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reader’s digest



cover story


40 inspiration My Charmed Life

58 health When Fentanyl Works Having terminal cancer means managing pain. And that means taking a dangerous opioid that has long improved the lives of people like me. TEVA HARRISON FROM THE WALRUS


on the cover: photograph by gabrielle sykes

The joy of magic is no illusion. NATE STANIFORTH FROM HERE IS REAL MAGIC

48 drama in real life KAGAN McLEOD

20 Metres Down Stuck in the ice, John All was badly injured and very much alone. NICHOLAS HUNE-BROWN



reader’s digest



The Kids Stay in the Picture

A Warm Reminder


Sure, my children are adults with jobs, but that doesn’t mean they’re exhibiting any desire to move out of our house.

While grieving my father’s death, I went looking for anything that could lend meaning to his passing—and found comfort in an old coat.




74 life lesson


Hitting Refresh How to give your love a spring cleaning. MEGAN HAYNES

78 environment Hunting the Hunters Meet the team of wildlife cops curbing the illegal trafficking of polar bear pelts and narwhal tusks. KATHERINE LAIDLAW FROM PACIFIC STANDARD

90 editors’ choice Mount Sinai, Room 1408 When Cathrin Bradbury landed in the hospital, it took sharing a room with an exceptional stranger to see the strength that can be found in vulnerability. FROM THE TORONTO STAR


department of wit


Departments 6 8 10 20 39 86


Editor’s Letter Contributors Letters Points to Ponder World Wide Weird

57 Laughter, the Best Medicine

do the right thing

88 Down to Business

12 Job Satisfaction

15 Life’s Like That

69 Laugh Lines

How Anthony at Your Service is delivering better work to people living with intellectual disabilities. (DOG) ERMOLAEV ALEXANDER/SHUTTERSTOCK; (PORTRAIT) LAUREN TAMAKI


that’s entertainment

16 Our Top Culture Picks

talking to a smart person


102 Are the Taxes I Pay Fair?

13 things

18 You Should Know About Donating Blood

We ask Toby Sanger, executive director of Canadians for Tax Fairness.



22 Sound Advice How to protect your hearing. SAMANTHA RIDEOUT

24 News From the World of Medicine SAMANTHA RIDEOUT


26 What’s Wrong With Me? A medical mystery resolved. LISA BENDALL

105 106 108 109 112

Trivia Brainteasers Sudoku Word Power Crossword







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H Y P O A L L E R G E N I C • PA R A B E N - F R E E T E S T E D U N D E R D E R M AT O L O G I C A L C O N T R O L


reader’s digest


ince we launched Reader’s Digest in Canada 72 years ago, we’ve been driven by a simple editorial philosophy: this is your magazine. You, dear reader, are at the heart of what we do. We love receiving your jokes (did you know we pay $50 for each one we print?), your story suggestions, your letters to the editor. And we always appreciate your feedback. For decades, we’ve regularly conducted surveys to find out what subscribers enjoy most about the magazine so we can continue to make enhancements that suit your preferences and interests.

6 april 2019

Send an email to RICHMOND LAM

Your Reader’s Digest

This issue’s refresh starts with a revamped cover and ends with a new addition: an all-Canadian crossword puzzle (page 112). In between, we’ve made a few changes to improve your reading experience. You’ll see that the jokes pages are now easier to locate, thanks to a beige bar found on the side of those pages; the back section of the magazine is where you’ll find all the games and puzzles (starting on page 102) you’ve come to love; and there are more funny, thoughtful and inspirational footnotes scattered through the issue than ever before. Our spring makeover has also allowed us to further focus on the RD elements you’ve told us you like best: reliable and well-researched health stories, LOL-worthy humour pages (introducing Laugh Lines on page 69!) and engaging long reads that are sure to captivate. We hope you enjoy the new look and the updates we’ve made to the magazine. As always, please reach out to let us know what you think!


P U B L I S H E D B Y T H E R E A D E R ’ S D I G E S T M A G A Z I N E S C A N A D A L I M I T E D, M O N T R E A L , C A N A D A

Christopher Dornan chairman of the board Dominique Ritter editor-in-chief Ashley Leon vice president, sales & operations executive editor senior editor associate editor contributing editor proofreader senior researcher researchers

Stéphanie Verge Micah Toub Megan Jones Samantha Rideout Katie Moore Lucy Uprichard Martha Beach, Alyssa Favreau, Matthew Halliday, Leslie Sponder copy editors Chad Fraser, Amy Harkness, Richard Johnson web editor Brett Walther assistant web editor Robert Liwanag

art director associate art director graphic designer content operations manager circulation director

John Montgomery Danielle Sayer Pierre Loranger Lisa Pigeon Edward Birkett

contributors: Nathaniel Basen, Lisa Bendall, Bryan Borzykowski, Derek Bowman, Cathrin Bradbury, Robert Carter, Sue Dohrin, Daniel Ehrenworth, Cristian Fowlie, Jason Franson, Howard Gaskin, Danielle Groen, Clayton Hanmer, Naomi Harris, Teva Harrison, Megan Haynes, Nicholas Hune-Brown, Amanda Iannacito, Susan Camilleri Konar, Katherine Laidlaw, Richmond Lam, Christopher Leaman, Kagan McLeod, Kyle Metcalf, Christina Palassio, Paul Paquet, Kara Pyle, Tim Querengesser, Sarah Richards, Ian Riensche, Darren Rigby, Julie Saindon, Lynn Scurfield, Beth Shillibeer, Fraser Simpson, Nate Staniforth, Gabrielle Sykes, Lauren Tamaki, Conan de Vries, Anna-Kaisa Walker, Victor Wong


Brian Kennedy president | Barbara Robins legal Mirella Liberatore product manager, magazine marketing production manager Lisa Snow national account executives, canada James Anderson, Suzanne Farago (Montreal), Irena Koutcher, Robert Shaw (Vancouver), Melissa Silverberg senior project manager Meri Ward head of advertising operations and programmatic Adamo Calafati head of marketing solutions Melissa Williams

121 Bloor St. E. Suite 430 Toronto, ON M4W 3M5


Bonnie Kintzer president and chief executive officer Raimo Moysa editor-in-chief, international magazines VOL. 194, NO. 1,158 Copyright © 2019 by Reader’s Digest Magazines Canada Limited. Reproduction in any manner in whole or in part in English or other languages prohibited. All rights reserved throughout the world. Protection secured under International and Pan-American copyright conventions. Publications Mail Agreement No. 40070677. Postage paid at Montreal. Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to 5101 Buchan St., suite 300, Montreal, QC H4P 1S4. Print subscriptions, $34.50 a year, plus $8.99 postage, processing and handling. Please add applicable taxes. Outside Canada, $53.96 yearly, including postage, processing and handling. (Prices and postage subject to change without notice.) ISSN 0034-0413. Indexed by the Canadian Periodical Index. Single issue: $4.95.

We acknowledge with gratitude the financial support of the Government of Canada. / Nous remercions le Gouvernement du Canada pour son appui financier.

Reader’s Digest publishes 10 issues per year and may occasionally publish special issues (special issues count as two)‚ subject to change without notice.



reader’s digest



Illustrator, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Writer, Toronto

“Are My Taxes Fair?”

“Hitting Refresh”

Lauren Tamaki is always sure to do her taxes on time. Since becoming self-employed, that means filing quarterly, with the help of an accountant. Once, she attended a drag show as research for an assignment she was working on, and you better believe she wrote that off. Read about which tax deductions you might be missing on page 102.



Photographer, Edmonton

Writer, Winnipeg

“Job Satisfaction”

“Are My Taxes Fair?”

Jason Franson has worked in photography for 15 years. What he likes best about taking portraits is that it allows him to meet a wide range of people. This time around, that meant getting to know Anthony Barrett, an Edmonton man with autism spectrum disorder, his mother and his personal support worker. Read about Anthony and his business on page 12.

8 april 2019

Megan Haynes believes that strong relationships are built on empathy; without it, you can’t understand what your partner is feeling. While she doesn’t “spring clean” her own relationship, she does regularly go through finances with her partner to make sure their goals—like travel or home ownership—still align. Read about how to give your partnership an annual tune-up on page 74.

Bryan Borzykowski understands taxes well because he’s been writing about them for 12 years. That doesn’t necessarily mean he’s organized come tax time, however. While he never misses the deadline, every year he scrambles to get his paperwork together the night before. His accountant hates him. Read about whether Canada’s tax system is fair on page 102.



From hilarious jokes to housekeeping hacks, our Daily Digest e-newsletter delivers the very best of Reader’s Digest Canada to your inbox Monday through Friday. SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE TODAY AT RD.CA/NEWSLETTER FOLLOW US ON SOCIAL NETWORKS


reader’s digest


All Together Now I’ve been reading your magazine for over 46 years—ever since I was a child growing up in Jamaica. The inspirational story, “The Marvelous Making of Canada’s Most Autism-Friendly Town” (December 2018), is by far my favourite piece of all time! My son was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in 2002. Since then, I have been a firm believer in community approaches to helping kids with disabilities live their best lives. I congratulate Channel-Port aux Basques, N.L., for ensuring that kids with ASD feel accepted. This town shows that it really does take a village to raise a child! And to Reader’s Digest: you’re a treasure. Thanks for inspiring the world one issue at a time! – TANIA HERNANDEZ, Hamilton, Ont.

WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! Have some thoughts about one of our stories? Send us your letters! Reader’s Digest wants to hear what you think. In every issue, one of the notes we publish will appear as a featured letter. If your submission is selected as our Letter of the Month, we’ll send you $50! See full contest guidelines at Write to us at Please include your full name and address.

10 april 2019



HOCKEY’S DARK SECRET Although I’m not much of a hockey fan, “Everything’s Not Okay” (January/ February 2019) interested me. I really appreciated former NHLer Nick Boynton’s courage and honesty. We hear about the glory of the game and its heroes, but not very much about the average player—or the ugly truth behind the sport. I hope that as Boynton recovers, he’s eventually able to remember some of hockey’s positive aspects—the skills he mastered, the friendships fostered, the sound of sticks slapping the puck—so that he can reclaim the thing he loved. — CHRISTINE TIMMERMANS, Ottawa ON OUR PLATES I just finished reading “50 Ways to Protect Your Heart Like Cardiologists Do” (January/February 2019). I find it interesting that none of these doctors mentioned the plant-based eating regimen. Many doctors and studies have recommended cutting out meat as an effective way for people to reduce the risk of heart disease. Unprocessed fruits and vegetables are filled with fibre, vitamins and other nutrients that can improve our heart health. The same goes for things like whole grains. If people cut down on meat or switched to a fully plant-based diet, they’d likely notice a difference in their overall well-being. — TRISH HUNTINGTON, Sherwood Park, Alta.

CONTRIBUTE Send us your funny jokes and anecdotes, and if we publish one in a print edition of Reader’s Digest, we’ll send you $50. To submit, visit Original contributions (text and photos) become the property of The Reader’s Digest Magazines Canada Limited, and its affiliates, upon publication. Submissions may be edited for length and clarity, and may be reproduced in all print and electronic media. Receipt of your submission cannot be acknowledged.

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reader’s digest


How Anthony at Your Service is delivering better work to people living with intellectual disabilities

Job Satisfaction BY

Tim Querengesser

photograph by jason franson



of 2010, Deborah Barrett and her son, Anthony, walked out of a restaurant near the Edmonton high school from which he’d graduated two years earlier. They had volunteered to wash dishes there to give Anthony something to do, but when they emerged, soaked, the sun sliced through the clouds and Deborah had a realization: my kid is not spending his life in a dish pit. Cleaning plates isn’t the only option for the bulk of high-school graduates. But Anthony has autism and is mostly non-verbal, aside from short words in answer to yes-or-no questions and the

12 april 2019

Eeeee sounds he makes when he’s excited, happy or frustrated. Once a person with intellectual disabilities ages out of school, “There’s no life for them,” Deborah says. Programs end, and job options are usually menial. As her son entered his 20s, Deborah contemplated what he could do and what he enjoyed. Among his likes: being driven around and carrying things, as well as seeing new places but not staying long. Maybe he could be a courier? The catch: Anthony doesn’t move fast, and courier gigs would require his support staff to be his driver and co-worker.


Anthony at Your Service’s core team—Anthony Barrett (centre), his mother, Deborah, and his support worker, Mike Hamm— in Edmonton in January 2019.


reader’s digest

That wasn’t an issue for Mike Hamm. In 2012, he became Anthony’s new assistant and embraced the plan of spending part of their days delivering packages as a team. The pair called their venture Anthony at Your Service, signed a few customers (a balloon store, an orthodontics company) and set out in Hamm’s gold sedan. In a bid to drum up more business, Hamm soon uploaded a video to YouTube that showcased Anthony’s love of the educational game Math Blaster, swimming and headbanging to dubstep. “He’s one of the happiest guys I know,” Hamm says, narrating. Anthony’s new project, he continued, is his company. “We’ll deliver anything we can carry— well, that Anthony can carry.” Within a couple days, the video hit 100,000 views. Anthony at Your Service was in demand. Seven years later, boxes awaiting distribution are piled on the porch of the home Anthony, 30, shares with Deborah and her husband, David, a lawyer. The company now has twodozen delivery teams—each comprising a contractor with an intellectual disability and their support-worker contractor—in Edmonton and Calgary. Thirty-year-old Jesse Andrew, who has cerebral palsy, has delivered with the company since 2017. “Anthony at Your Service gives me a chance to do work I know I can excel at,” he says. As for customers, what they receive from Anthony at Your Service—which

14 april 2019

charges from $30 per delivery and pays its drivers minimum wage plus mileage—is something that FedEx can’t deliver. “They’re as connected to my company as any employee,” says Laine Cherkewick, co-owner of the Edmonton sandwich shop Farrow, which uses the service up to 10 times a week for catering orders. Launching a company that employs 24 contractors with intellectual disabilities, and all the logistics that come along with that, wasn’t the original plan, Deborah says. But the realities of delivery work—the peaks and valleys in demand, the long hours—meant that Anthony and Hamm couldn’t shoulder the load alone. And the feedback she received from Alberta’s autistic and intellectually disabled communities suggested they wanted to work for a company that understood them. Running Anthony at Your Service has become Deborah’s full-time, if unpaid, gig—she gave up her psychotherapy practice and the presidency of Autism Society Alberta a couple years ago. “What I’m doing for Anthony now has made more difference in his life than any of that other work,” she says. “We want to create jobs for people with all kinds of abilities and disabilities.” On a typical delivery, Hamm and Anthony walk the package into the business together, but after seven years, that’s evolving, too. These days, there are a few spots where Anthony enters the shop on his own.


reader’s digest

LIFE’S LIKE THAT Classic Art Gets Instagrammed

Last week I went to the dentist to get my teeth cleaned. At one point during the cleaning, a stream of saliva shot out of my mouth. When I apologized, the hygienist replied, “That’s okay, spit happens.” — ALICIA GOBINE,

Barrie, Ont. “How I think I look when someone tells me I look tired.”

Whenever I Cut a Bagel: Would you like the side that is somehow three times larger than the original bagel or the side that is the first object ever to have only two dimensions? —


“When you realize it’s only Tuesday.”

“Actual photo of me after I drink a smoothie.”


Social Media Malaise At the end of a long and difficult day, I like to come home, put my feet up, log onto Twitter, and get absolutely livid at everything awful in the world. Really takes the edge off. — Musician MARK HOPPUS

To Seal One’s Wait Do people who line up at the gate before their flight starts boarding also stand next to the toilet 20 minutes before they even have to pee? —


If you’re Canadian and use milk bags and have never cut the tip off the bag by sawing it with a steak knife because nothing else was available, you’re lying. —


My body: WHAT DO WE WANT? My brain: SLEEP! My body: WHEN DO WE WANT IT? My brain: AT EITHER 2 p.m. OR 3 p.m. NO OTHER TIME. My body: No, that’s not— My brain: WE ARE UNWILLING TO COMPROMISE. —


Send us your original jokes! You could earn $50 and be featured in the magazine. See page 11 or for details.



reader’s digest



Danielle Groen

OUR PLANET The dulcet tones of David Attenborough’s voice guide viewers through this eight-part nature series, Netflix’s most ambitious documentary to date. Filmed over four years in 50 countries, it was produced by the Planet Earth team alongside the WWF, which supplied advice and access to locations. Travelling from South American jungles to deep ocean waters, the show mixes spectacular entertainment with calls to action on climate change. Apr. 5. A MIND SPREAD OUT ON THE GROUND By Alicia Elliott The Haudenosaunee writer wraps intimate personal essays around a razor-sharp examination of intergenerational trauma in Canada and the United States. In addition to the title essay, which won a National Magazine Award in 2017, Elliott presents indictments of a racist court system and residential schools while also providing an unflinching look at her own sexual assault and her family’s mental-health struggles. Mar. 26.

