Monday 28 December 2020

Gaming the System.

 Gaming the system or how to profit from a Pandemic.

Even In the days of plague people will find a way to milk the system. On December 12th my daughter and her husband came home to their condo, in a nice area of Toronto, close to the Allen Expressway, but not too close. Close enough to make it about halfway between PEARSON Airport and downtown Toronto. The condo is located so as to be convenient for downtown workers yet sufficiently pleasant to raise a family and not be afraid to take your kids out for walk. It is very convenient to Toronto Airport.
As they were about to turn into the parking area of their four story building, they were surprised to find that there were so many cars in their normally sparsely occupied parking area that they could hardly get in. Over the next few days, they found that crowding of their parking lot was becoming constant. A couple of days later, my daughter, an RN (Registered Nurse) was coming home by taxi. She remarked to the Taxi Driver,that she couldn't believe how full she has found the parking area. He said to her, "It's the Covid Testing Centre, Ma'am ! Didn't you know about it?" She didn't, but she resolved to find out what it was all about. She decided to investigate.
Apparently, a small ground suite in her residential building had been bought by someone who decided to lease it out to a Quebec based medical group, by the name of ELNA MEDICAL who saw an opportunity to make big bucks capitalizing on the current worldwide health problems.
Laxity of the federal government's airport surveillance, so inadequate that the Premier of the Province of Ontario threatened to take over the management of Toronto Airport (Pearson) from the federal government to ensure that adequate measures are being taken to protect the country from the Chinese virus. Due diligence hadn't been followed and we are now paying for it. International flights continue to come in to the country with minimal and inadequate screening so it easy to understand why various groups would find it valuable to get a rapid result of their Covid test. A negative test would enable many to avoid quarantine and to facilitate those carrying on to other destinations. The tests are not cheap. They offer a swab test, (which they assure you is approved by the Chinese Embassy), results within 30 hours, 'valid for all travels internationally'. That costs $260.00. This shows if you are currently infected.
They also offer an antibody test, which measures antibodies to the virus in the blood stream and indicates a level of immunity. Results within 30 hrs.
It costs $180. As a special deal you can have both done for S400.00.
None of this is covered by OHIP and in fact contravene the Canada Heath Act, as well as zoning laws. I have spoken to front-line professionals who inform me they cannot access such services in major hospitals.
My daughter called the RCMP, The Toronto City Police and the Health Unit all of whom took her story seriously. She also informed some of her fellow condo owners.
The following day there were some security guards supervising the parking lot and the day after the whole operation seemed to have ceased. Since then the whole Covid testing operation in the building has ceased.
Here is an online Google post:
COVID-19 Testing – Elna
If you require house calls, for a minimum party of 5, in Montreal only, please send your request to Our available tests. COVID-19 PCR + Antibody Test - Toronto. COVID-19 PCR + Antibody Test - Toronto. COVID-19 Testing in our Toronto Facility 778 Sheppard Ave W. Unit 103 North ... Regular ...

Here is an old link to a CTV on 'private' Covid Testing.

Friday 25 December 2020

Me and the Mounties. Pt.3.

Me and the Mounties. Pt.3. 

                                                  The Special Constable.         

 As I got to know the recruits and some of the officers better, I couldn’t help being impressed by the commitment of both groups to the force.  Like John Campbell many of them had set their sights on becoming an RCMP officer from childhood.  I know that a number of them who didn’t get into the RCMP for one reason or another became police officers in the provincial or city police.  I don’t know when Canadians started distrusting the RCMP.  In those days, although many would view it with considerable amusement today, people unquestionably and unquestioningly believed that the force was on their side and was there for their protection and safety.  They also believed that the Mounties almost always ‘got their man’.  In fact, Canadians were justly proud of their Federal Police force.

            Besides injuries, all of the other categories of human disease were liable to show up at a clinic.  Because we normally were dealing with a cross section of the young healthy men, I  was occasionally taken aback by the seriousness of some of the diseases that we encountered.  When young Bill Wasylenko, a robust 18-year-old showed up at the clinic complaining of pain in his right knee, I asked him what had happened.

