Wednesday, November 3, 2010

THIS IS IT - the FINAL BLOG of the SAD no more CANADIAN TOUR 2010

After 99 days on the road - we are heading back to Calgary today to complete the final short leg of this long journey

                 a final look at the Sunshine beast in all its sunny glory!!


For all those who have been following along this will be the final installment of the blog and I apologize if you go through a bit of blog withdrawal - it's self limited and non life threatening and you'll get over it soon enough. Keeping the blog going this long was a labour of love, much more effort and work than I ever would have predicted.  The same way we kept on schedule with the road mileage, the committment to posting each and every day never faltered and I hope you enjoyed the efforts made. 


We had a very good public forum today in Edmonton hosted by the CMHA-ER. A big thanks to Jessie, Corine and Ashley for their involvement in this event.  They were a pleasure to work with and this was a very enjoyable way to finish things off on the road. (Tomorrow there is an event in Calgary with the CMHA but we are really not "on the road" at this point) Thereafter there are a few educational events already booked in the future - but these will not officially be part of the actual SAD no more Tour schedule.  

The Final Chapter

We’ve been on the road since the last week of July and we are finally home, safe and sound.  Travel on busy highways always has an element of danger whether this be running or on a bike or in a 25 foot RV, so it is a great relief to have driven some 20,000 kilometers completely accident free. 

This has been an extremely intense time for both of us.  Not to say that we weren’t doing what we loved to do BUT this was not a holiday.  We worked hard mentally and physically and there will be a let down after it all finally hits. We completed 7608 road kilometers, some 40 presentations with much media work throughout. 

Successfully running and cycling across the country will not just go down as a “check-mark on a bucket list”.  This tour has changed my life, not in an earth shattering way, but in a subtle yet very pervasive way.  The challenges of overcoming mental illness discrimination and stigma will now haunt me and force me into action in the future.    

So what now? Everyone keeps asking. will go on, it always does.

Given that I am moving my practice from one clinic to another will be enough to keep me very occupied and busy for months.  I really doubt there will be any idle time.  I need to get back to a little songwriting and playing.  Regular exercise is non-negotiable and has become entrenched in my life and will definitely continue.  Even with SAD I am looking forward to this winter to do a few projects which I have had time to think about throughout this tour.  Awareness to action can be a motto for more than the SAD no more tour. 

Monique keeps telling everyone that she will be semi-retired by 2011.  Compared to all the work that has been done before and during this tour – an 80-hour a week job would probably seem like semi-retirement.  A lot of her medical admin work when I was at my previous clinic will now be fully taken care of by the new clinic so in many ways this should free up a lot of time for her to pursue all the things she loves to do which have been pushed aside in the past year.  An exercise program, neglected reading and the prospect of a lot of creative gardening in Kelowna next spring and summer will easily fill the hours.

Will there be further tours in the future? If you ask Monique, she will say it will have to be with my 2nd wife as she is not interested.  Have we become ardent RV-ers after all the time in the SUNshine Beast? - not really.  While it was exceedingly effective, efficient and convenient during the tour, we are not convinced that this would be a mode of travel and adventure in our futures.  If we knew before what we know now, would we do it again? no hesitation - YES! Was the tour successful? - you be the judge. We accomplished our mission. Hopefully the Canadian medical and mental health community and the Canadian public has been brought up to date about SAD and this awareness has led to action, a positive change. 

Thanks again to everyone involved in any way with this tour - whether it was someone just looking at the website to our major sponsors and everything in between.  We have met so many great people right across the country who we will hopefully keep in touch with.  There are so many people doing important work in the mental health arena and to them I offer my greatest admiration and thanks. These are the people who have inspired me and I am grateful for them.  Hopefully I have thanked everyone appropriately in my previous blogs. I can never thank Monique enough for everything she has done, her support was unwavering, her work meticulous and organized and her commitment far beyond what anyone could ask for.    

To anyone suffering from depression or SAD, there are so many treatment options in 2010 - use them and use them as aggressively as possible.  You don't have to suffer in silence. If you have not sought professional help and guidance - you need to now! If you are already diagnosed, procrastination is not a viable treatment option, use as many therapies as possible which can include combinations of things, whether it be anti-depressant medications, lifestyle changes of a regular exercise program and a healthy diet, (early morning bright light therapy if you have SAD), alternative and complementary therapies such as omega 3 fatty fish oils (1000 mg a day total), and counselling (CBT). Don't forget to keep doing the things that you love and that make you laugh - socializing with friends, doing your hobbies, going on vacations EVEN if you don't feel like doing it.  Mood disorders make all these life-giving activities seem like far too much effort, but take that first step and do them. By doing "normal" activities you will start to feel more normal and every bit helps. So even if you feel like "a faker" or that you're just "going through the motions" - you may have to do this at first until the mood elevates enough to start to make you feel a bit better so that you actually have the energy and motivation to do the activities that you enjoy.
Learn more about depression and mental illness - there's so much good information out there if you look.  The references posted on the website are a good place to start. 

