Chief Theresa Spence – Impact of a hunger strike on the human body

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Across the Ottawa River in Ottawa, the Tee Pee where Attawapiskat Chief Spence is holding fast on a hunger strike
Across the Ottawa River in Ottawa, the Tee Pee where Attawapiskat Chief Spence is holding fast on a hunger strike

NNL Healthbeat SplashTHUNDER BAY – Updated – Chief Theresa Spence is heading into Day 12 of her hunger strike. The political protest is now entering a stage where the impact on the Chief is hitting a critical stage in terms of her health and well-being.

Apischi Kihiwikwan Iskwew who is serving as Official Organizer/Supporter/Helper/#1Fan for Chief Spence reports, “There seems to be a misunderstanding over FB and Twitter that Chief has fallen ill. These are rumors! She is FINE – she’s healthy and strong. She called for Traditional women to come celebrate Christmas, not because she is feeling ill. Please do not circulate these rumors. We will keep you updated on her health”.

What are the impact on the health of a person not eating?

According to Swiss Medical Weekly, “Prolonged starvation can result in serious harm to a person’s body and mind. When there is a deficit in energy intake, the body consumes its own stocks to maintain blood glucose, its main fuel. The body will first use fat stocks. Then, the body will begin to use muscle and organ tissue to produce energy. Salt and vitamin deficiencies are also harmful for the body”.

During a hunger strike, in addition to weight loss, many other symptoms are common:

  • Sensation of hunger at the beginning then loss of appetite;
  • Apathy and irritability;
  • Headache, dizziness, difficulty getting up and moving, stroke;
  • Anxiety, sadness, insomnia, impaired concentration;
  • Abdominal pain, peptic ulcers, nausea, constipation (sometimes diarrhoea);
  • Very painful nephrolithiasis, renal failure;
  • Reduction of blood pressure and respiratory rates.

The longer the fasting lasts, the greater the risk of serious complications increases. They are sometimes irreversible:

  • Neurological disorders: limb paralysis, blindness, coma;
  • Death on neurological, cardiac, pulmonary or renal problems, etc.

Chief Theresa Spence has requested that all First Nation Traditional Women Healers come to attend her now (As of December 23rd 2013).

The Chief has also asked that the wife of Prime Minister Harper come to see her as well. Reports from the encampment where the Chief is continuing her hunger strike are reporting that she is weak, but still determined to carry on with her struggle.

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©rian Impact of a hunger strike on the human body.