Category Archives: Health and wellness

Depths of Winter

It is that time of year here.  Winter is about half done and we have been whacked with another cold snap.  We don’t call it a “Polar Vortex” or other nonsense designed by news departments to hype what is nothing more than the usual stretch of damnably cold weather that hits most of Canada in January.

For our American readers, the last holdouts on the Fahrenheit scale, it is a balmy –0.22 degrees, or –17.9 C.  Of course the sun is out, shining away happily, as we freeze our nubbins, vapour from the bus exhaust leaving contrails in the air.  The car creaks, metal and oil protesting at being used in these temperatures, the shocks and springs grumbling at our abuse.  There is the occasional square tire, where the car has a frozen flat spot that only smoothes out after several kilometers of driving, thumping along, giving the car the gait of a gazelle with one foot mounted in concrete. 

There are the snow banks, piled a dozen feet high from the December blizzards, frozen solid, as unyielding as stone.  Falling on one means deep bruising or a trip to the ER for some plaster to set broken bones, a common occurrence in this season.  The only way to cut the snow banks back is with a rock drill and the careful application of explosives, both things frowned upon by the City, Province and Federal authorities, so we leave the glaciers alone, trying to peer around them, to drive out onto the main streets.

Yet remarkably there are the fanatics, who insist on bicycling to work, even at –25, saying it’s bracing and great exercise in the winter.  The Ottawa Skateway (7 kms long) on what is normally the Rideau Canal waterway, hosts the usual collection who insist on skating the length to work, simultaneously proving their hardiness and madness, their exhalations coating their faces with glistening icicles that thaw miraculously in seconds as soon as they come inside.

Naturally there are the high-school students, jacket open, no hat, no gloves, many in a skirt that would barely cover that which it is supposed to cover, walking from school.  They’re too cool to admit to being frozen half to death and we all did it when we were that age, except now they text to their friends that they’re cold, with stuttering fingers and thumbs tapping out texts that read like a cat trying to use a QWERTY keyboard.

The sensible among us recognize that January here is cold.  We stay inside, near the fire, or wrapped in a blanket on the sofa, sharing bad television with our partners, snuggled together in that curious comfort of watching the Cake Boss in Houston, making sure we don’t think more than is actually necessary.  We hunker down with a book and read in bed, only rising to let the dog out onto the back yard glacier for one last pee before lights out, muttering to ourselves that come spring, that back yard will look like a cesspool of dog excreta with patio furniture and cedar hedges and that lump of ice over there where the barbecue used to be.

The very first vestiges of a new season are upon us however.  It is no longer as black as a well-diggers arse come 4 pm.  You can still see without lights at 5 pm.  You notice the sky lightening up at 0700 as you go into work, it having been dark when you got up, dark when you got to work and dark when you went home at the end of the day, the sun a distant memory of that bright thing up in the sky that seemed to make your eyes hurt when you looked at it.

Nature is hinting, just the merest of whispered hints that this winter will pass, as they have every year and will every year ahead. 

We have to get through it as best we can. 

Rob Ford, The Sad Late-Night Hero

The hits just keep on coming with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and for those of you who don’t watch late night US television, the hosts have made significant hay at his expense.  We won’t bother listing the jokes, but we will point you to this clip from Comedy Central.  It’s the funniest and yet most scathingly honest 6:30 you’ll ever spend out of your lifespan.  We’ll wait…

Told you.  Now, what to do about it?  Of course, no question, Rob Ford should resign, immediately and check into some kind of facility that prohibits the media, or microphones from being anywhere near him for the next several weeks.  But that won’t happen.

We have an observation:  This is what goes on in the mind of high school bullies who grow up and discover they actually are the decayed husk of a human soul dressed in a flashy suit.  They can do the kind of mental gymnastics that Olga Korbut only dreamed about performing during the floor exercises at the 1972 Munich Olympics.  They gloss and slip and slide around their behaviours, rendering excuses from here to the Ross Ice Shelf as a way to explain, rationalize or change the subject when caught, in their relentless pursuit of self-aggrandizement, self-denial and near-feral self-defense of their fragile self-image.

