Monday, February 16, 2009

Choking Irony

I had a chance to meet up with some relatives this past weekend. My cousin's wife is a physical therapist and she told me an interesting story about a young patient who suffered from bulimia and anorexia.

The young woman, being quite active, was on a full sports scholarship to a major state university. It was probably the disease which enabled her to obtain this, because of her intense activity level. She was on her third running workout of the day when she collapsed in the showers. Nineteen years old.

Enemas, purging, and hyperactivity has caused her electrolytes to become unbalanced; her potassium level had dropped so low that it caused cardiac arrhythmias. That in turn caused the blood flow to her brain to drop and she fell unconscious due to lack of oxygen in the brain.

She survived but her level of functioning has dropped precipitously. She has no ability to form short-term memories so she can no longer go to university. She has difficulty walking and controlling fine motor movements. And oddly enough, she suffers from acoria: she is constantly hungry because she has lost the ability to feel satiated after eating. Not that she would even remember having eaten in the first place...

That makes her easy to motivate, said my cousin's spouse, because they can get her to work hard in therapy by offering her food rewards.

1 comment:

Ruth said...

Glad to hear she's in therapy. My daughter is a recovered anorexic. A similar thing happened on her eating habits. It was many years before she got into eating, and hasn't stopped since.