The Mail

The Mail

April 29 2002
The Mail

The Mail

April 29 2002

The Mail

Family tragedy

How can you describe someone who murders his family as a loving father and husband (“Death of a family,” Cover, April 15)? So-called nice guys like John Bauer are not generous, they are manipulative. Gestures are self-serving and gifts have chains attached. Combine this with the patriarchal notion that wives and children are personal property and you can end up with even the sickest father thinking he knows best. Anne Kaufmann, Toronto

It seems that it is more important to shine the spotlight on the person who did the crime rather than the brutal reality of fam-

ily violence and the victims we mourn. I, too, went to school with John Bauer and his wife, Helen, and I never saw him as “a loving father” and “pillar of the community.” Helen was a great mom and a wonderful friend who will be missed. Kathie Leroux, Vancouver

You make casual mention of John Bauer’s father-in-law Elmer (Red) Carroll, respected colleague and special friend. Carroll loved Canada and was prepared to die for his country when he fought through both the Italian and Northern European campaigns in the Second World War. Car-

roll loved his friends, his job at Molson and the Molson family, and would have defended them to the death. He loved his grandchildren and he died for them. How unbelievably sad. John R Rogers, past president and chief executive officer, the Molson Co.,Toronto

Chronic fatigue I was very impressed with your article on chronic fatigue syndrome, an illness that needs all the publicity it can get (“Sick and so very tired,” Health, April 15). My youngest son was very ill with CFS for four years, starting at age 11. These years were stressful for our family, but the situation

was made all the more difficult by the attitude of the medical profession and educators. Our family physician repeatedly diagnosed “school avoidance,” despite the severity of my son’s symptoms. Two pediatricians at the local children’s hospital diagnosed “an immune system prob-

lem” and “depression.” I finally made the diagnosis of CFS by doing my own research on the Internet. Educators were another hurdle with their attitudes ranging from mild skepticism to contempt. One junior high English teacher even shouted at me: “He doesn’t look sick to me!” The organic cause of chronic fatigue syndrome may be beyond the current scope of science, but that does not mean that it is imaginary. Chronic illness is devastating. Why do we need to increase the suffering by being so judgmental? Jane Hillard, Calgary CFS patients in my practice are encouraged to exercise, within their limitations, to improve muscle strength and prevent osteoporosis. Any activity, including exercise, must be paced so that the patient doesn’t “crash” or end up in bed the following day(s). Resting before and after the activity allows the patient to do more and it promotes healing. Manon Houle, who maintains that “rest is useless,” may not have read the literature review on CFS published

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in the Journal of Clinical Psychology (2001). In this paper, psychiatrist Fred Friedberg and psychologist Leonard Jason suggest that patients “schedule rest and relaxation intervals, even when less symptomatic.” In 10 years of clinical experience treating CFS, I have found that this advice, when combined with activity pacing, leads to gradual improvement in functioning. Dr. Alison C. Bested, Toronto CFS ended my 24-year career seven years ago. If my body is an engine with 10 cylinders, I operate on one. I look well, and this can complicate people’s perception. At times I just need someone to show they understand. Your CFS article shows Macleans understands. John J. A. Weiler, London, Ont. With regard to Stephen Lewis, I don't question that he had chronic fatigue syndrome, but to say he overcame it with willpower is difficult to believe and does not help the cause and understanding of CFS. Sufferers would be only too happy if all they had to do was rely on their willpower to resume better health or quality of life. Vivian Martin, St. Albert, Alta.

‘Mrs. Dead Doctor’

I must add a footnote to John DeMont’s wonderful article “Maritimers by any name” (The Back Page, April 8). My family and I lived in Antigonish, N.S., in the 1960s and my mother has for years recounted the story of the “D. D. MacDonalds.” There had been at some point two Doctors MacDonald practising medicine in the town, but one died and when we lived there people distinguished “Mrs. Doctor MacDonald” from “Mrs. Dead Doctor MacDonald.” Her progeny became, generically, the D. D. MacDonalds. The joke for my mother, an Ontarian, was that D. D. Macdonalds daughter was Phyllis D. D. MacDonald and that locals would often remark, apparendy without a trace of a smile, on having seen or conversed with Fiddle-D. D. And my guess is she’s still known that way, whether most people know why or not.