So there it is, I have given it my best efforts - physically and mentally

Together we can be SAD no more
Ted Jablonski
Nov 3, 2010



Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Edging to Edmonton, can almost see Edgemont

Post SNM Tour Day #16
A short "snap shot" blog today
Heading into Alberta once again and ever closer to home.  There still is a bit of work to be done, we're not done quite yet.  Our time was well spent in Saskatoon with a successful media blitz and good solid educational sessions. We're hoping we can have a similar reception in Edmonton.  

It was great to see Tom again and fill him in on some of the things that have happened since he was on tour from Calgary to Regina in what seems like a lifetime ago.  I can't believe what a Riders fan he has become - he almost started crying when they lost their last game making it 4 losses in a row.  I guess that's what happens when you move from MB to SK - you go from blue to green. 

It's amazing how few photos we're taking on the way back.  Travelling at a snail's pace you see so much more, the subtlety of the landscape, sky and clouds.  Travelling at "regular" highway speeds, we are so much more particular about whether it is worth slowing down or stopping to eliminate a blurry foreground. We are disregarding more than we are taking (interesting isn't it!).  Going slower you can shoot photos without slowing down or stopping, perhaps this is an explanation, perhaps it's just an excuse.  We are still on the road while this blogging is going on so we still have time to change this sentiment.

Random Quotes of the Day

You don't take a photograph.  You ask, quietly, to borrow it.  
Author Unknown

While there is perhaps a province in which the photograph can tell us nothing more than what we see with our own eyes, there is another in which it proves to us how little our eyes permit us to see. 
Dorothea Lange

The world just does not fit conveniently into the format of a 35mm camera. 
W. Eugene Smith

There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs. 
Ansel Adams
The goal is not to change your subjects, but for the subject to change the photographer.  
Author Unknown

A photograph is memory in the raw. 
Carrie Latet


Monday, November 1, 2010

Sure we're Staying (not Stranded) in Sunny (Still Snow on the ground) Saskatoon Saskatchewan

Post SNM Tour Day #15
We are in our final week at this point with only a few talks, days, kms yet to do.  There is still snow on the ground in Saskatoon after their small blizzard last week so it really does feel like winter has descended upon this part of the country.  

It's November and for anyone who suffers from SAD time to put all your therapies in place - not just think about them, do them!! Remember SAD LAMP. The S stands for schedule and the schedule starts this month, really right now! And the second message of the tour was start treatment NOW.  As I've said in many of my talks, procrastinator's win with SAD but you may have to live through 6 or months of misery to get there - no one needs to suffer this long with depression when treatment is available (the rest of SAD LAMP - see blog from 2 days ago).  

I have two presentations here in Saskatoon today, a public forum sponsored by the local CMHA and an event for physicians in the evening.  We have sent all media releases already and will push a little more. One of the radio stations has already completed an interview and hopefully this will start the ball rolling.  Discussions about SAD are timely right now so the messaging of the tour really is newsworthy, just need to convince a few other people.

Later in the morning the media skies opened and we had a news blizzard with interviews by Global TV, CBC radio and CBC TV - all excellent. The message certainly got out in Saskatoon and hopefully the awareness will lead to some action in Saskatchewan.  The CMHA sponsored public forum went well with some good discussion and open debate. Thanks Carol for all your hard work, professionalism, organization, hospitality and kind words before and after the presentation.  It was a pleasure to meet you and work with you on this event - thanks!

Random Quotes of the Day

The end of wisdom is to dream high enough to lose the dream in the seeking of it.  
William Faulkner

Maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets. 
Arthur Miller

If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts, but if he will content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties. 
Francis Bacon
the sky is on fire in Saskatoon

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Trick or Treat in Toon Town


Post SNM Tour Day #14
Yes it’s already been 2 weeks since we finished off in St John’s NL – where does the time go?

So we had an early start today after a late night and we’re off to SK.  Blogging early today as the temperature is 0, it’s overcast but not snowing and the roads are clear so if it is officially posted maybe it won’t’s hoping.

It’s Oct 31 - HAPPY HALLOWEEN!! – this is probably the only day of the year that we can actually wear full SAD no more gear and fit right in. Nobody would even take a second look at us with our “costumes”.   I’m feeling very ORANGE today!  Great trick or treating to all – young and old.

