A MOTHER is so bloated with a health condition that strangers congratulate her on her pregnancy.
In reality, Franchesca Flack, 35, from Essex, is in so much pain that she sometimes cannot walk or sit down.
The mother of one child has been suffering from constipation for years, which means she cannot go to the toilet for a week.
She also suffers from pelvic pain, back pain and severe discomfort and has recently been unable to urinate.
The fashion writer has previously been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and Crohn’s disease — both conditions that can cause symptoms in the gut.
But as her condition has worsened over the years, doctors believe something more sinister is going on.
Franchesca is now awaiting a colonic transit and defecation proctogram – an examination of lower bowel and rectal function – to understand why her bowel movements are so slow.
Franchesca said her swollen stomach “affected my life in every way.”
She said she has to “desperately hold back when a stranger smiles and asks when I’m due.”
“When strangers assume I’m pregnant, I feel like an outsider,” Franchesca said.
“Like I don’t fit into what society considers normal looks because my belly is only supposed to expand when I’m pregnant.
“I feel my confidence drop every time I look in my closet and try to decide what to wear.
“I don’t like my body because of the bloating and every outfit immediately draws my eyes to my stomach.
“I don’t have body confidence anymore, which I’ve always struggled with, but now it’s at an all-time low.
“I often place a large bag in front of my stomach [when I’m out] to hide gas and I feel paranoid about others judging me – I feel ugly and insecure.
“I know I have health issues, but I can’t seem to accept it and be proud of my body.”
For years, Franchesca recalls her stomach “expanding” under her clothes, causing pain.
She has drastically attempted to change her diet to ease her symptoms, cutting out all the foods she once enjoyed and exercising regularly.
Franchesca used to be able to enjoy cereal, chocolate, curry, and milkshakes.
But now she drinks four liters of water a day to help with constipation and cuts out dairy, red meat, fizzy drinks and caffeine.
While it helps in the morning, by evening the aches and pains have returned and are so intense that Franchesca can barely sit down.
Francesca was told in her teens and mid-twenties that she suffered from inflammatory bowel disease, which can cause gas, gas, constipation, or diarrhea.
But she realized something else was going on when she had her daughter in 2020.
Just 24 hours after giving birth, Franchesca was in “excruciating pain”.
She said: “I was at home and felt what can only be described as labor pains, even though I had just given birth.
“I hadn’t defecated or deflated for over a week.
“I was taken back to the hospital but my daughter had to be fed at the same time so I had to [do this] while I am still in excruciating pain.”
In February 2022, the mother’s condition took an unexpected turn when her gallbladder was removed.
The strong drug made her constipation worse and as a result she had complications with her bladder.
Franchesca claims: “I explained to the nurses that the high amount of medication you need for the operation would make my constipation worse, but they said everything was fine.
“Then I realized I hadn’t been a minute since that morning and the nurses were worried.
“I had tears in my eyes from the pressure on my bladder.
“I was extremely frustrated and angry at my body as my bladder is now non-functioning due to my constipation.”
Longing to find the cause of her problems, Franchesca insisted on a second opinion.
A few weeks later, after a CT scan, doctors realized how serious the problem was.
The bowel movements clogged her entire gastrointestinal tract, which experts say is likely not caused by Crohn’s disease or irritable bowel syndrome alone.
Franchesca is now awaiting tests and a referral to the pelvic floor unit.
Despite the horrific journey she’s been through, Franchesca is glad that she might get an answer to what’s wrong and that the doctors are finally listening to her.
She shares her story to help others who may be in a similar situation or who may be embarrassed about their bloating or constipation, which is often considered a taboo subject.
Franchesca said: “I finally feel like I’m on the right track to finding the cause of my constipation and feeling confident about my appearance again.
“I am committed to raising awareness of gut issues and breaking the stigma on those who suffer from the physical and mental toll these conditions place on us.”
https://www.thesun.ie/health/8754400/so-bloated-strangers-congratulate-me-pregnant/ I’m so bloated that strangers congratulate me on my pregnancy