Tag Archives: health

Mental Wellness

Tonight I went to a talk about schizophrenia and bipolar disorder hosted by Chinese Mental Wellness Association of Canada. The association invited a UBC psychology professor to give some general information about the two mental problem. The speaker talked about the symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and corresponding treatment options. The speaker talked in English and a volunteer translate the talk to Cantonese and Mandarin in real time.

The information in the talk is very general, probably less than what is in the Wiki. But the information sinks in much better from a live presentation than reading dry text. Let alone that I probably won’t read the information on my own. Today I learned that mental problem is partly genetic and partly environmental. Mental problem can not be cured, it can only be controlled or maintained. The treatment always begins with the psychiatrist, get some pills to stabilize the problem, then consult with psychologist to work on mental therapy. The hardest part is to get the patient aware of the problem and willing to accept treatment. Many audiences asked questions relate to how to treatment the problem in the Q&A session. Too bad that I forgot to ask the speaker whether smoking will make schizophrenia worse.

In addition to the content of the talk, I have some inspiration about volunteer works. It is the first time I have first hand experience about grass root charity organization. Unlike the big volunteer program, like the Red Cross or charity run by churches, the CMWAC has a total different aura. It is more like a support group for Chinese families with mental problem. The founder and chair person also acted as the translator for the talk. Juxtaposing her side by side with the psychology professor, I can see two difference kind of volunteers. The professor is the technical expert and gives credibility to the talk. The chair person knows a lot about hands on knowledge and very enthusiastic in her volunteer work. It is not that one is better than another, but rather the kinds of two volunteers make a good complement to each other. It is like scientists and research assistants, engineers and technicians, doctor and nurses, it takes two to get the job done.

Health service in Vancouver

Canada is famous for its medicare system. It is expensive, that’s why our tax rate is so high. I never understand why it cost so much until my father in law has a surgery in the Vancouver General Hospital. The surgery is a success, the treatment is fairly good. When I visit him in the hospital, my first impression is I am in a business hotel. The decoration and finishing of the lobby does not look like the hospitals I had in mind. He got a private room for his recovery and there are more than enough nurses in the ward. He is recovering pretty fast, it is able to sit up, walk and eat within a few days. Originally, the nurse told us he can be discharged on Monday. But the hospital don’t have psychotherapist on weekend, so we have to wait until psychotherapist session on Monday. Then the nurse told us he can be discharge on Tuesday afternoon. It turns out they are still waiting for one of his lab report from a test in Tuesday morning. The report won’t come back for another day, so my father in law will have to stay in the hospital until Thursday if the nurses did not forget anything else. If the hospital could stream line the work, take the test on Sunday and arrange the psychotherapist over the weekend, then we can take him home on Monday as planned. Oh! Did I mention he got a private room? Our health system is so inefficient, no wonder it cost so much to the tax payers.

I drove all the way to VGH to pick up my father-in-law without know he can’t be discharged today. It is a total waste of my time. Maybe the hospital should learn from the airport, setup a website for the family of patients to check discharge status. Like the arrival information in the airport, you can see whether the discharge is delayed or not. Then my friend, Chris, hear my idea and joke about this idea, maybe they should add the canceled status like a flight. If the patient is canceled, you don’t have to pick him up anymore, because he is already dead. Pat said it is cruel and suggested the cancel status change to the departure gate to Heaven.

Nevus of Ota

The son of my friend got this rare “Nevus of Ota” disease. It start with a small birthmark on the face and it grows bigger as the boy grows. My friend is worrying about the condition of his baby. Luckily, according to my other doctor friend, the condition is cause by the pigment under the skin goes wrong. It won’t affect the health of the boy, except the appearance. I feel sorry for my friend, yet he shows how a loving parent will accept anything from his child. I accept the fact that his boy may not be cute, but still love him and never give up the hope of finding a cure.

I remember I had a friend in university with similar problem. Half of his face is much darker than the rest of his skin. When I know him, I am old enough not to make fun of his appearance. He is a nice guy and reasonably good in school and sports. Actually, after we get to know him, we quickly overlook the mark on the face, and treat him just like any other one of us. I think he even manage to get a girlfriend in school. Ok, he is a bit ugly, but so what? Guys should not worry too much about his appearance. For guys, it’s what underneath the face hide inside the skull counts. I am not too worry about my friend’s boy. Maybe he will have a few harsh years in kindergarten or elementary school. But once he survived that stage and develop a healthy personality, he will be on equal foot with another for the rest of his life. On the other hand, if a baby girl got this “Nevus of Ota” disease I can’t image how miserable her life will be.

Charlie has cancer


Our family dog, Charlie, is 13 years old. Pat grew up with it since a little girl. Charlie is a very adorable golden retriever. Now, it is getting old and it can’t even get up on its own due hip problem. We have to help it getting up by giving it support on the stomach. Pat took it to visit a vet yesterday and did its annual lab test. The results come back today and reveal that it has cancer. We will see whether the insurance cover for the surgery fee. If not, we will just let it live its remaining days peaceful. It is simply cheaper to buy a new dog than fixing the old one. I guess 13 years of life is long enough for a dog. It does not do much everyday, spent most of time sleeping and gets up only for food and its daily walk. To Charlie, everyday is just the repeat of the previous day. Life of a dog seems so meaningless, all it does is eat, sleep, walk, pee and shit. The function of a pet is to give joy and pleasure to its owner. When owning a pet brings more trouble than pleasure, maybe it is time send it to SPCA to end its suffering.


It is wise to take immunization and vaccines before traveling to third world countries.  Those places are so poor in hygiene that have many deadly diseases.  I just visited the travel clinic today before my trip to India.  I guess India is not a very healthy place, I have to take 7 different vaccines, Tetanus, Diptheria, Polio, Hypatitis A/B, Typhoid and Dukoral.  My arm is sore and numbed for having poked by 3 needles.  The vaccination is not cheap, I have to pay almost $300 just for the vaccines.  The most expensive one vaccine is for Malaria, one pill per day for the whole trip and the pill is $5 a piece.  Actually, there are cheaper vaccine for Malaria, just that the expensive one has least unpleasant side effects.  Luck that the company is paying for it.

There is a parsimonious manager in my company.  He is so cheap that when he book air ticket, he will take a transfer instead of direct flight to save $100 for the company.  I wonder when he travel to India, which Malaria vaccine did he get.  I bet he would take the cheap one over the expensive one.  If he suffer from the side effects, like nausea, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, headache, dizziness, insomnia, would he regret not spending the company’s money?


Depression used to be a foreign concept to me, I don’t remember I feel really unhappy for an extended persion of time since the I have memory. Just somehow I don’t feel right for the past week and it getting worse, probably the worst today. Last time when I feel sad was when I got dumped by my ex-girlfriend in university days, but this timing the feeling is different. I can explain what happened back then and I’m totally aware what I was doing and allow it to happen. This time just that I can’t really jusitify my sadness, and can’t really figure out the cause of it. I have several clues but none of them or even all of them combined seems bad enough to turn me down like this. I’m looking forward to have a great day of ski in Whistler tomorrow, as my 5 days vacation begins. Hope I’ll feel better tomorrow.


Ahh… Choo… Somehow I just keep sneezing all night tongiht, after I had a single badminton game with Edwin. I try to control my sneeze during the game and got my eyes all watery. The worst part is that you can feel your nose is very itchy but somehow you just can’t sneeze it out. Without kleenex make the situation worse as I keep sniffling to stop my snivel dropping out. It isn’t fun at all. I guess I’ll go to sleep early tonight after a cup of hot neo-critus, hope I’ll be fine when I wake up the next morning.