Author Archives: Dr. Judy

About Dr. Judy

Family Physician since 1987

September 30th Orange Shirt Day

This year, Canada will spend September the 30th recognizing the atrocities that occurred on residential schools.

Truth needs to be told through stories. We need to open our hearts and our minds to the stories of people who have suffered and who still suffer from personal and intergenerational trauma.

Please visit this site to support Orange Shirt Day. Here is another site for Orange Shirt Day.

Judy

Unvaccinated?

I understand COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy. Of course I do. Most of us who took the vaccine after only a year of study were troubled. I’m very glad I was able to have the vaccine, but I understand many people are still unconvinced.

I have a magnificent link you can use. Team Halo.

Team Halo are a group of scientists and healthcare professionals from around the world. They are volunteering their time and experience to bring you up to date facts on the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine.

It is part of a United Nations Initiative. There are many team members waiting to hear from you. 

Good Luck.

Judy

Feeling Forced to take COVID vaccine?

Many people are understandably anxious about being pushed to take the COVID – 19 – either in their workplace – where you stand to lose your work if you don’t take the COVID – 19 vaccine, or by pressure from others. On the other hand, you face taking something into your body that you don’t want. This is a very high threat and goes about issues of safety.

It feels wrong that control is being taken away from you especially around consent to do with your own body. If you don’t take the vaccine, you could lose your job and you also lose certain freedoms – cant go to clubs, restaurants, indoor meetings, you could lose friends who don’t agree with you. This is all very threatening.

When a person is threatened, one response is to withdraw. You become even more socially isolated which is terrible, especially in this time of stress. It causes depression because you don’t want to be around or work with people who don’t respect your boundaries or your feelings. All day long you are bombarded with people insisting you are wrong.

This is especially difficult after the news that AstraZeneca vaccine caused deaths. Even though the number of deaths were low, those people that died, were often young and would probably not have died of COVID. This makes the threat even higher. Why should you trust the pharmacy companies when one vaccine caused harm and we don’t have the long term outcomes of the other vaccines?

Most people would want more time to see what the long term outcomes are for COVID vaccines. Most people are sensibly wanting to wait it out. This vaccine came out really quickly – far quicker than any other vaccine and any other drug. No wonder we’re scared.

The news reports on any deaths related to vaccine are even more frightening, and many people feel they are being lied to about safety of the vaccine.

The Problem: We have never faced this situation before in our lifetimes. It’s been hundreds years since the Bubonic plague and 1918 was the last devastating flu epidemic that wiped out millions of people. In 1918, 500 Million people died of the flu virus and 1/3 of the population was infected.

Currently on worldometer.com there are over 217 million people infected with COVID-19 – although the cases in some parts of the world are very much under-reported. So far over 4 million and a half people have died of COVID, this does not include the number of people who couldn’t get proper care because the hospitals were overloaded, patients couldn’t be seen by doctors in time, cancers and other diseases have had late diagnoses. People are dying of poverty because they are losing jobs. These are only some of the consequences of the pandemic.

Lets look at that . The longer we wait to become fully immunized, the more harm is being done. The instinct is to believe our immune systems can cope, and, more often than not, you are right. Most people who get COVID have not died. Some don’t even know they had it. But – this is a big BUT. The virus has changed and with each new mutation it seems more aggressive. 6 times as many people in their 50s and 60s are dying from COVID than last year.

The longer COVID hangs around, the more dangerous it is becoming because it seems to be mutating and becoming stronger, more aggressive, more dangerous.

If vulnerable people have been vaccinated, why should I vaccinate? Good question. Great question actually. Many vulnerable people, the aged, those with cancer, those taking chemotherapy for cancer or rheumatoid arthritis, or other diseases, they don’t build enough immunity even if they take the vaccine.

Most people, if you take the vaccine, if you get COVID, which you can, your disease will be mild. But these vulnerable people, they don’t build immunity, and they can die even if they are vaccinated. If you are vaccinated, you can still carry the vaccine, but the more people who become vaccinated, the less infections we’ll have and the less spread.

Also, the more people who are vaccinated, the less we will fill the hospitals and ICUS and the less people will die because they didn’t have access to care.

Hundreds of millions of people are getting vaccinated in the developed countries. If we can win this war against COVID in the developed countries then we can vaccinate the rest the world who can’t afford it.

Freedom: There were many of us who chose to have the vaccine, even though we were terrified, even though we took the vaccine not for ourselves, but to protect others. We took the medicine to protect our loved ones and other vulnerable people. Don’t we have the right to protect ourselves then from people who chose to remain unvaccinated? Don’t we have the right not to want to associate with people who aren’t taking the risks we took for others.