16 april 2019



US Jordan Peele’s smash 2017 debut, Get Out, served up spine-tingling horror, biting social commentary and serious laughs. The writerdirector’s follow-up, Us, is going in for the same masterful kill. Black Panther’s Winston Duke and Lupita Nyong’o play Gabe and Adelaide Wilson, a couple vacationing with their kids at a beach house that is swiftly invaded by terrifying doppelgängers. As Peele makes clear, we are our own worst enemies. Mar. 15.

NORMAL PEOPLE By Sally Rooney When your talent is this vast, tag lines are sure to follow; the 28-year-old Irish writer has been called everything from “Salinger for the Snapchat generation” to “Jane Austen of the precariat.” The hype might sound a tad ridiculous, but Rooney’s sophomore novel is lovely, a delicately rendered will-they-or-won’t-they romance between high-school sweethearts turned college best friends who can’t quite quit one another. Apr. 16. CAPTAIN MARVEL Yes, there is another Avengers movie, and yes, the fatigue is real. But Captain Marvel is the first of 21 entries in the sprawling Marvel universe to feature a solo female hero (butt-kicking Oscar winner Brie Larson) and to be directed by a woman (Anna Boden). It also leaps over the whole origin-story business, plunging audiences right into the battles of an air force pilot against alien powers. Mar. 8.



reader’s digest


You Should Know About Donating Blood BY

Anna-Kaisa Walker

illustration by clayton hanmer

If you’re healthy and weigh more than 50 kilograms, you’re donor material. Your body contains five litres of blood, and only about 450 millilitres are collected per donation. Plasma can be donated every seven days, platelets every 14 days and blood every eight weeks.


As universal donors, those with type O negative blood can save the most lives—but they only make up 6.6 per cent of the population. “That type has the lowest supply levels,” says Michael Betel, director of donor relations for Canadian Blood Services.


It takes two minutes to find out your blood type. Canadian Blood Services holds free blood-typing events across the country.


If you’ve been turned down before, you may be eligible to donate now, Betel says. Recently, Canadian

18 april 2019


Blood Services began to allow donors from certain West African countries (where HIV infection rates were once high), and donors with health conditions such as celiac disease, which had previously excluded them.


The rules have also changed for men who have had sex with men. You’re now eligible to donate if more than one year has passed since you’ve had sex with another man. “We’d support a further reduction in this deferral period, once we have more data,” Betel says.


Have a tattoo or piercing? You can still give blood—just wait a full three months after getting either before you donate.


Shortages happen most often around holidays. Even long weekends cause a dip in donations. “We aim to have a five- to eight-day supply of every blood

type,” Betel says. “If we get down to less than a two-day supply, hospitals may have to defer elective surgeries as a measure to conserve blood supply.” Other times donations can make the most impact are in the summer and in early January.


Platelets, cells that help your body form clots, are urgently needed as they must be transfused within five days of donation.


You can donate platelets every two weeks. The apheresis process, which involves spinning out blood before returning it to your body, is easier on iron levels.


It’s rare to faint after donating, and one Italian study found only 1 per cent of donors experienced other adverse reactions, such as nausea. To ease negative effects, eat and drink properly the day of your donation, and

help yourself to those free cookies and juice.


First-time donors often give blood after a disaster or crisis, and while that is necessary, the majority of blood supplies are needed by people with health conditions that cause anemia.


Every minute, someone in Canada needs blood. “Only about 4 per cent of the Canadian population donates,” says Betel, although half the population is eligible.


Plasma is needed for transfusions for burn, trauma or hemophilia patients. Since demand outstrips supply, Canada imports 80 per cent of its plasma from the United Sates— where most donors are paid. Paid plasma donation centres are now popping up in multiple provinces— which Canadian Blood Services considers to be unethical.



POINTS TO PONDER I’m less interested in politics now than I ever have been in my entire life.


–Former TV host Rick Mercer,

–Jeopardy host Alex Trebek,



You see everything through a particular lens: very sensitive, more open. It’s like being on an airplane all the time. –Actor Rachel McAdams on being a mom, IN CHATELAINE

Expand your mind. Read about history. Go to a museum. Go to the opera. Go to the ballet. Go to therapy. Understand why you tick. –Actor Andrea Martin, TO VULTURE


20 april 2019

I’m in my 65th year; to find true love is a miracle. –Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, TO CHATELAINE, on her engagement to John Kidder


reader’s digest



I’m talking about a person born and raised on a reserve, who knows the reserve politics, knows what it’s like to live under the yoke of the bureaucracy of Indian and Northern Affairs. That’s the experience that I want brought to the Supreme Court. –Harry LaForme, the first Indigenous judge on Ontario’s Court of Appeal, IN THE GLOBE AND MAIL


I’M STARTING TO FEEL LIKE AN OLD GUY. –Twenty-eight-year-old tennis player Vasek Pospisil, IN THE MONTREAL GAZETTE

I have been through a lot. I also had breast cancer three times. So the thing that I think is most healing is getting up on that stage and having immense love and affection and fun pouring at us. It’s very healing. –Musician Sharon Hampson, TO GLOBAL NEWS

There is always that part of you that needs to know where you came from and needs to have a fuller sense of your history. –Giller Prize–winning author Esi Edugyan, IN THE GUARDIAN



reader’s digest


A Sound Advice How to protect your hearing BY

Samantha Rideout

illustration by kara pyle

22 april 2019

LL SOUNDS LOUDER than roughly

85 decibels—from lawnmowers to heavy traffic to blaring music—are a threat to your hearing, especially if your exposure is long or repeated. That’s because they can injure or kill hair cells in your inner ear that are involved in sending sound signals to your brain. The louder the noise, the less time you can be near to its source before it causes damage. Since most of us don’t carry decibel meters around, you can rely instead on this rule of thumb: if you are required to raise your voice to be heard by someone standing an arm’s length away then there’s potential for harm. Ideally, either reduce the noise, leave for a quieter environment or wear protection such as earplugs or safety earmuffs.


Listening to music through ear- quality and appearance—there are now phones is a common cause of hearing tiny, barely noticeable models available. loss. Many smart phones and personal Another possible consequence of players can produce sounds of 100 noise exposure or aging is tinnitus. decibels or more. Some will warn you This phantom ringing, buzzing, hissing when you exceed safe levels. If yours or roaring is often caused by the brain doesn’t, keep it set to less than the compensating for missing sound input maximum volume. or by damaged ear hair cells sending Deafening noise isn’t to blame for random signals to it. Tinnitus may go all hearing loss, though. away, but some people Occasionally, the root of deal with it constantly the problem is an underor intermittently for life. lying condition such as Although the condition a ruptured eardrum. In affects each sufferer differently, sleep loss, irritaddition, the inner ear can also simply deteriorability, stress and trouOF CANADIANS ate as you get older, and ble concentrating are among the potential unfortunately, there’s no REGULARLY real way to prevent this. repercussions. LISTEN TO If you suspect you’ve If your tinnitus comes EARPHONES lost some hearing, see a with hearing loss—and GP or audiologist. A hearthey do often show up AT UNSAFE ing aid could improve together—then a hearyour abilities noticeably, HIGH VOLUMES. ing aid could ease it by particularly when it’s a giving your brain exterquestion of picking up nal sounds to focus on. people’s speech. Other potentially helpThe technology itself “can take a ful devices include sound generators while to get used to, because your brain that emit gentle white noise that supneeds to readjust,” says Dr. Gemma presses the tinnitus. Twitchen, senior audiologist for Action Though there’s no way to fully cure on Hearing Loss, a British charitable age- or noise-related hearing loss or organization based in London. tinnitus, studies show that addressing “Research shows this is much easier if these conditions prevents problems like you take action on getting your hearing social isolation, depression or dementia assessed early on, when you first from developing, most likely by improvnotice it reducing.” Hearing aids are ing your mood, independence and abilimproving in terms of comfort, sound ity to interact with others.




reader’s digest


Samantha Rideout




under your skin—and into your veins. A 2018 study published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine looked at over 2,000 middle-aged American women from various backgrounds who’d been asked how often they faced everyday discrimination. These experiences could include harassment, name-calling or being presumed dishonest or unintelligent. Those who frequently endured unjust treatment were more likely to see their blood pressure go up over the next decade.

24 april 2019

Because Aspirin reduces blood clotting, people who’ve had a heart attack or stroke are often advised to take a daily dose to help prevent recurrence. A recent trial conducted in the United States and Australia explored whether seniors without cardiovascular disease (CDV) should do the same. Over 19,000 healthy seniors were assigned to either an Aspirin group or a placebo group. After an average follow-up of 4.7 years, there was no significant difference between the two groups’ rates of CDV or their chances of remaining free from disability. However, people taking the medication had a slightly higher rate of serious hemorrhages. The conclusion: daily Aspirin’s benefits outweigh its risks for people with certain cardiovascular conditions, but not for everyone.


News from the

Daily Aspirin Doesn’t Benefit Healthy Seniors



New ALS Treatment Approved Until recently, only one drug was available in Canada for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease or motor neuron disease. That medication, riluzole (brand name Rilutek), can prolong patients’ average survival by two to three months. Now a second option has been approved: edaravone (Radicava), which slowed physicalfunction loss by 33 per cent in a 2014 Japanese trial of people with early-stage ALS. The disease remains uncured and terminal, but the ALS Society of Canada hopes the new treatment’s acceptance “will build momentum for the development of additional therapies,” according to CEO Tammy Moore.

Certain Supplements Might Aid Tumour Growth

Insufficient Sleep Linked to Dehydration In a Pennsylvania State University study involving over 20,000 participants, people who said they regularly got only six hours of sleep each night ran a greater risk of inadequate hydration than those who got eight hours. The reason might lie with a hormone called vasopressin, which helps regulate the body’s fluid levels. It’s released in greater quantities later in the sleep cycle; therefore, people with less shuteye might not have the optimal amount of it. “If you’re short on sleep,” said lead author Asher Rosinger, “and you experience fatigue, irritability or a poorer mood, drink extra water.”

Found in many fruits and veggies, antioxidants have a reputation as cancer preventers because they neutralize free radicals, molecules that can damage cells. However, some past clinical trials have associated taking antioxidant supplements during cancer treatment with worse outcomes. After observing how the antioxidants N-acetylcysteine and vitamin E affected melanoma in mice and human cell cultures, researchers at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden offered an explanation: they may protect healthy cells and cancerous ones. “Until more is known about the effects of antioxidant supplements in cancer patients,” says a guide from the U.S. National Cancer Institute, “they should be used with caution.”



reader’s digest



Lisa Bendall

illustration by victor wong

THE PATIENT: Karim*, a 30-year-old retail clerk THE SYMPTOMS: Severe abdominal pain and fever THE DOCTOR: Dr. Alexander Greenstein, gastrointestinal surgeon at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City



Karim’s gut began when he was in his early 20s. He’d get diarrhea—running to the toilet as many as 10 times a day—and his stomach was often in agony after meals. Back then, he still lived in his North African home country, and it was there that a doctor diagnosed him with Crohn’s disease, *BIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS HAVE BEEN CHANGED.

26 april 2019

the autoimmune condition known for causing abdominal discomfort. For eight years, Karim tried various medications seeking relief, but his symptoms only continued to wax and wane. The young man grew thinner and thinner, and sometimes he was too unwell to work. When Karim moved to New York in early 2017 seeking more employment opportunities, one of his first priorities was to get another medical opinion and perhaps find some fresh hope. And indeed, his new doctor had additional suggestions for relieving Karim’s Crohn’s symptoms, including Humira, a breakthrough drug made from human antibodies that curbs the body’s inflammatory response.


At first, Humira seemed to help. Karim felt better and even put on a bit of weight. But a few weeks after starting the drug, he was rushed to the Mount Sinai emergency room in the middle of the night, in crisis. For three days, his pain had intensified, and now it felt as though a blade was relentlessly cutting through his middle. He was feverish and severely constipated. The initial lab workup showed he had elevated lymphocytes, white blood cells that fight infection. Dr. Alexander Greenstein, a specialist in inflammatory bowel diseases, saw Karim first thing in the morning. To Greenstein, Karim had all the telltale signs of an intestinal obstruction, a common complication from the inflammation and scarring caused by Crohn’s. A CAT scan from the previous night did show a thickening of the small bowel, but it also revealed something unexpected: Karim’s belly contained a massive amount of fluid that shouldn’t be there. This buildup could happen if the obstructed bowel had perforated, but the scan didn’t show evidence of that. Meanwhile, Karim was in physical distress. Greenstein and his team debated what to do next. Bowel obstructions can sometimes clear up on their own with time, but the doctors were concerned that if the fluid was contaminated with intestinal bacteria, the infection could spread, leading to a shutdown of other organs.

“It just seemed too dangerous to wait,” Greenstein says. “My instinct was, this guy is really sick, and we’ve got to see what’s going on.” Within a few hours, the patient was lying on the operating table. Soon after the procedure began, it became obvious to Greenstein that Karim’s problem was far from ordinary. The doctor saw the expected obstruction, “but there were also lots of pearl-coloured, miniature nodules everywhere, throughout the abdomen,” he says. “This is not something you see with Crohn’s.”

A SCAN SHOWED HIS BELLY CONTAINED A MASSIVE AMOUNT OF FLUID THAT SHOULDN’T BE THERE. Fearing a metastasized cancer, the team sent tissue for rapid testing in the hospital lab. The results were back before Greenstein had even finished repairing the blockage. Thankfully, the pathology report ruled out cancer. It then listed a number of possible explanations for the nodules. One was sarcoidosis, an immune response that can produce tiny granulomas. Another was tuberculosis. The contagious bacterial infection usually creates nodules in the



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lungs, but in about a quarter of cases, it can attack elsewhere. Before starting Humira, Karim had been cleared for TB, a routine step, as the immunosuppressant can cause underlying infections to flare up. That blood test, though, can produce false negatives from time to time.

IN GREENSTEIN’S 16 YEARS OF TRAINING AND PRACTICE, HE HAD NEVER SEEN A CASE LIKE KARIM’S. Fewer than 10,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with TB each year, and just one to three per cent of those instances invade the gastrointestinal system. In Greenstein’s 16 years of training and practice, he had never seen such a case. Greenstein realized, however, that Karim’s symptoms had become worse after he started taking Humira—and so TB fit. Although it would take a week for the lab to confirm the diagnosis,

Greenstein started Karim on three anti-tuberculosis medications. He also had to explain to his patient that he probably never had Crohn’s disease. “He was a little upset and overwhelmed,” Greenstein recalls, but he convinced Karim that this was very good news. “I told him he should be happy because TB is more curable, frankly, than Crohn’s.” Karim had high fevers for several more days before finally turning a corner. He started feeling better, and his body temperature gradually returned to normal. As Greenstein expected, the lab results came back positive for TB. Twelve days later, Karim was well enough to be discharged. Although it was a slow recovery as he regained his strength, he’s now considered cured. Greenstein reflects that the challenge of recognizing a rare form of a rare disease was compounded by the fact that another condition had already been identified. “Once you’ve been given a diagnosis, it’s almost impossible to get undiagnosed,” Greenstein says. “You just keep getting treated for something you don’t have—and you can’t fix something you don’t have.”

Snack Attacked Of all the bears that would kill me, the gummy has come the closest. @ JIMMYBAUER

I eat what I want, tell myself it’s healthy and let the placebo effect do the rest. @ SHUTUPMIKEGINN

28 april 2019





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EXPIRATION DATE: August 31, 2019



25 Health Symptoms You Should


Lisa Bendall

photographs by gabrielle sykes

30 april 2019


reader’s digest


reader’s digest

SUDDEN SYMPTOMS Slurred speech Speech that’s suddenly unintelligible can be a sign of a stroke in the brain’s language centre. “The person may have garbled and mixed-up words or they can’t understand what you’re saying,” says Dr. Leanne K. Casaubon, neurologist and director of the Transient Ischemic Attack and Minor Stroke Unit at Toronto Western Hospital. Another symptom may be drooping on one side of the face. Any time you suspect you’ve suffered a stroke, call 911 promptly, or have someone else do so.

Flashes of light or increased floaters As we get older, it’s not uncommon to see floaters and flashes—often harmless signs of changes to the vitreous gel inside our eyeballs. But sudden, bright flashes or a larger number of floaters can mean the retina has torn. That’s an eye emergency and should be checked. “Otherwise fluid can seep underneath the tear and lead to a retinal detachment, which can cause blindness,” says Dr. Lorne Bellan, head of the department of ophthalmology at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg.

Change in mental status If a loved one’s mental function or behaviour abruptly changes, they need

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to be seen—even if they’ve been diagnosed with dementia. “Typically it’s not normal to become acutely confused,” says Ottawa’s Dr. Paul Pageau, former president of the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians. The symptom is often caused by a condition that needs treatment, such as a urinary tract infection. Other common causes include low blood sugar (among people with diabetes), electrolyte imbalances and medication.

