Margaret Butler was enjoying a backyard barbecue last summer, barely aware the heat of the day had risen to sweltering temperatures. Thankfully her husband did know what was happening: Butler was exhibiting the classic signs of heat exhaustion. Butler recovered because she had a moderate encounter with one of the three stages of what health professionals call “heat injury.” If her symptoms had gone untreated, that happy backyard barbecue could have turned tragic.
Dr. Robert Robson, emergency physician, healthcare mediator, assistant professor at the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Medicine, and principal at the Healthcare System Safety and Accountability Advisors (HSSA), loves to tell that story during his mediation sessions. Robson refers to the 2004 Baker-Norton study that revealed approximately 185,000 Canadians a year suffer serious injury under hospital care, and between 9,000 and 23,000 die. In the ensuing 12 years since that study, Robson suspects those numbers have only increased.
One told her she was depressed, another that she had chronic fatigue syndrome. Frustrated, she did her own research, and began to suspect she had Lyme disease, caused by a bite from a blacklegged tick carrying the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. In 1999, author Amy Tan chronicled her years-long battle with bizarre symptoms that, after a battery of tests, one session with a shrink and consultations with 10 specialists, ultimately revealed Lyme disease.
In April, it killed stage and screen star Patty Duke. This indiscriminate assassin is sepsis, and most people have little understanding of what it is and how easily it could affect them. It sounds harmless enough, but it can be deadly if it progresses to septic shock, defined by a dangerous drop in blood pressure. In 2009, Brazilian model Mariana Bridi da Costa developed sepsis that stemmed from an untreated urinary tract infection.
When Ta’lana Watt Madu runs an errand, she plans her route carefully. Not based on traffic or short cuts, but on access to bathrooms. Like 250,000 other Canadians — among the highest rate in the world — Madu has inflammatory bowel disease, specifically Crohn’s disease, which interferes with her body’s ability to properly digest the food coming in and the resulting waste going out. The need to go can come on suddenly, urgently and frequently, hence her finely tuned radar for the closest bathroom.
Your stomach is an amazing organ. It takes just about anything you throw at it, breaks it down and reroutes it through the proper channels for digestion, nutrient absorption, and toxin extraction. Once it’s squeezed out all it can from that sandwich you had for lunch, it kicks the leftover detritus out the back door. We rely on this remarkably efficient machine every time we stuff something in our mouths, and we rarely think about it — until the machine sputters and it turns on us by stabbing, churning or burning.
Now it’s claimed stage and screen star Patty Duke. This indiscriminate assassin is sepsis, and most people have little understanding of what it is and how easily it could affect them. What is sepsis? Sepsis, sometimes called blood poisoning, is essentially a complication of infection. In 2009, Brazilian model Mariana Bridi da Costa developed sepsis that stemmed from an untreated urinary tract infection. Desperate to save her life, doctors first amputated both her hands, then both her feet, then they removed both kidneys, and finally part of her stomach, all in vain. In 2011, fellow Brazilian, soccer star Sócrates, was rushed to the hospital three times in four months for an intestinal infection, which ultimately led to sepsis and his death.
(Photo by George Frey/Getty Images) What do Donald Trump, Kim Kardashian, Charlie Sheen, Kim Jong-un and the blowhard in the next cubicle have in common? They’re all narcissists, to varying degrees (and there are many degrees). They’re drunk on an over-inflated sense of self, have an insatiable need for adoration and validation, and have little patience or empathy for others. Narcissistic celebrities and co-workers can be annoying; those in positions of power can be dangerous.
Almost immediately after eating eggs, Dan Baillor scrambles to the bathroom. “I don’t know what it is,” says the Surrey, B.C., dad. “I have a pretty solid stomach; I can eat just about anything and not be bothered. But there’s something in eggs that doesn’t agree with me. I love them, but I can’t eat them very often. And when I do, I have to be near a bathroom for the next few hours.”
Imagine becoming addicted to the treatment that’s designed to break your addiction. “Our studies show that less than 3 percent of nicotine gum users are truly addicted to the gum, in the sense of not being able to stop. As for rumoured mouth lesions or oral cancers, those are caused not by the nicotine, but by the carcinogens in cigarettes.
“Prominent upper extremity veins are, for the most part, simply representative of relatively low body fat,” says Dr. David Szalay, head of vascular surgery at Hamilton General Hospital. This is in contrast to lower extremity varicose veins, which are very common and are indicative of incompetent, or leaky, valves. Roxanne Hallgren, RN, BScN, who treats vein abnormalities at her Vancouver clinic, Arbutus Laser Centre, says there are a variety of causes, the most common being genetics.
On January 1, Oregon became the first state to offer contraceptive patches and pills without a doctor’s prescription. Phil Emberley, Director of Pharmacy Innovation at the Canadian Pharmacists Association, says while the option has been discussed off and on over the years, he knows of no plans to go forward. Health Canada tells Yahoo! that it has yet to receive any signals either.
Dr. Jason Rivers, board certified dermatologist and clinical professor of dermatology at The University of British Columbia, has never seen such a condition in his Vancouver practice, Pacific Dermaesthetics. According to Canada’s Food and Drugs Act, it’s illegal to sell cosmetics, including black henna, containing PPD.
In the 2014 movie “Still Alice,” Julianne Moore plays a prominent linguistics professor diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. After leaving her position at Columbia University and struggling with how to live with the disease, she gives a moving speech at a conference in which she explains what it’s like by saying, in part, “Our strange behaviour, our fumbled sentences changes others’ perceptions of who we are and our perception of ourselves. “What people told us is that, as difficult as a diagnosis of dementia is, what can be even harder are the attitudes and the stigma that they bump up against when they tell people,” says the Society’s Education Director, Mary Schulz.
Are you finding more hair in the drain than on your head? Are your lovely locks suddenly brittle and breaking, limp and lifeless? Why are you plucking more greys than the week before? Your hairdresser knows for sure, as does your dermatologist.
Dr. Jurgen Rehm, PhD, Director of the Social and Epidemiological Research Department at Toronto’s Centre For Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), says there are a number of psychological signs of “alcohol dependence,” a term he prefers over “alcoholic.” These include preoccupation with the thought of drinking, drinking alone or in secret, drinking despite knowing the risks and harm. “The majority of people who are alcohol dependent in our society are what you would call functional alcoholics,” Rehm explains. According to Health Canada, 4 to 5 million of us engage in high-risk drinking.