I didn’t want the vaccine. I took the vaccine because I wanted to protect my patients. Many of my patients, young patients, didn’t want to take the vaccine. They took it to protect their grandparents and diabetic and other vulnerable family members.

It is your choice not to have the vaccine. But it is also the choice of employers and other employees to protect themselves from unvaccinated people.

In this battle against COVID, you can’t stand on the sidelines. You have to choose. Yourself or others.

YOURSELF OR OTHERS?

All the best

Judy

Shame and Trauma

I receive comments from readers that show me how often trauma and shame are linked.

Chronic pain and trauma can make a person feel helpless and this causes shame. Sometimes people blame themselves for accidents or for behaviours that lead to injury. Often we behave in certain ways that are reckless or even self-sabotaging because of trauma.

Trauma causes the body to react in ways that are automatic. A stress response is an automatic response. It can be flight or fight, but often the response is a freeze response. A person can’t be blamed for an automatic response when it is linked to survival. People with complex PTSD, PTSD, and a history of recurrent trauma are often stuck in this state.

Sometimes you can be so overwhelmed or so frozen, that you feel the need to hurt yourself. It is very difficult to find a state of calm when you feel this way. The more overwhelmed you are, the more help you need. And the harder it is to find help. When you are overwhelmed, even therapists and health care providers often find it difficult to help you.

When your body is so overwhelmed, either with pain, or with emotion, the Limbic system switches on the alarm center and this causes pain and emotion to be even worse. The worst kind of pain is pain from nerves – burning, hypersensitivity, numbness, tingling, pain worse at night, pain even at the lightest touch. This pain needs special care and is hard to treat. I have addressed some of these issues in Nerve Pain.

It is very difficult to use any of these tools – even watching videos – when your body and brain are screaming in agony. I suggest watching a video for a minute or two then stepping away and practising breathing (Step 2) and then trying the Daily Program.

I hope you find health care providers that can help.

All the best

Judy

Other Effects of COVID-19 – feeling unsafe

In the midst of a pandemic, there is reason to feel unsafe, not only from the virus itself, but from the consequences of social isolation, and also from the division that has occurred between groups of people who put their trust in science and those who have a distrust of third world medicine and pharmacies.

 Feeling safe is vital for health. When we don’t feel safe, our body’s alarm centre goes off. This alarm centre is meant to protect us, but because the danger is complicated, it’s not a rhino thundering across a veld towards us – we don’t have something physical to run from, (or somewhere to run to for safety), the alarm centre hurts us.

If our alarm system stays on, chaos follows. Imagine how you would feel if your house alarm goes off, you are inside, and you can’t shut it off. How would you feel staying inside your home with that alarm ringing 24 hours out of 24?

Dr. Stephen Porges is an expert on this subject. This video is long, but well worth watching. Below it, my shorter video. 

 

I am missing hugs and personal contact, but I have found Zoom and other social contacts through Slack immensely helpful.

Reach out for help if you are struggling. I have some resources On-Line and also my Daily Program has additional information as I learn more about tools that could prove helpful to you.

Good luck. Stay safe

Judy

New Variants COVID-19 a concern

The Delta and Lambda variants remind us to continue our vigilance. Masks are an inconvenience, and for those with claustrophobia or respiratory illness, uncomfortable, but until this pandemic has run its course, we are still in danger.

This pandemic has led to high stress and anxiety. It is normal to fear the unknown. Even healthy.

Those of us with anxiety often feel the need to control what is happening around us, whether it be people or conditions placed on us. We can react by rejecting something that makes us feel less in control.

Resisting change is also a symptom of high stress, and most of us today have stress.

It is sometimes easier to listen to people who are in the same mindset as we are. People we can relate to. People responding similarly to our fears and anxieties about the unknown. It is hard to trust science when the information seems clouded with mixed messages.

While we learn more and more each day about this virus and all its variants, the safest information is from the scientists. Speak to your health care provider who can help you navigate the enormous burden of information coming at us from social media, newspapers, TV, and other sources.

Please be safe. Wear a mask. Only travel to places you need to go to. I understand the need to escape the boredom of being at home. If you must travel, stay in small groups and avoid crowds. Concentrate on activities outdoors and beware of overheating.

Wow! The world seems so unsafe, no wonder we are anxious. Try to find things each day that comfort you. Seek your fun and happiness with a vengeance.

Good Luck. We are all in this together.

Judy

Suboxone

I have received a query about Suboxone. I will try to answer it according to the rules and regulations I know from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia. Other rules and regulations may apply to other Canadian provinces.

