Friday, 15 January 2016

We interrupt your regularly scheduled blogging….

Yes I know I’m meant to be blogging about my Laser eye surgery….

I’ll get back to it, but the fact that I’m currently able to type should tell you that I at least have one working eyeball.

I just wanted to share the awesome news that TRANSPORT CANADA HAS REINSTATED MY MEDICAL.!!!!

Woo Hoo!!!!

Despite me still being on the crazy pills. I just need a report from my doctor every six months telling them that my degree of craziness and medication has remained the same.

Timeline wise, I’m impressed. It took less than a month from my doctor submitting the original report to Transport Canada clearing me. This included the Christmas period as well.

The irony is, that I now have to self report as being unfit for a month because I let someone loose on my eyeballs with a Laser!

Oh the eye-rony!

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

End of an Era part one

Since the age of 18 I’ve greeted every morning by sticking bits of plastic in my eyes. Tomorrow that is going to all end.

For I am about to have LASIK eye surgery.

Some background. I’m short sighted, not impossibly so, but enough so that without some sort of corrective lenses I do tend to walk into things. I also have slight astigmatism.

For the longest of times, I quite happily corrected this with soft contact lenses. Progressing from monthly, to weekly and finally daily lenses as my earnings permitted (ironically, the shorter the intended wear time, the more expensive the lenses work out)

Oh and I HATE wearing glasses. They drive me insane on my face.

Recently though, the minor astigmatism, made its presence known enough that I had to start wearing contacts that corrected for it, Toric lenses.

Toric lenses, even daily ones, suck.

They are thicker, and therefore less comfortable.

They are weighted and thus it is possible to put them in upside down and have really weird and grotty vision all day. Yes they are meant to have markings on them to show you which way they are weighted but these are tiny marks on a see through bit of plastic that you put in because you can’t damn well see properly in the first place. Spotting the issue here?

They are also approximately three times more expensive than standard lenses.

So when a friend had LASIK (something I’d considered but decided that I would do unless I couldn’t wear contacts anymore) and survived the experience. I was kind of curious.

I spent a couple of weeks bugging both my friend and the internet, amazed at how painless the whole thing seemed to be. I was astounded at how quickly she recovered.

Cunningly enough I was just coming up to the end of my latest batch of lenses and was due an eye exam anyways. I decided to have a chat with my optometrist about my options.

Although all the local LASIK clinics (yes I’m that lucky that I live in a large city that has multiple clinics!) offer free consultations, I wanted my initial chat to be with someone who didn’t have a vested interest in selling me anything.

And that’s how I find myself eagerly awaiting someone to zap my eyeballs with a laser beam. I thought I’d blog it, because I really don’t have much else going on at the moment

Next time, how I picked the clinic.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015


I’m still waiting on the report from my doctor. That should be forthcoming soon, judging from the fact that the surgery has just called me for my credit card details (gulp, just don’t ask how much this is costing me).

After that it’ll be up to Transport Canada to decide just how crazy I am.

In the mean time I’ve come to terms with my enforced grounding, although I will be honest and say that I probably sulked for a good few days after getting the official “we are suspending your medical” letter.

Anyways I’m taking this time to do something for me, something I’ve been considering for a while but the timing has never quite right.

Yep, I’m going to pay someone to attack my eyeballs with a laser!

Friday, 4 December 2015

The call

So yeah I got a phone call from Transport Canada, Medical Department within 5 minutes of my conversation with JD.

As I’ve mentioned (many times) I don’t like talking on the phone, but I had to bite the bullet and pick up. We had a brief discussion of what the actual issue was (I’m taking Antidepressants). He asked for a bit of history, timeline dose etc.

Basically the jist of the conversation was that if I was no longer taking them then flying was fine. So once I stopped taking them I could resume flying. I expressed my concern that I would possibly be taking these long term and thus the “wait until you are off them” approach might not work.

I went into the conversation with a certain degree of na├»ve optimism. I know I’m fine, quite frankly I’m probably doing better than I have in years and any side effects I may have are in no way an impediment to flying. So I was kind of hoping, again rather naively, that this would just be an exercise in paper collecting and form filling

This optimism was lost when he started talking about “concern about the use of these drugs in pilots”, “evaluated on a case by case basis”, “possible to initially regain medical with ‘as or with copilot’ restriction”

My heart was in my mouth as I asked what I needed to do next.

Looking at it reasonably, I was completely unrealistic in my thoughts as to how this was going to pan out. I can see that of course Transport Canada are going to be cautious, with a conservative approach. I have to face up to the reality that the time frame I’m looking at might be measured in years and not months.

Now I’ve had time to reflect, I can accept this. The only thing that annoys me is that they might give me the “with or as Copilot” endorsement. To be honest, if I’d wanted that then I needn’t have told them anything in the first place. I can do that right now, even with a suspended medical. The whole point of going through this was to be able to fly, properly. No fricken endorsements.

So much responsibility rests with the pilot to self-monitor. I suspect there are more than a handful of people, who given my situation, would have just kept their mouth shut and kept on flying.
A small part of me feels like I’m being punished for being honest.

Anyways, it is too late now. I’m on Transport Canada’s radar and now I have to deal with that
They need a report from my doctor with the following info

·         Background
o   Start date
o   Symptoms
o   Treatment
o   Compliance
·         Medication history
o   Side effects
·         Current symptoms (symptom free?)
·         Response to treatment
·         Prognosis ( best estimate)

Luckily for me my doctor is 100% supportive and willing to write whatever I need. She also suggested that we include

§  Not a danger to myself or others
§  Flying has positive impact on mental health
§  No side effects that would affect ability to operate plane

She also wants to add that I may be on the medication “for the foreseeable future” to force them to assess me long term rather than just suspending my medical while I’m taking them.