Rarely do we get to see someone, especially a public figure, caught this hard and this tightly in their own mess.  Ford has made his office into a sideshow spectacle that Toronto will not be able to dig out of for the next decade, but as we laugh ourselves damp in the undergarments, we are also watching another human’s last few days of existence before his ego immolates completely.

That is sad.  Nobody should have to go through it with an audience of millions.

New Additions

There has been much ruckus in the RoadDave Household lately that has precluded some of the writing efforts.  Submitted for your approval, the reason why.

Marylou and I are neither cat people, nor dog people.  We have had both, all together, in a long line of disreputable companion animals, mostly shelter rescues of both cats and dogs.  There was the Fish Period, with tropical fish inhabiting two largish aquariums, much to the amusement of the cats who saw the aquarium inhabitants as 4K Dolby 5.1 HD video in a size that would upscale to 24 foot diagonal if it were human-sized. 

After Joseph Arthur Lonley passed before Christmas last year, we went down to one cat, no dogs, no fish.  A couple of months ago, after Marylou came back from a business trip, we hotfooted over the Ottawa Human Society to add to our brood. 

Our approach to household animals is simple enough:  They must be from the Humane Society, as we don’t do puppy or cat mills, and, the animal must have some kind of quirk that speaks to us both.  There has to be that je ne sais quai component that leads to some truly remarkable personality lurking beneath the surface as most of our friends will attest:  Our pets are all unique personalities.

After rambling through the areas at the OHS it came down to three, Tommy a 4-year old neutered male “wallflower” who had been in the care of the OHS for a few months, then Gus and Charlie, found strays, litter mates, about 4 months old, also neutered males.

In talking with the adoption folks at the Humane Society, they assured us Tommy would find a home shortly, as more mature cats tended to be adopted sooner.  Litter-mate kittens like Charlie and Gus took longer.  We decided to keep the litter mates together and brought Gus and Charlie home, much to the annoyance of our incumbent, Bella, a ten-year old spayed female, who is very much the Queen of Her Domain.  Her motto is “Apres Moi, le Deluge”

The usual madness ensued of introducing two high-energy kittens to the comfortable lifestyle of Bella.  There were the occasional issues of hearing very bad language late at night as one or the other would attempt things they should not have.  I still have some healing scratches where Charlie decided that climbing Daddy’s leg, while Daddy was wearing nothing more than a housecoat, is acceptable behaviour.  We will not speak of the occasion whereby one of the new family took a look at me in bed and decided “Oooh!  Nipples!”  That has healed, more or less, but the emotional trauma will linger for several more months.  Charlie has forgotten it, but I still shake from time to time.

Earlier this week we needed more cat food for the kids and rather than going to the nearby purveyor, combined some domestic tasks and headed to a store in the west end.  Since the cat food at PetSmart is near the adoption cages, we naturally dropped by to see who was around, if only to give the adoptees a few minutes attention from some humans.

A grey and white lump was sleeping in his cage.  He had been moved from the Humane Society and as PetSmart has a very good working relationship as satellite adoption centers for the Humane Society, we asked about him.  It was the same cat, a “wallflower” 4 year old, who had spent the preceding several months in the system, named Tommy.  The OHS transferred him to the high-traffic PetSmart to find him his Forever Home. 

Call it Kismet, the Planets Aligning, the Hand of God, Curious Circumstance or whatever, but the decision was made, instantly feeling absolutely, perfectly, Right.

Tommy’s new Forever Home is here, with Gus, Charlie and Bella. 

It means we have heard more swearing, the occasional sound of something crashing to the floor in the kitchen and endured requests for massive quantities of food at hours of the night usually reserved for shift workers and sex trade professionals. We don’t care.  Tommy, Gus, Charlie and Bella all share their forever home with us now. 

There have been antics of course, some so sweet as to require insulin and others that make Marylou and I laugh uncontrollably for hours, but we’re not the kind of people to bore others with the stories.  Everyone is adjusting well enough, not perfectly yet, but well enough that we’re expecting to capture that visual meme of four cats, all sleeping, piled up together in a Gordian knot of feline contentment, in a discarded cardboard box.  When we do, we will post it. 

Cats, shelter adoptions, forever home, crazy cat people whatever meta tags you want to apply, feel free.  They’re happy, we’re happy.  The next chapter awaits. 