Vision changes Double or blurred vision, loss of vision in one eye or loss of the visual field on one side (without warning you can’t see half the computer screen, say) can all be signs of a stroke. Other causes of unexpected vision changes range from minor, such as a migraine aura, to life-threatening. “A worst-case scenario is an aneurysm in the brain, pressing on the nerve that rotates the eye,” says Bellan. “It usually presents with the sudden onset of double vision. Emergency treatment will prevent the aneurysm from rupturing.”

Pressure in the jaw, neck or arms According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, not everyone experiences classic chest pain with a heart attack, especially women. Pressure, discomfort or aching in your arms, neck, jaw or back can be your only symptom. That doesn’t mean it can’t be


some other problem triggering the sensation, says Dr. Peter Bogaty of the Montreal Cardiac Clinic: “The heart, esophagus and organs within the chest all share a common nerve supply with the jaw and arms, so it isn’t necessarily the heart.” But if the feeling is new, doesn’t feel right and doesn’t go away after a few minutes, call for help.

Stiff neck with flu-like symptoms In the early stages of meningitis, you may be convinced you have the seasonal flu due to the presence of a headache and high fever. But people who develop an infection of the membranes around the brain and spinal cord will typically have a stiff neck that hurts when they try touching their chin to their chest. They may also become bothered by light and confused. “Bacterial meningitis can be lethal if it’s not treated early,” says Pageau. “With every hour’s delay in appropriate antibiotic administration, there’s increased disability and mortality.”

Chest pain It’s still the most common heart-attack symptom, yet people often ignore it, says Bogaty. It’s true that indigestion, acid reflux and anxiety can also cause chest symptoms. But you need to be in an emergency room, where blood testing, imaging or other investigations can be done quickly, to know what exactly is going on. “If it is a threatening heart

attack, then it can be nipped in the bud. It can prevent a sudden death,” Bogaty says.

UNEXPLAINED SYMPTOMS Weight loss If you’ve unintentionally lost more than five per cent of your body weight over six to 12 months, tell your doctor. (Make an appointment sooner if you have additional symptoms, like pain, abdominal swelling or nausea.) Many conditions can cause weight to dip, including gastrointestinal issues such as ulcers and celiac disease, infections, thyroid problems, psychiatric disorders and medication side effects. There’s also a chance it’s cancer. “If you delay diagnosis of any cancer, it could get to a more advanced stage, when it’s harder to control,” says Dr. Monica Behl, a senior medical officer and oncologist with the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency.

Red streaks under the skin If surface bacteria like strep or staphylococcus get through your skin—often through a cut, crack or insect bite—and infect deeper tissues, that infection can spread and cause serious complications, and in some cases even death. “Diabetics are at particular risk of infections,” says Pageau. You likely need antibiotics if you have a red, warm, inflamed area that gets larger over a



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day or two or is streaking up your body. Healthy people can see their family doctor if it isn’t progressing rapidly, says Pageau. “But if you’re feeling unwell or it’s getting worse quickly, go to the emergency department.”

it. It can be a sign of cancer, but many other conditions can also be the cause, including a bladder infection, a kidney stone, an anal fissure, inflammatory bowel disease or possibly something else entirely.

Dizziness or fainting

Shortness of breath

Feeling momentarily faint when you stand up is usually due to a drop in blood pressure. For some folks, that’s their normal physiology, but for others it’s a sign of a problem. Things like dehydration or medication side effects are easy to correct. But Dr. Brett Belchetz, a Toronto ER physician and the co-founder and CEO of Maple, an online medical-care service, says: “You can also have low blood pressure from cardiac problems, infections or neurological disorders.” Light-headedness may be a sign you’re anemic, perhaps from heavy periods or gastrointestinal bleeding. Vertigo most often signifies a middle-ear problem. Make an appointment—but get help right away if you feel like fainting even when you’re not standing up, or if the vertigo is so intense that you can’t walk in a straight line.

If it’s so severe that you can’t walk more than a few steps or finish a sentence, you need to call 911, says Belchetz. “There’s a long list of causes, but all of these are fairly serious and none should be left alone. It could progress down a path of being very dangerous or even deadly.” Possible issues include heart attack, pneumonia, asthma, emphysema or a blood clot in the lungs. If the shortness of breath doesn’t interfere with your daily activities, it’s not an emergency, but your doctor will want to examine your heart and lungs or check for other causes.

Blood in your urine or stool Certain medications and foods can change the colour of your stool or urine, and so can minor ailments like hemorrhoids. But bleeding into the toilet bowl always needs to be checked out if you have no idea what’s at the root of

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PERSISTENT SYMPTOMS Hoarse voice or coughing Laryngitis or throat irritation that doesn’t go away after a few weeks could be from cigarette smoking, pollution, dry air or straining your voice. It could also be a sign you have GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease, or acid reflux). This disorder becomes more common as you age and, if undiagnosed, can lead to bleeding and




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scarring in the esophagus. See your doctor to find out if you need treatment and to rule out a tumour in your lungs or throat.

Moles that change The Canadian Cancer Society reports that melanoma rates in Canada are rising faster than almost any other cancer type. There were 7,200 newly diagnosed cases in 2017 alone. Examine yourself once a month and don’t ignore any growths that are increasing in size, otherwise changing or bleeding, Behl says. “Put a ruler beside your mole and take a picture of it. You’ll know what size it is, and this makes it easier to keep an eye on it and see if it’s actually changing.”

Loud snoring Have you been compared to a buzz saw? You could have obstructive sleep apnea, in which the muscles in the back of your throat relax as you sleep, allowing your airway to close. More than a quarter of undiagnosed Canadians fit the high-risk profile, which includes three or more contributing factors, such as high blood pressure and obesity. Sleep apnea can lead to dangerously low levels of oxygen in the bloodstream, raising the odds of additional problems, such as irregular heart rhythms, and worsening the effects of coronary artery disease. “The good news is that there are treatments, like CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines, surgical and laser

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procedures and oral devices that can hold the airway open,” says Belchetz.

Vomiting or diarrhea There are dozens of causes, including food poisoning, migraines, stomach bugs and anxiety. Most are short-lived, but if your symptom doesn’t go away after a couple days, or if it comes and goes for more than a month, see your doctor, because certain conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease and gallstones, need to be treated. Consider it an emergency if you have other serious symptoms, such as severe belly pain, bad headache, high fever or blood in your vomit or stool.

Overwhelming fatigue A third of almost 9,000 working-age people in the 2007-2013 Canadian Health Measures Survey reported getting less than seven hours of sleep a night, so it’s not surprising many of us feel tired. But if you’re so exhausted that you’re having trouble concentrating, you doze off during the day or you have zero energy, you could suffer from low iron, hypothyroidism, sleep apnea, depression or cancer. “If it’s bad enough that you’re wondering if you should see a doctor, err on the side of getting checked out,” says Behl.

Swollen lymph nodes This usually means your body is busy fighting off a minor illness, like a cold. However, if an enlarged lymph node


anywhere on your body—the sides of the neck, behind the ears, the armpits and the groin are common sites— doesn’t return to normal after three to four weeks, make an appointment. Autoimmune disorders like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis can cause persistent swollen lymph nodes; so may infections like Lyme disease and cancers such as leukemia.

Night sweats More intense than the menopausal hot flashes that may strike while you’re sleeping, “this is a drenching sweat that requires changing bedclothes,” says Behl. “Just like anything that has many causes, cancer can be one of them.” Research suggests that cancer-related night sweats may be triggered by the activity of cytokines, proteins released by the immune system. But the symptom could also be a sign of infection, side effects from a medication or a disorder of the endocrine system.

Lump in your throat or difficulty swallowing “The most common cause is a little virus or bug that’s causing the throat tissues to feel irritated and swollen,” says Belchetz. You could also have a tiny scratch from swallowing something sharp. Try gargling with salt water for a couple days. If it persists, see your doctor. Some diseases, including GERD and cancer, can lead to growths and tissue changes in the

throat area. Adds Belchetz: “If it has any effect on your breathing, you need to be seen right away.”

Sadness If you feel down on a daily basis and it doesn’t improve after two weeks, seek help from your family doctor. Although you may be inclined to tough it out alone, depression can lead to physical health problems and social isolation. The Canadian Community Health Survey on Mental Health, published in 2012, found that almost one in 20 adults had experienced symptoms of major depression within the preceding year. Risk factors include having another chronic medical condition, such as arthritis. Get emergency care if you’re thinking about hurting yourself; treatment can help. “Many people go through depression, recover and lead productive lives,” says Pageau.

STRANGE SENSATIONS Weakness, numbness or tingling in your arms and legs Call 911 if the symptom comes on suddenly and affects one side of the body. If you lift both arms, does only one stay in the air? “A stroke generally doesn’t affect both sides together,” says Casaubon. People can also experience odd feelings in their limbs when they have a neurological condition, like multiple



reader’s digest

sclerosis, or a cardiac event. “Even someone having a panic attack can get tingling in their hands if their carbon dioxide level is off,” Casaubon says.

Excessive thirst This could be a sign of diabetes. When your urine has a high concentration of sugar because your body cannot process it properly, you can become dehydrated. But first, ask yourself if your thirst is truly abnormal. “If you’ve been out on a hot day, or you were out of your routine and didn’t drink enough, that’s normal thirst,” says Belchetz. Note, too, that carbonated beverages, alcohol and caffeine won’t relieve thirst. “If your thirst is unquenchable with water, that’s concerning.”

One-sided leg pain Odds are you’ve got a compressed nerve or a pulled muscle. But about 45,000 Canadians a year develop deep

vein thrombosis (DVT), a blood clot in a leg vein or other deep vein, and it can feel like a leg cramp. You may also see swelling or redness. In about a third of people whose DVT goes untreated, the clot moves to the lungs and causes a dangerous blood-flow blockage known as a pulmonary embolism. DVT risk factors include recent surgery and prolonged immobility.

Itchy, tingling lips and throat “This is potentially an allergic reaction,” says Pageau. Anaphylaxis often begins with hives and a sense of agitation, then develops into swelling. It’s commonly triggered by foods, medications and insect stings, but up to 20 per cent of the time there’s no obvious cause. In rare cases your airway can close. “If you notice your lips or tongue swelling, if you’re having difficulty breathing or if it’s rapidly progressing, you need emergency treatment.”

The Only Constant You can’t crush ideas by suppressing them. You can only crush them by ignoring them. By refusing to think, refusing to change. URSULA K. LE GUIN

Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future. JOHN F. KENNEDY

You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete. R. BUCKMINSTER FULLER

38 april 2019


reader’s digest


pierre loranger


Killer Excuse Fernando Lafuente was playing video games at home after work last November when he first heard reports of his death. The Dublinbased engineer and recreational soccer player got a call from his boss who was wondering how a dead man had just been at the office. His former team, Ballybrack FC, had been having difficulty recruiting players and decided to fabricate news of his passing to postpone an upcoming game. The tactic worked a little too well: support poured out over social media, and a local newspaper published an obituary. Thankfully, Lafuente prospered in his “resurrection,” even snagging a commercial deal with an Irish gambling company.

Nathaniel Basen

Toil and Trouble Timmins, Ont., resident Tiffany Butch became the final person to be charged under Canada’s anti-witchcraft laws last December— just days before the regulations were taken off the books. Butch, who considers herself a psychic, stands accused of accepting payment in exchange for using her spiritual powers to protect a client from danger. Butch says she’s innocent—and predicts winning her case.

Burning Man One afternoon last November, United States Border Patrol agent Dennis Dickey aimed his rifle at a target labelled “boy or girl” and fired. The bullet was meant to hit an explosive substance, producing either blue or pink smoke in order to reveal the biological sex of his imminent baby. Soon, though, all he could see was red and orange. The blast caught brush, sparking a fire that spread to more than 18,000 hectares of Arizona state land and took more than a week to douse. Dickey burned through more than just forest: as he pays back part of the state’s $8-million price tag, his retirement savings have also gone up in flames.



reader’s digest

40 april 2019



As a professional magician, when I pull off the perfect trick, the audience’s wonder and joy is no illusion




reader’s digest

42 april 2019


you learn early on as a magician is that the most amazing part of a trick has nothing to do with the secret, which is simple and often dull: a hidden piece of tape, a small mirror, a duplicate playing card. In this case, the secret was a series of covert manoeuvres to hide the coin behind my hand in the act of opening it, a dance of the fingers that I learned so completely I didn’t even have to think. I would close my hand, then open it, and the coin would vanish. One day I did the trick on the playground. I was a new kid at the school, and my classmates and I were standing around and hanging out after playing football. A dozen people were watching. I showed the coin to everyone. Then it disappeared. The kids screamed. They yelled, laughed, scrambled away. Everyone went crazy. This was great. This was Bilbo Baggins from The Lord of the Rings terrifying the guests at his birthday party by putting the One Ring on his finger and vanishing. The teacher on duty crossed the playground to investigate. Mrs. Tanner was a wiry, vengeful woman who dominated her students with humiliation and an oversized plastic golf club she wielded like a weapon, slamming it down on the desks of the unruly and uncommitted. She marched toward me and demanded to know what was going on. The coin vanished for her, too.



became a magician by accident. When I was nine years old, I learned how to make a coin disappear. I’d just finished The Lord of the Rings and ventured into the adult section of the library in Ames, Iowa, to search for a book of spells—nine being that age at which you’re old enough to work through more than 1,200 pages of arcane fantasy literature but young enough to still hold out hope that you might find a book of real, actual magic. The volume I discovered instead taught basic sleight-of-hand techniques, and I dedicated the next few months to practice. At first, the magic wasn’t any good. It wasn’t even magic; it was just a trick—a bad trick. I spent hours each day in the bathroom running through the secret moves in front of the mirror. I dropped the coin over and over, 1,000 times a day, and after two weeks of this my mom placed a carpet sample from the hardware store below where I’d stand to muffle the sound. Throughout my childhood, I had heard my dad work through passages of new music on the piano, so I knew how to practise—slowly, deliberately, going for precision rather than speed. One day I tried the illusion in front of the mirror and the coin vanished. It did not look like a trick. It looked like a miracle.



“Do it again,” she said, and I did. wild, bringing on shouts of fear, astonI’m sure my hands were shaking, ishment and joy. That last one was the but when I looked up, everything had hardest to explain. Surprise comes changed. I will remember the expres- easy, but not joy. I was an alchemist sion on her face—wide-eyed and open- who had somehow—unknowingly, mouthed wonder—forever. unintentionally—discovered how to After that, for days, I kept seeing turn lead into gold. You could only do Mrs. Tanner’s reaction—the stern, that with real magic. authoritarian facade melting into shock, fear, elation and joy. The kids’ THE GULF BETWEEN wanting to become too. My classmates had been trans- a great magician and actually doing it formed for a moment from a vaguely is enormous, however, and the career indifferent and hostile pack of carni- of a young magician is marked as much vores into real people. by public failure as it is by success. If you could make people feel like In high school, I staged a show in the this, why wouldn’t you do it all the auditorium and my entire world came time? Why didn’t everyone do this? out to watch—600 friends, family For anyone—but especially for a nine- members, girls from school, everyone year-old boy trying to fit in—this trans- I wanted to defy or impress. When an formation is almost indistinguishable illusion went wrong, they all looked from real magic. The more I thought about what When he was a budding magician, Nate had happened, the stranger it Staniforth performed five nights a week. became, and even now it intrigues me as much as it did that day on the playground. All of it—the chaos, the shouting, the wonder—came from a coin trick. I knew that it was just a trick and I was just a kid. But the reactions of the students and the teacher were so much greater than the sum of these modest parts that I didn’t know how to explain them. Something incredible had happened. I might have caused it, but it had not come from me. I had inadvertently tapped into something visceral and



on in horror, fascination and pity as I twirled about the stage, frantically trying to remember the choreography from every David Copperfield special I had ever seen to cover my mistake. The audience sat mute, aghast, enduring the spectacle and waiting for the catastrophe to end. A few years later, I staged a Harry Houdini–style underwater escape in the river that flowed through the middle of the University of Iowa, where I went to school. I stood on a boat floating in the river, wearing nothing but biking shorts and a thick snarl of chains, padlocks and weights around my wrists and ankles. Two weeks before, the river had been frozen. Now, the ice had cleared as spring reluctantly arrived, but the water was still only 11 C at the surface, and colder below.

