Woman survives on biscuits after being struck down with rare illness

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Talia Sinnott survives on up to ten digestive biscuits and plain crackers a day because a rare stomach condition means it is the only food she can keep down. The 25-year-old has gastroparesis, a chronic illness which means her stomach struggles to process food.

Ms Sinnott said she used to be a “big foodie” but has relied on a feeding tube for the last six months to get most of her nutrients. 

She said: “Even though I am tube-fed, I never feel full. Your brain doesn’t get that signal that you’re full and I crave food all the time.”

McVitie’s digestives and Ritz crackers are the only foods she can stomach, but even then sometimes her body revolts. 

She said: “It’s very hit-and-miss, some days the biscuits sit okay and sometimes they don’t. I can’t eat a lot in one go and I have to pick at them throughout the day.”

Ms Sinnott  was diagnosed with the rare condition four years ago. At one point the illness was so bad she was sick up to 30 times a day. Her weight plummeted by three stone until she weighed just five stone.

The trainee clinical psychologist from Wolverhampton is now trying to raise £80,000 to have a gastric pacemaker fitted which will help her stomach accept other foods.

She said her diet is always a “guessing game” with no safe foods she can rely on. 

She said: “One day I can be absolutely fine with eating a certain kind of food and then three days later I can’t tolerate it.

“I went through a stage of being able to stomach mashed potato because it’s soft but now I can’t. It’s really difficult because it’s not like an intolerance where you can avoid a certain type of food – it’s very random.”

Ms Sinnott first experienced symptoms in 2018 when she started “feeling full” and food felt like it was “sitting on” her chest.

Her symptoms flared up intermittently but became more aggressive and persistent over the years. She coped with the problem by eating smaller meals and taking medication prescribed by her GP – but it only worked for a short time.

On News Year’s Day, 2022, she contracted a virus that attacked her digestive system. After multiple tests she was eventually diagnosed with gastroparesis.

She is now desperate to have a gastric pacemaker fitted which will send impulses to her stomach muscles to allow it to digest food.

She added: “So little is known and understood about my chronic illness which is why it is often misdiagnosed, and people are left without a diagnosis for years and people are told it’s an eating disorder.

“I was very fortunate to get a quick diagnosis. Although my symptoms have been there since 2018, it is only this year that they have really been bad.

“So far, we have spent around £40,000 on tube insertions and appointments and I need another £40,000 for the gastric pacemaker to be fitted – therefore the fundraiser total is £80,000.

“At the moment the main priority is to increase my weight, so I’m fit and healthy for surgery.”

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Ms Sinnott hopes to have her pacemaker fitted in the next year.

She added: “I get tired very easily and with the nausea, I am always thinking about where the closest toilet is.

“My life has been put on pause and it’s been very difficult. Before this happened, I had only been sick once in my life, so it’s almost like I’m making up for lost time.

“It’s horrible, it never gets easier but just becomes part of your day which is sad to say.

“With Christmas coming up, it’s sad. But, at the end of the day it’s one day, and hopefully next year I can enjoy Christmas food.

“I can’t wait to get back to my studies and eat and drink whatever I like. I can’t wait to not wake up and feel awful and be in pain.”

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