Trapped by the trappings of Love

“When they finished lunch, Emily and Matilda liked to sit down in the Florida room to watch the blooming garden, sharing a cup of comforting tea. Emily languidly gazed at the inscrutable mist in the garden, her body steeped with a hot infusion and her spirit with a much mellower one: Melancholy.

-“It blows my mind,” Matilda said. “Throwing money away like that instead of choosing something more discreet—that Ruth must be fuming.”

The intended interlocutor had a meandering moss marching across her mind.

-“Emily…Hello! What’s wrong with you?”

-“Nothing… So you want to watch a Mafia movie?”

-“That’s not it… Pay attention for a second…Did you hear that we’ve got the invitation to attend Annie’s wedding in Florida next month, eh?”

-“Really? That’s great—”

-“We can squeeze in your Miami Beach condo, can’t we? You should have listened to her. She gave me gazillion details of… Hello! Anybody home?”

-“I’m listening…Of course we can—what’s that story with Al Capone?”

-“Oh, that….The show-off booked the same Biltmore suite he liked to stay in … They’ll also dress with vintage Roaring Twenties-outfits when they fly to Paris in Air France’s Fist Class to stay in the Georges V hotel—“

-“Sounds so cool,” Emily said with an ersatz emotion. She was not into it.

Filled with nuptial bliss, she feels trapped by the trappings of Love.”

In my novel, Emily was feeling less and less satisfaction from her material possessions, replaced by a widening spiritual void. Hedonic adaptation. The curse of all those ladies that, for various reasons, prioritized the acquisition of material things in their lives and relegated their emotional needs for later.

But somehow it eventually catches to them in a rather painful comeuppance. We have seen it on a recurrent basis over the years; saddled with material wealth they crave for a glimmer of romanticism that would lighten them up. It concerns almost all the age, ethnic, cultural and socio-economic groups. Blissfully, their emotional frustration often converts them into avid readers.

“One routine-tinged afternoon, Georgina was casually listening to a talk show in “Radio Atlántica” that dealt with lame issues. Except that day.

-“We have a literary question,” a female announcer said. “And whoever gets it right will get a brand new washing machine…Are you ready?“

Georgina stopped peeling potatoes to turn the radio’s volume up.

-“What did Gabrielle D’Annunzio—the Italian writer who was an inveterate womanizer—liked to do when he was making love? Call us now.”

Many calls ensued with all sort of wrong answers until a gentleman, who was a retired professor of literature, finally called with the precise one.

-“D’Annunzio became bald while he was still young,” he said. “Therefore he usually carried an elegant partial wig to conceal that fact to his admirers.”

-“Right…And? Go on—”

-“He had a throng of adoring women…He was a big celebrity.”

-“Fine…But what did he do?” The announcer was ready to take another call.

Panting as one of the poet’s bedded lovers, Georgina roots for him.

-“Right before reaching the climax, he lifted his toupée up to show his baldness…She caressed the phallic sign and had a huge orgasm.”

-“Bravo! Bravo! That’s what he liked to do—you won the prize.”

Stuck in a dreadful domestic rut, Georgina’s spirit alights d’emblée.”


What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Cannabis in PTSD – Part II

“In spite of his family’s pampering, Bobby felt strange in civilian life. Preceded by the slap on his face of a freezing wind —stinking of diesel fuel, spent gunpowder and suffocating sand—a recurring image haunted his sleep.

The troubling, taciturn hitchhiker—smelling of mirth and holding a sharp scythe—hops into their patrolling Humvee at the camp’s gate. Clad with a paltry poncho, he silently squats in a corner. Waiting.

-“WATCH OUT FOR IDES,” Bobby yelled. “One hit—you’re toast.”

-“Easy,” William Senior said coming to his bedside. “I’ll bring a snack—“ He came back shortly holding a tray with two glasses of milk and cookies.

-“We booked a predator-hunting trip out West. Want to saddle up, Cochise?”

In my novel, Bobby, the main character’s high school sweetheart, suffers from PTSD after spending several tours of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many active duty American servicemen and veterans have this disease, which has been properly recognized as such and is being studied at present.

The web page of the “Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access” says, “despite the anecdotal evidence to the contrary, most of the experimental studies that have been conducted so far indicate that by and large the administration of exogenous cannabinoids such as vaporizing therapeutic cannabis may not be the most reliable nor effective means of utilizing the eCB system to treat anxiety and aversive memories such as those formed in PTSD.” They advocate the investigation of other mechanisms to limit the eCB breakdown, which coupled with the extinction/habituation therapy might alleviate PTSD.

Considering the humongous amount of human and material resources that the U.S. military has been deploying worldwide, it is certainly not too much asking that they assign a fraction to PTSD’s scientific and clinical research.

One of the most pressing issues for the veterans with grave symptoms of PTSD is the unrelenting persecution of some authorities in a few states when one of them is caught consuming or, worse, planting some marijuana in their backyard for their consumption. In the “First Southeast Cannabis Conference and Expo of South Florida” held at the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center on June 10, 11 2017, Attorney Michael Minardi gave a good presentation about the legal challenges and remedies in these prosecutions. He said that the dismissal of these cases must be based on proving “the medical necessity’ of this act. However he gave several examples of harrowing ordeals veterans had to go through.