            “I think I twisted it last week but it seemed to be getting better so I didn’t bother to come in.  Then during training yesterday I just couldn’t march on it without limping so the drill sergeant said I better come in and have it checked.”

            I looked at his right knee.  It certainly looked a bit swollen up and when I began to examine it almost every maneuver was too painful to continue.  “It looks  like a bad strain,  Bill.  I think we need to give it a good rest.”  Then I went on to him and Mike.   “We’re going to put you on the RICE regimen that is Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.    Mike will get all that organized for you.  I’m putting you off all physical duties for the moment I’m going to review this in a week or so.  It should be pretty well settled down by then.  Here’s a prescription for some pain pills and you can carry on with your classes and other non physical activities.”  I looked up at Mike, “make it happen Mike.”

            “I sure will, Doc.  This boy is certainly no complainer.”  A great complement from Mike.

             Two weeks later, when I saw him again.  I was concerned to see his knee to be as swollen as ever, and to be no less tender on examination. 

            “This should be improved by now.  I’m going to have an x-ray and will decide if you need to be seen by an orthopedic surgeon.”

            I gave him the x-ray requisition and said, “Mike will get you back into the clinic as soon as the results are available.” 

            Three days later, I walked in, and Mike greeted me with, “what did the x-rays show Doc?”

            I said, “I haven’t seen the results yet Mike.  I’ll have a look at the report as soon as I sit down.”

            The X ray reports suggested an area in the bone near the medial epicondyle that could be a bone cyst and suggested correlation with the clinical data, (a standard cliché when the radiologist wonders if it could be something more ominous).

“This doesn’t look too good, Mike,” I said, “Bone cysts usually don’t cause trouble.  I think we better have orthopedics take a look at this guy.  Let’s have Dr. Spencer see him in consultation.”

“I’ll set it up Doc,” said Mike.

Two weeks later a consultation letter arrived from Dr. Spencer telling us he was admitting Bill to the hospital for a bone biopsy and soon after that a consultation report stated that the lesion was an osteosarcoma, a malignant bone tumor requiring the leg to be amputated.  There was no evidence of spread and the surgeon cautiously expressed his hope that the patient would be cured by the amputation.  When I made some inquiries about him later I learned that he had been returned to his home in Ontario and that the force was offering him some sort of appropriate employment, though in what capacity I never found out

            In addition to looking after the recruits, RCMP officers of various ranks came into the clinic for both routine medical examinations and with various complaints.  For their personal health issues, most of them had family doctors in the community but the convenience of being seen right on the spot at the depot tended to be overwhelming. This was further facilitated by the fact that they could give Mike a call requesting him to slip them in at the end of clinic and being the obliging fellow he was Mike would usually meet the requests.  Although this did not happen very often it was not unusual as we were winding up for Mike to ask me if I would see one of the officers.  Thus over a period of time I came to know quite a few of them and if they did not have a regular family physician become their primary care doctor.

            Sergeant Peters was one such patient and I had seen him on a number of occasions, usually for minor complaints.  I was somewhat surprised when he arrived at my office downtown in Regina in uniform, one morning

             “There’s a Mountie waiting to see you, Dr. Smith,” Peggy my nurse said, nervously.

            “My God,” I said dramatically, “don’t tell me they finally caught up with me.  Better show him in.”

            “Sorry to bother you, Doc, but I have a little favor to ask of you,” he smiled. I smiled back and tried not to look irritated at being disturbed when I was already running a little late.  He probably had some minor complaint, that could’ve waited until I was out at the post tomorrow, I thought.

            “What can I do for you, Sergeant?”  I asked.

            “This is a little different from the usual business you do with us, Doc,” he said.  “Sometimes we have need for medical help in our police work and wondered if you would be interested in helping us out?”

