Can you be bored to death? Dr. David Hepburn

“A ship in a harbour is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.”


FARIAS  “Ahhh. I’m not sure yet Alva. Give me a second or two.”

Alva was 99 years old and lived independently with Phyllis, his bride of 71 years, for whom he was the caregiver. She had become confused, forgetful and had gone all Alzheimery. He was adamant that she not be institutionalized and so we agreed that he could look after her at home and that I would call him daily to check on him. I did this usually while driving to work with the newspaper in one hand, the phone in the other and a root beer float in another. My knees did the steering, gearing and plenty of veering. Alva loved to do the paper’s Word Jumble and so we would daily compare notes on solving the puzzles.

At 99 he was infinitely more interesting than many 60 year olds. He and Phil loved adventure and went everywhere whenever they could. They were always poor in terms of dollars but they were rich in terms of having truly lived on this rock.

There are many boring people out there, people who seldom venture or adventure beyond their robotic, foreordained, prescribed repetitive days and weeks to experience the excitement this planet offers.

People who are bored are simply boring people.” Alva would say as he sat in his living room tapestried with treasures of travel. Phil would keep a diary of their adventures and when they returned from Kenya, Khartoum or Kansas she would type up her stories so that they could relive their adventures at will. That tome is now their legacy and really, when they finally throw our carcasses on the scrap heap of life, hopefully well used, enthused and abused, all that we have left that matters is what we did, not what we owned.

Bored man - Dr. David Hepburn
Bored man – Dr. David Hepburn

As George Carlin observed, “We’ve learned how to make a living but not a life. We’ve added years to life, not life to years.”

Boring Billy Bloggins’ carcass gets tossed on the same scrap heap leaving a large bank account that little Blogginses are now scrapping over. Boring, provincial, lots of useless, unused, overprotected cash and little adventure. A skinny book of life.

Can you be bored to death?

Scientific investigations point to negative health effects caused by boredom. It weakens the immune system, is brutal on your mental health and may be the first step towards depression, substance abuse and low self esteem. Boredom is linked to anger suppression, which can raise blood pressure and be as dangerous as stress.

When people are bored, dangerous hormones are released in the body that stress the heart. In fact, those who live boring lives are two and a half times more likely to die of a heart problem than those who aren’t bored. People who are bored also tend to eat and drink more, and they’re probably not eating carrots, kale and cauliflower. They get into the infamous night time carbs or Kahlua and health begins to suffer. But the biggest problem with being bored is that you become…boring.

To prevent this disease I try and do two wild things every year. My spontaneous or opportunistic bucket list. Last year I met a travel expert who was returning to his favourite place in the world, the amazing safari wilds of Africa. Within minutes I decided that I would join him. Had never been before. Told my wife that night at dinner. “What say we go run with the rhinos, horseplay with hippos, leap with leopards and lions, make merry with monkeys, wiz with the wildebeest and stand in awe (and slightly aside) of wild elephants.” We went. Until you have stood on the Serengeti and Masai Mara and shared a watering hole with a giraffe or a zebra, you really have no idea what real nature feels like. Why wait for age and/or illness to overtake you before emptying your bucket. Experiences await us that are an antidote to boredom. Loved it so much we’re going to go back next year.

My patient and friend Alva was finally tossed on that scrap heap of life, Phil preceding him by a couple of months. He would have loved to dance naked on the Serengeti  (which I also was going to do but decided against it, as it apparently is considered provocative to other baboons.)

So if you’ve ever wanted to go to IRACAF, please go. You’ll have a heck of a FARIAS.


Pet Therapy (first part) – Dr. David Hepburn

Everyone knows that having a pet can bring a lot of happiness to a family but also can bring great benefits for your health. That’s why Dr. David Hepburn present to you 5 of the 10 benefits of having a pet.

  1. Get in shape

Several studies have shown that having a pet helps you get in shape. This, of course, is obvious if your pet is a dog as opposed to a June bug. You take the dog out to do its business because you get tired of him relieving himself on your pillow.  The dog has an innate reflex that makes him poop like a mastodon on the neighbour’s manicured lawn and then you both end up running like the new long-haired boy in prison. This interval sprinting and laughing can help you get in shape. One study showed that new dog owners lose an average of 14 pounds in the first year.

  1. Pets help people survive heart attacks.

Pet owners have healthier hearts and more pleasant heart attacks than patients who don’t have a dog or cat! Those who own a dog are eight times more likely to survive one year after suffering a heart attack. One study, conducted out of a coronary care unit, found that only 6 percent of patients who owned pets died within one year compared with 28 percent of those who did not own pets. Stroking a dog, watching a kitten tumble, or observing the hypnotic explorations of fish can lower blood pressure and heart rates. Heart attacks, however, did increase in pet owners who discovered their miniature dachshund pregnant and the huge Irish Wolfhound next door with a poop eating grin on his face to go along with the grin he normally has from eating poop.

