A young woman was cured of ‘anorexia’ – with BOTOX injections.
Doctors told Jade Nock, 25, that she was anorexic when she complained of an inability to keep any solid food down, causing her weight to plummet to seven stone.
After a year of enduring tube feeding, Miss Nock, of Walsham le Willows, Suffolk, was eventually diagnosed with gastric dysrhythmia – a physical condition which caused her stomach to automatically expel any food she swallowed.
Since her correct diagnosis, doctors have been able to cure her of the condition by administering twice-yearly botox injections which ‘freeze’ the tissue in her stomach, allowing her to digest solid food again.
Miss Nock’s weight is now stable and she is able to tuck into her favourite meals like stew and dumplings and sausage casserole once again.
The former maternity ward auxiliary said: “I began feeling sick suddenly one night while I was out in London with friends. I went home thinking it was a stomach bug.
“My mum Ali gave me dry toast and tea, and I couldn’t keep that down either. Even keeping water down was impossible.”
After a couple of days of sickness, Miss Nock’s mother took her to Norfolk and Norwich Hospital where she was put on a drip to replenish her fluids.
She was sent home with the assurance that she was suffering from a passing stomach bug, but her sickness continued to the point where she started dropping weight at a drastic rate.
In around three weeks she lost an incredible three stone in weight, prompting a return to hospital in November 2008.
She said: “A doctor sat at the end of my bed and told me I must have been suffering from anorexia – that my inability to keep food down had psychological rather than physical roots.
“I was stunned, and burst into tears. I knew that it wasn’t all just in my head – that there was something else going on. For one thing, I loved my job and was desperate to get well again so I could go back to work.”
Miss Nock was allowed to return home under observation but returned to hospital around a month later for the traumatic experience of being fitted with a feeding tube.
She said: “It wasn’t very nice. I ended up pulling one of my tubes out because I was feeling incredibly depressed by the situation. I was told I was allowed to eat solid food at the same time, but whenever I did the tube became dislodged when I was inevitably sick afterwards.
“I was even put on a course of antipsychotic medication which really spaced me out. I began to think that the problems really were just all in my mind – after all that was anyone’s best guess at the time.”
The following summer, doctors concerned at Miss Nock’s mounting depression booked her in for an appointment at the Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, where she was given a meal of scrambled eggs laced with radioactive tracer to monitor the passage of food through her body.
It was then that doctors saw that her stomach was expelling food completely from her stomach.
An appointment with a specialist at the Royal Free Hospital in London in January 2010 confirmed that she had gastric arrhythmia – a condition which interrupts the stomach’s ability to hold and process food and liquid.
She said: “It was nice that people were listening to me after so long. I thought, ‘at least something’s going to get done now.’
“There were two options – have botox to firm up the tissue in my stomach, or a pacemaker-like device in my stomach. The plan was to try the botox first and see what happened.”
In May 2010, surgeons gave Miss Nock, who is engaged to automotive engineer Vincent Norton, 22, her first injection through a needle mounted on a camera which was guided down her throat.
She said: “It took a few days to start working, but then when it did work, it was amazing.
“I had my first solid food – mashed potato with cheese – a week after the first injection. Having been suffering for more than a year, it was revelation to be able to digest solid food again. Shortly after that I said goodbye to the feeding tube forever.”
Miss Nock’s weight is now stable at seven stone but she requires botox injections every six months to make sure that the gastric dysrhythmia does not return.
She said: “As the injections wear off I start to bring up food again which means my weight will drop off.
“I can’t eat food which is too rich or creamy. I can’t overeat – if I push myself, it doesn’t stay down.
“I’d heard of botox being used medically to cure bladder conditions before – but not the stomach. When I tell people, some people are surprised, and think that such treatment is just for cosmetic purposes.
“I was wary. I thought ‘how’s it going to work?’ I was happy to go along with it if there was a chance it was going to be effective – and I’m so glad it was.
“I love stew and dumplings and sausage casserole – home cooking that my nan used to make. I also like chicken pie.
“I appreciate food much more now that I’ve been through this experience. I used to be quite fussy, but now I’m more open. I know how lucky I am to be able to have food – I don’t want to turn anything down.”
More pictures are available on request. To discuss rates for using pictures and copy, contact news editor Tom Knight on 07815 004413 or email@example.com.