(this is John, see John laugh, laugh John laugh and thanks John thanks!)

The party last night was a lot of fun.  The food (multicultural,  heavy on the Polish) was scrumptious  and never-ending.  There was a Baba/Babcia quiz hosted by John “Schmenge” Ploszay which was a hilarious mix of fact and fiction.  John’s sense of humour has always been playful, quick witted, zany and heavy on the improv – he is a stand-up tour de force that would do SCTV proud.  We didn’t need John Candy or Eugene Levy last night, John was “in the house” (where else would he be – it’s his home).  Thanks to Mag and Jackie who did most of the work while he was goofing off.  Thanks also to my aunts, Jean and Joan, for all the great food (and thoughts and prayers).   I must say that I have felt greatly supported by my Winnipeg family.  This understanding and acceptance did not go unnoticed.

John was in the midst of putting bamboo flooring in his living room and one thing led to another and all of sudden we were painting SAD no more on his bare sub-floor and signing with felt pens.  If ever someone takes the floor off, say in 50 years from now – what will they think??

Tour Day Sponsor are Ken and Laurie Walus – thanks so much for the support and encouragement, and as we head to Saskatoon to visit Tom (Ken’s brother) this is more than fitting.  Laurie asked for the “2 minute” explanation of SAD – as she is a medical professional she got an earful...can’t just turn off the awareness campaign just yet! 

So again, instead of Random quotes let’s give you something a little different on the final Sunday of the tour.  Here’s a list of things which may have been understated in the blog - the insider’s report or the answer to the much asked question...

“So……..what really happened out there?”

Easiest Day – While there were rest days scattered throughout – the easiest day on the road was the last day when the final 16 kms were done in what seemed like a few minutes.  It was fast, effortless and purely glorious.

Hardest Stretches – A four way tie between...

1. You pick the spot on the Coquihala Hwy - early in the tour when I was silently questioning my sanity and fortitude.

2. Going against a steady headwind in and around Broadview SK – soul sucking!
3. The accumulation of all the days North of Lake Superior – for the 1st and only time in the tour I began to dread the unending hills at the end of the days.
4. The run on the second last day into the nastiest of headwinds almost made me walk, a feeling which I hadn’t had up to this point and made the steep ascent out of Merritt seem downright easy!

Weirdest thing in the ditch – And believe me I saw a lot of weird things, BUT a full library collection of hard cover, large volume books on witchcraft and astrology found just outside of Fredericton – too bizarre!

Most cherished item found in ditch – Newfoundland license plate

Biggest Surprise (pleasant) -  only 2 flat tubes the entire trip and both occurred early on in BC.  The tires were amazing and the bike was rock solid throughout.

Biggest surprise (shoulder shrugging) was the general lack of cyclists seen for very long stretches (unfortunate, as it was always a great pleasure to meet an individual or a group touring across a province or the country).

Biggest Surprise (not so pleasant….)-  Tie between “black water” valve malfunction on RV and the complete lack of cell service in a few regions of the country no matter what cell phone carrier you had. 

Best photo-op -  A tie again...The Rocky Mountains and the surprising gem of Thornburn Lake in Newfoundland 

Worst stretch of highway – Excluding the construction just outside of Thunder Bay ON (the only time I needed to ride my hybrid bike to keep going), the list of spots is rather long but the highway outside of Renfrew ON probably ranked as worst.

Best stretch of highway – all of New Brunswick

Worst Drivers – (sorry to have to say this but someone has to be #1) NW Ontario

Best Drivers – Newfoundland by far! Courteous and encouraging honks and waves non-stop.

“Closest call”
For Monique - just outside of Portage la Prairie MB when a semi-trailer almost ploughed into the back of the RV on a straight and flat (no kidding) stretch of highway. 
 For me – got “brushed” by a large RV in BC and got violently pushed/pulled and disappeared for a few seconds in a semi truck’s wet and very windy draft in NS

Worst weather – I was unexpectedly and unceremoniously “chilled to the bone” on a very cold wet day in New Brunswick and was almost stopped in my tracks (remember running on the spot in gym class) by gusty headwinds in NL. 

Worst campground – Maple Creek SK – Monique absolutely refused to stay (later we found out that this area had been completely flooded which fully explained the dismal state of affairs).

Nicest facilities at a campground – Vermilion Bay ON

Best hike at the end of the Day – Othello Tunnels, Hope BC (we didn’t know it at the time).

The best “Straight out of the movies” experience – tire patching in Vermilion Bay ON. The movie, by the way, was DELIVERANCE.