Pet Therapy Dr. David Hepburn
Pet Therapy Dr. David Hepburn
  1. Pets are great for mental health

Between those times when they’re driving you mental. In fact, pet ownership even moderates the effects of mental illness. Patients who have pets are less depressed or anxious and show lower scores on the depression severity scale than those who do not own pets. So, if you’re feeling blue take two shitzus and call me in the morning.

  1. Beneficial hormones

A study out of the University of Missouri showed that within minutes of petting a dog, there is a massive release of beneficial hormones (in the petter) known to be associated with health and feelings of well being; beta endorphin, prolactin, dopamine, oxytocin, and of course good ol’ beta phenylethylamine. The release of these petting hormones not only induce a sense of pleasure and happiness but they also decrease the stress hormone, cortisol. The fish, however, were not thrilled with this study.

  1. Dogs are beneficial in speech and language development.

Dogs are instantly loyal and eager to please, perfect companions during the sometimes difficult speech therapy sessions. Therapeutic progress occurs more rapidly when dogs are involved.  A patient’s physical anxiety goes down as measured by lower blood pressure and heart rate, and less stress almost always equals a more productive session.

In the following post we are going to present to you the remaining five benefits of having a pet according to Dr. David Hepburn

Disorderly Disney Diseases by Dr. Hepburn

My oldest son, Bert, relished his role as older brother/idol/torturer of Ernie. (For sake of confidentiality I will call them Bert and Ernie since using their actual names, Palmer and Stewart, would likely cause significant embarrassment and years of expensive therapy.)

My thrill seeking sons loved to seek thrills and so it was we found ourselves in Universal Studios Florida seeking our thrill seeking thrills on the Hulk roller coaster. Within seconds of launch, Bert was in a gray out, as the G forces pooled his blood somewhere in his Airwalks causing his vision to fade to black, much to the great glee of young Ste…Ernie. A couple of twists and screams later Bertmer was revived but as the ride finished Ernie, noting the odd effect this ride had on big Bert announced that we should do it again. Not wanting to show any signs of weakness for fear of diminishing his authority as Atilla the older Hun, he agreed. Again, gray out, much to the delight of Ernie who of course wanted to do it seven more times. By the time we finally finished our fling on Hulkmania, Bert was ready for something easier like bunging jumping into Crocodile Lake without a cord.

A few years later I took my grandkids (I will call them Snuffleupagus and Grover since Eliza and Enoch may not be overjoyed to see their names in print either) to a similar park of pleasant pestilence and we rode the spinning strawberries or twirling teacups or hellacious helicopter or whatever. “This will be fun kids” I announced as I took the wheel and spun us around like Katarina Witt on expresso. Whispering with evil intent “can’t wait to see them stumble around like drunken cops after this.” But as we got off the teacups and as they skipped towards the next ride…”Wait a sec kids….um…..grandpa is..” “Grandpa are you sweating?” “Heck no…just tears of joy springing from my forehead, but lets…. sit down… before Grandpa vomits.”

Hulk Coaster - Dave Hepburn
Hulk Coaster – Dave Hepburn

I used to be able to do these things no problem but as the Big Macs accumulate over the years and my belt and the sun has turned my hair grey I find I don’t spin so good. Can a day at Disney be dangerous and detrimental to your dentures, digits and dignity?  As roller coasters continue to push the envelope of speed, I note the following medical warnings from the park, somewhat bastardized by, well… Goofy

  1. The sharp turns, ups and downs, and high speeds of today’s roller coasters could cause damage to your ears. Passengers should remain facing forward for the duration of the ride to avoid letting the full impact of acceleration wind hit the ear. Barotrauma occurs when there is a quick change in pressure between the external environment, the ear drum and the pressure in the middle ear space. Stanley Cup rioters should be fine as the wind should pass right through.
  2. Roller coasters can jolt your neck about, leaving you at risk for headaches as well as whiplash. Sit in the middle of the chair and don’t lean to one side. Relax, but do not go limp (sounds familiar). When the seat pitches you to the left, relax your torso and bend to the right to keep your head upright and centered. You want to ride the seat–not have it throw you around or toss you out over the It Doesn’t Much Matterhorn.
  3. Do not ride the coasters if you are pregnant, or resemble third trimester were you a woman. There are special rides designed for the extra-fluffy folks but they are currently permanently broken.
  4. If you have high blood pressure, a heart condition or even a rupturing aneurysm try the angio ride over in ICU land.
  5. If you get nauseous simply watching Al Gore kiss something or if you have just gorged on the Pluto Splatter Platter then please stay off the Whirling Duodenum.
  6. Most fun theme parks are not found in Winnipeg or the Straits of Magellan but rather near a Solar Flare. Drink lots of water and keep cool, dude.
  7. If you are visiting with a child or a grandparent or a childish grandparent, take a moment to explain how they should behave. Set a good example for them by following the rules. Tell them to stay seated, to hold the grab bar, put their hands rather than their breakfast in their laps, and not to stick their knees and feet outside a ride vehicle. And never put a crying child or a screaming grandfather on a ride. If he starts to cry, let others pass you in line until he is calmed….. Same with the child.
Roller Coaster- Dr. David Hepburn
Roller Coaster- Dr. David Hepburn

