Mother-of-two left unable to eat for TWO YEARS and shrinks to size zero after suffering from paralysed stomach
Doctors first misdiagnosed mother, 30, with stomach bug followed by anorexiaA stomach pacemaker failed to ease her condition and she is now fed via a tube twice a day
14:35 GMT, 10 July 2012
A mother-of-two has been unable to eat a single meal for two years – after developing a rare condition that has paralysed her stomach.
Former healthcare assistant Natalie Roux-Bean, 30, has shrunk from a healthy size 12 to a zero and is permanently starving hungry.
She is unable to keep down anything more than a biscuit and is now fed 400 calories a day via a drip straight into her bloodstream.
Natalie Roux-Bean (left) enjoyed eating before she developed gastroparesis. Now she must be fed twice a day through a tube at hospital (right)
Doctors initially told Natalie she had a stomach bug and then wrongly treated her for anorexia before she was finally diagnosed with gastroparesis.
The condition reduces the ability of the stomach to empty its contents even though there is no blockage. The cause is unknown but doctors believe it could be triggered by a disruption of nerve signals to the stomach.
Mrs Roux-Bean was fitted with a 'stomach pacemaker' to try and ease her condition, but it had little effect.
Natalie now fears she will spend the rest of her life feeling permanently hungry. She has had to give up work as she feels so weak and is wheel-chair bound.
She said: 'These last two years have been horrible. My stomach is telling me I am hungry. I miss the taste of food every day and can’t even remember what my last supper was.
'I try to stomach a nibble of a cracker every now and then but that is the only thing I have tasted in a long time.
'Trying to fight your natural survival instincts to eat doesn’t get any easier and although I am in pain I still crave the taste of a real food.
'I am really weak and have to give up work. I can’t even take my children swimming or on bike rides anymore.'
Natalie three months into her 24hr tube feeding. She has gained weight but is confined to a wheelchair as she is so tired
Natalie, who is mother to Emily, ten, and Leon, eight, had only been married to her childhood sweetheart Paul, 38, for six months when she first was overcome by stomach cramps.
The automatic feeding machine which doctors used at first to feed nutrients into Natalie's small intestine
She thought it was a bug and was rushed into hospital in January 2010 – where doctors told her she would recover with plenty of rest and sent her home.
They suggested eating little and often but Natalie found she was soon rejecting the food and vomiting.
She was unable to tuck into any meals – including her favourite dishes of macaroni cheese and roast beef with Yorkshire pudding.
But her consultant at the hospital where she was treated – which she does not want to name – said the condition was 'all in her head' and believed she was suffering from anorexia.
The former student nurse – who had worked at the hospital before – was forced to attend a mental health clinic and discuss her eating disorder for four months.
They claimed it had been brought on by the stress of Natalie losing her grandmother shortly before her wedding day. But mental health professionals later dismissed the anorexia claims.
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Natalie before (left) and after she developed the stomach condition. She died her hair blonde because she said her red hair made her appear even more gaunt
Mrs Roux-Bean eventually decided to visit another consultant in London, who realised something more serious was wrong.
Tests were conducted on her stomach and finally, in the summer of 2011, she was diagnosed with gastroparesis.
They found she also had the tissue disorder Ideopahtic Ethers-Danlos Syndrome, which is caused by a genetic defect and could have triggered the paralysis.
Despite her diagnosis, Natalie was unable to get any treatment for the rare condition until December last year.
Doctors fed a tube of nutrients into her small intestine – which allowed her to get around 400 calories-a-day into her system.
But she began to develop pain from the procedure, so medics decided to insert the drip straight into her bloodstream – via a vein near her heart. This is known as total parenteral nutrition and bypasses the usual process of eating and digestion. The formula contains salts, glucose, amino acids, lipids and added vitamins.
Mrs Roux-Bean now has to have the drip inserted into her twice-a-day in hospital and has still not eaten a meal for more than two-and-a-half years.
The mother-of-two from Thirsk, North Yorkshire, said: 'My weight has improved and I do feel better than I did before. But my stomach is still telling me I am hungry.
'I am too weak to do a lot of things and I use a wheelchair to get around.
'Before I was diagnosed I would still try and eat but the pain was unbearable. It is so hard to not give into temptation.
'Last week was my little girl’s birthday and although I resisted the chocolate cake on the day the temptation eventually got the better of me. I quickly lived to regret it.
'Paul and the energy of my beautiful kids keep me going.'