            “What sort of medical help do you have in mind?”  I asked suspiciously.

            “I know you’re busy right now, and I wouldn’t have bothered you at your office under normal circumstances.  In fact, I was planning to meet with you after your clinic next week to discuss this.  But we do have a job at hand that we would like you to help us with. Of course we do have a special budget to pay you for this sort of work,” he added.

            “Exactly what sort of work are we talking about here?”  I asked.

            “I think you know Andrew Higgins, he was in to see you for his annual medical not very long ago?”

            I had no recollection of who he was talking about but I nodded anyway.

            “Well, he’s doing some undercover work and is supposed to be off his job and on workers compensation at the moment.  We felt that it would add credibility to his role if you could put a cast on his arm so that he would really look the part.”

            “That seems straightforward enough.  Sure I’ll do it.  When do you need him ready for the job?”

            The sergeant said, “That’s just it.  He’s going to a big union meeting this evening and he is supposed to be off work because of a broken arm.”

            “Okay, bring him into my office this afternoon and I’ll cast him,” I said.

            “That’s really great, thanks.  And I’ve arranged to look in to see you for half an hour or so next week so we can discuss this arrangement and what else it might involve.”

            Const. Higgins showed up at my office, dressed as a slightly seedy working man and as arranged I quickly put a cast on his left arm.

            “Don’t forget to let this harden properly, and if it feels too tight or causes any tingling or discoloration in your fingers, get right back to the office here or to the emergency department if it’s during the night.  I don’t want your arm falling off over a cast you didn’t need in the first place.   I want to see you no later than two weeks for removal of the cast, earlier if your mission permits it.”

            Constable Higgins seemed quite amused by the situation and despite my cautions to him his final dismissive words where, “thanks Dr., don’t worry, I’ll take this off myself when I don’t need it any longer.” And with that he scooted out of the office and I didn’t see him again until his next annual medical examination one year later, when his arm was still attached to his body and the cast had long since been relegated to the dump, cut off by himself, ecause he was too busy to come and see me.

     The following week Mike booked Sergeant Peters in for a half hour chat with me when the clinic was finished.  Mike was determined that the clinic was going to be finished in time for the meeting.  I arrived a little early on the morning to find Mike addressing all the recruits who were waiting to be seen.  As I approached the door, unseen by him, I heard him addressing them.

            "Now the doctor is very busy with important business today.  I don't want any of you wasting his time.  If there's nothing wrong with you get out of here and if there is make it short and sweet."

            "Yes sir."

            I noticed a couple shrink away.  They didn't mess with Mike.  Mike made sure as I knew he would, to see that the clinic ended a few minutes before the meeting with Sgt Peters was due to begin.  The sergeant got down to business without wasting time.

            “What we really need Doc, is a doctor who would do body searches, examinations for drugs and alcohol and various other medical examinations that we occasionally need for evidence.”

            “So in practical terms, what would that actually involve?” I asked.

            “A flight comes into Regina, either a scheduled commercial one or a private one and we might have cause to expect there's something funny going on so we pick up a guy and need to make sure he's not carrying illegal contraband, most commonly drugs, that's when we might need to call on you,” he responded.  "We need someone to assess whether it is appropriate or necessary to do a body search on these individuals and just how far it's necessary to go.  It may even require a rectal or vaginal examination or sigmoidoscopy.  I know you are well aware Doc, that if we were to do too many of these sorts of exams we’d have all the left wing lawyers raising bloody hell, and all of these guys walking, ” he said grimly.

            I found myself in sympathy with Sgt. Peter’s frustrations.  Funny because I always considered myself a liberal, until I found that the drift to the left was going so far out it was threatening our society.

            “Yes, I know what you mean.  Don't worry, I'll use good judgment and if I consider the search necessary I’ll proceed with it and if I don't I won't.”

            Sergeant Peters paused and looked at me as though considering whether he had chosen the right man for the job. 

