Yay! It's October!

October is one of my favorite months (if not my #1 favorite month). It has so many awesome things going on! I LOVE fall, even though I live in Florida, which doesn't exactly get the best "fall" experience. That's actually the one thing I miss from living up north (and by "up north" I mean North Carolina). I miss the crisp air, beautiful foliage, and real pumpkin patches. But Florida has way more going for it, so it wins. 

Aside from October being the beginning of my favorite season, it's also the month of my wedding anniversary, and (duh) Halloween -which totally ranks right up (if not over) Christmas! 

It is also Dysautonomia Awareness Month. I know, it's awareness month to other things, too... But this is something with awareness so obscure that most medical professionals have NO idea what the heck it is let alone how to treat it. I was diagnosed with dysautonomia pretty recently (May, 2013), but I have actually been battling it for the past 10 years. There are so many aspecks of my life that it affects and I am finding myself advocating more and more out of necessity. I have to try and explain what they heck it is to people and justify why I have all the issues I do. That, by itself, is exhausting. Lucky for me, I have a wonderfully supportive family and have found others with dysautonomia through support groups. Those support groups have proved to be paramount to my quality of life. I never really thought much about support groups before, but I must say, with out them I'd feel very alone in my illness. They have become true friends of mine, even though I have never met most of them on person. Ok, all rambling aside, since it is Dysautonomia Awareness Month I'm at least going to give you my favorite links and resources. 

Dysautonomia (or autonomic dysfunction) is any disease or malfunction of theautonomic nervous system (ANS). The autonomic nervous system controls a number of functions in the body, such as heart rate,blood pressuredigestive tract peristalsis, and sweating, amongst others. Dysfunction of the ANS can involve any of these functions.

A fantastic place to start is Dysautonomia SOS They have an enormous amount if information and can help connect you with regional support and doctors. 

Dinet is another great resource! What is it? From their website: 
Our Mission: To raise awareness of autonomic nervous system dysfunction and to promote dysautonomia education, support and networking.

The Dysautonomia Information Network (DINET) is a volunteer run 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. http://www.dinet.org

For children/adolescents with dysautonomia check out Dysautonomia Youth Network of America http://www.dynainc.org

A couple of my absolute favorite blogs are run by amazing women with dysautomonia. Definitely check them out! 

Living with Bob(dysautonomia) http://bobisdysautonomia.blogspot.com/?m=1

Just Mildly Medicated http://justmildlymedicated.com 

Healing Hopefully http://medicalmusingsbymeg.blogspot.com/?m=1



The anti-obesity campaign really irks me. If it was a healthy living campaign, focusing on healthy habits vs the numbers on a scale, then I'd be much more enthusiastic about it. Unfortunately, that is not what is happening. More and more the path is weight shaming and stigmatizing in the vein attempt to regulate our country's weight issues. The topic of weight stigma is far to vast for me to sum up in one post - especially since I'm exhausted and should really be asleep right now. Seriously, writing sentences that are comprehensible is really interesting with brain fog and neurological pain. So for right now I will focus on one area of this topic that is very important. Our youth.

Dina Zeckhausen is a psychologist and founder of the Eating Disorder Information Network. In an interview with CNN in 2013, Dina reported seeing kids in third and fourth grade who are already worried about being fat.

"There is so much emphasis on obesity," Zeckhausen said, "that there's a danger that we are going to produce a lot of anxieties in kids around weight."
See full article here

It seems like every other week (if not day) I'm hearing about some new way our communities are "fighting obesity" and each time it seems to be more infuriating than the last. Everyone has already heard about the "fat letters" sent out by some schools. Some say they're dangerous while others say that parents are being over sensitive. Honestly, if the schools were really trying to educate and advise families about health they would focus on teaching and focusing in healthy habits, not a number. Numbers do not indicate health.

There are many, many larger sized individuals who eat healthy, are very active, and have no health issues - except for what the scale says. Let me be clear, if someone (of any size) has a health issue, then treat that health issue. But that’s different than treating their weight as the issue. 