The soldiers that carry the defense of the realm deserve an equitable redress.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.


First Southeast Cannabis Conference and Expo

On June 10, 11 2017, we attended the first major gathering of professionals, industry representatives and general public that focused on the multiple uses and presentations of Cannabis and its extracts in South Florida. As we have already discussed in our previous articles on the medical use of Cannabis, the extraction and purification of the CBD component has allowed its certification and commercialization for care issues.

Walking through the exposition hallways we met interesting people of all walks of life. Right upfront there was a station from “Weedmaps”, an information company that has been called “the Amazon of hemp.” According to Carrissa, the lovely lady serving as its hostess, it is a fully integrated site for all the issues related to the use of marijuana.

A few paces away there was a über-multi-coloured and lively presentation of “MagicalButter”, a state-of-the-art botanical extractor to prepare edibles. Dalton, the smiling guy that appears as the image of this article, patiently explained the steps to prepare smoothies, dressings and other delicacies.  A few paces away I found an example of CBD – innovation. Lawrence, a sales manager from “Quantum Group Distribution”, showed me how a small nebulizer delivered its necessary dosage in a fast, clean way.There was also space for entertainment options as Kathy explained the cruise ship schedules offered by “Bhang Travel” in accommodations of “MSC.”

The educational activities were informative; unfortunately we could only attend a few of them but we harvested many pearls from that experience. Attorney Michael Minardi, who represents clients that were prosecuted for consuming and/or planting of marijuana, explained to the defense basis on the grounds of “medical necessity”, The use of Cannabis for healing purposes must be supported by the medical condition of the patient and the unavailability of other treatment options for severe pain and other ailments. He told us that since the times of the British colonies, the American settlers have defended the use of local remedies against abusive authorities. He gave us several examples of cases he had litigated across the nation; it seemed that once the need for Cannabis is established and the possibility of trafficking is ruled out, most prosecutions are gracefully dismissed by the juries for the relief of defendants and their families.

Montel Williams, a former Navy service man and famous entertainer, made us all laugh with his spontaneous account of the many instances when he was detained at the airport security because he was carrying a pipe; his life dramatically changed when he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.

Dr. Stuart Titus, an entrepreneur from California, explained to us that in the USA there was not an established tradition of Herbal Medicine like in India, China or even Europe and there was a suspicion of medicinal products that could not be thoroughly quantified. He believed that the sustained efforts at scientific research, industry methods and clinical research will eventually overcome that disconnect and facilitate its medical use.

Cheryl Shuman, dubbed as the “Martha Stewart of Marijuana” by the media, narrated how since she was diagnosed with cancer several years ago she has been using marijuana for medical purposes. As she wanted to share her experience with the public she began a high profile campaign in the media. She had to overcome plenty of vitriol from many quarters but she managed to focus the discussion on patients’ right to an alternative Medicine tool. She eventually became a very successful Cannabis business entrepreneur. In her closing argument she became very personal as she shared some privy details about her present medical condition, which was a highly charged emotional moment. We wish her a successful treatment and recovery period as she’s in our prayers.

The unrelenting scientific and clinical evidence that Cannabis, and specifically the CBD component, has multiple uses in chronic diseases will certainly promote many more conferences like this one in the near future in our area and the rest of the nation.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.



The gigolo

-“Doctor…It’s so much easier than a real relationship—it’s a transaction.”

Carol X. is a successful real estate agent and entrepreneur that has confided to me that she regularly patronizes the services of a discreet escort agency. After meeting a male stripper in a bachelorette party that offered his after-hours services to her, she got hooked on a young, muscular company. .

After a long marriage with an indelicate man that only wanted to achieve a quick orgasm and then left her wanting, both physically and emotionally, she got a divorce a few months ago and vowed never again to marry a man. She has experienced with several occasional partners, even with a woman. But the daily pressure of comforting somebody’s needs is too much for her extremely busy life.

She has only shared that secret with a gay confidante, her coiffeur and moi. In a modern woman’s world the attendance to church to give a confession to a priest has been replaced by a visit to the salon or the medical office. Not a single one of her friends, even women, have an inkling of those escapades. The web has given that newfound opportunity to women who are not rich. In general they want the perfect combination between sexual performance and affection, their own gladiator in bed who knows how to cuddle them right.

Sometimes the feminine interest in a man transcends her mere erotic desires.

Long, long time ago (before I became a monk of Medicine) I happened to work in a medical clinic owned by a wealthy and widowed Russian lady. She seemed to like me enough to pay me generously, including some living expenses, and she invited me to fine restaurants. She enjoyed my company and conversation but she did not want sex.

-“Mommy, she doesn’t want to sleep with me,” I told my mother by telephone.

-“Really? That’s perfect…She gives you a lot and asks for nothing, dear.’

-“You think so?’

