- CASE FILE
I caught a stomach virus last March and kept getting more sick after recovering from it. Eventually I lost 85 lb in 6 months.
ABOUT THIS CASE FILE
In March of 2018, I went to work like usual at our local public preschool, but ended the day extremely sick from a horrible stomach virus I had caught at work. I was up sick through the night and missed 4 days of work. On day 4 I began to feel a little bit better and tried to eat some turkey, a few bites of mashed potatoes and 2 "Peeps' at a family dinner, yet ended up extremely nauseous from it, like I was going to throw up. My primary care told me it would pass and I tried to return to work the next week. After 2 weeks of being sick, I went to see my GI doctor as I was not getting better. I ate some more gentle foods such as eggs, bagels, peanut butter sandwiches and chicken, but was still dealing with a lot of nausea and rapidly losing weight. He tried a few different medicines and even did an upper GI scope, but no medicines worked and my scope came back perfectly clear. He referred me to another GI in town at a bigger hospital, who admitted me for testing in the hospital, as I had lost close to 40 pounds in 3 months and was only able to eat 4 gluten free crackers a day. My doctor discharged me the next day and gave me a medicine for delayed emptying even though the test did not signal this as a major issue. I had also seen my gynecologist and an endocrinologist who were unable to help, so we headed to Mayo Clinic. While waiting to get in to Mayo, I finally figured out I could handle 6 pieces of white gluten free bread, 12 pieces of plain lunch meat and 2 eggs a day; right at 600 calories/day and any alteration to my diet caused extreme nausea from which I could barely move. I was taking 4 different nausea meds just to get the 600 calories in me a day, but the nausea medications helped very little, if any, and while I tolerated the bread, lunch meat, and eggs better than anything else, I was still nauseous every single day and many days was stuck in bed in extreme nausea. The best way to describe it is that I felt like I constantly had the worst stomach virus I've ever had, but nothing helped relieve the nausea, and the pain felt like someone took my upper abdomen in their fist and was squeezing it as tight and hard as I possibly could. They scheduled me to come in to Mayo August and see every specialist I could possibly see who may be able to help. After a mesenteric duplex ultrasound was done, it was revealed I had compression of my celiac artery. They then did a CT angiogram to further investigate how compressed my artery was and discovered 70% compression, which signaled Median Arcuate ligament syndrome (MALS for short) could be the issue making me sick. MALS is when the celiac artery (which sends blood to your stomach, liver, and pancreas) in your abdomen is compressed by a ligament that has grown around it, causing nausea, pain, weight loss, can cause constipation and/or diarrhea, etc. They did a regular angiogram and confirmed MALS was the reason I was so sick. I had laparoscopic surgery at Mayo last September after losing a total of 85 pounds in 6 months, but the laparoscopic surgery failed. I ended up going to a vascular surgeon in Franklin, TN who was more familiar with MALS and I had an open surgery done, which has completely resolved my MALS symptoms! For some, lap surgery works, but for me, my artery was still compressed after lap surgery and when my surgeon opened me up for my open surgery, my nerves were extremely inflamed in places that cannot physically be reached by lap surgery, as well as the ligament was still wrapped around my artery. My surgeon trimmed the ligament back to my spine, removed all damaged nerves, and reconstructed my celiac artery. Mayo Clinic was 12 hours from me and my 2nd surgeon, the vascular surgeon in Tennessee, was 4 hours from me, as no doctors near me tested for this or looked for it because it is not commonly diagnosed, so it is believed many people live with this for years and never know it because it is technically a vascular issue causing GI issues-- which means it is rarely tested for by GI doctors treating the GI symptoms!