Letters to the Editor

Men’s mental health needs more attention

Until very recently, I had been operating as an undiagnosed manic-depressive.

As as a direct consequence, I have a year of straight Fs on my transcript, little in the way of on-paper accomplishments, and even had to take a year off from school.

I consider myself very lucky to be in the position that I am today, but I could never have imagined that I’d go through what I have four years ago when I was a nervous 18-year-old hoping to begin an exciting new chapter in my life.

That distinct feeling of hope has been replaced by a sense of foreboding for those who are like I was. It is known that mental illness very often makes its first appearance right around when students begin university. It is also well known that males tend to shield their pain from onlookers.

It is little surprise, then, that male suicide rates are dramatically higher than female suicide rates.The activities of the Mental Health Awareness Committee (MHAC) at Queen’s highlights the inadequacy of mental health discourse on campus, particularly with respect to acute mental illness.

When I was at my darkest, a fluffy Facebook post telling me that I was loved was never going to push me to get the help I needed.

In fact, seemingly confirming that those who purport to understand have little idea of what they aim to address, MHAC perpetuates the dreadful feeling that nobody understands.

Any good doctor will tell you that preventive medicine is the best kind of medicine. There isn’t any known medical procedure to revive the dead, so preventive medicine is the only medicine for far too many.

Preventive medicine starts and ends with a climate of true understanding. At present, this does not exist at Queen’s University.

Anonymous **

** Aug. 2, 2015 - The Journal has removed the name attached to this letter, at the request of the author, due to the personal nature of the letter's content.

Remember the sacrifice of alumni

As a proud member of the extraordinary family that is Queen’s University I am thrilled by the effort and enthusiasm that we put forward to honour our alumni. I too hope that I may soon join the ranks of those who have come before me and count myself among the veterans of these hallowed halls. Alas, I am only now going into second year of the best undergraduate engineering experience in all of Canada. Yet, I feel like this is where I belong, like this is where I have always belonged.

On the 28th of July we will observe the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War. With this we must also celebrate and remember the sacrifices made by those who fought and those who died. It should not be surprising that our remembrance will include over a thousand alumni and 189 men of Queen’s who gave their lives in this war, for they stand as the epitome of what defines Queen’s people. We should all feel a connection to these brave individuals, for they fought to keep society free. That freedom, in turn, has allowed the institution we know today to thrive and prosper.

As for me, I will remember in the way I usually do. I will observe a few moments of personal silence while I reflect upon the footsteps laid before me, left by those who have done great deeds. As a serving member of the Canadian Armed Forces – celebrating my own 12 year anniversary of service this month – and also as a student of this great institution, remembrance for me takes on a personal tone. I do not just remember the alumni of my Alma Mater and their sacrifice; I also remember friends, colleagues and the predecessors of my profession.

Those who have served and fought tend to be humble and those who have given their lives can ask for no more than your thanks and your remembrance. So please, my fellow people of Queen’s, take a few moments, from time to time, to remember those who have come before you and have given you the freedom to study; free from oppression and free from tyranny. Remember those who took the motto of our school to heart when they gave their lives, their wisdom and their knowledge to be the stability of their times, and ours. “Sapientia et Doctrina Stabilitas”

James J. Szoke

Sci ’17

Re: Administration to pay back red pension funds

Dear Editor:

I am writing to provide clarification around some potentially misleading language in your recent article “Administration to pay back red pension funds,” June 24, 2014.

Contrary to what the title of the article suggests, the university is not “paying back” pension funds. Rather, it is required under government legislation to make special payments into the pension plan, on top of its regular contributions, when the plan is in a deficit situation. A deficit means that an actuarial valuation has calculated the value of the plan’s assets (money and investments) to be insufficient to cover its liabilities (total retirement benefits owed to plan members).

That brings me to my second point: that the going concern and solvency deficits are not intended to be added together as you do in your article. They are not two deficits, but rather two different ways actuaries use to calculate the deficit (or surplus when assets exceed liabilities). The going concern method assumes the plan continues to operate indefinitely and the solvency method assumes the university closes its doors and the plan is wound up. Both calculations fluctuate with a number of factors, including market conditions like interest rates.

Based on the last actuarial valuation filed with the government, the university currently makes more than $14 million in annual special going concern payments, but has been operating with a temporary exemption from the solvency test. That exemption will expire when the next required valuation is filed, the results of which will determine the level of additional special payments required, subject to any regulatory relief that may be provided by the government.

The university is currently in the process of budgeting for the potential impact of any additional special payments and is committed to exploring any and all options that would lead to a permanent government exemption from the solvency test.

Caroline Davis

Vice-Principal (Finance & Administration)

Better care needed for Lyme disease sufferers

Dear Editor,

In January, I was a healthy, active, 22 year old graduate student at Queen’s. Now I am a sufferer of Lyme disease, struggling to find treatment in Ontario.

Over reading week, my boyfriend and I went snow-shoeing on my parents’ farm in Prince Edward County. Four days later, I came down with the worst sore throat I’ve ever had in my life. The sore throat eventually disappeared, but I became weaker and weaker.

Small tasks would make me winded and burst into tears. My liver became swollen and painful. I landed in the ER because I was vomiting so violently. I was emotional and cried almost daily. My joints became swollen and sore. I couldn't even read because of my pounding head. This went on for three months. I couldn't attend classes and went on leave from my studies.

Meanwhile, my doctor told me I had “a really bad virus”. She tested for mono, pneumonia, EBV, CMV, hepatitis, etc, but everything came up negative. I spent hundreds of dollars at my naturopath, loading up on anti-virals and immune boosters but nothing helped.

Finally, a friend suggested Lyme disease. However, getting tested for Lyme disease at my doctor’s office wasn’t easy without proof of a tick bite. Quite wrongly, the receptionist told me that I would have known if I had been bitten by a tick (actually, less than 50% of Lyme patients can recall the bite), and also that there were only so many tests they (I assume she meant OHIP) are willing to pay for.

So I went to my naturopath, who could facilitate the testing at a lab in California, at a cost of $500. Two weeks later, I received a positive test result which I took to my family doctor. She then prescribed a full month of antibiotic. My naturopath also prescribed a variety of supplements and a strict no sugar, no caffeine, no alcohol, low starch, high protein diet.

I began to improve after a few weeks but after doing more research, I learned that I needed additional and stronger antibiotics to kill the Lyme cysts, and any co-infections I may have; ticks often carry more than one bacterium. However, my doctor wasn’t comfortable prescribing such strong antibiotics, and even worse, the Infectious Disease Specialist refused to see me because my Lyme testing was done in the the US.

Luckily, I managed to find a family doctor in Kingston who is more open minded about treatment. We expect I will be in treatment for the rest of the summer. I am lucky to have caught my case so early. Left untreated, Lyme puts previously healthy people in wheel chairs; or in the case of one survivor I spoke with, a coma and palliative care - a tragedy considering how easily it can be treated early on by antibiotics. Ontario health needs to open its eyes to Lyme. I hope I am one of the last sufferers of its neglect.


Elyse Platt

Kingston, ON


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