A woman who caught a stomach bug on a girl’s holiday to Turkey is still unable to eat and is being fed by a tube – TEN YEARS later.
Ann-Marie Williams, 39, said her life changed dramatically when she got ill from what she believes was a dodgy hotel buffet.
She has never fully recovered and a decade later has to spend 15 hours-a-day attached to a drip that uses her heart to pump nutrients around her body.
Ann-Marie’s weight has plummeted as low as six-and-a-half stone and she says she is not recognisable from the sociable and active person she was before.
And she now wants to raise awareness of her chronic condition in the hope a breakthrough can be made.
She said: “It all started when I went on holiday ten years ago with one of my friends. It was a girl’s week away to Turkey.
“I was fine during the week, but when I came back I had what I thought was just a holiday bug and was really ill for a few days.
“It did not feel right. I was then okay for a few weeks before I started getting really ill. The doctors could not figure out what was wrong and I dropped nearly two stone in weight.
“Then things started getting really bad to the point I could not eat and was in a lot of pain. No-one could figure out what the problem was. They tried me on all sorts of medications to help the pain.
“Over the years it slowly got worse and worse. I got really sick and kept losing more weight. I have had so many tests done but no-one has been able to fix it.”
Ann-Marie, who is now back living with her parents in St Just, Cornwall, said she had her gallbladder taken out about four years ago and things spiralled further downhill.
She added: “After this things went really wrong and I lost more weight and could not eat as I was in so much pain.
“I was using a feeding tube and my weight got so low. I tried that for about a year but could not handle it as it made me so sick.
“I got down to six and a half stone and went on total parental nutrition. This is an intravenous line that sits just outside my heart. The heart then acts like a pump to pump nutrition round my body.
“I am now on this 15 hours-a-day. This year I have also had sepsis twice as the intravenous line puts me at high risk of infection.”
Ann-Marie has now set up a GoFundMe page, but also wants to raise awareness of her symptoms and chronic illness to reach out to others in a similar situation.
And she said she was barely recognisable from the person she was before the ill-fated holiday.
She added: “A doctor I am speaking to has told me she is pretty sure this all initially started with this bug on holiday and somehow it has changed my gut and caused a bacterial overgrowth.
“This was compounded by having my gallbladder removed. I am now at a point where I can not even swallow medication and am really sick and pass out in a coma-type sleep.
“All I can manage is a few mouthfuls of soup occasionally and after that my vision goes dark and I just fall back asleep.
“After they took out my gallbladder I deteriorated badly and haven’t been able to eat properly for the last four years. I can not remember the last proper plate of food I ate.”
Ann-Marie said she had a suspicion of how she initially got ill.
She added: “We had spent the whole week in the same hotel but the last night the holiday company offered a day trip to the mud baths with a promise of a stay in a five-star hotel.
“It was barely a two-star hotel. There was a buffet laid out but no-one was eating there. I was always really careful and it did not look great, but we were so hungry we ate the food.
“Two days after we got home I started having problems. Before the holiday I was absolutely healthy and had no issues at all.
“I am pretty sure that was the trigger and now I am stuck in a situation where I am on this machine all the time. I am trying to seek help and find a way to manage better. But I am stuck in bed most of the time and am so exhausted.
“There are other people out there who are in a similar situation with chronic illnesses and don’t know whey they have issues. I want to connect with them.
“The only diagnosis I have is for gastroparesis, which is where you eat the food or drink and it doesn’t go through your system fast enough, so it just basically sits in your gut and is a motility condition.
“They don’t know why it happened but the bug I caught changed my gut somehow. The difference in me now is massive. Before I got ill I was working.
“I had a routine and was a really sociable person. I was learning Spanish and I would be the person that always had house parties and cooked for people. I used to be a salsa dancer and would go three or four times a week and had so many friends.
“The difference now is scary. I don’t see anybody and most of my friends are virtual that I have met through Facebook support groups. They say it is like having a bereavement.
“You mourn the person you were before, but that person has gone and been replaced with someone you don’t know anymore. It does not feel real what has happened.”