Technically, I succeeded. I jumped into the water, sank to the bottom and escaped from the bonds before swimming to the surface. But it didn’t feel like a triumph. When Houdini did it, thousands of people came to watch. I had about a dozen who stopped on their way to class, and the police showed up because someone thought it was a suicide attempt. I am living proof, though, that if you throw enough time and effort at something, maybe even anything, you can become good at it. I found inspiration in a quote attributed to Houdini, which I kept stuck to the wall by my bed for 10 years: “The real secret to my success is simple: I work from seven in the morning to midnight and I like it.” The week after I finished university, I drove to Los Angeles to begin my


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career as a professional magician. I have never held another job. THREE YEARS INTO

that new life, I found myself at a university in Chicago, performing at an on-campus bar in the basement of the student union. While this may not be the worst performance environment I have ever faced, it’s close. Every crowd is different. Sometimes you have to charm and entice them, and sometimes you have to roll up your sleeves and fight, winning the room with a careful blend of intensity and goodwill, convincing the audience that you’re either a genius or a madman and that, either way, they should probably stop and watch. My arrival onstage this night was met with a mixture of applause and disdain, the audience being equal parts people who came to see a magic show and those who came to drink. One sixfoot, 115-kilogram bruiser with a crew cut started booing even before they finished my introduction. Now I am standing on his table. “Listen,” I say, looking around the room. “In a minute, you are going to see something impossible. Some of you are going to scream. Some of you are going to shout. This gentleman right here is going to soil himself.” Crew Cut is looking at me like he wants to fight, but I have him pinned

to his seat with the gaze of 300 people who are finally paying attention. For the moment, he can only glower. “I’m not doing this for the money. I’m not doing this for the glory. If I were, I sure wouldn’t be here in this place. I’m here because I’ve spent my entire life learning to do something incredible, and tonight I’m going to share it with you. When I’m done, you can clap, you can boo, you can stay, you can leave—I don’t care.” This succeeds in shocking them. The last few holdouts have turned to watch. “I’m going to give this gentleman my wallet,” I say. “I’m choosing him because he’s the biggest guy here and I need someone to keep it safe.” I look down at Crew Cut. “What’s your name?” He eyes me like he wishes he’d gone somewhere else this evening. “Marcus.” I hand him my wallet. “Marcus, I want you to put this on the table and place both your hands on top of it. Don’t open it yet. And make sure that no one else opens it either. Got it?” Marcus nods. If this works, he will remember the experience for the rest of his life. He will tell his children about it. I’ve spent six years developing this illusion, and it has been worth the effort. If I had only five minutes to justify my existence as a magician, this is what I would perform. Next, I turn to the rest of the room. “I’m going to need six random people



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to help. If I asked for volunteers, you might think that I had confederates in the audience, so instead I’m going to take this gentleman’s hat”—and here I reach down and snatch a baseball cap right off of someone’s head—“and throw it out into the room. If you catch it, stand up.”

GREAT ILLUSIONS HAVE A MOMENT OF CALM BEFORE THE BUILD TO THE END. NOW, THE ROOM IS QUIET. Thirty seconds later, six people are standing and the man has his hat back. “I need each of you to think of a number between one and 50. When I point to you, call your number out so everyone can hear.” “Sixteen.” “Thirty-two.” “Nine.” “Forty-three.” “Eleven.” I pause to address the last person, a young woman in the back of the room. When the hat flew toward her a minute ago, she jumped up to catch it. “What’s your name?” “Jessica.” “Jessica, before you tell me your number, I just want to say this: When you go home tonight, you are going to be

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unable to sleep. You’re going to lie in bed, driving yourself crazy wondering what would have happened if you had named a number other than the number you are about to name.” The audience laughs. Jessica, however, just listens. “Before you give me your number, I want you to know in your heart of hearts that it was a free choice, that there is no way I could have gotten inside your head to make you say the number I wanted. Right?” She nods slowly. “What number are you thinking of?” “Fourteen.” Every great illusion has a moment of calm before the build to the end, and right now the room is completely quiet. At some point even the bartender had started watching and turned off the music. Everyone is still. “I want to point out that the odds of this working by chance alone are in the trillions. What are the numbers again? Sixteen, 32, nine, 43, 11 and 14, right?” Marcus has been sitting at the table the entire time, holding the wallet and watching the performance. I point to him. “Marcus, could you please stand up for a second?” He stands. I ask him to hold the wallet up above his head so everyone can see, and he does. “You have been holding my wallet the entire time. Open it and look inside. You should find a lottery ticket. Take it out.”


Marcus opens the wallet and removes the lottery ticket. “This isn’t a winning ticket. And I’m not a millionaire. But I want you to look at the numbers. I’m going to hand you the microphone. Please read them out loud.” I’m watching his face now, waiting for him to see it. “Oh,” he says quietly. “Oh no.” He looks at me with wide eyes, then back at the lottery ticket. “Read the numbers, Marcus.” He raises the microphone. “Sixteen, 32, nine, 43, 11 and 14.” The room explodes. People are on their feet, screaming and jumping and turning to one another. Someone runs for the exit, knocking over a table. Jessica has her hands on her face, her mouth open. Marcus has dropped the

microphone. He is reading the ticket over and over again, shaking his head and laughing. I want you to see his face. I want you to see the joy—the open, unaffected joy. It’s the kind of joy that reminds you that what you mistook for dull, uninspired brutishness a moment before was actually just weight—the weight of worry, pain, anxiety, the world. And now, for a moment, that burden has lifted, and the face that shines without it is extraordinary. Magicians get to see people at their very best, and in this transformation you can witness, through the illusion, what can only be described as real, actual magic. FROM HERE IS REAL MAGIC BY NATE STANIFORTH, COPYRIGHT © 2018 BY NATE STANIFORTH. REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION FROM BLOOMSBURY USA. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Overheard Zingers Toddler waving at a pigeon: “Bye, street chicken!” @ OVERHEARDNEWYORK

Guy staring at ambulance in front of Whole Foods: “Somebody must have eaten gluten.” OVERHEARDLA.COM

Bouncer: “Sorry, I need to see an ID.” Grown adult: “I told you I’m 30. Why would anyone lie about that?” OVERHEARDLA.COM

American friend: “Is there anything exclusively Canadian you miss?” Canadian friend: “Healthcare.” @ OVERHEARDNEWYORK




Mountain climbers often fall through cracks in the ice, but those who survive haven’t fallen a long way, aren’t by themselves and aren’t badly injured. John All was all three. BY

Nicholas Hune-Brown

48 april 2019

illustration by kagan m c leod


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ALL unzipped his tent, poked his shaggy blond head out into the thin alpine air and took in the view. The bright sun sparkled off the freshly fallen snow on the jagged peaks and crags of Mount Himlung. It was just before 10 a.m. on May 19, 2014—a perfect morning in the Himalayas. All, a 44-year-old scientist, had come to Nepal on a research expedition to

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collect snow samples for his study of pollution. His two climbing partners had retreated down to base camp so one of them could recover from an illness. They were expected back in a day or two, but for now, All was alone at 6,100 metres. Climbing solo in the Himalayas is never advisable, so All’s plan was to remain cautious, stick near camp and begin collecting samples. But first, he was eager for a cup of coffee. He grabbed his axes and walked toward a flat area a short distance away that looked like an ideal spot to gather fresh snow to melt for water. The temperature was between -4 and -1 C. After weeks at high elevation, that felt positively balmy, so All was dressed lightly in wind pants, a thin jacket over a T-shirt, and hiking boots with metal crampons to help him travel over icy terrain. He took a step, then another. Suddenly the ground gave way beneath him, and he plunged into darkness.


all’s face smashed into something as he plummeted downward. He blindly swung the axe in his right hand, hoping to slow his progress. It caught into the ice for a moment, but the force of his body free-falling was too much, wrenching his arm out of its shoulder socket and creating a mess of shattered bone and torn soft tissue. As he careened against the icy walls with growing speed, All’s mind seemed to slow down. He realized with horror what had happened: he had stepped into a crevasse, a thin crack that had opened in the glacier and went down who knew how deep. How did I make

body had been crushed. He couldn’t move, but he was alive. john all was not supposed to be on Mount Himlung. A month earlier, he had been at Mount Everest Base Camp sharing tea with a young Sherpa. Asman Tamang, a shy father of a nine-monthold, was climbing Everest for the first time. All joked with him, encouraging him, saying the eager young climber would probably make record speed up the mountain. All had climbed Everest before, but this time he was leading an expedition of five researchers and volunteers to

ALL’S RIGHT SIDE SLAMMED INTO SOMETHING HARD, HIS DESCENT STOPPING WITH A CRUNCH OF BONES. this mistake? he wondered. Then he had another thought: there’s no way you can survive a crevasse fall. All’s right side slammed into something hard, his descent stopping with a crunch of bones. I’m dead, he decided. Then he felt his lungs heaving, straining to suck air back into his body, each gasp bringing a jolt of excruciating pain. He looked down and saw his legs hanging over a chasm. He had landed on a shelf of ice suspended above the blackness. Overhead was a pale halo of blue-white light, seven storeys up, where he had punched through the crust of snow. The entire right side of his

Everest’s sister peak, Mount Lhotse, to collect evidence of “black dust,” emissions from factories thousands of kilometres away. For All, the mountains were a second home—the rare place where the six-foot-five former triathlete could satisfy his love of physical adventure and his scientific curiosity. On the morning of April 18, All woke to the ground rumbling. An ice shelf had collapsed, sending a chunk of ice the size of an apartment building tumbling down the side of Everest. Sixteen climbers were killed, Tamang among them. Everest and Lhotse were shut down for the season, so All and two of his



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partners headed to nearby Mount Himlung to continue their work. from his icy seat 20 metres deep in the earth, All gasped for breath and tried to gather his thoughts. Climbers fall into crevasses all the time, but those who survive usually fall only a short way, aren’t by themselves and aren’t badly injured. All knew of only one person who had made it through a similar predicament: the mountaineer Joe Simpson, in Peru 29 years earlier. Taking in his surroundings, All realized he wasn’t actually on a shelf but a chunk of ice that had fallen through

blew up from the depths of the glacier. Already he could feel his body shivering and his fingers becoming numb. By 4 p.m., the shadows cast by the high mountain peaks would leave him in the dark and unable to climb. His partners weren’t scheduled to come back to camp until the next day or the day after. By then it would be too late. He had roughly six hours to make it to the surface and to his tent, or he would die. All, a researcher used to keeping a record of everything he does, reached in his pocket, brought out his camera and pressed record. “Thank God I

the fissure and had become wedged between the walls. In an ever-shifting glacier, how long would it stay stuck? All had 15 broken bones in total, he would learn later, including six crushed vertebrae. His right arm was useless, and the ribs on his right side were shattered, making every breath agony. His abdomen felt sore and stiff, a sign of internal bleeding, and he had a coppery taste in his mouth, an indication of possible kidney or liver damage. It took All nearly 10 minutes just to wrench himself upright and squirm over to a secure perch on his block of ice. The effort left him panting. Icy air

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stopped on this ledge,” he said into the lens, his breath ragged, spatters of blood visible in the snow. “How do I get back up there, though?” Where he had landed, the width of the crevasse was about two and a half metres, but looking to his right, he saw a spot dozens of metres away where the fissure appeared to narrow. If he was lucky, it just might be tight enough for him to “chimney” his way up—that is, climb by bracing his body against both sides of the crevasse until he reached the surface, all while using only one arm. On the way were a couple other ice chunks on which he could




John All shot these photographs during his four hours in the crevasse. Above: The passageway up and out. Below: All’s wounded face.



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take breaks. But first he would need to use his crampons and snow axes to move across the wall of sheer ice. All kicked the points of his crampons into the ice until they held. With his left hand, he planted one axe at eye level, then he reached the same hand across his body to plant the other axe as far to the right as possible. Clutching the first axe, he shuffled his feet to the right, kicked his crampons into the ice, shifted his weight and then grabbed the second axe, again with his left hand. His body screamed with pain, but he had moved. Now he just had to do this a few thousand times.

climb an academic puzzle, a question of geometry. If he could figure it out, he would live. stab, kick, shift, repeat. After about half an hour, he’d reached the higher slab of ice. He rested, gratefully gulping the meat locker–cold air into his lungs. He knew that if he didn’t make his way out, his body would likely remain inside the ice for years. Perhaps when the glacier had retreated, future generations would discover the corpse in a windbreaker and wonder what kind of person had been foolish enough to climb alone.

THE CREVASSE WAS TIGHT ENOUGH FOR ALL TO CHIMNEY UP NOW, AND HE BRACED HIS BACK AGAINST THE WALL. Stab with the axe, kick his feet, shift his weight, repeat. All was free climbing inside a crack in the mountain, trying not to dwell on the fact that one misstep would send him tumbling to his death. Instead he concentrated on getting to one of the slabs of ice that had become lodged in the crevasse, about 15 metres up. Over the years, All had found that he functioned well in dangerous situations. He had a tattoo of a black mamba on his calf—a souvenir of the time he had kicked a two-metre-long poisonous snake in Botswana before it could strike. He tried to make the

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He started moving again, his eyes fixed on the next ice block, about 15 metres to his right. Suddenly, a jolt of inexpressible pain struck. He looked down and saw the void beneath him, the cavern disappearing into a black infinity. Against his will, the thought flashed through his mind: I’m going to die. He thought of his mother and imagined her sadness on receiving the news. Then he gathered himself again and forced himself on, stabbing the axe back into the wall. Slowly he began to climb upward, swinging his ice tools into the walls and finding his footing, each step taking


excruciating minutes as he tried to gather his energy. The crevasse was tight enough for him to chimney his way up now, and he braced his back against the wall. Stab, kick, shift, repeat. After about four hours in the crevasse, All was within striking distance of a thin crust of snow, the glow of the sun behind it. He swung his axe upward and broke through. A tiny patch of blue sky appeared. As All cleared the snow, making the hole wider, he had the distinct feeling that he had just dug himself out of his own grave. He hauled himself up and lay there, utterly exhausted and unable to move.

for a hand-held satellite communicator. He knew he was bleeding internally and needed to be rescued soon. The walkie-talkie–sized machine could only send messages, not make phone calls, and at the moment, it was connected to the Facebook page of an organization he’d co-founded, the American Climber Science Program. He prayed someone would see his cry for help. With numb fingers he typed out a message: “Please call Global Rescue. John broken arm, ribs, internal bleeding. Fell 70 ft crevasse. Climbed out. Himlung camp 2,” he posted. “Please hurry.”

ALL COULD BARELY GET TO HIS KNEES. THAT’S WHEN HE REALIZED HOW MUCH TROUBLE HE WAS STILL IN. Five minutes later, he staggered to his feet and immediately collapsed again. He couldn’t walk. He could barely get to his knees. That’s when he realized how much trouble he was still in. In the Himalayas, death from hypothermia comes quickly. All was a three-minute walk from his tent, but it might as well have been three kilometres. You didn’t come this far to not make it, he thought. He pulled himself forward on his stomach, shivering in agony as he dragged his broken body across the ground. It was late afternoon, and two hours of crawling later, when he finally lunged into the tent. All reached

from her house on the Big Island of Hawaii, biologist Rebecca Cole was getting ready for bed when she decided to log on to Facebook. When she saw John All’s message, she immediately recognized the severity of what had happened. Cole and her husband, Carl Schmitt, were also co-founders of the American Climber Science Program. All was the guy they both referred to as their “charismatic megafauna”—a big, fun presence with a magnetic personality who drew people to the organization. When Cole read her friend’s cry for help, she began pinging messages



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across the globe, trying to arrange a helicopter rescue. Meanwhile, on Mount Himlung, All was spending the longest night of his life. His throat was parched, but with only one working arm, he couldn’t open his water bottle. In dazed pain, he sucked down two energy gels and tried to cover his body with his sleeping bag. Finally the sun crept up the tent, warming his chilled body. Meanwhile, Cole and a growing network of All’s friends were trying to find a rescue team that could send out a helicopter to get him. At 10 a.m. on May 20, after 18 hours on his back—his broken body had tensed up, leaving him near paralysis— All heard the familiar whir of helicopter blades. Soon after, the tent’s door was unzipped and a Nepali rescuer poked his head through the flap. He then dragged All out on his sleeping mat before hauling him into the vehicle. As the aircraft twisted through the Himalayas, the scientist finally allowed relief to flood through him. “I’m alive,” he whispered.

as all recovered from his injuries, he sometimes felt as if a part of him had never escaped the crevasse. In March 2015, almost a year after his neardeath experience, All visited Rebecca Cole in Hawaii. He was physically healed, but Cole could see that her friend was still shaken. One day they climbed Mauna Loa. As they trekked, it began to snow—a rarity in Hawaii— and soon they were breaking trail through a metre of it on their way to the summit. Being on a snowy mountain for the first time since his accident, and discovering that the experience still made him feel happy and at peace, marked the beginning of All’s true recovery. All is now a professor at Western Washington University, where he is fulfilling a lifelong desire to train the next generation of climber-scientists at the Mountain Environments Research Institute, which he founded in 2016. “We all have dreams, but we usually say, ‘I’ll do it when I get a chance,’” says All. “Lying on that mountain, I realized you get only one chance to live.”

Going Green “Oh, we’re $16 now.” –Salads @ MARKEDLY

Still haven’t figured out a way to eat a big leaf salad without bringing shame on all my ancestors. APARNA NANCHERLA, COMEDIAN

56 april 2019


reader’s digest


the Best Medicine

cat. I said it rang a bell but I wasn’t sure if it was there or not. —

If my calculations are correct, biscuits and Triscuits hint towards a mysterious third food called “monoscuits.” —


Well, This Is Awkward Me: *Struggling to think of things to talk about.* “So, what do you do for a living?” Barber: *Slowly stops cutting my hair.* —

Store clerk: Ma’am, you’re not allowed to try out the earplugs before you buy them. Me: What? —



Talking ’Bout Your Generation Millennials. Walking around like they rent the place. —

Musical Number Did Counting Crows ever give us a total number of crows?