So now the report is currently being worked on. Once it is ready we will fax it to Transport Canada. I’ll let you know what happens next

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

I need help

I’m not joking, I honestly had no idea how to go about informing Transport Canada about any of this. Bearing in mind that one of the manifestations of issues was a high level of anxiety associated with making and receiving phone calls, well phoning up a random government office and saying “Hey, I’m crazy*, just thought you should know” wasn’t really an option.

You might think the obvious place to deal with my Medical certification issues would be the guy who signed me off as fit in the first place. The Civil Aviation Medical Examiner or CAME. Well, maybe but there are a few issues with this.

Firstly, I’m not even sure I remember who that was. For those of you who think this sounds weird, some context might be in order. Most newby pilots, who don’t have any significant health issues, see getting their Class 3 medical is just another hoop to jump through. I didn’t actually pay much attention to the whole process. I made an appointment, turned up, was prodded a bit, peed in a cup and then eventually I got a piece of paper in the mail.

Secondly, what I do remember from the process of booking and attending the CAME’s office doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence. Although the Dr. himself was fine, the other staff not so much. I remember having language barrier issues both on the phone and in person. I recall there being a great deal of confusion because I had to pay. I also remember that they gave me the wrong information on the phone about what I needed to bring (good job I’d done some research beforehand) and then both RTH and I suspect that they were the ones that messed up the data entry which led to my certificate going to the wrong address.

So while it wouldn’t have been difficult for me to figure out who to call, it was a lot easier for me to put it off.

I just needed some help to start the process and that help came from an unexpected source. I’d attended a Transport Canada Safety seminar with my pilot buddy E. The subject matter was interesting, winter streamers and lake effect snow. As part of the sign in process I’d checked the box for “please sign me up for some newsletter or the other”

A couple of days afterwards I got a call from JD the safety officer who ran this particular seminar. I’ve chatted to JD before, so we at least know each other. It turned out that he couldn’t quite make out my email address. I gave him the correct one. We exchanged a joke or two as to how I adopted this particular address (I use the localflighteast one for all flying related stuff) and made polite conversation.

I’m not sure why the little voice in my head chose this time to be useful and say “hey LFE, he’s a SAFETY officer” and put the idea into my head that maybe he would be someone who would at least have a contact for me. But I’m very glad it did

I bit the bullet and said “Hey JD, you might be able to help me with something……”
I explained the situation, told him I didn’t know where to start but I wanted to get flying again and would appreciate even just the contact details of someone to talk to.

Well JD, in his infinite kindness simply replied “no worries LFE, I’ll stroll over to the medical department and get someone from there to call you.

He did

And they did

And the contents of that call, next post

* I'm allowed to refer to myself as crazy! I also encourage friends to do the same. Humour is really the only way I can deal with this and believe it or not, inappropriate stuff like referring to my therapist as my "crazy doctor" is actually a sign I'm getting better

Friday, 27 November 2015

Where do I begin?

I know where I’m not going to begin, at the moment I’m not really into sharing the path that led to my being diagnosed with and treated for depression.

Maybe another time.

At the moment just accept it for what it is. I have Depression and am receiving treatment for it. Part of that involves being on medication.

Now I’m lucky in many respects, firstly I don’t appear to be having much in the way of nasty side effects. Those that I did have went away fairly quickly. And also I live in a country that has a reasonably progressive attitude towards SSRIs.

Intellectually I had read all the transport Canada Blurb on their website and knew that it wasn’t impossible to maintain a Class 3 medical and take them. But now I’m faced with the reality of dealing with Transport Canada and, well, emotionally I’m having my ups and downs with it.

As soon as it became obvious that I was going to need help with my depression, I grounded myself as PIC.

I did a little right hand seat flying, but I was always brutally honest with the person in the left hand seat. I didn’t do any takeoffs or landings with them either.

I flew with Bob, to keep my hand in, again in an email I was very upfront about what was happening with me. No solo flying but an hour with an instructor was just the thing!

Bob, bless him, took it all in his stride, completely unfazed as usual.  He also helped me out of a situation that was killing me inside.

My parents were due to visit (it had been nearly three years) and I desperately wanted to take them flying. I was so eager to show off my newly acquired piloting skills and it was devastating to think I wouldn’t be able to. I mentioned this in passing over a coffee with Bob.

“No problem, stick em in the back and I’ll fly with you” he said. And he did. With the added bonus that my parents got to meet the famous Bob himself.

But now I find myself in the situation where I’ve done the right thing by grounding myself through the rough times, but I’m feeling better. Much better. Even if it is “better but on medication”

I want to fly again, solo even. And I know to do that I need to involve Transport Canada.

The question was…….where do I even begin?

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Why I haven’t been posting much.

I don’t want this blog to die but I’m acutely aware that there hasn’t been much in the way of activity recently.

Two main reasons for this, both actually linked.

An inability to fly and an inability to write.

Before I explain, I need you to know that writing this post is difficult, mostly because I’m just not sure how to even start.

So let us start at the very beginning

My name is Localflighteast and I suffer from Clinical Depression.

I’m not alone out there, there are millions of us. Sit down on a bus or a train and the chances are that at least one of your fellow passengers will be in the same place as me.

And I’m one of the lucky ones, because when my depression became bad, I had support. Support from family, friends, coworkers, medical professionals and employers.

And now, months later I’m at a stage where I’m finally getting my head around my diagnosis and coming to terms with my treatment options. I’m also finally discovering the ability to write again.

I’m also in a good enough headspace that I can consider getting airborne again, having self grounded myself for nearly six months now.

I’m about to start the process of becoming certified medically fit to fly and thought I’d document the process because I know for certain I’m not the only one out there that is facing this, or will face it in the future.