The best “near miss” – Hurricane Igor (can’t imagine what the tour would have been like if we had been in NF only 2 weeks before).

Media “hot spot” for tour was surprisingly Sudbury, ON.

Media “dead zone” for the tour was in La Belle Province.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Tour is STONEWALLED - but the PARTY MUST GO ON!!!

Post SNM Tour Day #13
This honestly will be a short blog today.  We got into Ste. Agathe last night in reasonable shape after dodging the threat of snow and more than a few deer bouncing across the highway.  It was nice to have a visit albeit briefly with Monique's family and share a few "on the road" tales. A mini-celebratory event, but it was nice!
This morning the Sunshine Beast was put to rest as an RV, that is, it was officially winterized before we got any temperatures below zero, thanks to Emmanuel for this. Now the RV just becomes a vehicle, no more sleeps, no more meals, no more..... (I'll stop right there).

We met with B+B once again this morning and completed the educational part of the video.  All went very smoothly...probably because Barb was there.  With her at the helm of the control center, the shoot was a breeze.  Of course having "the pros" there (Byrnes and myself of course, director and talent) how could it have gone otherwise?  Well let me tell you - when it comes to anything technical, no matter how prepared and how experienced you are, the unexpected usually becomes the expected and "if something could possibly go wrong with this" scenario commonly becomes reality. All this to say, after any successful video shoot, you are very, very grateful. 

It was great to see Barb and Byrnes again after there time with us on tour from Winnipeg to Thunder Bay. We had a lot of stories for them, little things not worthy of being blogged about, but which have meaning to anyone who has been with us in the RV for any length of time. Insider jokes, "malfunctions", all the silly little things that we will likely forget in a few months.  I can't wait to see the completed versions of the video with the full educational component and the video footage from St John's.  It should be a nice visual summation of the entire tour - education with a bit of motivation, like awareness to action.  Where have I heard this before?

It's cold in I surprised?? There has already been a blizzard in SK so I guess from this point onward we are headed from fall into winter. 

The Tour Day Sponsor today is my mom! She has been so very supportive throughout the tour as she has been all my life.  Gina (read the blog when we were in Fort Frances) had mentioned the other day that she had always been impressed with my tenacity to set a goal and not stop working until it was completed.  Her comment was that "someone must have told you sometime in your life that you could do anything you wanted to do".  She was absolutely correct and that person was my mother. She has always been there, and in her own quiet way a true cheerleader.  She has always challenged me to do more, to do it better, to do it with the highest ethical standard and to pursue my dreams - and I certainly have tried! Thanks mom for everything for all these years.  

Now off to John and Kerri-Jo's for a family party in Stonewall Manitoba. This should be a lot of fun and a chance to touch base with my side of the family, many of whom have been very encouraging and supportive of the tour.  For this I thank them in this blog and will do so in person tonight!

Random Quotes of the Day
Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there

Everyone thinks of changing humanity and nobody thinks of changing themselves

There can be no happiness if the things we believe are different from the things we do
Freya Stark

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Fort to The Peg

Post SNM Tour day #12
Started the day with media work – a radio interview for upcoming Saskatoon talk and then a nice invigorating run – a great way to start any day! Thereafter I spoke at a public forum hosted by the CMHA in Fort Frances and had a wonderful time.  After that, right back on the road to Winnipeg.  

You can never go back in time, but today was as close as it gets.  I worked in Fort Frances Ontario for 11 years and have so many, many fond memories.  I worked extremely hard medically and played very hard in the arts world.  How many concerts promoted? How many community theatre plays done? This was a very busy and productive time in my life (OK so I guess things really haven’t changed that much in my life). 
My previous nurse (notice I didn't say my old nurse) - Frieda is still looking absolutely great and was wonderful to see her again.

There were so many familiar faces today and it was such a pleasure to see so many old friends, medical colleagues from the hospital and clinic and many previous patients to share a quick hug and story.  So many names I have forgotten, but the flood of memories that came back when the connection was made was huge! So many of the details I instantly remembered as if it were only yesterday.  Certainly everything has moved ahead more than a decade but I can honestly say that the vast majority of people looked almost identical to when I left, seemingly not aging at all (really!)

A big thanks to Gina and Cam who hosted us while we were in Fort Frances.  We have known them for many, many years and spending time with them always has a welcoming, casual, familiar feeling just like family.  They graciously allowed us time to do the never ending business things (even so late in the tour) and we had a great visit catching up on each others lives.  Gina’s an Italian mama so you can imagine I didn’t starve during this visit – I HAD to run to burn off at least some of the calories!  
 (I know, I know...I look like Cam and Gina's little kid - their real son is twice as big as me).