Someone came into the library where I work and asked me if we had a book about Pavlov’s dog and Schrödinger’s


Rice, Rice, Baby Tips for beginner cooks: know your ratios! ) 1/2 cup uncooked rice = 2 cups cooked rice ) 1 cups uncooked rice = 5 cups cooked rice ) 2 cups uncooked rice = 14 cups cooked rice ) 3 cups uncooked rice = 68 cups cooked rice ) 4 cups uncooked rice = 1,036 cups cooked rice — @LLW902 Send us your original jokes! You could earn $50 and be featured in the magazine. See page 11 or for details.

THE BEST JOKE I EVER TOLD By James Brown I think they should have named sandwich bags, “bags that are a little bit too small for a sandwich.” Keep up to date with James Brown’s shows and musings online at




Having terminal cancer means managing pain carefully and consistently. And it means taking a dangerous opioid that has long improved the lives of people like me.


Teva Harrison FROM THE WALRUS photograph by naomi harris

58 april 2019


reader’s digest

Teva Harrison, photographed in her home, January 31, 2019.


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as well as to avoid contact dermatitis— there’s something about the adhesive in the patches that irritates skin—I can’t put a patch in the same place twice in a row. I move them around the flat parts on my upper body: just under my bra line, on my pelvis, my back, my arm or my chest. This wasn’t always my life. I can remember when I didn’t know my way around all the downtown Toronto hospitals. I can remember turning down ibuprofen because I wanted to feel my pain, to track my body’s healing through its diminishing noise. That was then, and this is now. THE FIRST THING I do each day is look

IN 2011, AT THE AGE of 35, I was working

at my phone. That’s how I keep track of medication. I use an alarm to ensure that I take my pills—some with food, some without—at consistent times every day. For my fentanyl patch, however, which I change every other day, I use a calendar reminder. Timing is important because I can’t allow the baseline-level dose of fentanyl to vary or my pain returns. My patches are a thin, clear plastic with discreet blue lettering. They’re individually packaged and come with a stiff plastic backing that makes their application easy. There are five in each box. I’m not supposed to change patches immediately after showering; the drug can be absorbed too quickly when applied to freshly cleaned skin. And to ensure fentanyl is evenly distributed,

at the Nature Conservancy of Canada. My husband and I had just bought our first home. I was training for a half-marathon. And I had pain— excruciating pain that I managed by taking Advil and Tylenol as often as the packaging allowed. It didn’t really help. The ache was deep in my bones, like the worst toothache you’ve ever had, writ large. It throbbed and spasmed and shot throughout my body. It grew so intense that I went to the emergency department, but doctors just gave me more painkillers and sent me along. Sitting hurt too much, so I stood and leaned through meetings at work. The pain finally made sense when I was diagnosed in 2013 with metastatic breast cancer (MBC). It wasn’t stress from overtraining causing me pain, as

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I had initially thought; it was cancer in my bones—cancer that had metastasized to remote parts of the body to form new tumours. Even though I have cancer in my liver, my lungs and elsewhere, it’s all breast cancer—and it’s terminal. But MBC can be treated for an indeterminate amount of time. The median survival time is still two or three years, but a small number of people live longer—some, even, for more than a decade.

FENTANYL PATCHES HAVE NOT ONLY GIVEN ME RELIEF FROM PAIN: THEY’VE GIVEN ME MY LIFE BACK. Fentanyl wasn’t the first tool my doctors and I tried for managing my pain. Initially, my oncologist prescribed short-acting hydromorphone (an opioid taken as a pill), and it gave me tremendous relief. The trouble was when it wore off. It felt like the pain came back stronger, and it took more hydromorphone to give me relief. I tried, not always successfully, to keep to a strict schedule—taking the pills every four hours—but even then they’d wear off in my sleep and I would wake in agony. So my oncologist moved me from short-acting to controlled-release hydromorphone. This improved my

pain management, but I struggled with side effects. I developed a partially impacted bowel and was unable to keep food down—for good reason: it had nowhere to go. Next, my oncologist referred me to a palliative-care specialist who suggested I instead try fentanyl patches. Because the drug-delivery method is epidermal—through the skin rather than the stomach—the patch seemed to have less of an impact on my digestive tract. And because fentanyl is so potent, it took a very low dose to achieve equivalency with the hydromorphone I’d been taking before. By making the change, I was able to achieve the same level of pain management with a much smaller amount of drugs and many fewer side effects. I still worried that taking a stronger medication could increase the risk of an overdose. I could hear the kindness in my palliative nurse’s voice when she explained that fentanyl is never prescribed as a first-line treatment to what is called an “opioid-naive” patient. But I was on its lowest dose, equivalent to slightly less than the time-release hydromorphone I had been taking. Fentanyl patches have not only given me relief from pain for three years now; they have given me my life back. I can usually sleep through the night. I can sit at a table for a meal or at a desk to write. I still can’t run, but I can walk. And fentanyl doesn’t slow down my bowels to the point of near-failure.



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I never have to experience the agony of feeling my medication completely wear off—that raw and naked pain, all-consuming. Pain and its management no longer dominate my thoughts every minute of the day. And because I’m acclimated to narcotics and using just enough, neither discomfort nor opioids cloud my mind any longer.

WHEN PEOPLE HEAR THAT I TAKE FENTANYL, THEY OFTEN RECOIL. “AREN’T YOU SCARED?” THEY ASK ME. The fentanyl patch has radically changed my experience of my pain. We hear so much in the news about the dangers of fentanyl, real dangers that we need to get in hand; but this drug has been around for years, quietly helping people with cancer, like me, to get pieces of our lives back. WITH ALL THE CHATTER

around the opioid crisis, and fentanyl in particular, I’m hearing a lot of voices. I’m hearing bereft loved ones raw in their loss. I’m hearing police chiefs and politicians. I’m hearing harm-reduction specialists and doctors. There’s a fever pitch to it, and it stirs up legitimate public fear. Medical professionals don’t call something a crisis lightly. But what I

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am not hearing enough of are the voices of patients. Voices like mine. The voices of people living with debilitating discomfort made tolerable by the mercy of opioids like my fentanyl patches. I’m deeply grateful for this drug’s effective palliation of my pain. Without it, I would struggle even more than I do. When people hear me say I take fentanyl, they often recoil. “Aren’t you scared?” they ask. We hear a lot about how powerful an opioid fentanyl is. Most opioids, like codeine, meperidine or even OxyContin, are measured in milligrams per day, whereas fentanyl is measured in micrograms per hour, as released by the patch. Where the short-acting hydromorphone, which I still use as needed to handle breakthrough pain, is the equivalent of about five times the strength of morphine, fentanyl is roughly 100 times more powerful. Some of the overdoses we hear about in the news are linked to carfentanil, a fentanyl derivative that is 100 times stronger yet. However, we don’t hear enough about how opioids, and especially fentanyl, fit into a doctor’s plan to help a patient manage their pain. But no, I reply, I’m not scared. I’m grateful to the doctor who prescribed fentanyl to me. The patches have saved me misery. The drug has radically improved my quality of life; it makes me nervous to hear people express fear and panic in discourse about


deaths related to fentanyl. I once heard a grief-stricken man on the radio advocating for the removal of fentanyl from pharmacies. It’s not that I’m unsympathetic to the overdose crisis, but it scares me to think of losing my most effective pain-management. NOBODY IN CANADA manufactures a single patch in the dose I’ve been prescribed. I use two: one 25-microgramper-hour patch and another of 12.5 micrograms per hour. These are the two lowest doses available here, but they’re still high enough to hurt you if you’re opioid-naive—if you don’t have experience using lower-dose opioids like hydromorphone or OxyContin— so I’ve been cautioned to be careful with the patches around children or pets and to wash my hands after each time I change one. But I’m only one patient. I wanted to know how I fit into the greater palliative picture, and how my experience compares with that of people with cancer and without. I spoke with Dr. Jenny Lau, a palliative-care physician at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto. By way of disclosure, this is where I am treated for my cancer, but Lau is not my doctor; I am treated by one of her colleagues. Pain management in cancer care is often based on the World Health Organization’s 1986 cancer pain ladder for adults. First, they give a patient a non-opioid, like Tylenol or Advil. If pain persists, they offer a mild opioid,

like tramadol. If that doesn’t help the patient to be free of cancer pain, stronger opioids, like hydromorphone, are used until a level is reached where a patient finds relief.

IT’S HARD TO KNOW HOW WIDESPREAD FENTANYL ABUSE IS. THERE ARE TOO MANY AVENUES OF ACCESS. Lau told me that, in addition to a patient’s drug history, they need to consider comorbidities such as kidney or liver function and whether the patient can process the narcotics prescribed. Some medical professionals only use the pain ladder as a basic guide for care, preferring a completely individualized approach to pain management. Luckily, there are a variety of options for a doctor like Lau to choose from— some narcotic, some not—to find the right solution for any patient. While every opioid prescription is different, it’s possible to both increase and decrease a dosage. I’ll use myself as an example. Last year, my cancer was growing rapidly. Tumours were pressing on nerves and tendons, restricting motion and causing neuropathy. My mobility was affected. I was in a lot of pain—even for me—so my fentanyl dose was increased to 50 micrograms.



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After chemotherapy shrank the tumour in my neck and the pain diminished, I was able to reduce my patch from 50 micrograms to 37.5. I think it’s important to note that, unlike the unregulated use of a recreational user, when prescribed use goes up or down it’s titrated gradually between dosages and kept at the lowest effective level. This minimizes the pain of withdrawal and reduces the risk to the patient. The idea is to use the lowest dosage possible. Best-case scenario, the pain recedes and the side effects are minimal. When I was first prescribed fentanyl patches, the guidance I received from my pharmacist was to fold each used patch in half and toss it in the toilet. This was to protect non-users from accidental exposure by contact, and to prevent drug seekers from rooting through my trash for used patches. A properly used patch still retains some of the original drug. There are lots of ways to abuse these patches. A palliative nurse once told me that an addict might smoke the used patches, plastic and all; apply several used patches at once; make a tea from the patches; chew on them; or scrape the entire used gel from a patch and ingest it. I didn’t like throwing my used patches in the toilet—I had worked too long in land and water conservation not to understand what happens when drugs go into the water supply—so I saved them up and returned them to the pharmacy for safe disposal.

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how widespread fentanyl abuse is today. There are simply too many avenues of access. Users can buy it directly—patches, new and used, are sold on the streets—or without knowing it, when it’s cut into and sold as other drugs. That’s one of the things that makes the opioid crisis so scary. However, there are controls in the medical system that are effectively taking the used-patch avenue off the market.

A DRUG IS NEITHER GOOD NOR BAD IN ITS OWN RIGHT. FENTANYL IS NEITHER GOOD NOR EVIL. IT JUST IS. On October 1, 2016, the Ontario Public Drug Programs Division of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care launched the province-wide Patch-forPatch Fentanyl Return Program. Now, rather than expecting patients to safely dispose of patches, the onus for tracking and disposal falls to pharmacists. When I remove a used patch, I stick it on a piece of paper encased in plastic. In order to refill my prescription, I must return an equal number of used patches. Initially, the system felt paternalistic and untrusting. But I recognize that a society needs to protect its most vulnerable members.


If I know I’ll be travelling at the time of a prescription renewal, I can do one of two things: I can get special permission from my doctor for extra patches or, depending on the duration of the trip, I can turn in a partial month’s used prescription early so I have enough patches for the trip. When I return, the number of patches always reverts back to a one-month prescription, regardless of the number turned in used. Everything is counted and accounted for. At the pharmacists’ end, Health Canada recommends that the name of the drug, along with its quantity and strength, be recorded for every return. The returns should be stored safely in a single-use, one-way entry container

and then destroyed by a licensed collection service. I think about my life before fentanyl. The all-consuming pain I struggled to live with; the rapid erosion of my independence. My husband would go to work and when he’d come home, I’d have a list of simple things that needed to be done that I couldn’t do— moving a cast-iron pan or carrying the laundry down to the basement. I was barely a person. I was pain incarnate. A drug is neither good nor bad in its own right. Fentanyl is neither evil nor benign. It just is. And for many people, people like me, it is a crucial tool that allows us to live. © 2018, TEVA HARRISON. FROM THE WALRUS (AUGUST 2018), THEWALRUS.CA

Movie Magic Just got back from Fight Club. It was really fun! Got there late, so I missed the rules being read out, but I’m sure it was nothing important. @ PHILGIBSON01

Imagine having chills and then imagine those very chills multiplying. That’s what life is like for John Travolta. @ FLORA __ FLORA

I’ve spent 30 years thinking about how Molly Ringwald’s sushi lunch in The Breakfast Club was sitting in a warm library for four hours. @ ARISCOTT

The tenth Fast and Furious movie should be called Fast 10: Your Seatbelts. @ SOPHIEKEEN




THE KIDS STAY IN THE PICTURE Sure, my children are adults with jobs, but that doesn’t mean they’re exhibiting any desire to move out of our house BY Howard Gaskin FROM THE GLOBE AND MAIL

illustration by kyle metcalf

my wife, cheryl, and I held hands and braced for the news. “Your case is very serious,” he uttered. “One of the worst I’ve seen in 25 years in the profession.”

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I knew it was bad—that’s why we had called him in—but I didn’t realize just how bad. The beefy-handed man had just done a walk-through of our home, poking here, shining a light there, shaking his head everywhere he went. “First, we have to deal with their food source: the kitchen,” he said. Yes, they are particularly troublesome in the kitchen, I thought. Each night, we leave our kitchen fit for a House & Garden photo shoot. Every morning, we come down to a disaster. Cupboard doors open, crumbs on the counter. It was like a dance of the midnight food fairies had carried on while we slept.


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“We’ll have to gut it completely—go right down to the studs,” he said. “Rip up the floor, tear down the plaster and replace all the electrical. We’ll put your appliances in storage. You’ll have no ability to keep or prepare food for about three months.” “Next, we target sources of water,” he continued, adding that he’d learned that, whether alone or in packs, our intruders would spend a considerable amount of time at or near water sources, engaged in lengthy grooming rituals. “So we’re going to cut off all water to your main floor and above. You will have to rely only on your tiny basement bathroom.” “Finally, we focus on their nesting places. This is problematic in old homes like yours. They can burrow in and get very comfortable. They’re nocturnal creatures, so we have to concentrate our activity during the day, making a lot of noise to disrupt their sleeping habits.” I still wasn’t convinced. “Sir, if we start work tomorrow, we guarantee your adult children will be gone by summer.” I shook my head in disbelief. How had it come to this? Undertaking a kitchen-and-two-bathroom renovation just to get our three twentysomething kids to move out of the house! Where had we failed? What warning signs had I missed? throughout their childhoods, all three kids appeared to develop “normally.”

They learned to walk, talk and have play dates. They enjoyed their elementary school, evening activities, sports, arts and music. With high school came boyfriends, girlfriends and the realization that their parents were complete ninnies. Finally, the liberating move to college and university. We thought our job was done. They were off, making their way in the world!

I REALIZED THAT MY CHILDREN ARE SUFFERING FROM A RATHER STAUNCH REFUSAL TO GROW UP. But then, somehow, it all started to unravel. First came the “temporary” move back to pay off student loans. Then came the “I’m saving for the future and living at home really helps” phase. This was followed quickly by “All my friends still live at home, so I can’t find someone to share an apartment with.” The penny finally dropped one night when I tried to provide some fatherly advice to my 25-year-old daughter. With her strapping brother in tow for protection, she was about to meet an unknown young man to recover her cellphone lost the night before at a downtown club. I suggested that a $20 coffee gift card would be a nice way to say thank you.



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She replied, “Dad, are you kidding! That’s something an adult would do.” I was stunned. I thought 25-year-olds were adults. Had I missed a memo? It was then that I realized that she and her siblings are suffering from a rather staunch refusal to grow up. Most of their friends are afflicted by the same condition. If 60 is the new 40, then I guess 30 is the new 10!

I THINK MY WIFE AND I ARE GOING TO HAVE TO MOVE OUT INSTEAD OF THE OTHER WAY AROUND. When did the natural order of things become living with your parents until they retire and downsize? Sometimes I think Cheryl and I are going to have to move out and leave them behind instead of the other way around. and so here we are, one year after the terribly disruptive reno and…all of our adult children are still living at home. At least I have a new kitchen and two new bathrooms! Sure, they may pitch in by doing chores, but it’s not an equal share. They help prepare meals, but not as often as they should. They make messes that aren’t completely eradicated even after they’ve “tidied up.”