Todd Akin’s Tour Of The Uterus

Yes, we’re going there.  Rep. Todd Akin is the US Congressman for Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District.  He’s running for the US Senate, challenging Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill in the upcoming US election. 

On August 19, on St. Louis TV station KTVI-TV  Akin was asked the usual panoply of questions, including the one about abortion in cases of rape and incest.  His answer: Well you know, people always want to try to make that as one of those things, well how do you, how do you slice this particularly tough sort of ethical question. First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.

(We have underscored the statement that is the crux of the controversy, so you can have the context.  The hyperlink is from the actual coverage from FOX2now, KTVI-TV if you want to see the whole thing.)

Now some facts.  Our opinion on abortion is multifaceted.  First off, I don’t have a uterus, so whatever I have to say is Not Scottish.  I don’t get to have an opinion.   

Secondly, baby humans don’t magically happen – they occur from penile-vaginal intercourse, or to use a common term, copulation.  That’s how it happens in the vast majority of cases, with the notable exceptions of IVF or the timely application of a turkey baster filled with suitable donor genetic material.  Both of those circumstances are fully, actively consensual.

Conception from sharing underwear or using the same drinking fountain are so mathematically rare as to be nonexistent.  We will skip over this carpenter guy from Bethlehem, as we’re being factual, not theological.     

Third, the question of abortion in the case of rape or incest is a simple one.  There is no active consent to rape, therefore the act is illegal.  The potential of active consent to incest is deemed by society to be very, very, very unlikely, as well as illegal, under the majority of laws regarding consanguinity, even in Missouri. 

Fourth, There is no gland, secretion, hormone, mechanism or magic hygienic product either in, near, or potentially attached to the female body that can detect a “legitimate rape” and reject the morula of conception in a spontaneous abortion or miscarriage.  It does not exist.  I’ll repeat that:  It Does Not Exist.

Now the ethical question becomes clearer, knowing that Rep. Akin is talking out of his ass, cloaking his quote in “…from what I understand from doctors…” as if that were some kind of Shield of Science to mask the intellectually ignorant stench of his statement. 

This tells us that Rep Akin is dramatically unfit for office beyond that of Municipal Lotion Boy.  If he had any decency at all, he would immediately go far, far away. 

Hopefully voters in his district will send him that message come election day.

Zero Tolerance Debate

For those of you who don’t follow racing, A.J. Allmendinger of the Penske Racing #22 was suspended from competition when his urine sample tested positive for a banned substance.  Allmendinger’s B sample is scheduled to be tested shortly.  NASCAR has a Zero Tolerance policy regarding drivers, officials or crews participating in events while under the influence of banned substances.  Therein the controversy.

It is important that the organization that runs a sporting event have rules and levels of expected behaviours of its’ participants.  We’ve got no beef with NASCAR not wanting some driver all messed up on substances driving a 3500 pound stock car in competition.  If Famous Driver A sees his late grandmother climbing up his Nomex-clad leg with a knife in her teeth, growling in Elvish, while arcing into Turn 3 at Talladega on lap 52, we could expect some ramifications in the competitive situation.  There would be headlines.  Very Bad Headlines. 

In the Good Ol’Days of NASCAR there were certain drivers and crew chiefs who would do serious damage to a case of beer during a race.  They most likely would have blown .08 or more had there been testing.  There were others who were known to indulge in those substances that would allow you to stay awake for four days straight.  Neither is good for the human or the company they keep.

The issue is the confluence of science that can detect chemicals in the parts per billion and the knee-jerk reaction of Zero Tolerance.

One area I’m familiar with is commercial aviation.  It is completely understandable that we don’t want a commercial pilot under any kind of drug influence.  It’s too important that their judgement be as good as human judgement can be in the event of an emergency.  That’s why the threshold for self-disqualification for commercial pilots is very, very low. 

As an example, NyQuil, an over the counter cough and cold remedy, will disqualify you from being pilot in command, if consumed within 12 hours of duty.  Why?  NyQuil contains alcohol, acetaminophen, dextromethorphan, doxylamine succinate and pseudoephedrine, all of which have side effects that can cloud ones judgement for a period of time after use.  How long, is the question, as some say 12 hours, other say a week until there is no sign of it in your bloodstream.  That’s where the science falls on its ass: They can’t tell us how long are the side effects ongoing.  I can tell you from personal experience that pseudoephedrine makes me five-coffee-jittery for two or three days, but that’s just me. 

