A WOMAN left wasting away with crippling stomach pain was finally diagnosed by a stranger after doctors failed her for months.
Annie Marshall, 20, dropped two and a half stone after being unable to eat for nine months, leaving her desperate for answers.
The finance broker, from Epping, Essex, first went to her GP in March 2020, where she was told she had a tummy bug.
However, she soon began experiencing pain every time she ate – and it wasn't long until two mouthfuls of food would leave her bed-ridden.
Returning to doctors for help, Annie was given a number of diagnoses, including IBS, anorexia and even gastroparesis – stomach paralysis – in March last year.
But the treatment she was given – including Botox and keyhole surgery in Texas – failed to help.
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Annie said: "In March 2021 (the doctor) told me he thought it was gastroparesis – by this time I was on a liquid diet as it was too much to eat and I had a job so I couldn't be ill all the time.
"It's like your stomach is paralysed, the doctor said it was the worst he'd ever seen it and couldn't believe no one had tested me sooner.
"It was nice to have a diagnosis and know I wasn't crazy. I went on all the meds for gastroparesis and even had Botox injected into my stomach but nothing helped."
In her desperation, Annie got in touch with a doctor in Texas who had pioneered bariatric and gastric sleeve surgery.
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She flew over for keyhole surgery and was told she should soon be able to stomach solid foods.
But medics were baffled when the surgery failed to help – and Annie still had all her symptoms.
She said: “I didn’t know what to do and was feeling really low in myself – I had pretty much given up and vented to a gastroparesis Facebook group about everything that had happened.
"I had a message from a woman in America who said I should look into MALS – Median Arcuate Ligament Syndrome.
"I did an ultrasound with a doctor in London which came back positive for MALS and then had another diagnostic test done where they inject a steroid into a bundle of nerves after quite a few scans.
"They have to be quite thorough and have to exclude everything else as it is so rare.
"For eight hours after the steroid injection I ate perfectly normally and no symptoms – in my head I couldn’t understand how I could suddenly eat but it was quite a good indication that this could be resolved with surgery."
Annie is now waiting to be seen by a world-leading MALS specialist in Connecticut.
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She has been put on a waiting list and hopes to finally undergo life-changing surgery this year.
Annie said: “I got in touch with the best MALS surgeon in the world who is based in Connecticut and had to send over all my scans – I was put on the waiting list for surgery which will hopefully happen in July.”
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