            Then he said, “if you were going to do some work of this sort for us, for your own protection it would be necessary for you to make it clear to the prisoner that you're functioning as an RCMP officer and not as the patient's personal physician.”

            “Yes, I can see that,” I answered.

            He continued, “in order to protect you as well as ourselves it is important for the prisoner and his legal counsel to realize that the physician under these circumstances is working for the RCMP.”

            “Yes, if the prisoner didn't agree to that, I could do nothing anyway or it would be construed as an assault.”

            “Exactly,” said Sergeant Peters, “I have talked this over with my superiors and they suggested that we a make you a special constable, which would make your role very clear.”

            “And I suppose that a handsome salary goes along with being a special constable,” I smiled, because I could see that Sergeant Peters wasn't sure how seriously to take me.

            “No, I'm afraid not sir,” he said formally.  However we do have a small budget that would let us pay you a reasonable fee on a fee-for-service basis.”

            To cut a long story short after filling in the appropriate forms and going through the mandatory security check I was duly appointed a special constable in the RCMP.  This of course was a source of great amusement to my family and friends, until I threatened to arrest them by virtue of the powers vested in me.

           For the next several years every now and again I would get a call from the RCMP to request that I come out to the airport, or to the RCMP holding cells which were located below the main post office on S. Railway St in Regina.  For the most part it only took the appearance of the doctor at the scene to help resolve it.

            Such a request resulted in a visit to the airport one night when a small aircraft made an unscheduled landing at the Regina Flying Club, where I was greeted by several RCMP officers.  When I got to the airport the accused had already been questioned and denied any contraband items including drugs.  I was invited into the interrogation.  “Let's go over this again,” the RCMP officer said, “you are from Regina and you were down in Minot North Dakota for a few days holiday, and you arrived here tonight without a flight plan and tried to land unnoticed at the Regina flying club right next to the airport?”

            “Yeah, that's about it.”  The scruffy looking little pilot said.

            "And you brought nothing back with you?  You were just on holiday."

            "No sir,"

            "So why the late-night flight with no flight plan?" asked the officer.

            "I had to come back in a hurry.  I had a phone call that my wife was sick so I thought I'd better get home as soon as possible."

            "We got the doctor here to check you over," the officer said.

            The prisoner glanced over at my direction,"

            "Hi, Doc," he said as though delighted to see a friend.

            "Hi, I am Dr. Smith, I do some work for the RCMP, in fact I'm a special constable in the force and I want you to realize that."

            "I'm sure glad there's a doctor here, it makes me feel a lot safer," he grinned.

            You dumb bastard I thought, I've just told you I'm on the other side.  Aloud I said, "You understand that I am an RCMP special constable as well as being the doctor and I want to make sure you understand that.  I'm not your family doctor." 

            Judging from the way the grin faded from his face and was replaced by a look of anxiety I felt he was beginning to get the message.

            "I'm OK doc, I don't need no doctor," he bleated.

            "I'm here because you're under suspicion of smuggling drugs into the country," I responded.

            "They searched the plane didn't find anything," he replied indignantly.

            "Yes, but to put it bluntly they think you may have swallowed the evidence or stuck it up your ass.  In either event, there's only one way it can come out and you know as well as I do what that is.  So the suggestion is that I do a rectal examination and if necessary a sigmoidoscopy."

            "What the hell is that?"  He asked anxiously.

            "It's sticking a tube up your bum and looking to see if there are any condoms up there that may be full of heroin or something like that," I explained.

            "There’s no way I'm having anyone sticking a tube up my bum.  You can't make me."  He said challengingly.

            "No we can’t," I admitted.

            The officer in charge intervened, "that's OK doc, if he won't consent to that, we’ll just hold him here in one of our holding cells at the post office for a few days until all of his bowel contents are emptied right under our supervision and then this to be scrutinized so carefully that a grain of sand couldn't pass through unnoticed."

