Monday, August 24, 2015

Body Image Crisis

We live in a world where media sends a blast of mixed signals. Ads consume the radio waves about weight loss techniques for the ever expanding obesity epidemic, and popular daytime television shows such as Dr. Oz emphasize different techniques to "blast fat" and "shred the pounds". Sure, with 60% of Canadian's being overweight or obese some of these ads can be certainly helpful, but what about that small population of individuals where it could be life threatening?

Fact of the day: Did you know that there are more people who are obese in the world than there are people who are starving, even though over 50% of the worlds population still lives in poverty?

As a budding nurse, I agree that some of the weight loss ads are vital to people's health. Childhood obesity increases an individuals risk of developing lifelong conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma and sleep disorders. Majority of these complications can be prevented with proper education, but my question is how do we specifically target this population?

Remember when I referred to that "small" population where these dieting ads and hype around weight loss can actually be detrimental? Do you know what population I'm referring to? I once belonged to this population.... it's individuals dealing with eating disorders.

Did you know, that girls as young as EIGHT years old think about dieting or actually diet?!?! And that 90% of girls are unhappy with the way their bodies look? According to a study done in 2002 in Canada, 28% of girls in grade 9 and 29% of girls in grade 10 have already engaged in weight loss behaviours such as dieting, restricting, excessive exercising, use of laxatives, vomiting and smoking to control their appetite. WHAT KIND OF MESSAGE ARE WE SENDING TO OUR CHILDREN? Children who engage in weight loss regimens are 18 times more likely to develop an eating disorder than their "healthy" or over-weight counterparts in a six month time span...

Just like obesity, eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia have serious and life threatening complications. Some of these complications include fertility problems, electrolyte and hormonal imbalances, bone density loss, anemia and internal bleeding. Lucky for me, I never suffered from any of these complications when I had my 3 year stint with anorexia, but I did suffer from more of the psychosocial complications (depression, anxiety, social withdrawal).

So where am I going with all of this? I'm not even sure. I think what I'm trying to get at is we, as society, have a dilemma. With such a large population suffering from being overweight and/or obese, it's extremely necessary to take action and combat this entirely preventable epidemic. With simple education at an early age, the percentage of children who are obese could dramatically decline. However, teenagers (especially girls) are extremely impressionable by social media, and it is estimated that 27% of teenage girls feel pressured to diet or have a "perfect" body from what they seen online or on TV. Advertising images have also recently been accused of giving both men and women unrealistic ideas of what their bodies should look like. So what do we do? Do we continue to advertise, promote and educate on weight loss regimens and techniques to reach the larger part of society? But if we continue to do that, how do we protect the vulnerability of not only those suffering from eating disorders, but our younger population who are more suggestible and more prone to trying dieting techniques? Whose needs come first, and how do we even begin to make that decision?

Thanks for reading everyone, Courtney's Column is now over 7,000 views!

- Court


Monday, August 3, 2015


Now this blog has primarily focused on Neurofibromatosis Type 1, and there has been a post earlier on about NF-2, so now lets focus on another condition that belongs to the NF family... Schwannomatosis! Schwannomatosis is a rare form of NF, and it has a prevalence rate of approximately 1 in 40, 000 people (just for comparison NF-1 is 1 in 3,000). In this condition, a special kind of cells called Schwann cells overgrow and develop tumors. Schwann cells speed up the rate at which messages are sent in the brain, and are found throughout the peripheral nervous system.

Signs and Symptoms 

  • Chronic pain, which can occur in any part of the body 
  • Ultimately signs and symptoms depend on where in the nervous system tumors decide to grow. For example. schwannomas in the arms and legs typically cause an "electric shock" like pain, while tumors in the spine and on spinal nerve roots can cause symptoms like weakness or loss of sensation in the extremities 


Genetic testing is completed to look for mutations in the INI 1 gene, which play a role in tumor growth supression.

Diagnostic Criteria 

  • Individual is OVER the age of 30
  • AND has two or more non-intradermal schwannomas (not in the skin)
  • AND has no evidence of tumors on the auditory nerve
  • AND has no known history of NF-2 
  • Patient has at least one schwannoma and has a first degree relative with Schwannomatosis

Ideally, the best treatment for Schwannomatosis is pain management. These patients are typically referred to pain specialists in large medical centers, where they can put together comprehensive care plans to help patients deal with their pain. If pain management is unsuccessful, then surgery can be done to remove tumors. Sometimes removal of these tumors can lessen the patients pain, but just like with NF these tumors will often grow back, so surgery can sometimes only be a temporary fix.

I hope you all learned lots learning about this "sister" condition to Neurofibromatosis. If you would like to learn more check out some of the links below!