Letters to the Editor – Dec 10/Jan 11

Buzz about Dr. Rona’s “Vitamin D Scandal”

Dear Dr. Rona,

I read your excellent article and am appalled by the government’s decision to cancel OHIP coverage for vitamin D testing. I can see that people will not have this test done because they can’t afford it, they will boycott the government in general, or they will just get angry and will hold off testing because of the principle of yet another one being cancelled by the government.

Does this mean that you have to fill out a special form requesting that “this patient meets the approved set of guidelines?” Shame on the Ministry of Health. As you have been warned, many residents of Ontario will suffer, there will be more visits to the hospital, and a vicious cycle will start once again. I remember the PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) test – men would walk out of the lab or office in a huff, not wanting to pay for the very important test. But once again, it is about saving lives – prevention – right?

So, because I have osteoarthritis and bone mineral loss, am I in a category to have the test paid for? Forget the fact that I have fibromyalgia.

Sandra Beaton

Measuring Radiation: How to Know If Your Kids Are Safe

This is in reference to your excellent article on Wi-Fi exposure in schools (Oct 2010). I am a senior telecommunications engineer and have been very concerned about Radio Frequency (RF) safety for many years. I spent 20 years in industry, with many years working with microwave. I also taught telecommunications technology for 16 years.

There is an industry standard for RF exposure called IEEE C95.1. It gives the maximum permissible radiation exposure (MPE) for a given frequency. Wi-Fi typically works around 2400 MHz, so the MPE = f/1500 mw/cm^2. This works out to approx. 2400/1500 or 1.6mW/cm^2.

You can measure this with a portable meter. I have one, which I purchased from Elektor in Holland. They have published many articles concerning RF safety over the years. It is called an electro-smog detector. This would give parents a hard number to base their discussions on.

Jeremy Clark, P.Eng., Toronto


Pets: The New Pharmaceutical Target

I am sitting here at home on a Thursday night watching a documentary on CBC called Doc Zone: Pet Pharm. It is about animal pet behaviour and how there is an emerging market for mood stabilizing drugs for pets. I thought you might be interested in researching this or finding contributors to write about it. Apparently, pets are increasingly turning aggressive or depressed or are displaying symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder. So the big drug companies are jumping on this.

It scares me that the pharmaceutical companies have discovered yet another market to exploit, only this time it is about humans giving drugs to unsuspecting animals who didn’t ask for it. These drugs are not to make the pet manage disease, these are psychiatric drugs.

Included in the documentary was a glimpse into a “Dog Behaviour Conference” sponsored by Eli Lilly, and then a clip of their representative in Japan pitching psychiatric drugs for pets and referring to Eli Lilly as “pioneering” in this field.

There were quite a few interesting professionals interviewed, including a dog trainer (Dr. Ian Dunbar) who believes in training pets through play, not drugs or punishment. Check it out, and I hope we’ll see an article about it soon in Vitality.

Helen, by email

Honour Yourself During the Holidays

The cold weather is here. The Christmas season is coming, and with it all the myriad feelings associated with it – memories of joy and laughter, along with memories of disappointment and loss. A bittersweet season to be sure. We are each at a different stage on our own hero’s journey, and therefore different things can trigger us. As the cold draws us inside to nurture ourselves, the press of holiday plans may keep us so busy we hardly have time to think.

Children keep the magic of Christmas alive in our hearts – thrilling at the lights and endless presents. But perhaps that stage of your life is past. The memories, while bringing a smile to one’s heart, can also be memories of loss because those times are gone. Certain people might not be there with you to share moments with. They have moved on through time or space to another place. But those frozen images in your mind are still there – whether being triggered by smells, tastes, sounds, sights or feelings. Take a deep breath. The feelings and images will come and go, and you will still be here. And you will be okay.

Still, perhaps you want to reach for something – food, alcohol, painkillers – something to make the ache go away. Keeping busy can help, although sometimes it may be the last thing you want to do. While all these actions may help you manage temporarily, they’re just means of distraction. You need to help those feelings to get released. You need to talk to someone – anyone with a kind ear, who can listen.

I have been through a great deal of grief in my life. I “lost” two sons who each passed away in their early teens. Christmas brings a deluge of memories for me. But I know that my boys are with me, in spirit, whenever I need them; just as my two other almost grown children are as well – even if they are out and about.

This time of year can be about loss – the dying of the leaves and the loss of warmth and light. And then there are the family dynamics that seem magnified with the close quarters of winter weather, and the coming together of relatives for rituals of celebration. Sometimes being together again is wonderful. At other times relations can be completely confusing, or so tightly wound that you feel like the marble on the board of Labyrinth, edging your way around the holes that might trap you.

So what to do? Give yourself a present. You deserve it – because of exactly who you are. No defence necessary. Perhaps a present from Santa, if that fits your seasonal viewpoint. I lost my belief in all things magical after my father died when I was 13 years old. I gave up on all of it. Time to grow up. But when my children were born, the magic of possibility came flowing back, and it has never left me since.

For a long time in my life I didn’t believe that I deserved much, but now I do. We all do. We all deserve something special to honour us and our journey here on this earth.

Buy something for yourself . Wrap it up nicely, and put it under the tree, or by your menorah, or by your prayer mat, or in the mailbox – anywhere you might think of. And open it during this season of gifting, and know that you are loved. It’s from Santa, from your Higher Self, or any spirit that you believe in. It is to honour you and your losses, and your amazing strength, and grace. It is because you are loved by the universe. Never forget that.

Also, the cold and dark days are with us for a while. January can feel awfully long after the festivities of the holiday season. Connect with people who understand you; someone you can talk to.

So honour yourself this season. Buy yourself something special, remember to breathe, and search out the comfort of another human being who ‘gets it.’ It will be well worth it.

Christie Thomas is a Psychotherapist. You can contact her at (416) 200-1532 or christiethomas@bell.net

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