A woman who suffers from a digestive condition has revealed how the disease struck from nowhere and is so severe she has been left dependent on feeding tubes.
New Zealander Ruby Hill, 22, lives with a condition known as gastroparesis – it’s a digestive disorder which affects the normal movements of the muscles in her stomach, preventing it from emptying properly.
Speaking to the New Zealand Herald, Ms Hill revealed her illness – one that’s left her with a paralysed stomach – hit when she was 19-years old and training to be a pilot.
Ruby Hill (pictured) revealed how she was suddenly struck by the rare digestive disorder known as gastroparesis
She said she was living life to the fullest until one day when she was eating her lunch and simply couldn’t stomach it.
The pilot-in-training was admitted to hospital in 2015 with suspected early-onset appendicitis and had surgery to remove her appendix and a ruptured cyst on her ovary.
However, she said after surgery, she continued to be in excruciating pain and because her condition is so rare, it took nine months of ongoing medical appointments before doctors were able to diagnose her.
Ms Hill revealed symptoms of her condition leave her constantly battling nausea and vomiting and that ‘food makes me sick’.
‘Most days I spend with a vomiting bucket or hugging a toilet,’ Ms Hill said (stock image)
Over the course of three years, since her first hospital admission, her weight, once a healthy 72 kilograms dropped to 50 kilograms, before a further decline to 42 kilograms.
‘Most days I spend with a vomiting bucket or hugging a toilet. One minute you have no appetite then suddenly you get cravings like a pregnant woman but you can’t eat’ she told the publication.
Ms Hill’s situation is even more heartbreaking as she revealed there is no cure for her illness.
‘My heart dropped at the word incurable. You think, ‘what does that mean for my life?’ And they just don’t have any answers to give you. It’s destroying.’
Once a healthy 72 kilograms, Ms Hill revealed her weight dropped to 50 kilograms, before a further decline to 42 kilograms (stock image)
Currently, the 22-year-old relies on a feeding tube called TPN (total parental nutrition) to keep her alive.
And while this ensures she receives the nutrients she needs to maintain some degree of health, this isn’t a long-term solution.
She explained the tube, which sits inside the main artery which runs close to her heart could become infected and there was also the potential risk of liver failure.
Currently, Ms Hill relies on a feeding tube called TPN (total parental nutrition) to keep her alive
While some gastroparesis sufferers can be fitted with a gastric pacemaker – a device similar to a heart pacemaker that sends electrical signals to the stomach to tell it to contract and process food – Ms Hill said this wasn’t an option for her right now.
Symptoms of gastroparesis:
* Chronic nausea
* A feeling of fullness after eating only a small amount of food, and vomiting undigested food
* Vomiting usually occurs after meals but some sufferers may vomit without eat due to the accumulation of secretions in the stomach
* Other symptoms include bloating or dull pain in the stomach area
* Lack of appetite
* Weight loss
Source: Western Sydney University
However, she revealed specialists are in the process of developing a new pacemaker – although this was still some time away.
For now, though, Ms Hill hopes by sharing her story she is able to shed a little more light on the rare condition.
‘After being diagnosed with gastroparesis I still get labelled as neurotic. So many doctors have never heard of the disease and I have to teach them before they can help treat me.’
In Australia, there are an estimated are an estimated 125,000 sufferers of gastroparesis.
The condition can have a significant impact on quality of life including the physical, emotional, and financial aspects of life.