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"JOF" 2006 Obituary


JOFFE o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2006-11-21 published
SHAW, William Harold " Bill," B.Sc., P.Eng.
World War II Lieutenant, Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve
Passed away peacefully on Saturday, November 18, 2006 at Sunnybrook Health Science Centre, in his 84th year. Always remembered by his wife Elizabeth (Bette,) children Jocelyn (Steve GANTT,) John, Jennifer (Russell JOFFE,) grandchildren Eleanor GANTT, Benjamin and Claire JOFFE, sisters Phyllis MESCHINO (Paul) and Marion BOX (the late Keith,) and brother-in-law the late William Paul. Bill founded his company, William Shaw Ltd., and was a significant force in the forming of Pilot Place Society. Bill will be so deeply missed, as he was deeply loved, by his family, nieces, nephews, Friends and special caregivers. The family will receive Friends at the Humphrey Funeral Home - A.W. Miles Chapel, 1403 Bayview Avenue (south of Eglinton Avenue East), from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. Friday, November 24, 2006. Funeral service in the chapel on Saturday, November 25, 2006 at one o'clock followed by a reception in the Leaside Room. Interment Mount Pleasant Cemetery. If desired, donations may be made to the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario, Toronto Chapter, 130 Spadina Avenue, Suite #302, Toronto M5V 2L4.

