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Letters: ‘There must be a better way to control pain’

Maclean’s readers write in


Bring the pain

Why anybody in their right mind would play with fentanyl escapes me (“The king of pain,” National, June 29). The thought of it makes me want to heave. Having had two knees and one hip replaced, I kicked heavy-dose hydromorphone twice and fentanyl once. None of this was fun, but kicking the fentanyl was so gruesome that I swore up and down that no doctor should ever prescribe the stuff without wearing a fentanyl patch first, then ripping it off to experience the weeks of nausea. I hated the fentanyl so much, I quit it before my double-knee replacement. The narcotics turned me into a zombie; I couldn’t think clearly. I slept most of the time. Trying to do the farm chores while my knees were grating bone-on-bone was terrible, but the narcotics eased the pain at the expense of my consciousness. There must be a better way to control pain. At the very least, there needs to be better support for post-surgical patients trying to get off the damned drugs.

Willi Boepple, Saanich Peninsula, B.C.

When properly used, fentanyl is a wonderful drug. My husband was put on fentanyl after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. The dosage was progressively increased as the cancer advanced. With proper monitoring, he was able to stay at home, mostly free of pain, almost until his death. This was in sharp contrast with my aunt, also dying of cancer, whom I remember waiting in pain for the nurse’s visit and her shot of morphine. What a pity that such a good medication is being so badly misused.

Francine Brown, Nelson, B.C.

Kudos for the excellent article about fentanyl. Most patients with chronic pain (except cancer patients) have no explanation for their pain. Pain clinics try to institute every procedure to try to find the cause before having to treat with narcotics. Most of these patients are depressed and anxious, and a disturbing number have been victims of childhood abuse, sexual and otherwise. Their pain is a manifestation of masked depression and other psychiatric causes such as post-traumatic stress disorder. There is increasing evidence that many new antidepressants are being investigated on their effects on the brain, one of which may be suicide.

N.B. Hershfield, retired clinical professor of medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary

Still a golden boy

In the final paragraph of the article (“The fall of a golden boy,” National, June 29), you claim that Evan Solomon betrayed the CBC and his viewers. That’s a pretty harsh charge. He may have had a conflict of interest due to his business deals on the side, but that certainly doesn’t rise to the deceitful level of plagiarism or falsifying the news. Solomon should only have been reprimanded.

Jacob Mendlovic, Toronto

As a daily viewer of Power and Politics with Evan Solomon, I do not understand why you think Solomon “betrayed his audience.” My husband and I regard him as one of the best journalists, a passionate communicator, and a good news analyst who readily admitted when his information was incorrect.

Mary Anna Pencak, Toronto

We have more pressing problems

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau wants to fix the electoral system and get rid of the “first past the post” idea, in order to have a government more representative of the people of Canada (“Reforming the kitchen sink,” National, June 29). Bravo! I suppose he will come up with a system where all the different points of view on climate change, prison reform, and other topics will be represented. Nice try! Maybe he should look around to other countries that have already tried such a scheme. Take the Netherlands, which already has a very representative system. As a result, it now has 16 parties, 10 of which have fewer than five elected members of parliament each. No system is perfect, but I warn Trudeau to be careful before meddling with a system that has served Canada reasonably well these last 148 years.

Ed Hoyer, Montreal

It’s the economy, stupid! Is Justin Trudeau really applying to be captain on the ship of state or does he want to be in charge of rearranging the deck chairs?

Ziggy Eckardt, Burnaby, B.C.

The other Senate scandal

Thank you for publishing “Senate spending by the numbers” (National, June 22). It was a good reality check to see that Senate misspending amounts only to about 0.3 per cent of the Senate’s annual budget. (Of course, misspending should not happen at all.) The recent audit cost $23.6 million; $9.2 million went to “staff costs,” so the other $14 million is spent on—what? Photocopying? An audit every 10 years or so would just break even, assuming Senate misspending is repaid.

W.A. Lewis, Saskatoon

It appears that a lot of people are missing the point (“Sins of the $enate,” Letters, July 13). Yes, it has cost taxpayers $23.6 million to uncover just under $1 million in unauthorized expenses by senators. However, this audit represents only a small period of time in the life of the Senate, which has been around for almost 150 years, and may continue for perpetuity. We have to start somewhere, in order to put some controls on this self-regulated body.

Robert Battistuzzi, Cobble Hill, B.C.

Beyond buzzwords

Corporate social responsibility has never been more important, which is why I’m glad Maclean’s reports on it (“The bottom line: be good,” Special Report, June 15). The report adroitly praises the companies as exemplars of future business. But many of the companies in the report still cause environmental harm, outsource production to foreign workers, or have faced accusations of inflating prices, collusion and fraud. I applaud these companies for the steps they’ve taken, yet I fear it won’t be enough to change our country. We need corporate social responsibility to become more than buzzwords. Let the brave become the harbingers of the new paradigm.