I have found Suboxone to be highly effective for many patients who have chronic pain. I tend to offer it if my patients have a history of prior tolerance to opioids, which may make them more likely to use more opioids than prescribed. If patients have a history of alcohol abuse or a strong risk of opioid abuse, then Suboxone is safer. 

The person has to be off opioids for a few days to avoid opioid withdrawal before starting Suboxone. The taste is horrendous to some people, but there are tricks that can make it easier, like eating sour candy before, and then holding a sour candy in your mouth while the tab dissolved. Goodness knows why the company can’t make a better tasting drug. Ew. 

In BC, physicians do not need special licensing to use Suboxone for pain. A short, easy course on the College site will enable any family doctor to prescribe it. It is a shame more doctors don’t use it, but I understand how stressed and overworked most doctors are. It may feel to them like just another burden. Perhaps you could ask your doctor to think about it. I think I spent an hour or two on the course – far quicker than the Methadone4Pain course – but the Methadone course is also very valuable.

The College is encouraging virtual visits and most certainly this drug can be prescribed by means of a virtual visit. Again, your health care provider will have to be contacted. 

I have found that patients using Suboxone and Methadone have often ended up using the tools to cope with chronic pain. Once a patient has found the tools that work for them, they may decrease or even quit the medication. Many of my patients have. Not all of them. I feel strongly that docs need to support patients to achieve the best quality of life they can, and if that means using opioids, then YES!

A shout out to rural docs who practice emergency medicine, obstetrics, anesthetics. I realize how hard they work. Less busy family doctors are in a better position to help their patients with chronic pain. Develop a good relationship with your doctor and then try to convince them to learn about these tools. Spending heaps of time with a patient in the beginning almost always pays in the end with a patient who is a perfect partner in care. Someone who makes my work easier and a pleasure.

Good luck. My heart goes out to you. I have a terrible tolerance for pain which is also one of many reasons I started the website. I thank the universe and spirits out there that so far I am lucky enough not to walk in your shoes. 

Best

Judy

Colonization and Complex PTSD

What has happened in Kamloops cannot go by unnoticed and unspoken about. We cannot allow ourselves to forget the trauma we have caused a nation, parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents. We can take responsibility by recognizing the hurt we do by not learning more about systemic racism. Doing nothing is the same as doing hurt.

Colonization of Indigenous People has resulted in trauma affecting generations. Systemic racism is apparent in our institutions and in even well meaning people. Until I started writing 5 years ago, I was unaware of my own white fragility, even prejudice creeping in without me realizing it. Living a life of white privilege often blinds us to the micro and macro injustices dealt out to people of color. Below a wonderful video. 

When we struggle to survive, as children, even as adults, we often accept the branding, blaming, shaming, of people we believe are stronger than us, whether that be our parents, or a nation trampling over our rights. 

That shame can hide as thoughts that lower our self image, thoughts like, I am not good enough, I wish I wasn’t so stupid, That person doesn’t like me, I have made a fool of myself, I am ugly, I need to please this (or every) person, I am not worth it.  Here is a link to a blog on Shame. And another one for Shame.

When we ourselves are overwhelmed with stress, pain, anxiety, depression, the hustle and bustle of daily life, we often don’t stop to consider the bigger world. By stopping, breathing, and learning about others also suffering, your own suffering will lessen. We are part of a community – this community can now extend, through social media, to involve people all over the world. Take part in this community, listen, learn, and be heard.

Please do your part in learning about racism. There is no shame in admitting to having inherent racist views, but in a world where education is at our fingertips, there is shame when we don’t stand up and shout out against it. 

Take care of yourselves.

Judy

 

Mental Health Day

A big Thank You to all our mental health caregivers. Mental health management is complex but vital to help people who suffer from anxiety, depression, stress, addictions, complex PTSD, and chronic pain.

I think social workers are one of our most overlooked caregivers. They have a very important, but often frustrating, traumatic, and difficult task. 

Isabel Allenda, in The Sum of our Days, has written about the challenges social workers face and how their job is not one to be envied. 

(She) had to work with children who had suffered abuse and neglect, children who were shuttled from one institution to the next, who were adopted and then returned, children terrorized and filled with rage, children who were delinquent, or so traumatized they they would never lead a more or less normal life. (The social worker) fought the bureaucracy, the institutionalized negligence, the lack of resources, the irremediable wickedness of humankind, and, especially, she fought time. There weren’t enough hours to study cases, visit the children, rescue the ones in the most urgent danger, find them a temporary refuge, protect them, save them, follow their cases. The same children passed through her office again and again, their problems growing worse with the years. Nothing was resolved, only postponed. 

Please take care of yourselves even as you are taking care of others. 

All the best

Judy