Poppy Seeds?  Yes, a bagel with poppy seeds can get you in trouble, as all poppy seeds contain trace amounts of opiates.  The science can’t tell if the opiates in your blood are from a toasted bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon with red onions and capers, or from blazing up a bowl-full of Afghanistan’s Finest.  All the science says is there are opiates.  Parole officers routinely tell their charges that a positive piss test for any opiates puts you back in the Crowbar Hotel, so do not eat poppy seeds, end of discussion. 

Ross Rebagliati, the 1988 Winter Olympics Snowboarding Gold Medalist was found to have THC in his circulatory system and had his medal yanked.  Big surprise that a snowboarder had been in the vicinity of someone smoking dope.  However, his medal was reinstated, as THC was not a banned substance at the time.  Frankly, I see no unfair advantage to competing in any sport with a brain-full of BC Bud unless the sport is competitive Dorito eating.

Which brings us back to A.J. Allmendinger.  Could his positive test, rumoured to be from a ‘stimulant’ be the result of something as benign as Claritin?  Or does he have a serious penchant for Brown Betty Long-Distance Truck Drivin’ pills?  From our side of the screen, we’re not convinced The Dinger is keen to stay up for three days straight, shaking and puking.  The only unfair advantage he could gain from a ‘stimulant’ is the ability to get the mindless post-race interviews over and done with in 32 seconds flat. 

Common sense says that if the test did find a stimulant, but the stimulant is in such miniscule amounts as to have no advantageous, or deleterious effects, then the issue is over.  Same if the source of the stimulant is something common and benign, like cold medication, or a new sports drink.  But that would mean someone would have to make a decision.

This flies in the face of Zero Tolerance.  The assumption is that if you have any substance in your bloodstream then you are obviously a full-blown maniac-addict-thief-crazy person, just a hair-breadth away from raping and pillaging to get your next fix.  Zero Tolerance precludes thinking in these situations, when there are significant gradations from black to white. 

Agreed, we don’t want people with messed up judgement piloting our aircraft, or racing our stock cars for that matter.  Where we’re falling down is letting science make all the decisions, including penalties that could end a career.

Mason Baveux–Concussions

Like many businesses, we get stupid busy around Christmas, so I tapped our pinch-hitter Mason Baveux to consider Concussions in Hockey while I dig out from under a pile of work, at work.

I thinks why Davey wants me to write on the whole head shot thing in hockey is Davey don’t give a five pound corn on the cob crap about Canada’s Game.  This makes me suspect his citizenship, but since his family’s all Canadian, I think I’ll let’er slide.

So’s Sid the Kid spent most of last season ridin’ the sofa as he took one too many to the skull and was feelin’ cattywampus all over.  He comes back for two games then reaches for the yellow handle again and is back on the sofa for “an indeterminate amount of time” while he tries to find out where the horizon is again.  Or at least narrow it down to only two or three horizons at any given time.

I did some that research on that concussion thing and here’s what she said up the  You got your mild brain injury, mild traumatic brain injury, mild head injury and minor head trauma, which you can use for any of the others as the term for what ails ya.  We’ll just call’er concussion.  Or Hockey Head.

Down in the fine print she says what happens is yer brain bounces off the inside of yer skull and doesn’t know boo from woo for a while.  It could be a minute or two, or a week or two, depending on how hard a wallop you took.  Do that enough times and yer brain starts a forgettin stuff, like what’s a yellow light mean at the corner?  Drive’er like you stole’er! is the right answer.  Pass the effin’ ketchup Maureen! is the wrong answer.  Which is what be affecting Sid the Kid. 

Some medical folks have been studyin on this for a while, using sporty types in sports what have serious contact.  Football is one, Boxing another and Hockey.  Seems the medicos have been cuttin’ open the brains of dead players to look for problems.  They do have to wait till they pass, as the cuttin is a bit drastic for the walk-in clinic and tends to leave some marks.  Fortunately, the sport types have been quite obligin’ as the older ones are dyin off naturally, and the younger ones get all messed up on the pills and booze, then do themselves in.  So’s the medicos got lots of brains to work with and what they’re findin is lots of permanent injuries to the brain what are causin all sorts of wrongs.