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JOFFE o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2006-12-06 published
John EDMEADS, Physician (1936-2006)
Gifted healer and teacher who was considered the world's expert in headaches and migraines once described his own lingering agony as 'still flapping its bat-like wings behind my brow'
By Ron CSILLAG, Special to The Globe and Mail, Page S7
Toronto -- Women make up roughly 75 per cent of the three million migraine sufferers in Canada. So why is it that new drugs to help manage acute migraines can, for some women at certain times, make their headaches worse? Doctor John EDMEADS, Canada's migraine guru, had an unvarnished answer: "Most physicians are men."
Not all headaches are created equal, and as many as 40 per cent of menopausal women who take migraine medication may find their headache getting worse. There are ways around the problem, such as hormone replacements with lower doses of estrogen, but "it's amazing how many neurologists out there don't know that," Doctor EDMEADS once observed.
Find a doctor who has what you have, goes the old saw; the empathy will be automatic. A migraineur himself, Doctor EDMEADS knew what his patients were going through. Deploying his customary oratorical flourish, he once described his own lingering agony as "still flapping its bat-like wings behind my brow." A patient's first few weeks off pain pills were "seven purple shades of hell."
A gifted healer, a much loved and widely admired teacher, administrator, expert witness and all-around wit, Doctor EDMEADS was considered Canada's, if not the world's, pre-eminent medical specialist in headaches and migraines. Anyone needing a brain doctor on the day of his memorial service in Toronto was likely out of luck; they were all packed into a room honouring a man lauded as a physician's physician and neurologist's neurologist, yet without a whiff of pretence.
"Doctors got better at diagnosing migraines because of John," said Canadian neurologist David Dodick, who completed a fellowship in headache studies under Doctor EDMEADS a decade ago and now works at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. "Ask anyone who the most gifted speaker on the subject was, and they would all say 'Dr. EDMEADS.' I've never heard a negative word about him, ever, around the world."
A neurologist at Toronto's Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre for 39 years and professor at the University of Toronto's medical faculty, where he won two Silver Shovel teaching awards for best clinical lecturer, Doctor EDMEADS knew well that even the word migraine can weaken knees. It was largely on his watch that the skull-splitting condition was understood, and has been proven as a neurological disorder, not just something triggered by too much gin, chocolate or a whiney two-year-old.
Even with recent advances, an estimated one-third of sufferers do not seek treatment, and migraine continues to be misunderstood, undertreated, and underdiagnosed.
The Migraine Association of Canada has noted some painful numbers: In Canada, 3.2 million adults and 250,000 children suffer from migraines, and absenteeism and loss of productivity resulting from migraines cost the economy $20 every second, or about $600-million annually.
Last year's Canadian Migraine in Women Survey alarmingly suggested that 32 per cent of Canadian adult women suffer from debilitating migraines (the worldwide ratio is 18 per cent of women and 6 per cent of men, but the prevalence for women is thought to be vastly understated).
Dr. EDMEADS placed hope in a relatively new class of migraine medications called triptans, but "he was not the sort of guy who sat in a lab and looked at molecules," said Valerie South, a nurse and author of the 1996 book Migraine. "He was the king of bedside manner. He let his patients do the talking."
Among them was Catherine Cripps, who was referred to Doctor EDMEADS after two other doctors were stumped by her "indescribable" pains. "He nailed it right away," recalled Ms. Cripps, who was diagnosed as having 11 leaks in her spinal cord -- with no cure. Even so, "he counselled me in such a way as to give me strength and hope. I will always be grateful for that."
Painkillers had their place, but Doctor EDMEADS felt that some migraineurs may be better off taking no medication at all. He and other specialists recognized that up to 40 per cent of Canadian sufferers have medication-induced headaches from both prescribed and over-the-counter drugs.
"These patients feel they have to take something for pain all the time, but in this case, the medication may not be doing them any good," he told a 1995 news conference. In one study, six months after withdrawal, about 70 per cent of patients reported they were able to cope without painkillers. "They still have migraines, but they don't feel out of control."
So what did Doctor EDMEADS take for his own head pain? Would you believe Alka-Seltzer? "It's liquid and it goes right to the root of the trouble immediately," chuckled his sister, Marilyn HENRY. "He believed in it religiously."
Neither did he gloss over garden-variety tension headaches, which affect about one-third of adults. They may not enjoy the pride of place of migraines, "but they do represent a very significant problem for many people. The pain is less severe than that of migraine, and the picture of an attack less dramatic, but the long-term suffering of someone with truly intrusive tension-type headaches can often be equivalent to that due to the migraine."
Two brain-related events figured in Doctor EDMEADS's formative years: He stuttered as a child and adolescent. Speech therapy and lots of practice helped him overcome the condition -- in spades. He went on to win pretty much every teaching award in the field (yet felt compelled to complete a master's degree in education at the age of 60). And his father died of a brain tumour while Dr. EDMEADS was a 25-year-old resident. As a family member, he was not permitted to treat his father.
Neurology had been a fairly popular specialty at the time of his graduation from the University of Toronto's medical school in 1959 but headache wasn't. The story goes that one day 45 or so years ago, Doctor EDMEADS was meeting with his mentor, Doctor Henry BARNETT. A pharmaceutical salesman entered and asked Doctor BARNETT to conduct a study on a new migraine drug. "There's your expert," Dr. BARNETT quickly sidestepped, pointing to his young protégé.
Dr. EDMEADS "accepted the challenge and did the study and became an expert," said Don COWAN, a former physician-in-chief at Sunnybrook (a position held by Doctor EDMEADS from 1994 to 2001.)
In 1988, Doctor EDMEADS was part of a medical team that testified on behalf of Kenneth James PARKS, a 24-year-old who had stabbed his mother-in-law to death and pleaded not guilty by reason of somnambulism. The sleepwalking defence worked, and Mr. PARKS was acquitted.
Dr. EDMEADS also researched the history of migraines for the World Headache Alliance and found many historical figures who suffered from the disorder, perhaps even having been influenced by it. They included painter Vincent Van Gogh, writers Virginia Woolf and Lewis Carroll, Napoleon, Julius Caesar and Elvis Presley.
It was not for nothing that Doctor EDMEADS bore a striking resemblance to actor Alan Alda, down to the tall and lanky frame. Like Hawkeye Pierce, Doctor EDMEADS's wit was irreverent but never cutting. A sampling, courtesy of his friend of 40 years, psychiatrist Fred SHEFTEL:
Hospitalized with his cancer, Doctor EDMEADS asked Friends not to call his wife after 10 p.m. "She'll think it's the hospital telling her I'm dead"
A medical expert was "anyone who comes from more than 50 miles away with slides"
Most lectures "are characterized by the information on the slide going from the mouth of the lecturer to the ears of the listener without going through the minds of either"
The extent of injuries and disabilities arising from post-traumatic whiplash disorder "depends on the kind of car the driver sees in the rearview mirror -- Ford or Mercedes."
Did Doctor EDMEADS diagnose his own terminal condition? No one knows, but he did come to work one day and instructed his loyal assistant, Hazel JOFFE, to throw away the slew of awards, plaques and citations on his wall, calling them "pure vanity." She took them down, but moved them to a residents' room at Sunnybrook named for him.
Dr. EDMEADS was the first Canadian to serve as president of the American Headache Society, which awarded him one final, posthumous kudo: The 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award.
Dr. John Gordon EDMEADS was born in Toronto on April 15, 1936, and died there on November 16, 2006, of acute leukemia. He was He leaves his wife, Catherine BERGERON, a neuropathologist; a son, Christopher; brother Ralph and sister Marilyn HENRY.

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