            And that's exactly what happened, after about an agonizing twenty-four hours until the prisoner couldn't hold on any longer he passed a condom full of heroin.  Twelve hours later he passed another.

            Case solved!

Saturday 19 December 2020

Addendum to the 'Alternative Patient.'


Addendum to 'the alternative Patient.

   Several readers expressed interest in the fate of Harley.  To help fill in the blanks I have to tell you the story of that story, which I wrote while I was on sabbatical.  I spent the first half of my sabbatical at Duke University in North Carolina.  Since we were there for six months I decided to take a creative writing class in the evenings and get away from medicine.   During that period I drafted out a number of stories of my own experiences as part of my 'homework'.  They sat in my computer awaiting scaling and polishing.

   The second part of sabbatical I spent at Ben Gurion University where I was working with an American - Israeli physician called Jeff Borkan.  We were sitting discussing some medical issues, when quite serendipitously Jeff said,  "I and a couple of colleagues are editing a book of short stories about family medicine. How about contributing a chapter? We really need a few more chapters before we can publish. An experienced guy like you must have a few interesting stories."

   I hadn't informed him about my night classes in writing at Duke and that I had several almost finished stories on my computer.

"Yes, I could do that." I answered. "I could do two if you like!"

He was delighted. "I will have to run them by my three co-editors." He added, leaving himself some leeway in case they didn't like my work! 

That's how "The Alternative Cancer Patient" and "The Next Generation" came to be published in a book called "Patients and Doctors - Life-changing Stories from Primary Care" The University of Wisconsin Press 1999.

I had been back to work a few months without having heard from Harley, when he showed up at my office one day. My nurse remembered him and let him in without an appointment. It was summer and he was dressed in a shirt, short pants with a large bushy beard, badly needing a hair cut and deeply sun tanned.

He told me he now lived in rural Northern Manitoba and was in charge of some sort of youth rehabilitation movement. He felt he was doing something really worthwhile and he loved it. He just dropped in to bring me up to date, his cancer was better and he had his diabetes under control, all in his opinion from living close to nature and having removed stress from his life. He had a doctor he liked - though he himself largely took care of his health problems. He had been to the Cancer Clinic once and they took some tests and X rays and told him to come back in six months. With that, he stood up, shook my hand and informed if he ever moved back to Saskatoon he would become my patient again.

I guess I passed the test!


The Alternative Patient.


                                       The Alternative Patient.  


           He was a well educated freelance science writer, and had interviewed me about a year earlier regarding the management of hypothermia. (We live in Saskatchewan.)

          "I think I'd like you to be my doctor," he said, "so I set up an appointment to discuss it with you, as I do have some conditions, before I make up my mind."

          "Tell me what they are, and I'll tell you if they are acceptable to me,“ I said, reflecting on some of the bizarre requests that had been made of me in the past."

          "Well, I refuse to be burnt, cut or poisoned," he said.

          "Exactly what do you mean by that?" I asked.

          "Well, I had cancer of the bowel about five years ago, and had it removed surgically.  When I was attending for a follow-up examination at the Cancer Clinic about a year later, my liver was enlarged. An ultra-sound showed spread to my liver. so when they offered me chemotherapy, I decided that I would reject the triad of further surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy - cutting, burning or poisoning."  He smiled, "that is why I left my previous doctor, and I am coming to you with these provisions."

          "I have no problem in accepting that you have the right to decide what treatment you will consent to, every patient has that right.  The converse of this agreement is that you accept that I am going to give you the best medical advice I am capable of, and try to make sure that you will understand the benefits and the complications of such therapy, and the consequences of not taking the treatment.  If after that you decide you don't want the treatment then I will have no difficulty in respecting your decision.  I would like to contact the Cancer Clinic and obtain a copy of their findings and impressions."

          "That's fine with me, Dr. Smith," he said, extending his hand.

          "Let me tell you why I am here today," he said.  "I have had diarrhea now for about two weeks and that's how my original tumour manifested itself.  So I really want to know what's going on."