Peter Monahan,

I was a 37-year-old divorced working mother who had met a wonderful man and the future looked so promising. The year 1989 was also the year I began my struggle with chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. By belittling my symptoms and ignoring my complaints, the medical system failed me every time I tried to find out what this nightmare I was living was. I decided to go it alone, and with naturopathic rather than medical practitioners, because I was losing precious energy trying to fight a system that seemed unable to seek answers and doctors who seemed unwilling to think for themselves. We who have this illness will find the way, because within us is an incredible strength. Look what we have endured so far. Anne Watson, Markdale, Ont.

Where good comes from

I would love to see the day when moral behaviour and good deeds can just be equated with human nature rather than seen as a result of following a religion. The people in “Living the faith” (Cover, April

1) may be crediting their good acts to an external source (higher power), but where does the fuel for the good acts of atheists and agnostics come from? Good and bad acts alike are committed by believers and non-believers. I prefer to take sole responsibility for my kind (and unkind) actions. Karyn Olynyk, Dhaka, Bangladesh

A voice for Canada

Although I was saddened by the passing of Dalton Camp and despaired for his unrivalled critique of the Canadian experience, I am heartened to find a new voice that seems to sing from a similar songbook. I have respected and appreciated the opinions and comments of Allan Gregg over the years, but with his “Wake up, Canada” (April 8) the mantle is truly passed.

Murray MacCausland, Toronto

Allan Gregg’s excellent article on the clear disconnect between what our citizens want and what the federal and provincial governments deliver was dead on: only to be reinforced by succeeding articles on the Aspers (“Can the Aspers do it?” Business, April 8) and the lack of a national daycare scheme (“The daycare dilemma,” Life, April 8). The one criticism I would have is that Gregg underplayed the corporate media’s role in derailing the will of the citizen through their campaigns of disinformation. The corpo-

rate media are, of course, the voices of the proprietors, their peers and the companies’ largest accounts. How else to explain that while we citizens want our governments to take action to address global warming, reverse environmental degradation and eradicate poverty, these same causes are identified by the media as unworkable, and the people who espouse them naive, anarchistic or part of the ever-popular special interest group?

David Staines, Calgary

Unbalanced response

When 14 female students were tragically murdered in Montreal in 1989, we registered over 800,00 guns and gun owners. When 50 or more female sex-trade workers are murdered, where were the candlelight parades? These young women will never have a chance to change their lives like contributor Elizabeth Hudson did (“Sex, evil and indifference,” Over to You, April 8).

Lee Brandon, Mooretown, Ont.

Family matters

I’d like to set the many voices straight who over the past 30 years have spoken out for “universally accessible, quality child care.” (“The daycare dilemma,” Life, April 8), This is already available to every individual; it’s called parenting. That is what these voices and our government need to support, not daycare.

Kim Balazsi, Ottawa

As a society we should not be complacent about the government’s lack of commit-

ment to our young citizens. It is never wrong to invest in child welfare. We all need to be concerned and hold governments accountable for their failure to deliver promises made in regard to funding programs for children. Let’s get our priorities straight.

Mike Paquette, President, Foster Parents Society of Ontario, Haileybury, Ont.

The sleep of the just

So glad to read that “The passionate banker,” the Royal Bank’s Gordon Melbourne Nixon, sleeps well (Peter C. Newman, April 15). After all, his bank has accumulated $362 billion, netting 18.6-per-cent interest for the shareholders. Never mind the 12 million customers who faithfully deposit their hard-earned wages in his banks, at minimal interest, and have to pay every time they write a cheque or use the banking machine to get some of their money back—the main thing is that he sleeps well.

Uni Richarda Grol, Brampton, Ont.