Like Muhammad Ali (dammit, I still remember when he was Cassius Clay from Louisville, Kentucky) whose got the shakey jakes from what’s called Pugilistic Parkinson Syndrome.  What the science boys and girls figure is that he got the Parkinsons from too many shots to the head in his career.  Well, that took about five seconds to get ahold of those facts from the Department of Too Effin Obvious. 

Anyone crazy enough to stand within arm’s reach of Joe Frazier or Leon Spinks, two lads who could knock a CP westbound freight train off a track by looking at it hard, is gonna get some kind of side effects from bein on the receiving end of a solid punch.  You’d have to have headgear the size of Manitoba to get away with that kind of beatin.  Which Cassius Clay never had.  Which is why he’s retired and can’t speak, nor move too well no more and is a damn shame.

Now think about the hockey.  There’s plenty of roughouse, as that’s part of the game and if you’ve played even a little bit on some rink somewhere, you know there’s a lot of stuff around that can rattle your head.  The puck for one.  The other guy’s elbow for another.  Or you could try just fallin off your skates and doin a quad spin face plant on the ice herself.  The ice don’t move much.  Nor do the boards, or the posts, or the glass. 

We’re not even talkin about some dirty defenceman who thinks he should coldcock you one when you’re settin the box on the power play and are lookin away for the forward at the point.  Then all you see is the rafters, some shiny lights and finally remember what the coach said about “Keep yer head up!”

We’re talkin before helmets here.  Back when Punch Imlach coached.  When Don McKenny was part of the Uke Line on the Bruins with Bronco Horvath, Johnny Bucyk and Vic Stasiuk.  Those days when you’d see Gordie and Jean go into the corner and watch your rum and Coke shake along with the whole friggin Forum.  Not many of the lads got their frontal lobes all scrambled, as nobody wore a helmet and you were entitled to give as good as you got, but it was clean hits.  No attempt to maim the other guy, even if he was from Montreal, or Detroit.

Today, decapitation gets you five.  Maybe a game misconduct and that’s about it, assumin’ you didn’t go over to the house and piss on his sofa, or cross-check his missus into the washing machine after buggerin the family dog. 

The helmets and visors the players are wearin are important, but the side effect of all that armour (and this is true of the football too) is that the grinders and journeymen players feel they can dish out the hardest possible hits they can to make a name for themselves, even if it means puttin someone in the hospital for a long time.  But what goes around comes around and we’re findin out that givni the big hits like you’d see on Rock Em Sock Em Hockey 37, will also cost you. 

Speakin of costin you, we do know of a lad whose hockey career was what you call a small fish in a pond.  He never made the Big Show, as he took too many shots to the brain in Junior and couldn’t focus enough.  His job now?  He drives the Zamboni up to the arena for the Central Junior.  We call him Slappy, as he’s not quite sure what day it is and has to slap himself upside the head to remember it.  Sometimes he gets ‘er near right enough.  If you bet him five dollars, he’ll eat a stick of butter on a dare.  He lives in a part of a sheltered workshop for those what you would call ‘uncomplicated’, or we call Retard Park and Ride, as you can see most of them waitin for the taxi or the ParaTransport to get to where they’re goin.

He still wears his helmet most days as the doctors have said one more pop to the head and he’s likely not even going to remember how to drive the Zamboni.  He’s pushin fifty now and never had a home, or a wife, or kids.  All he knows is the hockey and how to drive the Zamboni. 

Now, just so’s you don’t think I haven’t thought this around the rink between periods, look at two other sports what don’t have body armour:  Rugby and Soccer.  About all you get is a cup and some cleats for protection.  You don’t see a lot of those careers comin’ to an end because the players can’t tell what month it is?  Blown out knees?  Sure, that’ll get you. 

But because your opponents don’t have all the gear on either, they’ll hit you hard enough to get you off the ball, but not hard enough to end your career.  And if you tell me that Rugby and Soccer players aren’t as tough and hard as Hockey and Football players, then I’d suggest you’re speakin out your arse and should go squat on the shitter to think that one through a bit more with some Metamucil to clear your talk hole. 