          "Yet you're not going to accept any therapy whatever the results of the testing shows?"

          "Well, I didn't exactly say that. It depends on what you have to recommend, and I also have some views and treatments of my own, that helped me get through the previous bout with cancer."

          My curiosity, was peaked.  I wondered what sort of a challenge I was taking on.

          I said, "what sort of treatments are you talking about?"

          He smiled patiently at me as if to say I know you think I'm crazy, but I've got you interested anyway!

          "I did a number of things when the doctors told me they thought the tumour had spread to the liver and that even with the malignant therapies that they had to offer my survival was likely to be strictly limited with no indication that the quality of life would be worthwhile.  I decided that the prognosis I was being offered was so gloomy that I was going to take my care into my own hands." Harley smiled again. "In other words, I decided that my health was too important to be left in the hands of doctors. So I decided to do two things immediately.  I decided to try some alternate therapy.  Now, I am not a naive man, and I do have a considerable background in science, nevertheless, I decided to give Laetrile a try. Not because I thought it was a miracle drug, but because if you have nothing to lose except a little money, even the remote possibility that it will do some good is better than nothing.  You doctors don't seem to understand that.  You are so busy protecting yourselves, and so preoccupied with particular types of studies, that you forget that most of the great scientific and medical discoveries were serendipitous events.  Alexander Fleming didn't need any studies to show that penicillin works.  Anyway, I went down to Mexico and had a course of Laetrile.  How much a part that played in my survival, if any, I really don't know.  But I am still here, so I don't discard the possibility that it helped - and if I had another episode, I would try it again.  The other thing I decided was to remove all the sources of stress from my life that I possibly could, and this was the really difficult part of my regimen. You see to do that, I had to give up my job, and my home, and eventually the woman I lived with.  I had a regular, dull writing job, that didn't interest me very much and I gave that up in favour of freelance writing which was something I wanted to do, despite the uncertainty of making a steady living at it. My mortgage was demanding and I got rid of that too.  Just sold the house, paid off the mortgage and had about enough money left over to go down to Mexico for my laetrile treatment."

          In addition to the above history, Harley had diabetes for years and was on regular doses of insulin.  Recently he had an infected foot, and had been on antibiotics for this for two weeks about a month earlier.  It was following this that the diarrhea had started and persisted.  I told Harley that his diarrhea might well be due to the antibiotics and to eat some yogurt to help replace his gastro-intestinal flora.  In view of his past history we did investigate his gastro-intestinal tract, all of which appeared normal. 

          In due course I obtained Harley's test results from the cancer clinic.  There was no doubt that he had a pathologically proven carcinoma of his large bowel, which was resected, and that subsequently he was found to have an enlarged liver, which when investigated by ultrasound was reported to be suspicious for metastases. The patient refused a biopsy.  At that point the cancer clinic lost track of him as he did not come back for further follow up after refusing any other treatment options.

          Harley continued to visit me sporadically. He did not take his diabetes very seriously, and although he took some insulin daily, frequently changed the dose 'because he knows how he feels'.  He knows all about the complications of diabetes, but really doesn't worry too much about tightness of control, because from his interpretation of the literature it really didn't seem to make that much difference.  When I told him there is evidence to the contrary, he stated that he was going to review the literature when he had time and would get back to me, he was now very busy organizing a major youth group who had hired him as a public relations man.

          The last time I saw him was some months before my absence from the department for a year's sabbatical.  He wanted to talk to me about an interview he had with a noted veterinary researcher, who was researching a new substance that helps diabetes. It hadn't been used on humans yet, and he thought he would like to be the first, so he wondered, perhaps if he could get the substance that I might supervise his progress.  Even when I told him I couldn't prescribe such a thing or be a party to using it, he was not deterred. He said he'd take it himself, without my prescribing it.  He'd just come in for his follow-up checkups more regularly.  I had no doubt that when I got back to my practice after my sabbatical, Harley would be waiting for me with some new therapeutic regimen he had researched, devised and would like to implement. 