-“Of course…Just find a young, eager girl to enjoy that largesse without remorse.”

What do you want me to say? That episode of redistribution of wealth from one privileged lady to a needy one may have sparked my monastic vocation…

What do you think?” Please tell me.

Don’t leave me alone.

Need for community health workers

When I was a medical student I studied the novel Chinese experience of the “barefoot physicians”—community health workers in its vast countryside. With a basic training and a lot of enthusiasm they provided critically needed access to clinical and obstetrical services for its impoverished population. In the years that have passed by, the Chinese central government has made a big investment in economic and human resources for the medicalisation of maternal care, which now occurs usually in well-equipped care centers.

Community health workers now play a pivotal role in most health care initiatives around the globe as they provide preventive and curative care to underserved, poor communities in far away regions with difficult access. The scarcity of health care personnel has given new impetus to their training and deployment in order to complement and even spearhead care initiatives. They are responsible for the great strides in malaria control and eradication.

An editorial in “The Lancet Global Health” says, “a quick look at the CHW panorama shows great success as well as missed opportunities. Large-scale government-led programmes in countries like Brazil and Tanzania, where CHWs are part of the formal health system, trained, and remunerated, have led to increased health care coverage and improved health indicators. Conversely, man local smaller-scale programmes that lack the necessary support system—clear financial and administrative planning and coordination—have proven to be unsustainable or misaligned with local needs, and have fallen through attrition or lack of utilization.”

Even though they often shoulder the burden to provide access to basic health services to underserved communities, the CHWs dwell in a “grey area” of the formal care systems as their professional role is not properly formulated and they are not efficiently trained to obtain a final certificate or diploma. The World Health Organization (WHO) has promoted a labour strategy to streamline and rationalize their training to integrate them into the systems. These good Samaritans need resources, good pay and a clear career pathway.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.


The social stalker

-“Doctor…He’s madly in love with me—he just doesn’t know it yet.”

Sylvia X. is an attractive young secretary that believed her supervisor was interested in her, even though he had had a steady girlfriend for many years. She followed his movements all over the social media and spent hours dissecting all the details of her search, trying to find an edge to ensnare him.

This modern possibility to spy on other people’s lives on a constant basis has brought privacy issues to the stalked individuals but also mental health issues to the stalkers: paranoia, loss of self-worth and delusional behaviour. The social price of this unhealthy snooping is shared by both ends of it.

The stalking patterns run a gamut between a rather innocent interest in knowing “what the other person is up to” through many intermediary stages until the more morbid attitude of creating a wholly false internet personality. The latter can include the use of insults and threats to coerce the recipient. The stalker picks bits of information and creates a collage of information that might not be completely accurate or even remotely pertinent for its use.

Dr. Walter H. Ghedin says “the imagination of the hurt person starts to fill up with a myriad data that starts to mesh into a painful platform in the mind. And what in other persons produces just emotional pain, in others can trigger a desire of vengeance. Of course all of us have psychological defense mechanisms to face an amorous deception, doubts about faithfulness or even emotional dependence. But the permanent, voluntary exposure to images and texts that speak of ‘the other person’s life’ often invalidate any recoveries.”

Sylvia X. came back to my office with a distraught appearance last week.

-“Oh my…What happened to you?” I asked her.

-“Er…It happened…We went to an office party and then he took me home.”

-“Then you should be ecstatic and not in this sour mood.”

-“The next day he ignored me completely—going to get back at him.”

There’s only one entity worse that a social stalker. A spurned social stalker.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

The need for sex

We can certainly agree that good and frequent sex is a healthy human habit. However when people are asked if having a lot of sex is important for the couple’s sense of well being they will say that it is not the determining factor to consider. A recent study explains the disconnect between these attitudes.

Dr. Lindsey Hicks, a psychological researcher at Florida State University, found that the frequency of sex is not directly related with people’s reporting of their satisfaction in their steady relationships but it does influence their more spontaneous and automatic responses when they are asked about it. As those automatic responses don’t require a conscious vetting, Hicks et al. believed that they might uncover some implicit perceptions and associations.

Initially they studied 216 newlywed-couples with a comprehensive survey that measured the satisfaction in their relationships. The participants rated different qualities of the marriages, their agreement or lack of it with certain statements and their satisfaction with their partners in a marriage setting. After completing the survey, they were tasked with a computer classification of responses to certain words after their partners’ pictures appeared briefly. The response time indicates how firmly two items are linked automatically; the faster the response time, the stronger the association between the two, If, after seeing the picture of their partner, the person responded more slowly to negative words than positive ones, it signified positive implicit attitudes.

Dr. Hicks did not find any direct association between the participants’ frequency of sex and their satisfaction levels, as happened in other studies. But the sexual frequency was directly related to their automatic responses; the more sex they had, the more positive attitudes towards the partners were.

This finding happened in both men and women. Another longitudinal study (extended in time) that studied 112 newlyweds confirmed that sex frequency was related with the participants’ automatic responses to the visual stimuli.

Some people are so profoundly unhappy that they can’t even admit it to themselves.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.