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And what do I get in return? Every day I’m privy to what’s new and exciting or old and boring in their lives. I get to regularly meet and talk with their friends. I learn the latest tricks and tips for Twitter and Instagram because I receive on-demand tutorials. I can always count on a large cheering section for televised sporting events—and they have learned to bring the beer! I get an opportunity to understand and connect with my young adult children and their friends because, if I listen, I will hear what’s important to them, what they care about. I get the chance to discuss and debate the things that matter to them and pontificate occasionally (okay, regularly) on what’s important to me. I don’t know everything about my kids’ lives and I don’t want to. We give them their space and they give us ours. Throughout their childhood, I took the advice of others seriously when they said to enjoy every moment with them because one day they will grow up and move away. I’m still taking that advice seriously today. A neighbour of ours with very young children recently exclaimed that it must be absolutely awesome to have your twentysomething children still want to be a part of your life and have you be a part of theirs. I replied that it was indeed absolutely awesome—just don’t tell them. © 2018, HOWARD GASKIN. FROM THE GLOBE AND MAIL (AUGUST 22, 2018), THEGLOBEANDMAIL.COM


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LAUGH LINES Tired of boiling water every time you make pasta? Boil a few gallons at the beginning of the week and freeze it for later. —

Cooking tip: Quickly slice a block of cheese by throwing it through a harp. —


Cooking tip: If you put too much water in your rice, toss a few phones in there. —


I hate cooking, but I am excited to debut my cookbook, Toast on a Paper Towel, 365 Ways. —



I tell people that the secret ingredient in my cookies is “love,” but it’s actually “floor.” —



Cooking Hacks for Hacks

Fill your coffee maker with cake mix for an amazingly delicious yet entirely unexpected Thursday morning. —




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A WARM REMINDER While grieving my father’s death, I went looking for anything that could lend meaning to his passing—and found comfort in an old coat


Sarah Richards FROM THE GLOBE AND MAIL illustration by robert carter



reader’s digest After my father died a few years ago, I spent hours looking for hidden messages. It was a maddening search, one that felt like running to the edge of a cliff in anticipation of discovering a beautiful, panoramic view, only to be paralyzed by terrifying heights. I desperately wanted to find an enlightening note he’d secretly tucked away, but I grew increasingly spooked by the idea that maybe I wouldn’t like what I found—if I found anything at all. This frustrating state lasted for several days while we received family and friends at the farmhouse where he lived with my mother, about an hour outside of Red Deer, Alberta. I went through his jeans pockets, nightstand drawers and shaving kit; the junk drawer in his dresser. I opened passports, shook out cowboy boots. Surely, somewhere, there was an SOS, a few words written out on a piece of paper acknowledging what had been happening to him, even if he hadn’t been willing to do so with his family. My father had been dying; he didn’t know this, but he suspected he was. Nonetheless, he seemed incapable of acting—of seeking a better doctor, not just the one assigned to the rural hospital closest to the farm; of setting aside the chores of the day so he could figure out how he might be able to hold off death a little longer. It turns out there was no note. No confession; no letter of regret. Not even

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a revelatory fortune cookie message, stashed between the pages of a book. I had none of his words to make meaning of what had happened. No explanation of why he’d let things unfold the way they had. There were no clues on the farm anywhere, in fact. Instead, there were Gaudí-esque scaffoldings of sinus medications and inhalers, expensive air purifiers that took up entire corners of his bedroom, neti pots and poultices in tin cans and Costco-sized containers of vitamins.

OUT BACK, THERE WAS A GARAGE FULL OF TOOLS; A CLOCK THAT MADE TRACTOR SOUNDS ON THE HOUR. He couldn’t breathe—couldn’t even walk from the house to the barn—but it wasn’t because of his lungs. It was because his heart’s aortic valve had never worked, not even as a child. And so when his heart pumped blood, it leaked, like a loose valve letting the air escape from a tire you’re trying to inflate. At 71 years old, his heart was about to give out. He both knew this and chose not to know this. Out back, there was a garage full of tools; a clock that made tractor sounds on the hour; a lifetime’s accumulation of saddles, horseshoes, drills, rubber


boots; goalie skates in the barn attic, covered in swallow dung. Just objects, random everyday things, some with a few strands of his white hair on them, others faded by the cold and the sun. I found one of his winter coats in the massive metal sea can out by the cow pasture. It’s the sort of shipping container you see in pictures of giant freighters in the middle of the ocean. My mother bought it because she wanted a place to store things when she didn’t have room in the doublewide trailer where they lived. It was nearly empty, but most importantly, she’d say, it was mouse-proof. The coat was hanging up with some other pieces of clothes: a brown tweed jacket with leather elbows from England that belonged to him and a sheepskin one that no longer fit my mother. My father’s coat is a classic Canadian type with red and black checks, what we would call a lumberjack coat. The fabric—this word does not do it justice, so let’s call it a wool-blend textile—is thick and warm enough to be impervious to all winds and cold. Incredibly, it is made in Canada—a provenance seemingly rarer at this point than a meteorite landing on Earth from another universe. It was in the sea can because he hadn’t used it in a long time. It’s heavy and boxy, lacking the frivolousness of GoreTex or the styling of a Canada Goose. The red-and-black coat is a deafening yell against winter at its most miserable: the howling cold in December and

the late, unexpected snowfall in April. I pulled it off its hanger, laid it on the sled I’d dragged out to the sea can and headed back to the house. My father, being pulled through the snow, like an empty scarecrow resting on its back. I brought the coat home with me to Baltimore, where the temperature never goes much below freezing. It’s too big for me—my father had broader shoulders than I do, shoulders that seemed to expand and coarsen over the years of farm work. It has a large pocket on either side, right at the hips. When I put my phone into one of them while walking the dog, it’s always covered in little pieces of hay afterwards. The flecks get caught in the crease of the phone cover or stick to the cold screen with static electricity. I move to dust the phone off; it’s an immediate, automatic reaction. The phone is expensive, a necessary luxury that demands care and protection. And yet, those little pieces of hay are much holier. So I resist brushing them off. It doesn’t matter to me if the gold flecks end up in the headset jack or the speaker holes. I want to preserve them for as long as they wish to remain, like words from the note I never found. Each time, I take the phone, hold it over one of the coat’s pockets and tap the flecks back in. They can stay and live in there for as long as they wish. © 2018, SARAH RICHARDS. FROM THE GLOBE AND MAIL (AUGUST 27, 2018), THEGLOBEANDMAIL.COM





Refresh How to give your love a spring cleaning BY

Megan Haynes

illustration by cristian fowlie

AFTER BEING MARRIED for 27 years, Michelle and Josh* found they fought about everything. The tension had built up while the Aurora, Ont., fiftysomethings were raising their three kids. “I’m the checklist person; he’s the fun dad,” Michelle says, explaining that when she had an evening out with friends, instead of making sure the kids did their homework, Josh would play *NAMES HAVE BEEN CHANGED.

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video games with them. Polarized into these roles, they both thought the other was wrong—he was immature; she was rigid. After their kids were fully grown, resentment remained, and they were left bickering about who would buy milk or what to watch on TV. The word “divorce” began to come up in the heat of the moment, Michelle says, but they weren’t really ready to split. As a lastditch effort, two and a half years ago



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they attended a couples’ retreat in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., to help them save their marriage. Once there, they realized they should have taken action sooner—and more often. Not all couples fight, of course. Some seethe in silence until they combust, while others simply let themselves drift apart from a lack of investment in the relationship. Around this time of year, you may declutter your basement, clear out the freezer or wash all the windows. Why not give your relationship that same kind of much-needed spring cleaning?

Break Out of Your Comfort Zone “A lot of couples get into a rut,” says Grace Cirocco, a marriage coach who hosts the retreat Michelle and Josh attended. “It’s logistical—it’s making dinner, doing the laundry. There is usually very little time for the couple to just be together.” To address this disconnect, Cirocco says one important thing a couple can do at least once a year is learn something new together. “I had a couple— she was from Argentina and he was Canadian—take a tango class as a nod to her culture,” Cirocco says. They loved the experience so much that they continued their private lessons, signed up for a dance competition and even took a “tango and Malbec” tour of Argentina. Doing an activity outside the norm not only helps break people out of

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their tedium, it can also reinforce a couple’s bonds on an ongoing basis, says Cirocco. Cooking lessons can lead to more shared time in the kitchen; a yoga seminar may turn into a mutual morning practice; and dance classes can become weekly excursions. “All of those activities encourage that feeling of, We’re investing in us.” And indeed, science has confirmed the importance of doing something new with your partner. In a series of studies spanning the last two decades, social psychology researcher Arthur Aron consistently found that couples who engage in novel experiences reported higher relationship satisfaction afterwards. During these activities, he found, the brain releases dopamine, commonly called the “love drug”—the chemical present when people fall for each other.

Reminisce About Old Times Living in the past may not always be bad. A 2013 study from Queensland University in Australia reported that couples who shared a happy memory before discussing a presently difficult issue were more likely to agree and show intimacy toward each other while they talked. Remembering good times is helpful, says Toronto psychologist Nicole McCance, because the process of sharing a life ends up changing what we see when we look at each other. Through the stressful managing of work, family


and the home, people can begin to associate their partners with struggle, and may even view their very person as stress-inducing. “It’s called classical conditioning,” McCance says, explaining that eventually our brains can have an automatic stress response even by just thinking about our partner. Happy memories can be recalled often, but McCance recommends every once in a while couples should counteract the negative associations in a more focused way by making an event out of it, recreating their first date (right down to sitting at the same table in the same restaurant) or looking back through old photo albums. “I met my husband online,” McCance says. “On our anniversary, we read our old emails. It’s fun to think back to that romantic time and giggle over what we said.” In the weeks that follow, they joke and laugh more, she adds. “A sense of playfulness comes back, a sense of wonder that’s often lost after the first year of dating.”

Discuss How You Fight “Couples tend to handle conflict so poorly that they avoid it at all costs until things boil over,” says Matthew Johnson, who studies relationships at the University of Alberta. “At that point, it’s just going to be ugly.” To avoid this, he suggests partners regularly reassess how they handle arguments. In a paper analyzing data from a longterm, self-reported survey of more than

3,000 German couples, which was published last summer, Johnson concluded that people who fought “constructively” were more likely to say they were satisfied in their relationships a year later. For many, this meant taking time to understand their partners—asking for clarification, posing additional questions, listening through the entire argument before chiming in—and staying focused on the fight in front of them. None of that is easy, though, Johnson admits: humans are hard-wired to want to be right. “We have to think we have a correct outlook on the world,” he says, explaining that we choose this default position so we’re not questioning every decision we make. “Listing out a litany of ways a partner has wronged you going back further and further fulfills this desire.” Learning more productive ways of arguing was an important focus for Michelle and Josh at their retreat. Cirocco taught them that there’s no winner in a fight, says Michelle, and how to know when to walk away. Now, when she’s on the cusp of saying something nasty or mean-spirited, Michelle stops, takes a break and regroups with Josh once they’re calmer and have had more time to process their feelings. The pair has since attended a second couples’ getaway, and if finances allow, hope to go on a third in 2019. “I was really happy Josh wanted to do it with me,” Michelle says. “Our relationship has gotten a second chance.”



ENVIRONMENT Wildlife enforcement officer Jean-Francois Dubois with a polar bear pelt.

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HUNTING THE HUNTERS Meet the team of wildlife cops curbing the illegal trafficking of polar bear pelts and narwhal tusks BY

Katherine Laidlaw FROM PACIFIC STANDARD photographs by christopher leaman



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six years ago, on a slow and lazy Easter Sunday, there wasn’t much going on in the environmental crime unit office in Winnipeg. When the phone rang, it was Richard Labossiere’s boss, calling to relay a tip from a confidential informant in the Arctic. A private jet of Mexican sport hunters had just taken off from Iqaluit, and the informant thought the group might have some contraband polar bear pelts on board. They’d likely be stopping in Winnipeg in two hours to refuel. Labossiere rounded up two other officers and gear and hopped in the car for the half-hour drive to the airport. He, his colleagues and a few border guards made it onto the tarmac just as the plane touched down. They waited until the passengers—a father, two sons and a godson, plus two pilots—filed off the plane and into the terminal’s waiting area. Then they burst in on the hunters, opening the door, announcing who they were and beginning their search. It wasn’t hard: the average adult male polar bear weighs 545 kilograms and, standing on its hind legs, can reach more than three metres tall. Paw-to-paw, pelts can measure two and a half metres across. According to Labossiere, they found three stuffed in duffle bags, along with two polar bear skulls and three plastic

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tubes holding narwhal tusks. The family had no permits to take any of the contraband out of the territory, let alone across the continent. (It’s illegal to import marine mammals and their body parts into Mexico anyway.) Labossiere and the other officers detained the group, and one of the sons and the godson spent the week in jail. The tourists were charged $80,000 in fines, which they paid in cash. “Our problem wasn’t with poaching; it was with trafficking,” says Sheldon Jordan, a former intelligence officer who runs Canada’s wildlife crime directorate and, up until 2017, chaired the Wildlife Crime Working Group at Interpol, the organization that facilitates international police cooperation. Interpol estimates that wildlife crime worldwide—which includes


poaching and trafficking to serve a growing black market for animal goods—could be a US$30 billion industry, driven in part by multinational crime syndicates. Over the last 10 years, these illegal acts have become the fourth-highest-grossing crime in the world, behind the narcotics trade, counterfeiting and human trafficking. Much like those crimes, because wildlife crime is not bound by national borders and each country has its own rules, its management and policing has become unwieldy at best. With the proper permits, hunting polar bears

the $5,000-per-pelt price the market allows. (That number spiked as high as $25,000 in recent years but seems to have settled back down.) The U.S., on the other hand, has long opposed commercial trade in polar bears, believing it should be shut down completely. In 2008, the country banned polar bear imports outright and then, two years later, proposed stopping all global polar bear trade. The U.S. raised the idea again in 2013 but dropped its official opposition in 2016, refocusing on climate change as a threat to the species. However, the U.S. Fish and

CANADA NEEDED TO PROVE THAT ITS POLAR BEARS WEREN’T BEING POACHED AND THAT THEIR PELTS WEREN’T BEING SMUGGLED ACROSS ITS BORDERS. isn’t illegal in Canada, but officials like Jordan are in desperate need of a way to track pelts as they move out of the Arctic, so they can catch traffickers and distinguish between which pelts are traded lawfully and which are not. for years, Canada and the U.S. have disagreed over how to manage polar bears. The World Wildlife Federation estimates there are anywhere from 22,000 to 31,000 polar bears worldwide. But Canada is home to at least three quarters of them and wants its northern communities to benefit from

Wildlife Service said at the time that it “remains concerned about the commercial use of polar bear hides as an additional threat to the species.” Even though American efforts were unsuccessful, they did force Canada to look closely at its management tactics to offer a strong enough defense. “‘Let’s not let a good crisis go to waste’ was our attitude,” Jordan says. Canada needed a way to show that its polar bears weren’t being poached and that their pelts weren’t being smuggled across its borders. But how do you prove a negative?



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After the 2010 proposed global ban and the 2013 Winnipeg bust, Labossiere took the three pelts his team had seized and began to test a tagging method, called Passive Integrated Transponder (or PIT) tags, that he thought might work to help him and his team track the movements of pelts across the globe, and prove to the U.S. that Canada could manage its polar bear hunt. The tags—tiny microchips that can be coded with 35 billion possible sequences—weren’t new additions to the wildlife crime prevention arsenal. They’d been used to monitor a few other species worldwide, including bighorn sheep in Alberta and arowana, or dragon fish, in Indonesia and Malaysia. So why, Labossiere reasoned, couldn’t they work to track Canada’s polar bear pelts? After consulting with hunters and taxidermists, Labossiere peppered the three pelts with tags. He then sent them off for fleshing—scraping all the fat and muscle away with a blade—and tanning, a chemical process that renders a hide softer and more pliable. Labossiere won’t say where he placed the tags, which are no bigger than a grain of rice, or the final locale chosen, but the tags survived every stage of rigorous processing. How often a pelt is checked for a chip once it hits the market is also a secret, as are the tools used to scan the pelts later. However, the tag strategy only works if local communities agree to participate,

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Clockwise, from top left: Staffer checking a PIT tag; Sheldon Jordan at his office in Ottawa; a DNA kit.