What she comes down to is the armour the young ones wear, be it football or hockey.  Makes them feel invincible and think they can dish it out without no consequences.  Sid the Kid is their poster child.  A great career lost because refs don’t call penalties and the gear they all wear makes’em feel like Superman.  They’ll all wind up like Slappy and that’s not what the consultants would call a Career Arc.

Breaks my friggin heart.

Been Working Update

Sorry about not posting for a while but sometimes work intrudes and we all know that work-life balance isn’t just a way of life, but a concept.

Suffice to say the election up here is provoking outbreaks of spontaneous narcolepsy amongst the citizens.  The various leaders and their fartcatchers seem to think we, the polloi, actually give a flying fornicative act about who will putatively govern us after May the 5th or so. 

The short form is that Harper still comes across like the micromanaging punk bully he is, while Jack Layton looks longingly to being back behind the meat counter at Sobeys’s cutting up roasts and chops.

Iggy?  Ignatief looks like Keith Richards’ evil twin doing a perp walk after a bad night.  The new Liberal slogan is “Vote for the Undead.  At Least You Know What You’re Getting”  Meanwhile the rest of Canada says “Gilles Who?” upon hearing Gilles Duceppe’s name.  Duceppe comes across as a ten-year old boy caught jerking off by his Mom while he was watching Thierry La Fronde.  Elizabeth May, of the Green Party is that microscopic blip on a microscopic blip on the very edge of the Galactic Event Horizon.   

We’ll probably get another Conservative minority government and with any luck will break the 40% barrier, meaning only 40% of the population are motivated enough to make some kind of mark on a ballot.  In our riding, the polling places are a little too public, so we won’t be able to wipe our arses on the ballot, which is what we really, really want to do. 

Apple fanboys are hiding their faces in shame as it has come to light that Steve Jobs’ Church of Apple religion has been secretly tracking your whereabouts on your iPhone.  You can turn the geolocation feature off, if you jailbreak the phone, uninstall the ‘helper’, invalidate your warranty and incur the wrath of the AppStore forever more.  Oh and you get Eternal Damnation as a bonus.  Steve Said So, Selah, It Is So.

In other news, Japan is closing off most of the North East corner of their country as the various reactors that got whacked in the earthquake and tsunami continue to puke their radioactive innards into the sea, onto the land and into the air.  Fukisima will reopen in a few years as “Round Eye Land” a tourist destination for those not from Japan who want to see what radiation burns look like. up close and personal.

Let’s see what else comes up.  Libya.  Anniversary of the BP/Gulf Oil spill.  US economy in the toilet, unless you’re wealthy and a banker.  Most countries, except China, looking to default on their national debts, while the US sells military drones to Pakistan.  Same old, same old.

Of course, one would be remiss without mentioning the upcoming Royal Wedding, as all our media are sending fleets of crews and reporters to breathlessly inform us that Kate is wearing designer so and so and the Queen looks pleased. 

We need bread, but we need circuses too. 





Movember Update III

Get squeamish gentlemen, we’re talking prostate.  Yep.  That bit-bigger-than-a-walnut sized gland below your bladder and North-North-West of your asshole. 

It’s a fascinating little object and here’s what it does.  Your prostate secretes a slightly alkaline fluid that is about 25 to 30 percent of your semen.  Not the sperm themselves, that’s a nut job, pun intended, but the seminal vesicles pass up from the nuts to the prostate and mix together to pass down your penis when you pop your cookies from watching “The Golden Girls” reruns.  That Rue McClanahan…what a Minx!  Oh crap, that was out loud wasn’t it?

The reason the prostatic fluid is slightly alkaline is to give your sperm a fighting chance in the Great Swim of Life.  The vagina is acidic, so a bit of alkali lets the lads live longer, eventually leading to fertilization, “was it good for you?” yadda, yadda, yadda, right up to “Yes Dad, it’s a really nice Home and we’ll come to visit you every weekend.  We promise.”

