Woman has not eaten a proper meal in seven years after mistaken diagnosis
An influencer who has been completely tube fed for years was mistakenly diagnosed with an eating disorder, when she instead had a rare bowel condition.
Trainee teacher Eloise Christine, 25, began vomiting after every meal aged 18, despite seemingly having no problems.
As her health deteriorated rapidly, local doctors thought Eloise had an eating disorder, but years later she was diagnosed with intestinal malrotation – a rare birth defect affecting around 0.2% of the population.
‘Everything I eat orally makes me sick,’ said Eloise, who is from Sittingbourne in Kent. ‘My intestines and stomach are twisted, so the food gets to a certain point and then can’t go any further so I am sick.
‘The summer can be extremely difficult with being hot and thirsty, as well as still feeling hungry.’
Eloise’s condition was first diagnosed at a specialist hospital in London after three years, with her local hospital lacking the facilities to handle the rare condition.
The trainee teacher added: ‘My diagnosis journey was very long and difficult. After lots of fighting from my mum, and after many admissions in my local hospital, they agreed to do further tests.
‘They eventually found out that I had Intestinal Malrotation at 19 years of age. I was then transferred to a London specialist hospital, St Marks, who have been amazing.’
What is intestinal malrotation?
Intestinal malrotation is an abnormality that usually happens during early pregnancy when a baby’s intestines do not form properly. Malrotation means the intestines are twisted, causing debilitating obstructions and blockages.
Waiting for a proper diagnosis, Eloise lost almost four stone, being put on feeding tubes and meal replacements.
‘I got my first feeding tube at 22 years old when I lost too much weight and was starving to death,’ she said.
Eloise, who describes herself as ‘very family orientated’, is now a healthy body weight and consumes 1,500 calories every day. She hopes to soon return to university to resume her studies.
Three operations to correct her bowel malrotation have failed, and Eloise now receives 100% of her nutrition and fluids through a tube.
‘Myself and my family always hope that one day someone will be able to fix my defect, and I will be able to eat and drink,’ she said.
Her last proper meal without side effects was at 18.
‘How I miss walking in a supermarket, and browsing through all the food I would like for dinner,’ she said, adding that pizza was her favourite meal.
‘It has taken years to not break down every time someone mentions food, but it still isn’t easy. I have to distract myself a lot.’
While recognising that it has saved her life, Eloise said the tube had knocked her confidence and self-esteem, putting her in a ‘really bad place’ at times.
‘Being unable to eat destroys a person mentally. It is something that you take for granted until it is gone,’ she said. ‘I often find myself in a bad mental state and giving in and eating, despite the symptoms after and being severely sick.
‘I am in a good place now, nutrition-wise, but chronic illness doesn’t go away just like that.’
But Eloise’s difficult journey inspired her to set up her HetFlix page, which aims to help people grappling with related problems.
‘To talk to others with similar problems makes dealing with it a lot easier, it is someone who you can relate to and know exactly what you are feeling,’ she said.
‘I want to use my platform to educate others, and give others hope for recovery.’
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