According to a story from dailymail.co.uk, 23 year old Ruby Hill of New Zealand was recently released from the hospital, but it wasn’t because she had been successfully treated. It was because her doctors told her there was nothing else they could do. Ruby has gastroparesis, a rare condition that causes the stomach to become paralyzed. This prevents the patient from being able to keep down food. Malnutrition soon follows. It is unclear how much longer she will be able to live.
Gastroparesis is a medical condition in which the stomach becomes partially paralyzed. This causes food to remain in the stomach for an abnormally long time; in fact, food may stop passing through the digestive tract entirely. There are a number of potential causes of gastroparesis, such as autonomic neuropathy, abdominal surgery, cigarette smoking, prior infection, and hypochlorhydria. The nerve responsible for normal movement of food from the stomach is called the vagus nerve, and any damage to it can cause gastroparesis. The condition often appears alongside other diseases, such as scleroderma, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, and mitochondrial disease. Symptoms include a feeling of fullness after eating very little food, vomiting, abdominal pain, nausea, night sweats, muscle weakness, weight loss, palpitations, stomach spasms, and heartburn. Treatment may include several different medications, changes in diet, or procedures such as gastric electrical stimulation or sleeve gastrectomy. To learn more about gastroparesis, click here.
Ruby was first diagnosed in 2015, but her treatment was delayed by months of inconclusive doctor’s visits; many of them guessed that she had anorexia. It appears that Ruby’s gastroparesis was caused by a surgical operation to remove her appendix; somehow, during this procedure, her vagus nerve was damaged. For the last four years, she has received various treatments in an attempt to resolve her condition, but to no avail.
Ruby has been plagued by pain but opioids caused a severe negative reaction for her. She experienced better results with cannabis oil. While she was prescribed a small amount of the oil to use, the costs are still steep. Currently, Ruby is fundraising so that she can travel to Canada, where it is easier to access cannabis oil. She only weighs 77 pounds now, and while it is unclear how much longer she will be able to live, she says that any funds not used for travel or treatment will go towards gastroparesis research.
To support Ruby’s travels and treatment, click here.