebration. We ordered everything…and then I forgot to take any pictures because I was so excited. Their food is amazing, take my word for it. Their lamb hummus and tahini with everything bagel spice are my absolute favourites. They don’t have the lamb hummus on the menu right now, but their lamb kofta made up for it in deliciousness. All in all it was a pretty awesome weekend and I am glad to be back home!

Working in Medicine ruins Stuff: Edition 1- Television

When you decide to go to medical school there are a lot of sacrifices you know you will be making. You know that you will have to work extreme hours, go without sleep for 24-30 hours at a time on a weekly basis and that you will leave with crippling debt. You may not know then that all your relationships will have to take a back seat to your work a lot of the time and that you are sacrificing a decade of your life, but that understanding comes quickly.

These are the things I knew, but then there were the unexpected sacrifices. Edition 1 of those unexpected things- TV shows. It may sound silly and trivial to complain that your TV watching experience has been forever altered by your work and it probably is, but it’s my blog and I complain about what I want! Before I decided to go into medicine, one of my favourite shows was House. I loved the show and watched it all, even the horrendous and best ignored Season 8. When you love someone or something, you are willing to ignore their embarrassing attempts to stay relevant. Like when your Dad starts saying “what is going up?” to your friends when they come over. Oh immigrant dads…

Anyway, over the last week and half I have been sick and that meant I actually was forced to lie down for extended periods of time. I ended up aimlessly scrolling through Netflix looking for something to distract me when I came across House and decided to start rewatching it. I was expecting some gentle nostalgia and was interested to see how the show came across now that I was actually a doctor myself. I did not get gentle nostalgia. What followed were waves of panic and anxiety followed by outrage at House’s actions. I have a new sympathy for Lisa Cuddy trying to corral this monster.

Can you really say you are “always right” if you were wrong about thirty times before you got to the right answer? On the show everyone is always defending House’s shittiness because “he always gets the diagnosis in the end”. Also, apparently he can diagnose rare and crazy things that no one else can. Except that we do diagnose these things all the time. They might be rare, but that doesn’t mean we never learn about them or see them. House is usually wrong about his diagnosis at least 4 times in the first 40 minutes before he eventually gets the right diagnosis. Every time he insists he is right and is totally confident. I know you have a big ego, but doesn’t being wrong 4/5 times make you question the possibility that perhaps you got it wrong this time? The worst part is that in a lot of the shows, he probably would have gotten the diagnosis originally if they didn’t insist on ignoring the history and physical exam and bloodwork. Instead they sit around brainstorming and inevitably House will say “no time to test! Just treat for the illness”. What in actual heck? Seeing as the probability is your diagnosis is wrong and you are probably going to make the person more sick for the next 3-4 days, why don’t we spend the 30 seconds to draw blood and order a rush in the lab to test?

Case in point: In season 1 episode 16, a young overweight girl comes in with a heart attack. Let’s back track to the basic presenting history. Apparently, this girl has been having headaches, difficulty concentrating and has had intractable weight gain despite changes in diet and exercise. She is way off her growth chart. And oh yeah, she looks totally Cushingoid. How did this get ignored for all this time? Who does not think pituitary tumour? Yet this girl almost has a mastectomy because everyone is too busy rambling on about fat phobia and diet pills. This is the worst team ever.

In the final episode of season 1, House treats his ex-girlfriends husband. He has intermittent abdominal pain, anxiety and personality changes and some neuropathy. This dude gets subjected to so many unnecessary invasive tests. His presenting complaints are LITERALLY the classic triad for porphyria which he ultimately gets diagnosed with. Isn’t he supposed to have two board certifications? Plus he has 3 other specialists on the team. This department needs to get it’s funding cut. The worst part is the crazy claim that they can only confirm the attack by inducing one and then driving a needle into his bladder to test. Umm no. That is unnecessary. Oh, you say he doesn’t have time and may not survive the next attack? Perhaps that is because you were so busy misdiagnosing him and giving him treatments that made him worse. Dude walked into the show smiling, making jokes and having dinner with his wife and by the end was paralyzed and getting stabbed in the bladder by a psychopath with a wrinkly shirt.


I still like the show, Hugh Laurie is amazing and I like the back stories as well. I just did not expect to have most of the fun and mystery sucked out of it. 10 minutes into the schizophrenia episode in Season 1 and I was like, has anyone tested this woman for Wilson’s disease? Seriously, I am the worst now. I know most medical TV shows are not made to be very realistic (Grey’s Anatomy anyone?), but it’s still disappointing to have them forever ruined. Interestingly, the most realistic medical show I have ever seen is Scrubs. Luckily that is also on Netflix so I am ready for my next binge!


Weekend Recap

Technically, the weekend isn’t over since we have today off in Ontario. I am so thankful they introduced Family Day here a few years ago. It always falls the week of my birthday so it feels like a special holiday just for me 🙂

We have had some amazing and totally wild weather this weekend. On Saturday, the temperature hit 16 degrees celsius ( 61 F for my American friends)! That is insane for February here in our part of the world. It was equally beautiful yesterday and even though the temperature has come back down today, it’s sunny and very pleasant. Charlie has been loving it!

On Saturday I started the day with a Yoga with Weights class at my studio. I am still undecided on how I feel about them. I like the variety and the fast tempo, but some of the exercises really aggravate my neck and shoulder pain. After class I changed quickly to head over to a belated birthday brunch with some of my friends. Half of us are writing our Royal College speciality examinations this spring so it was a nice break! I just love the atmosphere at The French, it makes you feel so classy and grown up! Can’t wait to go back for dinner.