Tuesday 8 December 2020

The Mounties and Me. Pt.2.

                                         The Mounties & Me. Pt.2.        

                                                     A bit of a stretch!                                          

 RCMP Sunset Retreat Ceremony, Regina, Saskatchewan - The RCMP Academy,  "Depot" Division, is pleased to pr… | Tourism saskatchewan, Saskatchewan  canada, Saskatchewan


   As clinics go, the RCMP clinic did have a flavor of its own.  While coughs and colds occurred just as frequently as they did in the general population, there were some unique aspects of practice in these clinics.  One of the commonest encounters in those days went something like this:

            “Could you take a look at my arm, sir?”  The recruit had sprung to attention by my desk.

            “What happened to your arm?”

            “Chomped by a horse, doctor, sir,”

            And sure enough, the poor recruit’s arm would reflect the imprint of the equine set of teeth as a series of little bruises.

            “Have you had your rabies shot?”


            “Had your tetanus shot?”  I would ask.

            “Yes sir.” Was the usual response.

            “Well, no sign of any infection here.  Nothing to worry about.  Just rest for day and return to your usual duties tomorrow.”

            “Thank you sir,” came the grateful reply of the young recruit happy about the prospect of having a whole day of rest.

            When the clinic was over Mike, in a conversational tone, would clue me in as to how I stacked up against Dr. Montpellier.

            “They really like you Sir. When they come in with that sort chomp injury to see Dr. Montpellier, he usually says, ‘get out of here and get back to work and stop wasting my time.’  A lot of them know that, so they don’t even come in until the day you’re here”


            There were some unique aspects to the cross-section of patients who presented at our clinic.  In addition to reflecting the spectrum of illness that occurs in this youthful patient population we saw a cross-section of injuries that reflected the vigorous and demanding training of the day.  Sometimes overenthusiastic gym, karate, judo and other instructors resulted in injuries to the candidates; however few were as violent as many of those that occur under the aegis of the National Hockey League.

            The duties of the post medical officer extended to interviewing and examining prospective candidates.  Many of the young men frankly admitted that their greatest ambition was to become an officer in the Royal Canadian mounted police.  In those days, the majority of Canadians were proud to have a police force of international stature, incorruptible as we believed then, and famous for always “getting their man”. Small wonder then that many a fine young Canadian aspired to a career in the force.  By the time I was working at the Post the requirement was that applicants must be at least 5’8” tall.  Prior to that there had been a requirement of being 5 foot 10.  I don’t know if there is a new height requirement or even the elimination of any height requirement although I find it hard to imagine a fifty-eight inch officer.  In any event, there were a number of candidates who were just under the five foot eight limit who desperately wanted to enlist.  John Campbell was one such potential recruit.  In those days it was possible to apply for admission to the force up to three times.   John had already applied twice and was turned down because he measured 5 foot 7 ¾”. Each time we had measured him he assured us that he was 5 foot eight and had always measured that in the past.  Anxious to help him to get in both Mike and I measured him independently.  We both got the same results, 5 foot 7 3/4 inches.

            “What are you going to do if you don’t get in, John?”  I asked him.

            “I don’t know doc.  All I ever wanted to be since I was a little kid was an RCMP officer.”  When he said this his eyes teared up.

            Mike took over.  “Listen John, I might just be able to help you.  Now I can’t promise anything but over the years I’ve had a couple of other applicants of your height and managed to get them into the force by giving them some advice.  That is what I want you to do.  We’ll plan your next examination in a couple of weeks and you know that that’s your last chance.  It will be a third application.  The night before you come in, I want to spend about half an hour hanging out of the doorjamb and we hope that that’s going to stretch you out for long enough to measure that other quarter inch.  Make sure to get up early the next morning and before going out hang out of the doorjamb for another half hour or so.  That should allow the discs between the vertebra to expand and although it doesn’t take them long to compress again we might just get you measured before that happens.  In fact before I measure you I’ll let you hang out of the door here for ten minutes or so and we’ll measure you right away..”

