A GRANDMOTHER broke down in tears as the mystery illness which made her vomit daily for 10 YEARS was finally diagnosed.
Appearing on BBC's Diagnosis Detectives, July, 71, from Kent, explained how she had surgery for achalasia in 2008 which left her unable to eat proper meals.
The condition affects how food travels along the gullet – but the corrective surgery left Judy feeling constantly nauseous and throwing up "bright yellow bile" every time she ate.
As a result, the grandmother was left "skin and bones" after losing over a stone and a half in weight.
Judy was misdiagnosed for years and underwent four further surgeries to try and correct the oesophagus disorder.
Describing how achalasia affected her eating, she said: "It was like I had a golfball stuck down my throat and I was choking."
Explaining how the mystery illness affected her everyday life, she continued: "I miss spending time with my grandchildren. I don’t have the energy to be charging around after them now. I’m losing weight and that’s what’s worrying me.
"It's very frustrating when nobody can help with you, nobody knows. It's dreadful. I just want someone to help me find out what it is."
While battling the mystery illness, Judy dropped to 8st 11lbs – her lowest ever weight – and said she was "desperate to be a healthy human being again".
At the start of the show, Judy even feared that she might have cancer when she visited Dr Shidrawi at The Wellington Hospital in North London.
The Consultant Gastroenterologist suspected Judy had suffered damage to the vagus nerve – which runs from the brain to the abdomen – during the original surgery in 2008 and immediately tested to see how acidic her stomach was.
What is the vagus nerve and what does it do?
- The vagus nerve is the longest of the 12 cranial nerves
- It runs from the brain through the face to the abdomen
- The vagus nerve is responsible for sending signals to the muscles in the stomach to push food into the small intestine
- If damaged, the nerve is unable to send these signals – which means food could remain in the stomach longer than normal
- The vagus nerve can be damaged by surgery to the small intestine or stomach
This would then determine whether the messages from the vagus nerve were reaching the pancreas.
In a heartwarming scene, Judy broke down as Dr Shidrawi revealed that he had gotten to the bottom of her mystery illness.
Bursting into tears on the phone to her daughter, Judy said: "The doctor says it's something called the vagus nerve that isn't working properly and he thinks there is a way he can get me better. He's not promised 100 per cent, but I'll be having tests."
Although the first test of Judy's stomach acid proved that her vagus nerve was working to an extent, a further two proved that it took her an hour longer than most people to empty her stomach – which was what was making her vomit.
Dr Shidrawi said: "After all these years we can tell you what the problem is and why you are suffering the way you are, there is no doubt in my mind there has been some damage to the vagus vein.
"The next step is to bring you in here and hopefully we can make a difference."
While it's impossible to fix the damaged vagus nerve, Dr Shidrawi wants to operate on Judy's stomach and add a valve to help empty it.
"It was a very important moment," he said. "'To see her reaction, her eyes welled up, her husband's eyes welled up, we're privileged to share that moment with them, because in that split second she knew there was a reason she was feeling like that.
"She wasn't going out of her mind, it never ceases to amaze me how emotional that moment is and how grateful patients are and the satisfaction I get from telling them something nobody else has."
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