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so in November 2014, Labossiere flew up to a speck of a town called Clyde River (population 1,053) on the shores of Baffin Island. The federal government needed the community’s support to launch the pilot project. Through a translator, he tried to explain why the government wanted access to the dozen pelts stacked in the hunters and trappers’ association office, and to all the bears they’d hunt in the future too. The eight elders who sat across from him showed little emotion. Says Labossiere, “At one point, one of them approached me and said, ‘You can stop already.’” Labossiere thought he was dead in the water, but to his surprise, the elder told him the group would give him the pelts. The two parties worked out an agreement: when someone made a kill, they had to report it to the conservation officer in town, who would then tag the pelt. The officer would also be responsible for taking a DNA sample, essentially a serial number for the bear, and sending it south to a federal laboratory for storage. The program has since been implemented in a half-dozen communities across the Canadian north. Ideally, the tag system will operate in every Arctic community, and eventually every pelt taken legally will get a tag. “Let’s project ourselves 10 years into the future,” Jordan says. “All the new pelts are being PIT tagged and we’ve made it harder for illegal pelts to get into the trade chain.” Being able to

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track polar bear hides means that there is little conceivable need to ban the trade in polar bear parts. If an officer encounters a pelt without a tag, and the owner says it was bought before the program, authorities can do a (more expensive, more intrusive, less efficient) carbon-dating test to determine if they’re telling the truth. If the pelt turns out to be older than the PIT tag program, then it could be legal, but if not, the authorities would have proof that it was traded illegally. So far, Jordan says, anecdotal evidence suggests that the program is working: authorities can’t necessarily bust people yet because they’ve just started putting the tags in, but he says that they’ve already seen fewer problem cases this year than before, suggesting the tags are, at the very least, acting as a deterrent. it’s not just polar bears that stand to benefit from the PIT tags. University of Washington scientist Sam Wasser has made it his life’s mission to use DNA in ivory tusks to track where an elephant was killed. His career has consisted, in part, of studying piles of elephant dung in Africa to map the animals’ genetics across the continent. His lab has developed DNA methods that can track any elephant tusk to within 300 kilometres—and often to the exact protected area—of where the animal was killed. For Interpol, the technique has revealed a clear


picture of numerous wildlife crime syndicates and their patterns of poaching and trafficking ivory. Jordan believes forensic tracing technology like the tiny PIT tags could bust open these crime syndicates even further, revealing where they’re getting their illegal prey by scanning seized elephant parts with a hand-held wand, or tracking which herds are disappearing and identifying where new material is turning up. “Looking at 30,000 or 40,000 tusks, Wasser has been able to identify a number of major gangs coming out of Africa, just through the patterns of DNA analysis,” Jordan says. Implementing a program like the one operating in the high Arctic could


bolster the already extensive DNA bank Wasser has created and help to save the 415,000 African elephants left in the world from poachers. Until a better system emerges, Jordan will continue to expand polar bear tagging and cracking down on the trophy hunters and taxidermists largely responsible for illegally smuggling pelts out of the country. “We’re using intelligence, targeted inspections— we’ve been able to prevent a lot of crime from happening,” Jordan says. “This is science saying ‘You should look here’ and informing intelligence. It’s amazing.” © 2018, KATHERINE LAIDLAW. FROM PACIFIC STANDARD MAGAZINE ( JUNE 2018), PSMAG.COM








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thought leaders are utilizing to operationalize excellence throughout the organization.” —


Meat, the Teacher I understand recruiting firms cast a wide net, but I have questions about how I ended up in this search: “Lowes Foods has an opening for a Sausage Professor in their town of Mount Pleasant location.” — Journalist JESSICA MASON PIEKLO

The best part of being a flight attendant has to be when you walk the aisle saying “trash” to everyone’s face. —


Nice Save Ran into a co-worker at Target. I didn’t want her to know I was buying baby clothes for my cat, so I told her I was pregnant. —


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Better Left Unknown I’ve never wanted to know the answer to anything badly enough to ask a question at the end of a meeting that’s running 30 minutes over time. —

It feels like some struggling journalist found a monkey’s paw four years ago and was like “I wish there was more news.” — Comedian KUMAIL NANJIANI

No, this email does not find me well! —



Key to Success My father always told me, “Son, make sure you align on what buzzwords the high-level

Are you in need of some professional motivation? Send us a work anecdote, and you could receive $50. To submit your stories, visit


“I guess Johnson never got his raise.”



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I’M SORRY to dampen the peach-blossom

optimism of spring with a downer. But if you are cusping 60 and beyond this April, your likelihood of being admitted to hospital just got a whole lot higher. In my set alone, we shambled into 2019 with rotator cuff surgery, a hip replacement, complicated bone breaks, open-heart surgery, cancer, torn menisci, pyelonephritis (the “phritis” is there to terrify you) and abdominal fissures. Multiply us by the 8,226,140 over-60s across the country, according to the 2016 census’s count, and you get the picture. We’re advancing through the system like a row of snowplows on a four-lane highway. Traffic is slowing down for miles behind us. A few months ago, I had my own experience with one of Toronto’s greatest hospitals, Mount Sinai. I won’t get into the ailment side of things—ouchywah-wah should cover it. Instead, I’m here to be your advance scout, to give you a first-hand account of the new frontier that awaits so many of us. It’s not a long journey as the Fitbit flies. Emotionally, though, the trek from good health to sudden-onset decrepitude is arduous and terrifying. Sometimes at night when the hallways quiet down and it’s just you in

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the hospital bed, thoughts rush in. Like, Am I going to die sooner than I thought? And, Why did I live the life I did, now that I’m too feeble to do things differently? If you’re lucky, you might meet someone during your hospital stay who helps you find the most eloquent answer to those questions without even realizing that they have. NOT EVERYONE

enters the hospital portal the same way. My sister drove me to emergency on a dusky December afternoon, where we took a frontrow seat facing the ferociously competent triage nurses. These nurses are the gatekeepers; they decide who gets through to the other side and how fast. Like all good gatekeepers, the nurses start with a riddle. They repeated the same two instructions to all comers: take off your coat and get out your health card. Simple, right? No one got it right. Some people took off their coat halfway, then flapped their forearms like penguins, unable to reach their card. Others stared, stupefied. One


man, 60-ish, fit and well-dressed, made the extra-two-hours-in-the-waitingroom mistake of questioning the nurse’s instruction. “I hurt my shoulder this morning so I’m afraid I can’t get my coat off.” “How did you get your coat on if you can’t get it off?” the nurse asked. This flummoxed the man and also me but not my sister Laura, a lawyer and nobody’s fool. “Good question,” she said, nodding.


patients waited for our beds, our cots lined the hallways like out-of-commission bumper cars. There it was blared into us that this was a place of danger. Code red! Code white! Ding, beep, help! Judy Garland could belt a tune to the clanging trolley carts. “A lot going on here,” said a big man in a striped polo shirt waiting for his mother outside the bathroom door. My cot was across from the bathroom, a theme to be continued. “Yup,” I said.

ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE CURTAIN EVERYTHING CLANKED AND EVERYONE SPOKE LOUDLY. MY NEW ROOMMATE MOANED. Laura’s quick bond with triage took a careening left turn after we’d been admitted and she went back looking for the health card I thought I’d left behind. “People always say they leave their health cards behind at triage and they are always wrong. Always,” said the triage nurse. She was angry. This was not good for my hospital future. “I’m not blaming you. We’re simply trying to locate the card,” Laura said in her reasonable lawyer voice as I finally found it in the last unsearched pocket and flashed it to my sister behind the nurse’s ironing-board back. Laura seamlessly changed tacks: “But that’s good to know, nurse. We’ll have another look.”

My son, Kelly, replaced Laura. He was joined by Mary, my daughter, who chatted it up with a flirty orderly. Mary: “Mount Sinai, isn’t it biblical?” Orderly: “It’s where that guy had the tablet and he handed it to the other guy.” Mary: “The guy in the movie. What was his name?” I Lazarused from my cot. “It’s where God gave Moses the Ten Commandments. Jesus Christ Almighty.” At midnight a nurse rolled me into Room 1408, the semi-private I had all to myself and—double score—the window bed. It was sparkling clean and still, more like being in an enchantment than a room. I was on hydromorphone, true, but it seemed to make



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things more real rather than less. I texted Laura at 2 a.m.: quiet! window! nice! She texted back: perfect! It was perfect. Who has a sister who texts back at 2 a.m.? I nodded off. At 4 a.m. I texted Laura: oh no. someone moved in next door very loud old a moaner lights and noise On the other side of the curtain everything clanked and everyone spoke loudly. “One, two, three, lift.” The patient groaned. The nurse asked my new roommate if she would like

when a heavy-metal soundtrack started up just outside my room. I wheeled my tubes and intravenous fluids toward the sound. I looked like Ebenezer Scrooge on his third ghost of Christmas Eve. I faced the nurse (to be clear, she was not my nurse) tending the patient beside me, my new roommate, whom I did not look at. “Nurse,” I began. “Someone is playing a boombox in that room across the hall.” “The communal shower.” (The location of the communal shower was a trial throughout my visit, not only because of the music. I witnessed one too many naked behinds shuffling in and out. It’s a mystery to me why men walk around with the backs of their hospital gowns flapping like the sails of a schooner at lee.)

WHAT THE NURSE DID NEXT TAUGHT ME SOMETHING THAT, HAD I LEARNED IT 30 YEARS AGO, WOULD HAVE CHANGED MY LIFE. her light left on, and she replied, “Yes.” Yes?! It was 4:37 a.m. I texted Laura to please bring earplugs and an eye mask. My cozy setup was leaking away. At 6:30 a.m., the doctor woke me up and asked me how I was feeling. Could they turn out the light, I wanted to know. I watched the doctor leave, thinking I might have asked better questions,

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“Nurse,” I repeated. “Someone is loudly playing a boombox”—I don’t know why the word “boombox” kept coming out of my mouth—“in the communal shower across from my room. At 6:30 in the morning. Could you please ask them to turn it off?” What the nurse did next taught me something that, had I learned it 30 years


ago, would have changed my life. She raised her hand, palm facing me, and paused. It was not aggressive, which was why it got my full attention, even over the Tommy gun of the communal boombox room. “I cannot take on the shower music right now,” she said evenly. There was another pause as she made sure I was taking this in. “What I can do is close your door. Would you like me to close your door?”

person, how nice her house had looked and the joyous fact that Christmas was now over. The bright side. My father was King of the Bright Side, never more than when he was in the hospital. I’d have been wise to pay more attention back then. In his final years—he lived to a snappy 94—Dad knew who everyone was but not always where he was, which was often in the hospital, falls mostly. “Stood up too fast,” he’d say, stitches stapled

MY FATHER WAS KING OF THE BRIGHT SIDE, NEVER MORE THAN WHEN HE WAS IN HOSPITAL. I’D HAVE BEEN WISE TO PAY MORE ATTENTION. “Okay,” I answered meekly. As I went back to my bed I glanced at my roommate. She was small and I could see right away that her body didn’t work. There was no part of her that moved except her face, which was open, broadbrowed and unlined as she smiled at me. I smiled back and texted Laura from my bed: no not loud not old MS? sad A FRIEND WHO

had a difficult Christmas wrote me that she was focusing on the good, such as the kindness of one

into his head, when you arrived at emergency. His hospital cot posture was the same as his lounge-on-the-beach pose: legs crossed at the ankles, right hand under his head with elbow crooked, book held aloft in the other hand. When emergency room nurses asked if he wanted anything, he’d say, “Why yes, I’ll have a glass of white wine, please.” They thought he was cracking a joke but he thought he was in his living room. When he did remember he was in the hospital, it was the best hospital he had ever seen. “You’ll never know a greater bunch of nurses.” “This doctor is the smartest doctor you’ll ever meet.” His good manners weren’t a ploy, simply the way you behaved to



reader’s digest

strangers and family, both the same. When a patient was rude, he’d look away. “I don’t go in for that nonsense.” What I’d forgotten until I landed in the hospital was that he’d had a lot of practice getting it right. Not many make it to their 90s without heavy-duty medical assistance, and no amount of spinning classes is going to make us much different from our parents. Laura and I counted at least six major


I paused. I was writing a furious response to an incomprehensible email and didn’t want to interrupt my ragetrain of thought. “Neighbour?” Her voice was very faint, but there was no mistaking it this time. “Hello?” I said. “Hello, neighbour. Can you buzz the nurse for me?”

surgeries for our father in his 60s and 70s, although neither of us could recall much about his illnesses or recoveries, or even visiting him in those years when he stopped being invincible. In our shoddy defense, he had the recovery speed of the Road Runner on an asphalt track. He also found the fortitude to accept that his spirit remained willing but his body did not, and he looked for new places to put his undaunted energy. He gave up skiing but started flying, taking to the air as if he’d never left the air force. “I’m going to take you all up! Grandkids, too!” We were terrified—by now he was 83—but the flying thrilled him. “Up there with the birds,” was one of the last things he said.

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“Of course.” I buzzed; no one came. This was unusual—the nurses were on pagers and responded with immediate and skilled attention to any need. I buzzed again and again, for half an hour, in between writing my furious email. “I think it must be a shift change,” I said to the drawn curtain. “That’s okay,” the woman whispered. She made a soft cry, which was drowned out by a sudden beeping coming from my intravenous. I read the words repeating on the ticker stream—AIR IN LINE—and I’m sorry to say it was this and not my roommate that got me out of bed. “Jesus Christ.” I once again wheeled the tubes and fluid sacks dangling




Cathrin Bradbury in Toronto on January 29, 2019.



reader’s digest

from my metal pole, this time to the nurses’ station halfway down the hallway. There I calmly held my palm, face out, in the air in front of me. Everyone fell silent and looked at me, attentive and waiting. The Power of the Palm! “My roommate needs your assistance,” I said, calm as a pond—did I mention my hydromorphone had been topped up? To underline my point, I opened my hand to show five separate fingers for the five times I had buzzed. It was a nice flourish but not a wise one. Now the nurses looked angry. “Five times!” I repeated, too loud. “And

in the single-digit hours, and my happily haphazard life seemed to have taken a new, darker direction, and not one I had chosen. It wasn’t fair. “Cathrin, are you okay?” I wiped my runny nose on my sheet. “Yes.” “Do you know how you got here?” It was a profoundly timed question from the other side of the curtain. “Oh, you mean literally? I walked into emergency. Do you know how you got here?” “No. It gets confusing sometimes. How’s the view?”

OUR WORDS DIDN’T GO THROUGH THE CURTAIN SO MUCH AS DRIFT UP AND OVER IT BEFORE WATERFALLING DOWN THE OTHER SIDE. I may be about to die from an air bubble.” My nurse sternly ordered me back to bed where he took my vitals, which had rocketed. “See what you have done?” he said, sadly. My neighbour got the help she needed, though, and we exchanged names (Cheryl, Cathrin), got tucked in—lights out this time—and were given melatonin to help us sleep. Seriously, we were given melatonin. It wouldn’t knock out a canary. I managed not to say this out loud. About 4 a.m. I began to weep quietly. Puny sorrows amplify in a hospital bed

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Cheryl told me she was 65. I said truthfully she looked 20 years younger. She studied animation at Sheridan College when it was the hottest place to do that, and had lived on Brunswick Avenue a few blocks away from where I live now. She moved to L.A., where she worked for seven years as an animator until she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, which she has had for 27 years. She moved back to Toronto and in with her mother, who was now deceased. “Tell me about your mother.” “I can’t,” Cheryl said. “It’s too dark.”


It was an extraordinarily slow conversation. Our words didn’t go through the curtain so much as drift up and over it before waterfalling down the other side. Every syllable of Cheryl’s was an effort, and she often had to repeat herself over the hum of my intravenous machine. Sometimes when it got too hard I did the talking for both of us, or we’d stop for a while, then start up again. She was a great cook, or had been, and enjoyed a good meal, not to be found in a hospital. She especially liked sweets. She lived alone in assisted care, where she was visited by a caregiver three times a day. “Are you in pain, Cheryl?” There was a pause so long I thought she might have fallen asleep.

“No kidding.” There was another pause. “Is there anything I can do for you, Cheryl?” “Yes,” Cheryl said. “I’d like to know how I got here.” THREE DAYS IN, the doctor said I could

have a couple of saltine crackers, and the nurse said they’d have to specialorder them. “Let’s do that,” he said. “Under the heading #ridiculous.” Cheryl began to order saltines for me with each of her meals but they never came. This distressed both of us until a friend arrived with two massive red boxes of Christie Premium Plus Saltines, one salted and one unsalted, “I wasn’t sure which you liked best.” “I like your friends,” Cheryl said a bit later. “They’re nice.”

“DO YOU HAVE A GOOD DOCTOR?” I WANTED TO KNOW. “HE’S YOUNG AND HANDSOME, SO YES, HE’S GOOD,” CHERYL ANSWERED. “No,” she finally answered, and then she paused again. “I don’t need to ask if you are in pain because I can tell that you are.” I have never been so graciously schooled. “I don’t think that melatonin is all it’s cracked up to be,” she said. It was 5 a.m. and I could see the first outline of the downtown skyscape through our window.

In the five days I shared Room 1408 with Cheryl, people brought me many kind gifts, including the warmth and comfort of their company. Most nights I fell asleep to the sound of my son softly typing on his computer. In the afternoon I’d doze off to Laura and Mary talking about the latest fashion in winter coats or catching up on what the cousins were doing.



