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