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A woman’s agonizing, year-long mysterious illness is diagnosed by a stranger on Facebook

Annie Marshall first began showing symptoms in March 2020 after contracting food poisoning that left her in pain every time she ate – as she was told it was just an upset stomach

Annie Marshall was finally diagnosed after a year of confusion - when a stranger contacted her on Facebook
Annie Marshall was finally diagnosed after a year of confusion – when a stranger contacted her on Facebook

A woman’s agonizing, years-long mysterious illness has been diagnosed by a stranger on Facebook.

Essex’s Annie Marshall first developed symptoms in March 2020 after food poisoning left her in pain every time she ate.

The 20-year-old was told it was a stomach issue, which she would recover from – but it wouldn’t even let her eat a few bites.

While the pain would leave her bedridden for the rest of the day, she sought out a number of specialist doctors and was eventually diagnosed with gastroparesis in March 2021.

She had lost over two stone and claims none of the medications or treatments she was given helped relieve symptoms, which included a liquid diet.







After seeing a number of specialists, she was diagnosed with gastroparesis in March 2021
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Picture:

Annie Marshall / SWNS)

But it wasn’t until Annie vented her frustration on a Facebook group for gastroparesis sufferers that a woman reached out to her and suggested she look into Median Arcuate Ligament Syndrome (MALS).

Annie said: “A stomach should empty in half an hour, but mine was zero percent empty in four hours.

“I didn’t know what to do and felt very down – I had pretty much given up and vented about everything that had happened on a gastroparesis Facebook group.

“I had a message from a woman in America who said she had been a nurse for twenty years and that I should look into MALS.







None of the medications or treatments she was given helped relieve the symptoms
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Picture:

Annie Marshall / SWNS)

“She had it herself and had worked with MALS surgeons — so it was kind of lucky.”

The pain continued to mount over the coming months and she began seeing doctors to get to the bottom of the mysterious illness, even undergoing an MRI, which didn’t get her any closer to discovering the problem.

One doctor even told her he thought she was anorexic and that there was nothing physically wrong with her, saying he couldn’t give her the help she needed – and even her parents believed him.

Eventually, however, they realized that she could not manipulate the symptoms she was experiencing, and she began seeing specialists to try and diagnose the problem.







Annie has to use protein drinks as meal replacements
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Picture:

Annie Marshall / SWNS)

She began treatment for gastroparesis, including having Botox injected into her stomach, but none of the remedies helped and she continued to suffer from chronic pain.

Desperate, Annie and her family reached out to a doctor in Texas, who told her that if she flew out as soon as possible, he would operate on her to relieve her symptoms.

She underwent keyhole surgery, although until two months after the procedure she didn’t know if it would work – and, heartbreakingly, she was still suffering from severe symptoms after the recovery period.

Frustrated, she vented her feelings in a post on a gastroparesis Facebook group – and unexpectedly a stranger reached out to her and suggested she look into MALS disease.







A stranger on Facebook suggested that she looks into Median Arcuate Ligament Syndrome
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Picture:

Annie Marshall / SWNS)

After doing some research, she realized how similar the symptoms were to her own and managed to find a doctor in London who could treat the disease.

After an ultrasound, she finally got the diagnosis she was looking for – she had Median Arcuate Ligament Syndrome.

Now, waiting to be seen by a world-leading MALS specialist in Connecticut, Annie is hoping to finally have life-changing surgery this year.

“I was in a lot of pain every time I ate, which intensified to the point where two bites of food made me so sick I would be in bed for the rest of the day,” Annie said.

“It increased over a couple of months so I started seeing a couple of doctors – one did an MRI which came out good and he said he thought I was anorexic although I told him ‘no, I’m right something not’.







Annie as a child
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Picture:

Annie Marshall / SWNS)







After an ultrasound, she finally got the diagnosis she was looking for – she had Median Arcuate Ligament Syndrome
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Picture:

Annie Marshall / SWNS)

“He told me he couldn’t help me anymore and my parents believed him at first too, they trusted him because he’s a doctor, but after a while they could, I didn’t do it to myself.

“There was no way I could produce these symptoms, I could not physically produce them.

“I saw a doctor who promised to get to the bottom of it and did some tests on me – I was on a lot of antibiotics during this time as they thought it was a bacterial infection.

“In March 2021 he told me he thought it was gastroparesis – at that point I was on a liquid diet as it was too much to eat, and I had a job so I couldn’t be sick all the time.

“It’s like your stomach is paralyzed, the doctor said it was the worst thing he had ever seen and couldn’t believe no one had tested me sooner.







Annie after her illness started
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Picture:

Annie Marshall / SWNS)

“It was nice to have a diagnosis and to know I wasn’t crazy. I’ve taken all the gastroparesis medication and even had botox in my stomach, but nothing helped.”

Annie then contacted a doctor in Texas.

She added: “I got in touch with the doctor in Texas who pioneered bariatric and gastric sleeve surgery – we were pretty desperate at the time.

“I’d lost two pounds and wasn’t that tall to begin with, so I was pretty underweight at that point and my weight loss continued every week.

“I flew to Mexico with my mom and then went to Texas where I had keyhole surgery and flew home a few days later.

“We didn’t know how effective it would be until two months after surgery, and I went on a liquid and pureed diet for six weeks after surgery.

“The doctor said after two months I should start eating solid food, but I could hardly tolerate liquids and couldn’t keep much down.

“He was confused because everyone else who had the surgery had so much success that my stomach emptying had physically accelerated but all my symptoms were still there.”

After being prompted by the American to look into MALS, Annie and her sister did some research.

“It felt very similar to me, which was a hopeful sign,” Annie said.

“Because gastroparesis is sometimes found secondary to MALS and we were never given a cause for it, it just came out of nowhere.

“I had an ultrasound with a doctor in London who came back positive for MALS and then had another diagnostic test done where after a few scans they inject a steroid into a nerve bundle.

“You have to be pretty thorough and rule out everything else as it’s so rare.

“Eight hours after the steroid injection I was eating normally with no symptoms – in my head I couldn’t understand how I was suddenly able to eat, but it was a pretty good indication that surgery could fix this.

“I got in touch with the best MALS surgeon in the world who is based in Connecticut and had to send in all my scans – I was put on the waiting list for surgery that will hopefully happen in July.”

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https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/womans-agonising-year-long-mystery-27310078 A woman's agonizing, year-long mysterious illness is diagnosed by a stranger on Facebook

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