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Cheryl didn’t have visitors, and neither of us mentioned this. I texted my sister: bring Cheryl your leftover banana bread Cheryl was discharged a day before me. “Do you have a good doctor?” I wanted to know. I was sitting on the end of her bed nibbling a piece of banana bread. “He’s young and handsome, so yes, he’s good.”

who have a body, mind and heart and don’t use any of them.” Cheryl was wheeled away smiling by two tall and handsome young paramedics. We’d exchanged phone numbers, although it was a mystery to me how she could make or receive calls. “The city is full of Cheryls,” said Dr. Jean Marmoreo gently, when I asked her how Cheryl could live on her own with three hours of care a day. (Marmoreo is a family and community

BY THE TIME I VISITED CHERYL A COUPLE OF WEEKS LATER, SHE HAD BEEN SENT BACK TO ANOTHER HOSPITAL, THIS TIME TO THE ICU. “Sometimes I think about death,” she said. “You’re not there yet.” “Pretty close.” The bustle of preparation, followed by the long wait for the paramedics who would move Cheryl, was unsettling. In a panic, she asked for 911. It didn’t last long, but she was embarrassed. “I’m useless,” she told her nurse. “You are not useless,” the nurse began. “It’s true you can’t use your body. But you have a heart and a mind and you use both of them. In just a few days you’ve made friends with me and you’ve made friends with Cathrin.” “I’ll tell you what’s useless,” the nurse continued. “Useless is people

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physician in Toronto and an acquaintance of mine.) “Believe it or not, three hours a day is a high standard of care in our system.” She told me not to underestimate what our new friendship could mean to Cheryl’s spirits, and I took it to heart. I had it all backwards, but I didn’t know that yet. That afternoon I lay on my bed with my arm crooked under my head, my ankles crossed. I was wearing the plaid pyjamas Laura had bought me, with contrasting striped socks. I’d even washed my hair in the communal shower room. I knew my nurses by name, and I’ve never met such terrific men and women.


Laura had sussed out the best bathroom for visitors (“The woman who showed it to me said she would have to kill me if I told anyone”), and I patrolled the hallways noting how female patients seemed to have figured out the trick of wearing two gowns, one strings-front and the other strings-back, so solving the backside problem. I went home with renewed hope in a few things, such as that men might solve the hospital gown conundrum. Also that being vincible is another way forward. The only way, even. And that paying attention to the plight of our neighbours is as much our salvation as it is theirs. By the time I visited Cheryl a couple of weeks later, she had been sent back to another hospital, this time to the ICU.

She had a sunny corner room with two sides of windows and her own nurse stationed outside the door. She was as pretty as ever, and her brown wavy hair had been washed and put in a soft bun. She did not talk or open her eyes, so I did the talking for both of us. Nothing important, not like what she had shown me about courage, grace and gratitude. And that love can be as simple as a slow conversation at night through a drawn curtain. Cheryl died the next morning, the nurses said peacefully, with two friends beside her. I wish I’d remembered to tell her how she got to Mount Sinai—it was by ambulance—because it was the only thing she’d asked of me. © 2019, CATHRIN BRADBURY. FROM THE TORONTO STAR ( JANUARY 18, 2019), THESTAR.COM

Staying Power If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.

I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. THOMAS EDISON

If teenage Mary Shelley can win a storytelling contest with Lord Byron by inventing science fiction, I can surely make it to Friday. @ SKETCHESBYBOZE

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better. SAMUEL BECKETT



reader’s digest

Talking to a


ARE MY TAXES FAIR? We ask Toby Sanger, executive director of Canadians for Tax Fairness BY

Bryan Borzykowski

illustration by lauren tamaki

102 april 2019


Are average Canadians getting a raw deal on taxes? Yeah, and it’s gotten worse over time. There are so many loopholes, and they’re particularly beneficial for top income earners.

transparency and other regulations— don’t apply. It’s only the very wealthy and megacorporations who have access to tax professionals and lawyers who take advantage of this.

How does the Canada Revenue Agency What kind of loopholes are we talking (CRA) choose whom to audit? about here? Right now, computer programs decide It could be putting money into a private for the most part, using more than 200 family trust or into a corporation, variables, like where someone lives and which has a lower tax rate than individ- if there are any patterns in behaviour uals pay. It could then be that could be a sign of tax expensing things through IF CANADIANS evasion. For instance, that corporation, like one thing CRA officials SEE THE entertainment. Corporahave mentioned to me is SYSTEM AS tions can write off some that they’re looking at of the cost of a private UNFAIR, THEY where people live and box at a hockey game, for the value of their homes ARE LESS instance, so the governin order to match that up INCLINED TO ment is basically subsidagainst their declared izing that. CONTRIBUTE. incomes. In some ways it’s worked, but people I’ve read that $3 billion can be unfairly targeted. in taxes are evaded every year The CRA’s budget has also been because profits are put into offshore slashed, which means they don’t have accounts—legally. Why is this allowed as many resources to go after wealthy individuals and large corporations. to happen? Financiers from the United Kingdom, United States and Canada created tax Does the government just not care havens at different times—between the about “the little guy”? 1920s and the 1960s. RBC and Scotia- It depends on the party in power or bank were particularly active in the who in the CRA is dealing with your Caribbean. Their people, including for- case. Some caseworkers are aggressive, mer Canadian finance minister Donald and some are sympathetic. But there’s Fleming, were instrumental in making a sense that the CRA is going after the these countries into tax havens, where smaller fish. Why? Because they’re more Canadian laws—in terms of taxation, easily intimidated, or they don’t have tax



reader’s digest

lawyers. In fact, last year our organization got a call from the CRA. According to their calculations, we owed $5.10 in GST because we had $34.70 in sales for the year. I had to remind them that a non-profit only pays GST if it earns over $50,000 in a year. It was funny, but it was also a little taste of what some individuals and small businesses are up against. Are average Canadians missing out on any tax breaks? Yes, there are some. People may be able to claim the cost of union and professional dues, and there’s also a large range of medical expenses that are eligible to be deducted, including dental services, travel for medical reasons and fees for nursing homes. It’s hard for people to remember all that. One way to become informed is to visit a community organization that provides volunteer tax clinics. also provides good information.

FAST FACTS Experts Agree A survey from The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada found that 79 per cent of Canadians think it’s easier for corporations and the wealthy to evade taxes than the average person. And 90 per cent of CRA auditors agreed.

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What’s one thing you would improve about Canada’s tax system if you were in charge? I would make it more like Norway’s, for example. The Norwegian Tax Administration prepares people’s tax returns and then sends them to their citizens to see if they want to make changes. It can take Canadians up to eight hours to prepare or file their taxes, and they may miss deductions they’re entitled to. The government has a lot of the information on file already that would help them do it faster and better. Canadians are a fair-minded people. They’re happy to pay for public services, but if they see the system as unfair, they’ll be less inclined to contribute their share of taxes, and the whole system falls apart. Canadians for Tax Fairness is a nonprofit organization that advocates for fair and progressive tax policies.

Billions Unpaid According to The Conference Board of Canada, every year up to $47 billion in tax funds may be lost due to tax evasion, avoidance and filing errors. Paradise Lost? According to the CBC, an estimated $500 million in unpaid taxes has been collected globally as a result

of the Panama and Paradise Papers leaks. While Canadians were named, the CRA hasn’t collected any money so far.


reader’s digest


Paul Paquet

1. Developed in Germany in 1959, the soft drink Fanta Klare Zitrone (“Clear Lemon Fanta”) is now known by what one-word name? 2. What comic-book character possesses superhuman strength and pals around with Asterix? 3. In 2017, the Louvre opened a museum in which Middle Eastern city? 4. What’s missing from the titles of these musicals: Mamma Mia; Hello, Dolly; Oklahoma and Oliver?

6. What is the J.R.R. short for in J.R.R. Tolkien?

8. Kevin Costner claims he nearly convinced Princess Diana to act in a sequel to what movie?

13. Sammy Davis Jr. Drive, Frank Sinatra Drive and Dean Martin Drive all meet at an intersection in what city? 14. Who was the first person to win Oscars for both screenwriting and acting?

9. Which country’s flag is called the Sang Saka Merah Putih (“Lofty Red and White”)? 10. What impressionist painted The Cup of Tea, The Child’s Bath and Lydia Reading the Morning Paper? 11. The Unemployed Philosophers Guild sells a plush toy depicting Vincent van Gogh, with what detachable part connected by Velcro?

15. What’s the main food source for most butterflies?

Answers: 1. Sprite. 2. Obelix. 3. Abu Dhabi. 4. Exclamation points. 5. False. 6. John Ronald Reuel. 7. Saudi Arabia. 8. The Bodyguard. 9. Indonesia. 10. Mary Cassatt. 11. His ear. 12. The Hunger Games. 13. Las Vegas. 14. Emma Thompson, for Howards End (in 1993) and Sense and Sensibility (in 1996). 15. Nectar from flowers.


5. A city in the Southern Hemisphere has hosted the Olympic Winter Games. True or false?

7. The world has several countries with no permanently running rivers. By area, which is the largest of these dry lands?

12. Lions Gate Entertainment trademarked the sound of a human whistling a G, B-flat, A and then D in the key of G minor, which appears in what movie series?



reader’s digest



Pot of Gold Moderately difficult Leprechaun gold comes in denominations of 1, 3, 4, 6 and 7. If the illustrated sets of coins are equal, how much is the shamrock coin worth?


5 5 4 3 5 4 3 4


106 april 2019






Match Play Moderately difficult This grid contains matches of different sizes, any of which may be completely unburned, partially burned or completely burned. Matches burn from the head (the red end) to the tail without skipping segments. The numbers outside the grid indicate the number of burned segments in the corresponding row or column. Can you shade in the burned segments to “match” the numbers?





Taking Orders Difficult The robot shown here can move only horizontally or vertically from where it stands. If it’s ordered to go in any one of its four available directions, it will continue as far as it can in that direction before it stops. When it encounters a single box, it will push it until it can’t go any further in that direction. However, it isn’t strong enough to push multiple boxes at once, meaning that two or more boxes stacked next to each other will just stop it where it is, as will a wall or a box stacked against a wall. How could you order the robot out of the room, presuming the doorway is too narrow to push a box through?


Runs in the Family Easy Jim and his daughter Sam both ran in a 10-kilometre race. Jim finished in 49 minutes, Sam in 54. Jim ran at a perfectly steady pace, but Sam lost steam and took exactly 25 per cent more time to complete the second half of the race, compared to the first. Jim’s wife and Sam’s mother, Heather, stood at the halfway mark to cheer them on as they passed. Who went by her first?




10 50


65 80

5 10


5 25 30





Place Your Chips Difficult You have a stack of poker chips that are each worth $5, $10 or $25. You need to put them on the squares of this grid—but no more than one chip per square—so that their value totals the amount of dollars shown for each row, column and long diagonal. Not every square needs to have a chip on it. Several chips and one blank space (designated by a star) have been placed to get you started. Can you finish the grid?

For answers, turn to PAGE 108



reader’s digest


SUDOKU Ian Riensche


Pot of Gold 4.

9 4 7 4 6 3 8 7 1

Match Play

5 8 2

5 5 4 3 5 4 3

5 9 6 2 3 8 2 9 3 7 9 3 1 8 2 7 6

4 5 4 3 3 6 4

Taking Orders

To solve this puzzle…

=Box that has moved =Box that hasn’t moved

You have to put a number from 1 to 9 in each square so that:

3 1 6 4 5 2 7 8 9

9 8 3 7 6 4 5 1 2

4 6 1 5 2 9 8 3 7

7 2 5 1 3 8 9 4 6

6 5 8 2 1 7 3 9 4

2 3 9 6 4 5 1 7 8

1 4 7 9 8 3 6 2 5

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8 7 4 3 9 6 2 5 1

)each of the 3 x 3 boxes has all nine numerals, none repeated.

5 9 2 8 7 1 4 6 3

)every horizontal row and vertical column contains all nine numerals (1-9) without repeating any of them;


Runs in the Family Sam, by half a minute. Place Your Chips 10 10 10 10 10 5 25 25 10 10 25 10 10 25 5 10 10 10 5


10 5




reader’s digest

WORD POWER Here’s a new way to mind your Ps and Qs. Equip your vocabulary with these piquant words containing both letters. BY

Beth Shillibeer

1. quindecaplet—A: hat ornamentation, such as feathers. B: baroqueperiod musical form. C: group of 15.

Québécois. B: person who resisted the French Revolution. C: superfan of Star Trek’s Captain Jean-Luc Picard.

2. perruquier—A: liqueur connoisseur. B: wigmaker or seller. C: collector of tropical birds.

6. quip—A: soldier’s kit. B: calligraphy nib set. C: witty remark.

3. perquisite—A: deliberate misdirection. B: preliminary test. C: job-related benefit. 4. appliqué—A: bouncing violin-bowing technique. B: practice of sewing fabric pieces onto a larger one. C: conclusion reached by applying formal logic. 5. Péquiste—A: member or supporter of the Parti

7. quop—A: make a social blunder. B: show indecision. C: pulsate or throb. 8. opaque—A: not transparent. B: iridescent. C: oval-shaped. 9. quid pro quo— A: hiring a professional rather than doing a job oneself. B: something exchanged for something else. C: quitting while ahead.

10. picaresque— A: relating to episodic fiction about a roguish but appealing hero. B: of Victorian miniature portraits. C: ballet jump with rapid airborne footwork. 11. prequel—A: lowest point of a wave in the ocean. B: story of events that precede an existing work. C: left side of an algebraic equation. 12. equipoise—A: balance of forces. B: good posture for equine dressage. C: seahorse pouch. 13. aquaplane—A: slide uncontrollably on a wet surface. B: take off or land on water. C: measure water surface area. 14. quadruped— A: multiple of four. B: four-footed animal. C: four-sided shape in which all sides are unequal in length. 15. propinquity— A: likelihood of an event. B: formal civility and decorum. C: nearness in place or time.



reader’s digest


1. quindecaplet— C: group of 15; as, Eight ball pool begins with a quindecaplet of balls racked in a triangle. 2. perruquier—B: wigmaker or seller; as, Many cancer patients consult with a perruquier after they have chemotherapy. 3. perquisite—C: jobrelated benefit; as, Use of the company’s electric car was one of the perquisites that tempted Zamira to accept the job offer. 4. appliqué—B: practice of sewing fabric pieces onto a larger one; as, Quilt makers often use appliqué to create pleasing pictures and patterns. 5. Péquiste—A: member or supporter of the Parti Québécois; as, A dedicated Péquiste, Gaétan volunteered at his riding’s campaign office during every Quebec election.

110 april 2019

6. quip—C: witty remark; as, Kasper often sprinkled his conversation with entertaining quips. 7. quop—C: pulsate or throb; as, Flannan’s heart quopped as he prepared to go on stage. 8. opaque—A: not transparent; as, Anne installed an opaque film on her windows for privacy. 9. quid pro quo— B: something exchanged for something else; as, Vinit helped Björn with his project at work but expected a quid pro quo. 10. picaresque— A: relating to episodic fiction about a roguish but appealing hero; as, From Don Quixote to Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the picaresque novel has enjoyed a long history. 11. prequel—B: story of events that precede an existing work; as, The network commissioned a prequel to their hit show. 12. equipoise—A: balance of forces; as, Hanh’s passion for partying and

his need for rest had finally reached a sustainable equipoise. 13. aquaplane—A: slide uncontrollably on a wet surface; as, The car aquaplaned straight off the side of the flooded road. 14. quadruped—B: fourfooted animal; as, Some birds, fish and insects can move faster, but the cheetah is the fastest quadruped on earth. 15. propinquity— C: nearness in place or time; as, Maiko decided not to buy any chocolate, knowing that the greater her propinquity to it, the more she would eat.















reader’s digest


Capital People BY












Derek Bowman 7









21 22




28 30


29 31






ACROSS 1 Formal agreements 6 Dishonour 11 Happy-hour seat 12 Prozac or Zoloft alternative 13 Unshaven 14 Throw forcefully 15 Redblack rival 16 Machu Picchu builder 17 Provincial-capital resident 21 Spanish “I love you”

112 april 2019


22 Provincial-capital resident 28 ___ jacket (Canadiantuxedo piece) 29 Data 30 Skater Stojko 32 “Sexy ___” (Beatles tune) 33 Inexpensive 34 Barbell bar ridge 35 Metallic-sounding 36 Nincompoops

DOWN 1 “Fiddlesticks!” 2 Classic video-arcade name 3 ___ of vantage (good spot for observation) 4 Provincial-capital resident 5 Crafty, like a fox 6 Beach-bottle letters 7 Provincial-capital residents 8 Using a hatchet on 9 Chop finely 10 Pomp and Circumstance composer 18 CTV broadcast journalist Marci 19 Butter serving 20 Music related to punk 22 Kick out 23 New ___ (city near Agra) 24 Expert 25 River through Kashmir 26 Blazing 27 Christmases, in Chicoutimi 31 Special agent 32 Music related to reggae For answers, turn to PAGE 110

Đ Đ•Đ›Đ˜Đ— Đ&#x;ĐžĐ”Đ“ĐžĐ˘ĐžĐ’Đ˜Đ›Đ? Đ“Đ ĐŁĐ&#x;Đ&#x;Đ? "What's News" VK.COM/WSNWS

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Reader's Digest Canada - April 2019 (Newly Redesigned Issue)