Tyson Compton, Vancouver

The Force is with him

Jaime J. Weinman, who argues that “Star Wars sucks” (“There. We said it,” Film, June 29), quotes Simon Pegg, who suggests that the blockbuster brought about the demise of “gritty, amoral art films.” It did nothing of the sort. It merely brought back a style of film that had disappeared, the kind that once dominated Saturday-afternoon matinees. Luke Skywalker swung across a shaft like Tarzan. R2-D2 and C-3PO bickered and bantered like Laurel and Hardy. Han  Solo was straight out of a gunslinger western. The villains were like medieval conquerors. But, back in 1977, when violent excess and tragic endings in dank city streets all but ruled, it was about the only film of its kind. Sure, if released today, Star Wars would seem quite humdrum, but, in 1977, it was a humdinger. It brought back fun to the cinema. But it hardly brought about the end of compelling, risky storytelling.

Darryl Wiggers, Toronto

On the hook for health

Instead of looking at the not-so-magic pills, a.k.a. vitamins, we should be looking at what is driving the search for alternatives (“No magic pills,” Society, June 29). As long as health is dependent on profits, we will be sick. Drug companies count on it. To them, making us healthy would be like pissing in their own soup. Clearly, the aim of the drug industry is to have us all on a lifelong drug-maintenance plan. While we are battling the symptoms, health has eluded us.

Reinhard Rosch, Richmond, Ont.

Time to move to P.E.I.

Small cities across Canada are not experiencing such a robust market as the one portrayed in “The new real estate wars” (Economy, June 22). In Summerside, P.E.I., we own a large historic home (six bedrooms, four baths) priced under $340,000, which has been on the market since May 2013 and has had only three showings and no offers. We are not the exception here, but the rule; many other lovely homes have sat on the market for years, and only a handful have sold each year. Summerside is an exceptional city, with no traffic jams, no parking meters, and within walking distance to most amenities. Beaches and cottage country are nearby. You won’t find bidding wars, bully bids, or demolitions of well-kept homes here. We have pride in our heritage homes. We would more than welcome anyone moving to our small city.

Leslie and Judy Penney, Summerside, P.E.I.

The claim that soaring real estate has “created” $1.7 trillion in new wealth is nonsense. The paper worth of owners might have risen, but that is offset by the added cost to buyers. With new home construction, it takes the same amount of materials and number of man hours to build a house selling for $500,000 as it does an identical house selling for $1.1 million and, in the end, more would be built at the lower price. High housing costs create most household debt, divert billions from other parts of the economy, and are devastating young families in Vancouver and Toronto. The biggest winners are the banks, who are happily writing mortgages for twice the amount they did a few years ago.

Ronald McCaig, Port Alberni, B.C.

How the Pope can help

While I applaud Pope Francis for his interest in the environment (“Less talk, more rock,” Bad News, July 13), climate change is not driven by unsustainable consumption, but by unsustainable population growth. If we don’t stop worldwide population growth, no amount of austerity or technology is going to save us. We need birth control. It’s simple math: If we cut our resource use in half and the population doubles, we have gained nothing. We live on a finite-sized planet with a growing population. That isn’t sustainable. One of the leading causes of population growth is the Catholic Church’s opposition to birth control. If the Pope is truly interested in climate change, he should reverse this policy. It is irresponsible for him not to act.

Marc Perkel, Gilroy, Calif.


Having it both ways?

Emma Teitel seems to want to have her cake and eat it, too. Two issues ago (“From Bruce to Caitlyn, with love,” June 15), she approvingly described Bruce Jenner’s new identity, as Caitlyn, on the cover of Vanity Fair. Two weeks later (“The Human Stain, only in reverse,” June 29), she condemned Rachel Dolezal, who was born white, for posing as an African-American. Jenner’s journey to be finally “living my true self” is “wholly inspiring,” whereas Teitel describes Dolezal as a “wacky outlier” who has “failed spectacularly.” Why celebrate one and condemn the other? Teitel takes issue with “a person who dresses up as a member of a historically brutalized group in order to play the role of saviour.” She’s talking about Dolezal, but couldn’t this fit for Jenner, as well? Either biology matters or it does not. Which way does Teitel want it?

Jim R. Vanderwoerd, Brantford, Ont.


On page 27 of our July 6 and 13 double issue, in “The guide to being an awesome Canadian,” the quote from Sultan Mahmood from the Baitun Nur Ahmadiyya Mosque in Calgary should have read: “It is my responsibility to be a good member of civic society, to be loyal and to promote Canadian values and culture, and to [ask] God to protect Canada from anything that goes against its interests.”

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