Recovery Messages & News

My Time at HUM

By Rannie Tao, UBC Family Medicine Resident

My path crossed with Dr. Hajela’s back in November 2013 at a medical conference in Vancouver. A stimulating conversation on addiction and chronic pain with Dr. Hajela brought me to this elective with him at HUM. The past two weeks has been a transforming experience for me both professionally and personally.

Before this point I did not have an integrated approach to addiction, a topic that is often skimmed over in medical training, despite exposure to it in my current workplace of inner city Vancouver. HUM’s first lesson for me was to take out the “s” in Addiction. Addiction, rooting itself in addictive thinking, by no fault of our being, brings about the dysfunctional ‘self’, and the sickness of much of this world. I quickly discovered how automatic the addict’s mind can be, and how rapidly the disconnection with emotional pain can occur. Fear, shame, anger, associated with anxiety, depression, and resentment, often treated as medical ailments pharmacologically, yet much of the time such medical fallacies become another route for escape for the addict mind.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” The serenity prayer came into my life when I was 13 years of age immigrating to Canada with my parents. Throughout the process of surrendering, seeing the opportunities in my own vulnerabilities, and discovering my true self, I grew closer to this prayer. My being, no longer defined by the temporary confines of this society, but rather by a deeper truth that is beyond yet within me, a collective consciousness, an oneness, that truth for me was God. I was reminded of this once again during this elective, through witnessing the unpredictability of life itself amongst the higher power in the lives of all.

Thank you, to the HUM team, for allowing me into the space of learning, showing me an integrated approach to care for patients with addiction. Thank you, to all the patients who allowed me glimpses of their journeys of addiction. Thank you for your vulnerabilities, courage, and authenticity. I am humbled with a greater understanding in addictive thinking that will benefit many patients in my future practice. In this moment I am thankful.