A woman who suffers from a debilitating disease was given a diagnosis by a stranger on Facebook.
Annie Marshall, 20, first began experiencing symptoms in March 2020 after a bout of food poisoning left her in pain every time she ate.
She was diagnosed with gastroparesis in March 2021, however, none of the treatments relieved her symptoms, and it wasn’t until she vented her frustrations in a Facebook group for gastroparesis sufferers that a woman reached out to her and suggested she looks into another condition .
Annie, from Epping Forest, Essex, explained: “A stomach is supposed to empty itself in half an hour but for me, after four hours, zero percent had emptied.
“I didn’t know what to do and was feeling really low in myself – I had pretty much given up and vented to a gastroparesis Facebook group about everything that had happened.
“I had a message from a woman in America who said she had been a nurse for twenty years and I should look into MALS (Median Arcuate Ligament Syndrome).
“She had it herself and had worked with MALS surgeons – so it was sort of like luck.”
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.
Following an ultrasound scan, she finally got the diagnosis she had been looking for – she had Median Arcuate Ligament Syndrome.
Now, Annie is waiting to be seen by a world-leading MALS specialist in Connecticut and is hoping to finally undergo life-changing surgery this year.
Opening up about her official MALS diagnosis, Annie shared: “I did an ultrasound with a doctor in London which came back positive for MALS and then had another diagnostic test done where they inject a steroid into a bundle of nerves after quite a few scans. ”
She went on: “I got in touch with the best MALS surgeon in the world who is based in Connecticut and had to send over all my scans – I was put on the waiting list for surgery which will hopefully happen in July.”
MALS occurs when the ‘arc-shaped’ band of tissue in our chests presses on the artery that supplies blood to organs in our upper abdomen, according to Mayo Clinic.
Symptoms include stomach pain, bloating and vomiting and long-term MALS can lead to a fear of eating because of the pain, which in turn causes severe weight loss.