- A majority of females would kill for a size six figure and a gap between their thighs. But Amelia-Jane Harris, 20, says her new ‘dream body’ is in fact a horror, as Crohn’s disease means she is in continuous pain and cannot eat. Due to this illness Miss Harris has shed more than 18 stone (252lbs) in 20 months, as she regularly vomits up her food and suffers excruciating bowel pain.
- At her biggest, when she weighed 27st 10lbs (388lbs) and was a size 32, she fancied pulling off skimpy outfits. But at the moment, weighing barely 8st 9lbs (121lbs) and wearing size 6 clothes, she says she can even kill to get back her fuller figure and be able to eat normally again.
- Owing to her condition she’s in constant pain and she can barely keep food down, so she can never enjoy eating or go out for dinner with her friends. Furthermore, she cannot work, and her fingernails, eyebrows and hair all regularly fall out. Miss Harris, of Chelmsley Wood, Birmingham, said: ‘I get lots of compliments on my figure, but I have constant, underlying pain. Sometimes it feels like really severe stomach cramps, but I also get really bad stabbing pains that won’t go away.
‘I get no enjoyment out of food anymore. Eating feels like a chore because I know it’s going to cause me pain. ‘It seems pointless to make a healthy meal because I’ll just throw it up. ‘With strong painkillers I can cope, but it feels like a curse – I’m going to have to take this medication for the rest of my life.’
- Miss Harris was a happy and healthy kid but she kept putting on weight through her teens. By the age of 14, she was dubbed ‘Fatty Bum Bum’ by playground bullies. She said: ‘I ate whatever mum gave me, which was healthy because she was always watching her weight. ‘As my waistline expanded, my confidence shrank and it wasn’t until I left school – and the bullies – behind me that I stopped worrying about my size. ‘At college, I ate what I wanted and although I reached nearly 28 stone, I still made an effort with my clothes, hair and make-up. Fat didn’t have to mean ugly.’
- But shortly after turning 17, she fell seriously ill. She said: ‘I started vomiting 10 times a day. I just couldn’t keep anything down. ‘Within 20 months I’d lost more than 18st. It didn’t make any sense to me and I was terrified.’ At that point concerned by the rapid and unprompted weight loss, she consulted her GP. After a series of tests, her doctor diagnosed her with Crohn’s disease, a long-term condition that causes inflammation of the lining of the digestive system. Crohn’s disease at the moment has no cure — its treatment simply aims to relieve the symptoms of the digestive system becoming inflamed.
- Miss Harris was forthwith prescribed a cocktail of pills. She said: ‘On a good day I have to take up to 70 pills, but it can go up to 100 on a bad one. ‘The weight kept falling off until I reached size six. People congratulated me on the weight loss and told me I looked fabulous – but the truth was I’d never felt worse’ Presently she weighs 8st 9lbs, which means she is very slim for her 5tf 7in height.
- She said: ‘I’ll never be big again. I can only keep down around 10 per cent of what I eat, and right now I’m even struggling to keep down water.’ Before the sickness began, Miss Harris would tuck into a healthy bowl of cereal for breakfast. In lunch she ate salad or a sandwich, and in dinner she’d have meal cooked by her mother, such as a healthy portion of spaghetti bolognese made with reduced fat Quorn mince.
- Presently, owing to her condition she cannot eat fats or oils. Since three years she has been off junk-food, and on a strict diet of boiled meat and vegetables. She said: ‘I know it sounds unbelievable, but I’d give anything to be 27 stone again. This time last year I held down four jobs, but now I’m too ill to work.’ Her weight is consistently decreasing and doctors are still baffled as to why her weight has not stabilised.
WHAT IS CROHN’S DISEASE?
- Crohn’s disease is basically inflammation of the digestive system. This inflammation brings on redness, swelling and pain. Crohn’s prompts ulcers to form in the gut and inflammation that affects the body’s ability to digest food, absorb nutrients and eliminate waste in a healthy way. Crohn’s is chronic, meaning it is a life-long condition. Sufferers will have periods of good health, remission, as well as times when their symptoms flare up or relapse.
- This disease cannot be cured, however, drugs and surgery can give patients long periods of relief from their symptoms. Experts argue that the condition is, in part, inherited, while an abnormal reaction of the immune system to certain bacteria in the intestines is thought to contribute.
Crohn’s Symptoms Include:
Abdominal pain and diarrhoea
Tiredness and fatigue
Feeling generally unwell
Loss of appetite and weight loss Anaemia – a reduced level of red blood cells
- In UK as of now 250,000 people suffer from Crohn’s. It usually appears for the first time between the ages of 10 and 40. Perforations is one of the complications of the disease, that happen when a severe blockage ruptures the bowel, making a hole. The contents of the bowel can leak through and form an abscess. It triggers pain and a fever.