An AN NHS worker has been unable to eat food for seven years due to a rare stomach ailment.
Lauren Blake relies on a feeding tube to sustain her life but remains desperate for life-changing surgery.
Lauren has stomach ache, a condition that left her stomach unable to digest food and drink and caused her to vomit “at least ten times a day.”
The 22-year-old NHS caller hasn’t been able to eat a proper meal since she was 15, when her hellish condition began.
She speaks: “Stomach disease took away the social aspect of my life.
“It’s been almost seven years since I’ve been able to keep a meal. It’s been tough.
“Whatever I eat will remain in my stomach, but not absorbed, and the food can stay in my stomach for more than twelve hours.
“I get sick at least ten times a day. On the worst days, I can’t even make my saliva. It’s constant, like having a stomach bug but all the time.
“My food tubes go straight into my small intestine because my stomach can’t absorb anything and it needs to go through my stomach.
“It affects everything. I lost some jobs because of this.”
Lauren, who lives with her parents in Southampton, underwent dozens of tests to find out what was wrong with her when she first fell ill at the age of 15.
She said: “I was sick for about three months before I went to the hospital. I wasn’t holding anything down, I was using a feeding tube.
“I was in the hospital for four months and we went through every possible trial. It was a bit of a shock but it was great to be diagnosed.”
According to the NHS, stomach upset is thought to be the result of a problem with the nerves and muscles that control how the stomach empty.
It’s not always clear what causes gastroparesis, with some triggers including poorly controlled diabetes, complications from surgery or medications.
Lauren’s doctors believe her stomach upset is the result of another condition known as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS).
EDS is a group of 13 genetic conditions that collectively cause symptoms such as increased mobility, stretchy skin, and fragility.
Depending on the type of EDS, it can cause unstable or weak joints and problems with digestion, bladder, and internal organs.
Lauren says she suffers about “80 dislocations a day”.
On top of that: “I’m on various medications, I’m still dependent on the food pipe, and I’m still in a lot of pain and illness.”
Hope in surgery
Gastroparesis has no cure and instead, patients are asked to try and manage their diet, such as by living on soft and liquid foods, before trying other options. such as feeding tubes or surgery.
After years of taking multiple medications, Lauren is now determined to raise the money needed to fund her pacemaker surgery.
Called gastric stimulation, it is not routinely funded by most NHS agencies.
It involves implanting a battery-operated device under the skin of the stomach that sends electrical impulses to stimulate the stomach’s muscles to function properly.
Lauren, who is aiming to raise £18,000 for the scheme, said: “It’s basically the same as a pacemaker.
“It was placed in my stomach and made the muscles contract so my stomach could absorb the food. It will give me a chance to really eat normally.
“Recently I went to see a specialist in Leeds to find out more and I am eligible for the surgery, but the huge amount of money it costs means I have plenty of money left to do. .
“I’ve started my fundraiser, I’ve climbed Snowden’s Peak last year, I’ve done the fastest zip in the world, we’re hosting another hike and a bingo night.
“But I often have to use a wheelchair because of my other condition [EDS] and how tired I felt from not being able to eat anything. “
Lauren said the pacemaker would “give me back to life”.
“I’m always worried about where the nearest bathroom is or if I’m at work and my colleagues are having lunch and questioning why I haven’t eaten,” she said.
“Raising £18,000 would change my life. It would give my life back and change everything for me.”
To donate to Lauren’s ongoing fundraiser, visit her GoFundMe or search “Lauren’s Pacemaker Fundraiser” on Facebook to stay up to date with her fundraising efforts.
https://www.the-sun.com/health/4433333/woman-hasnt-eaten-seven-years-rare-stomach-condition/ I haven’t been able to eat food for SEVEN years with a rare stomach problem