Carmen Cool, MA, LPC said it beautifully: “With all due respect, I need to disagree with you that we need this war on obesity. What we need, is to work together to end it. Not by making fat people thinner, but by recognizing and celebrating the truth of body diversity.  Weight is not the problem. The way we make assumptions about it is the problem. I want to live in a peaceful world. And a peaceful world starts with a peaceful self. Rather than fighting fatness, why don’t we help people of all sizes feel peaceful in the bodies they have.” 

see full article here: http://bedaonline.com/wsaw2013/weight-stigma-viewed-eating-disorders-lens-carmen-cool/#.UkJy_429LCT

I brought this up with my mom today and she immediately jumped in agreeing that it is ridiculous and dangerous. Aside from the obvious (obvious to my mom and I) health risks it poses, there is another very valid point she made regarding schools sending out "fat letters" that I had previously over looked - When there are students failing and struggling in reading and math, why would they focus on what the student looks like? Isn't that a bit of course? When there art, music, and science opportunities shut down by lack of funds why would the schools set their sites on the appearance of health (note the word appearance) with little to no regard for the individual student and their real health. Better yet, how is it even the school's place to decide who is healthy vs unhealthy based on a number? Oh, that's right, it's not.

If I am ever at a school (as a parent or otherwise) and I find out that the school has been sending anyone weight stigmatizing letters or promoting weight stigma in any way, I will be very upset. I will be beyond upset. I will be their worst nightmare.


DSM-5 Finally Fixes Anorexia Criteria!

This is long over due! The criteria for diagnosing anorexia has finally been broadened to include any weight - instead of the precious under weight "symptom". This help clear up the misconception that anorexia is a weight disease instead of purely a psychological one. With Weight Stigma Awareness Week in full swing I'd say this is a great time for the news! 

More than 55% of teen girls and more than 30% of teen boys report some kind of “disordered eating”. This means they exhibit symptoms like purging by way of self-induced vomiting, laxative and/or diuretic abuse, excessive exercising, restricting food consumption, binging, using diet pills, and even diabetics using insulin to regulate and manipulate their weight. 

“Before, patients were very sick before meeting criteria, and the evidence is pretty clear that if you interfere in anorexia before there’s been significant weight loss, the outcomes are much better and the illness is easier to treat in an outpatient setting,” says Kimberli McCallum, founder and medical director of eating disorder clinic McCallum Place in Saint Louis, in an article by Tara Haelle with Scientific America[1]. 

Before, many people fell into the EDNOS category[2]. EDNOS is the diagnosis given to any person exhibiting disordered eating but didn't fit exclusively into either the anorexia or bulimia category. 

So what was the problem with EDNOS? Usually the EDNOS diagnosis was not taken seriously by insurers, family members, or even physicians. This tremendously complicates treatment for an extremely deadly disorder. In fact, it's the most deadly eating disorder. 

Aside from the change to the DSM-5 criteria regarding a weight requirement are other changes. Instead of the previous psychological markers of “intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat,” it now reads “or persistent behavior that interferes with weight gain, even though at a significantly low weight.” And the criterion "at least three missed periods" has been completely removed. It has also added that while using BMI to help establish severity, “the level of severity may be increased to reflect clinical symptoms, the degree of functional disability and the need for supervision.” Additions of “partial remission” or “full remission” have also been added to prevent recovering anorexics from being rebranded with EDNOS. I know that, for myself, there have been several partial remissions. These remissions I experienced always had some other element that wasn't there the first time around. I suspect it's the same for many others. 

The real challenge is going to be physicians and families seeing an over weight child/adolescence lose weight and actually investigating the weight loss methods instead of just congratulating them. Being complimented and praised is so addictive, not only to children and adolescents, but to anybody. The truth is that there can be serious health complications going on such as dehydration, digestive issues, cardiac issues, kidney and liver issues, and difficulty concentrating.  

These changes will hopefully help health insurance claims as well. Many insurance companies automatically refused any patients for overnight treatment if they were more than 85% of their ideal weight. 
This should also help obtaining more reliable research statistics as well. Yay!
This is a win, guys!!!  

[1] http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=expanded-clinical-definition-of-anorexia-may-help-more-teens&WT.mc_id=SA_sharetool_Twitter
[2] http://www.something-fishy.org/whatarethey/ednos.php