The Creator did great, nay, fabulous work when He did Women, but Jeeze Louise, Male Parts were not His best work:  The design is merely functional, like sex organs designed by Ikea.  It’s part of a system, but you can’t make sense of the instructions and the illustrations are cartoon sketches.  Women however, ahh, now that’s superlative work.  The intake is a bit close to the exhaust, but it’s a great design.

There are enough maladies that can befall the prostate that entire medical careers have been built on them.  It’s a very poor design, almost as bad as the knee, but at least the knee will stop working or swell up if you injure it.  The prostate just sits there like a walnut, asking itself “Am I Coming or am I Going?”

There are two ways to check the prostate and you need both.  The first is what is called a Prostate Specific Antigen test, which is a blood test, taken from blood from your arm.  The lab rats look for an increased level of Prostate antigen, a chemical that indicates a fine, healthy, happy, prostate or an unhappy prostate depending on the change between tests. 

Around the age of 40 to 45, men should have a PSA test yearly.  Some docs say 50, other say 40, but what you want to do is start early enough that you know what your PSA level is over a few years.  Mine’s normal, around 0.01 which indicates no issues with increased antigen production, which would indicate something wrong if the number changes. The PSA test is an early warning, nothing more.

Up until last year, you had to pay separately for a PSA when you had your usual blood work done.  It was $15 most years.  I consider it money well spent.  Now most health care covers it, so ask for it.  If the numbers change, see a doctor right away.  A change in the PSA is an early warning that something is not right.  It hurts as much as having your blood taken hurts.  Instead of four vials, they’ll take five.  No biggie.

There are issues with the PSA test, both false positives and false negatives.  There are also issues with, in the female department, PAP tests, again false positives and false negatives.  In either case, having a baseline is part of early detection.  It isn’t a diagnosis, it just flags something for more investigation. 

The other way to check the prostate is a digital exam.  That’s right digit, as in finger, not zeros and ones digital.  Your doctor will insert a gloved and well-lubricated finger in your asshole and palpate your prostate with a finger to check for inflammation, something swollen or out of whack. 

The sensation of having the prostate digitally examined is no worse than taking a five-pound dump after a night of bad Mexican food.  It’s no fun, but it’s over soon enough and feels much better when finished.  What the doc is looking for is abnormal size, or malformation of the prostate itself.  If you have a swollen prostate, you will scream like a little girl when the doc palpates it.  That doesn’t mean you have cancer, it only means something is wrong.  You can get a swollen prostate from too much self-pleasuring, or, in some men, bike riding.  Prostatic inflammation from things like that goes away after a couple of days of rest.    

A good, caring, doc will have you lie on one side and have you bring one knee up to your chest for a digital exam.  An army-trained doctor will have you bend over the examining table and say “Hang on to your hat!”  I’ve had both and the knee up is much better.

Yes, you might spring a Hollywood half-loaf totally without intention.  Pressure on the prostate can trigger a drop or two of urine, or a mild, momentary erection, no worse than a morning piss-hard and no more useful either.  The prostate is covered with the very same pelvic floor muscles that contract when you have an orgasm and cause you to ejaculate by giving the prostate a good hard squeeze.  It’s perfectly normal as the systems are all interrelated.  Or, absolutely nothing will happen:  It varies from human to human.

Odds are 50-50 you’ll fart too.  I asked and my doc and she said she’s been farted at so many times doing prostate exams that it’s now beyond disgusting and merely funny.  No, it is not appropriate to load up on jalapeno nachos, cabbage soup, beer and beans the night before your prostate exam.

In either case, a digital prostate exam does not make you suddenly want to sing show tunes, or find the beauty in old Judy Garland movies.  Sorry guys, it doesn’t.   

It’s not a comfortable sensation for many men, but it is insanely important to have done.  The prostate doesn’t give many clues that it is unwell and a PSA in combination with a digital exam is the best way to determine your prostate health.

To sum up.  Your prostate helps keep your participation in the fornicative and procreative arts alive.  It doesn’t kick up a fuss when it is unwell, so there are no symptoms to speak of.  A PSA blood test in combination with a digital examination is the best way to find out if things are in good order. 

As we all know, early detection means a much better chance at survival and the prostate is notorious for not kicking up a fuss until it’s almost too late.