On Sunday, I took my sad study bag over to Durand Coffee and set up shop for a few hours. It does suck to be spending so much time studying, but their matcha tea latte and the sunny weather made up for it!

I forgot (!) to drink coffee that morning and my only caffeine came from this matcha tea latte. It is such a cool drink, but lacking in the caffeine department for me. I ended up super sleepy and hungry all day long. I had dinner around 4 and fell asleep by 8:00 p.m!

For dinner, I made gnocchi. This was my second time trying to make gnocchi. The first time was with sweet potatoes so in my mind it doesn’t really count. This time I sautéed some spinach, tomatoes and chicken sausage to add to it. I think it was a success!

Today I am back to studying! Hope everyone is enjoying their long weekend!

No, you are not addicted to sugar

Yesterday I flew back home after a brief work trip that left me much more exhausted than I could have predicted given that I was only gone for a few days. Sitting glumly at my gate reading the same paragraph of one my APA guideline summaries over and over again, my pretence of studying was rudely interrupted by a loud gasp. I looked up assuming that someone had missed their flight or lost their baggage or far worse, had some sort of medical emergency. Far worse not only because of how terrible it would be for the person, but also because then the much feared “is anyone here a doctor?” question would be asked. We hate this, it sucks. We want to help, but no one wants to deliver a baby or manage a heart attack while wearing their oldest sweatpants and Hello Kitty travel sweatshirt. It does not inspire trust in your medical abilities. Anyway, the volume and intensity of the gasp left me in no doubt that someone had experienced some seriously untoward event. You can imagine my surprise when I realized the gasp had come from one of two well coiffed and perfectly groomed women setting behind me, neither of whom seemed to be in any real distress. As an aside, who are these magical unicorns who do not look greasy and dishevelled at the airport?

“Oh my god, would you look at that?” the flaxen haired unicorn with beachy waves (in MINNESOTA! I ask you) exclaimed to her friend. Let us refer to her as Pinky because she was wearing a pink sweater, her friend can be The Brain because that’s how my brain works.

“What’s wrong?” asked The Brain. “How shameful! I can’t believe it”, Pinky pointed and I followed her gaze expecting to see some poor motion sick sap vomiting in a garbage can across the walkway. Instead she seemed to be pointing over to a young girl who couldn’t have been more than 5 or 6 years old sitting very calmly at a table with her mother at the bakery across from us. The girl was eating a rainbow sprinkled cupcake with the pure joy and abandon that only a small child with a rainbow coloured baked good can experience.  The Brain seemed equally confused and turned to her friend with a puzzled expression.

“How can she let her eat that garbage?  I don’t have any refined sugar at all. This is why we are having such an obesity epidemic in this country. Don’t people know how toxic this stuff is?” Her friend nodded excitedly and with the fervour of a newly recruited cult member who wanted to prove her merit, she added ” I know! It’s so addictive! I mean you don’t sell heroin in stores!”

What. In. Actual. Hell. Did I just hear someone compare a BAKERY to a highly addictive and dangerous drug? They went on back and forth for a while and I had to get up and move because I was at risk of suffering a rage induced stroke.

People, enough is enough. If you stand on the anti-sugar pulpit and preach, you need to take a minute to check yourself. I will admit that I do have a serious love of sugar which biases me here, but this goes beyond that. This here is a public service announcement. Sugar my friends is not a drug. Please do not chime in here with your ridiculous comments about those studies that showed that sugar lit up “addictive” centres in the brain. First of all those are not just “addiction” pathways, they are just general pleasure and reward pathways that happen to be intensely stimulated by drugs. Let me tell you what else lights up those pleasure centres; spending time with people you love, doing a favourite activity, cuddling your puppy. Are those things also addictive? Well, maybe puppy cuddles. Who can resist those chunky fur balls of love? Also, almost none of those studies have been done on humans. Hopefully your brain is slightly different from that of a rat.

Please do not disrespect and minimize those who struggle with addiction issues by comparing this to the latest diet fad. Substance use disorders have four main key criteria: impaired control, social impairment, risky use and pharmacological indicators (tolerance, etc.) which indicate that someone has an addiction issue. How many times have you failed to show up to work because you were at home snorting icing sugar and lost track of time? Was there ever a time where your need for that delicious glazed Tim Hortons honey cruller yeasty deliciousness resulted in you driving erratically as you savoured your bounty? Did you ever sell your daughter’s scooter just to get a hit of one of those Cake and Loaf Giant Oreos? No, because your brain has not been hijacked by a mind altering addictive substance.

See aforementioned Giant Oreos. They taste even better than they look. Go now, you will not regret it. Photo credit: Cake & Loaf Hamilton

Sugar is just the latest in our culture’s long history of fear mongering and vilifying foods in the name of “health”. Remember when butter was terrible and we were all eating margarine? Now a parent might get reported to Child Protective Services if they are caught serving margarine to a child. I am not saying you need to be freebasing granules of raw coconut sugar or injecting Grade A Canadian maple syrup into your veins (or am I?). There is a place for all foods in our diet so go out and have your cupcake and really take the time to enjoy it. Enjoy it like you are a 5 year old kid and get to have a rainbow sprinkle cupcake.

I am off to enjoy this deliciousness that is a reminder of my trip away. Best souvenir ever.