            When he came in for his last try, Mike spirited him away, presumably to hang out of one of the doors for a while.  I had just finished seeing my second or third patient when Mike came in and announced triumphantly, “I just measured him - 5’8” exactly, Doc!”

            “Good Mike, but I think I better see for myself.”  After all, it was my signature that was going on the bottom of the application form, and Mike with all due respects was really was really to help this guy and could possibly have exaggerated just a trifle.

            “Okay John, get over here I’ll measure you.”

            “But doc, Mike just measured me, he said I’m five eight, you heard him.” 

            “Yes, but I have to measure you myself, come over here.”

            John apprehensively edged over to the scales beside my desk.  “Step up onto the scales.”

            John reluctantly stepped onto the scales while I slid the bar for measuring height.  It read exactly 5’8”.  John stood there speechless for a moment before he gasped, “Oh thank God.  I spent most of the night hanging out of the doorjamb hoping to stretch myself out to five foot eight and I prayed a lot as well.  I guess it worked.”

The whole scene sticks in my mind to this day as one of the happiest events I have witnessed.

Day after day sick parade consisted of injuries; many of them related to the equestrian training that all the recruits went through in those days.  “Chomped by a horse” was a common complaint.  It meant a horses bite.  Often just a bruise in the skin sometimes a good deal more.  “Kicked by a horse” and “fell off a horse” were all too common.  Every now and then an outbreak of influenza or some other infectious disease resulted in a sick parade of 20, 30, 40, or on one occasion 60 feverish young recruits. Sometimes missing the maternal care and the support of a sympathetic family they were used to was the real reason that brought them in..  Mike was a strict disciplinarian and the militaristic aspects of the RCMP in those days suited him well.  He closed the door of the clinic at 9 a.m. sharp and woe betides the poor recruit who showed up at 0905. 

            “You’re too late, come back tomorrow, and make sure you’re in time.”  His bark was much worse than his bite and if they were ill he’d let that man in with a cautionary, “you’d better be sick and not just wasting the doctor’s time.”

            One morning a young recruit turned up a cold and sore throat and looking a good deal more apprehensive than his physical symptoms would have warranted. 

            “What’s the problem?”  I asked.

            Mike chipped in before the poor recruit could speak.  “He tried to get in here yesterday to see Dr. LeBlanc.  He was a little bit late so he came charging down the road like a maniac.  The road was just a bit icy and he slipped right outside the clinic.  In his effort to save himself he reached out and grabbed the nearest thing to hand.  Unfortunately that happened to be the side mirror of Dr. LeBlanc’s new Porsche which was parked right outside the clinic, where he wasn’t supposed to be at all.   Anyway, as you can see he’s a pretty hefty young man and I’d be damned if that mirror wasn’t torn off the side of the darn car.  He walked into the clinic with the mirror in his hand.  I wish you were here Doc to see the look on the Doc’s face.  It was priceless, Doc.  I really had a tough time trying not to laugh as Doc LeBlanc sat there with his mouth dropped wide open, his cigarette holder with a lighted cigarette in it falling onto the desk rolling onto the floor.  While he was speechless I managed to put out the cigarette and return his cigarette holder to him.  When he eventually recovered the ability to speak he laid into that poor recruit for about five minutes, and told him that he was going to have to pay for the new mirror and repair job.  There weren’t too many foreign cars around in those days, so it would probably have taken a year’s wages to fix the damage.  Of course I knew that Dr. Leblanc would never do that and that his bark was much worse than his bite, but the poor recruit didn’t and was in tears.  I had to talk to him later for quite a while to settle him down.  So that’s why you’re seeing him today.”

            The picture of Dr. LeBlanc walking out of the clinic with the mirror of his Porsche in his hand after tearing the strip off the poor recruit assured that I treated him as gently as possible.