If you want to learn more, has links to Prostate Cancer Canada and several dozen other very good resources.

Movember Update II

There is more to Movember than just growing a moustache and here’s one of those things.

The high concept behind Movember is Men’s Health and the lack of interest and knowledge about what can be loosely called men’s health issues.  There are plenty of events and knowledge promoting women’s health:  Breast Cancer awareness, Run for the Cure, various tests and so on.  But Men’s Health, not so much.

The reason: Men don’t talk about their health, specific to the parts we don’t have in common with women.  To paraphrase Spike Lee; It’s a Man Thing, You Wouldn’t Understand.  We were and are brought up to tough it out, no matter what.  If a javelin is stuck through our head, we might consider seeing the doctor, but only because we’re having trouble getting through the revolving door at the office, or can’t get into the cab of the forklift. 

Which is utter bullshit.

Men absolutely do not, even under interrogation, admit to anything being abnormal, unwell or strange below the belt.  We don’t discuss it, we don’t ask our men friends any questions about the goods and we will not tell our doctors about anything that might be off.  It’s all perfect, wonderful, fully operational, potent, big and robust. 

Which is also utter bullshit.

The penis, testicles and prostate are as susceptible to medical problems as any other part number, male or female:  Cancer, inflammation, injury, decrease in operational effectiveness and so on are all just as prevalent in men, but being men, we’ll never admit it.  Which is why Movember exists:  Men should talk about it, and do what they can to prevent or find out about the afflictions that can potentially kill us.

As an informal survey here:  How many men check their testicles on a regular basis for swelling, tenderness or abnormal growths?  Hands up please?  That would be none, as best as I can see from here. 

You remember Tom Green?  Ex-husband of Drew Barrymore and one-time funny man?  He lost a testicle to cancer because he didn’t check his junk on a regular basis.        

We were never taught or told that yes, indeed you should check the boys every month or so.  Give them a good feel, look for unusual tenderness and run them through your fingers to check for swelling, or something misshapen.  Each testicle should be about the size of a walnut, give or take and shouldn’t be unusually tender.  Yes, testicles are tender, that’s their normal state, but if you’ve owned a pair for a while, you can tell if they’re more tender than they should be.  If you press on one and it goes “OwFuck!” then that’s not right and should be checked by a doctor.

The “Official” Junk test is here: from the Testicular Cancer Resource Centre.  The issue they bring up is not to find cancer with a monthly self-exam, but to get used to what your testicular state of “normal” is, so you find anything odd, early enough. 

It’s the same drill with women and a breast cancer self-exam:  Get used to what is supposed to be there (there is a wide range of ‘normal’ be it tits or nuts) so you spot an anomaly early, then get it checked by a doctor.  Most women understand it, so why don’t men get it?  Because we are not as aware and have never been taught or told to check the junk on a regular basis.  Men, you have now been told and click on the link to be taught.

Can you turn this into a saucy event?  With a little imagination, a willing partner and some knowledge, you most certainly can.  One would think that you would have a reasonable base of knowledge about your partner’s bosomy delights and should feel comfortable enough with their geography to go touring on a regular basis, why not?  (As an interesting aside, about ten percent of the time it’s a partner who finds a breast lump.)  Since turnabout is fair play, invite your partner to be more involved in your health. 

Bottom line?  Check the Boys on a regular basis.  If you’re not sure about what you’re finding, then get to a doctor and have a medico give you guidance.

The Last of the Mo

To wrap up the Movember efforts here’s a shot:  You do have to click on it, due to some wonky madness regarding the size of embedded photos that I just don’t feel like fussing with right now.

Boys of Movember

The Mo-Bro’s are Abraham, Jon, Tom, some doofus, Paul and Marc, if one goes clockwise from 12:00.  You do remember what clockwise is?

Meanwhile, our various supporters, who have been very kind as well as generous have enabled Team ITS-Mo to raise $255 for Prostate Cancer Canada, as part of Movember. 

If you want to donate to us, you can still uncork the wallet, with our appreciation.  Go to  You can join luminaries like Karen Lewy, Kim St. Denis, Janet Hockey and Robin Bradbury who feel that the topical application of money is a good way to support Men’s Health. 

And we did all without shaving. 

Thank you.