Venom for medicine – Dr. David Frederick Hepburn

While New Mexicoing it recently in New Mexico I narrowly missed running over and squashing a monster sunning itself on the road, a Gila monster. Had I hit this loathsome leathery lizard and created this monster mash I could have once again destroyed one of the secrets that could save mankind. “Gila” pronounced “heela” as in healing, is a less than sexy reptile that, like the less than sexy Olson twins, eats only three meals a year.

Gila Monster - Dr. Hepburn
Gila Monster – Dr. Hepburn

I have some patients that eat three meals before breakfast. Most are now diabetic, a disease that is the product of how and how much we eat in this country. Yet Gila monsters not only don’t get diabetes but they don’t even get hungry. They have a chemical in their saliva, no doubt discovered by a lonely southwest lad with way too much time in the desert, called exenatide. Like insulin this chemical stimulates cells to take sugar out of the bloodstream but stops working when the sugar is normal! Thus it only works when it is actually needed, an advantage it gives diabetics who don’t want to have their blood sugar drop too low at the wrong time such as in the middle of the night or when dancing with Marie Osmond or her teeth.

As a result an exciting class of drugs called incretins have been spawned thanks to the lovely lizard of Laredo. It is known as exenatide, a much more palatable name than monster mucous, and is amongst the fastest expanding medications in waist expanding North America, diabetic capital of the expanding universe, which apparently, is expanding as it should. It is also an appetite suppressant and induces weight loss.

For those gumbooters who believe that only “natural” stuff can cure your lazy blood yeasts blahblahyawn, you can take rasta hair huggin’ joy in knowing that this medication is tantamount to swapping spit with a lizard. But hold your Gilas, lizard lovers. You are not to have all the glucose glory. Turns out that the skin of a South American frog secretes a compound that stimulates insulin release from the human pancreas with no side effects, unless warts bother you.

Now IT is about to be made into a medication, (Fernando flakes?). Soon it may benefit diabetics to camp out at the reptile and amphibian exhibit at the local zoo just to keep their sugars in check. Snuggle down at night with a monster and a frog (gotta kiss a few to find the guy formerly known as a prince anyway) and you could have normal blood sugars, a dream that only diabetics could appreciate.

Not to be outdone by his disgusting cousins, a scorpion named Sid decided to get in on the action. Finding that the diabetic field was getting crowded with do-gooder lizards and Amazonian frogs, Sid focused on brain tumours. He is no ordinary run of the mill, sleep in your slippers scorpion, he is the African Death Stalker (emit low evil cackle). What a cool friggin’ nickname. “Hey look out guys! Here comes Dave the African Death Stalker!” But Sid comes by his moniker honestly as his venom can kill a human or even Kim Il Jong.

His venom is remarkable as it has an affinity for the very nasty death stalking brain tumour known as a glioma. Injected directly into the brain the venom bypasses normal brain tissue and heads right to the tumour and with the help of a little radioactive package that the doctor has attached to it, kills the deadly glioma cells! Incredible! The cure for cancer possibly lies in the tail of a scorpion? Who knows? But wait there are even more venom cures.

Scorpion - Dr. Dave Hepburn
Scorpion – Dr. Dave Hepburn

There are fish loaded with pain killers, cone shells with anesthetics, ant juice that may lower blood pressure, tick stuff that may stuff heart disease and awkward looking toads that simply tickle our funny bone. Venom, designed by nature to kill us may in fact keep us alive. So scorpio/spidey/snake lovers, fill your boots. Just take a glance in them before you put them on.

Sense of smell and Alzheimer´s – Dr. David Hepburn

According to Alzheimer´s society of Canada the number of people with dementia has increased considerably in recent years. Currently there are a little over half a million Canadians with dementia and around 46 million in the world suffer from Alzheimer. As we can see, it is one of the most important challenges for public health in near future specially if we considering that there is no cure for this disease at the moment and the average age of the world population is getting higher.