It was a great education day so as the tour winds down – it's time for a bit of education on this blog. I’m running out of blogging days so let’s get some good solid information down in print as this is an awareness campaign you know. The education piece will replace the Random Quote of the Day, or perhaps it can be viewed AS the quote of the day.

Here’s some of the actual text that will be used in the tour educational video which we will be completing tomorrow in Winnipeg.

The SAD no more CANADIAN TOUR 2010 was created to raise awareness about this form of depression because it is poorly understood and not adequately treated.

The key messages of the tour were
 1.  If you think you have SAD seek professional help and get diagnosed or
       If you know someone who might have SAD encourage them to do likewise
2.     Start treatment now
3.     Learn more about SAD

So here’s some important information about Seasonal Affective Disorder

SAD is a recurring form of depression which comes in the fall and winter and gets better in the spring and summer.   The hallmarks of this type of depression are low mood, food cravings and weight gain, low energy and increased sleep – just think of a hibernating bear .  SAD effects approximately 3% of our population or about 1 million Canadians.  It is common in our country because of our northern latitude which is associated with a distinct shortening of the light cycle during  the winter season. 

While many people complain of the “winter blues”, SAD is a diagnosable depression which can be quite severe and which demands treatment. I have found personally and professionally that a timely combination of therapies can be very effective in treating this common mental illness.   

Let me tell you about
SAD LAMP a mneumonic  which I have devised  which explains how Seasonal Affective Disorder can be effectively treated. 

S stands for scheduled, meaning that we can anticipate and schedule our treatment to start in the fall before the onset of the depression
AD stands for anti-depressant medications.. As this is a true depression, medications can be indicated if the severity falls within a moderate to severe range.  While many anti depressants can be effective, the ones which are less sedating and cause less appetite enhancement are probably better choices

L stands for light therapy, lifestyle changes which include regular exercise and a healthy well balanced diet, encouragement to keep doing the things that you love,  and make you laugh. The most effective light  therapy consist s of using a bright light unit in the early morning for 30 minutes with your eyes open.  

AM stands for alternative medication.  Within the alternative and complementary therapies, omega 3 fatty fish oils have been found to be an effective add on.  Vit D supplementation through the fall and winter may be useful for many Canadians although  its effects on depression nave not been established yet. 

P stands for psychologist or counseling particularly involving Cognitive Behavioural therapy or CBT. 

Remember SAD LAMP a simple and effective way to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder.  I use this combination myself  and I have never felt better. 

Tour Day Sponsor is Brian Hunter for the final time – his support has been much appreciated. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Late breaking news - The Tour's gone INTERNATIONAL!!

POST SNM Tour Day #11
May not be able to post photos until much later today– we have turned our cells off and no internet until we get back into Ontario.

Extremely short blog today –
We have gone viral, off the grid, gone underground………….what we’ve really done is to go into the US in an attempt to save a little time from the Soo to the Fort, that is from Sault Ste. Marie to Fort Frances NW Ont.   So the SAD no more CANADIAN Tour goes international, taking it to the Americans if only for the day. Maybe the 2011 or 2012 tour will involve the Northern States (just kidding – another tour might induce the quickest divorce proceedings ever seen)

The winds were extremely gusty today and we saw a fair bit of snow on the ground from Superior to Duluth.  I guess it truly is the time of year.  By the time we got to Canada there was no snow to be seen - great!! Growing up in Winnipeg, we could be trick or treating on Halloween on green grass, albeit cold green grass or trudging through snowdrifts – every year was a bit of a surprise!

After all the very long hours on the roads over the past 2 months it was a bit weird to see the signs in miles and gasoline in $/gallons - $2.81 - $2.99 on the signs (that a 10% difference over 3 states - wow).  Thankfully the Canadian dollar is as high as it is.  Rural USA seemed to have a bit better highways for the majority of time – there were certainly some stretches which were rough, they struggle with winter just as much as we do.  A lot of very small towns along our route through northern Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota.  We can add 3 states to the 10 provinces – but I am not going to post American quizzes.

So why Fort Frances? I worked there for 11 years in the past and they really wanted me to speak there. I’ve been back a few times over the years usually passing through and it’s always great to touch base with all the people who still live there.  So that’s why we are veering off the major highways and taking a back door route. We’ve seen and experienced North of Lake Superior so now we get to see the south of Lake Superior. 

Tour Day Sponsor is Robert Hobbs, thanks again for your kind support and encouragement. 

Random Quote of the Day

America is a vast conspiracy to make you happy
John Updike