Thursday Tidbits

Posted on January 10, 2019 under Thursday Tidbits with no comments yet

Logged a few kilometers yesterday… 32.5 to be exact.


I do a lot of thinking about my health these days which is pretty standard practice for the over 65 crowd. I can’t think of too many people my age who don’t have a health issue of some sort whether it is creaky bones, poor sight or questionable hearing. Questionable hearing is not to be confused with selective listening especially if your spouse or partner is on the other end of the communication. Many others have afflictions far worse.

A few years ago, I attended a most interesting lecture at St.F.X. University. The guest speaker was Ryan Meili, author of the book “A Healthy Society: How a Focus on Health Can Revive Canadian Democracy. Don’t go to sleep on me here. He talked about the social determinants of health. According to a Government of Canada website, “determinants of health are the broad range of personal, social, economic and environmental factors that determine individual and population health.”

I won’t list them all. There are eleven including (surprise, surprise) income and social status, education and literacy, healthy behaviours and access to health services. To see the full list click on this link:

I want to focus here on number 6 which is social supports and coping skills.

I’m doing a lot of walking these days with my brother out here in Victoria. He is a walking machine. He walks at least twice a day to keep him and his dog in good shape. Very often he walks with friends. Of all the social determinants of health, friendship might be the most underrated. Friendship is a form of social support and having good friends can make a huge difference in a person’s physical and mental health. Walking is good for the heart, the mind and the soul. Add liberal doses of talk and laughter along the trail is an added bonus.

We may not be able to rearrange our DNA or easily change our economic status, but staying connected and walking with friends can be achieved by almost everyone.

Which leads nicely to my brief rant on health care. I know some retired professionals in Victoria who have to get up in the wee hours of the morning to stand in line before a walk-in clinic opens, in the hope of seeing a doctor of their choosing. Getting a family doctor has become as elusive as tracking down Nessie. I don’t know a damn thing about health boards or how the health care delivery system is administered but something seems terribly out of whack when people in one of the most privileged countries in the world can’t find a family doctor.

None of us should become blasé about this. Record numbers of family doctors will retire in the next 5-10 years… including yours. Do you have a plan going forward?

I still naively believe that more dollars spent on prevention of disease and providing incentives for healthy living might be a long term solution but more often than not, the decision makers (politicians) are constrained with the immediacy of getting elected in 3-4 years.

In our own community, we have the ongoing story about a well loved and respected surgeon who finds herself on the outs with the Health Authority.How could this happen? Small communities are desperate to attract and keep good doctors.

Is our health care system broken?

Have a great week.

P.S. I arrived at my brother’s house the other morning for the first of two walks that day. We normally walk for 90 minutes just to get the heart started. “We’re doing an epic walk this morning,” he informed me. Three and a half hours and 16k later we arrived at our destination – the Jubilee Hospital. How appropriate. I thought an oxygen mask would come in handy!

P.P.S. My new book is available now on Kindle.



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The Macdonald Notebook: Business & Politics in Atlantic Canada

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