In consequence early detection can be very helpful. For this reason Dr. David Hepburn and Dr. Robert Sealey give you a very important advice to detect Alzheimer’s with anticipation and can be treated properly.

Dr. David Frederick Hepburn, David Frederick Hepburn, Dr. Hepburn, Dr. David Hepburn

According to Dr. Sealey an important research has suggested that loss sense of smell probably would be the first indication that a person could have Alzheimer’s. Conforming to scientists of this research the amyloid plaques which are responsible for the cognitive decline in dementia initially begin to accumulate in the part of the brain responsible for the sense of smell. As consequence, to note a loss of sense of smell should be the warning to see a doctor

Consequently Dr. David Hepburn comment that thanks to this discovery now we have an inexpensive alternative that can be done through the sense of smell, replacing brain scans in order to determine if early Alzheimer’s is setting in.

Alzheimer, Dave Hepburn, Medical AdvicesDr. David Frederick Hepburn

Therefore it is very important to be aware of our sense of smell as Dr. David Hepburn said because the early detection of Alzheimer’s can make a difference not only in the treatment to be followed but in the quality of life, once the disease is diagnosed.

Tips to live longer Dr. David Hepburn

“Die young at an old age…” Dr. David Frederick Hepburn.

The majority of people want to live more years and the most important thing is to live them well. That’s why Dr. Robert Sealey and Dr. David Hepburn give you the following recommendations so that you can live longer and better.

  1. Exercise

The first recommendation is basic, exercise!. Although you do not need to lose weight, exercising is very important. As mentioned by Dr. David Hepburn: Exercising allows your body to release good chemicals for you, which help to you to feel better

  1. Sleep

The second recommendation is about restoring your body. Sleep, you must sleep enough for your body to recover. Sleeping well helps you to lose weight, to your memory and even to overcome of depression

David Frederick Hepburn

      3. Stop Smoking

One of the best things you can do to your health is stop smoking. In fact Dr. Hepburn recommends not only leave the cigarette but any substance harmful to your health such as excessive alcohol or heroin.

     4. Smile

As simple as it sounds smile can contribute to your health. Smiling helps to lower your cholesterol levels and your blood pressure levels.

     5. Drink Red Wine

There are several studies that show that drinking red wine in moderation, (which means  one or two drinks a day) provide antioxidants that reduce cholesterol and prevent heart attacks, even help prevent colds

     6. Eat Chocolate

Dr. Hepburn and Dr. Sealey point out that another recommendation is to eat chocolate. It is important to mention that the darker the better. This reduces the risk of cancer

     7. Lose Weight

Finally the last recommendation made by Dr. David Frederick Hepburn. Lose Weight (only if you need it).

Dr. Hepburn

Myths Dispelled (Second Part) Dr. David Hepburn

Continuing with the topic of the last postDr. Hepburn and Dr. Sealey keep demystifying some beliefs of the medical world. In this post they will try to educate us about some things that we have believed for a long time that affect our health despite the fact that various studies indicate that it is not true.

The first myth is about chocolate and junk food. It has always been thought that these two foods cause acne which is false according to Dr. Sealey. In his own words “acne is due to hormones which is a whole different problem bacteria as well. So go ahead and eat as much chocolate and junk food. You’re not going to end up with a pizza face it’s not going to happen”

Dr. David Hepburn

On the other hand, Dr. David Hepburn clarifies that despite popular belief that shingles is contagious. This absolutely not true, Dr. David Hepburn explains that “shingles is not contagious shingling is obviously not contagious shingles is a painful lesion that comes initially from the chicken pox virus and you tend to get as and you tend to get as you get older it breaks out in blisters but those blisters are not contagious. You can´t catch shingles from somebody who has shingles so that means you can just sidle right up to a men and not worry about catching it”

Another myth mentioned by Drs. Hepburn and Sealey was about aluminum and its relationship with Alzheimer’s. According to the myth cooking with aluminum pots and pans increases the risk of having Alzheimer’s but this is false. While it is true that in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s was found 30 times more aluminum than in a person without this disease the truth is that several studies have proven that the aluminum does not come from the pots used for cooking therefore this it is a myth.

The third myth is about vaccines. Dr. David Frederick Hepburn pointed out that it is completely false that vaccines cause autism. “It has been proven that there is no relationship. Vaccines do not cause autism.”

Dr. David Frederick Hepburn

Finally Doctors spoke about spicy food. It is false that spicy food causes ulcers. So you know, you can eat a lot of spicy without worrying about an ulcer

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