Talia Sinnott eats up to ten digestive biscuits and crackers a day because it’s the only food she can keep down.
The 25-year-old suffers from gastroparesis, a chronic condition that causes her stomach to struggle to process food.
She was diagnosed with the rare condition four years ago, at a time when her illness was so severe that she felt nauseated up to 30 times a day.
Talia’s weight also dropped until she weighed only five kilograms.
For the past six months, the clinical psychologist-in-training has relied on a feeding tube to keep her fed and is now trying to raise £80,000 to have a gastric pacemaker fitted to help her stomach accept other foods.
Talia, from Tettenhall, Wolverhampton, said: “It’s hit and miss, some days the biscuits are good and some days they’re not.
“I can’t eat much at once and I have to crochet all day long. I do this with Ritz crackers too.
“It’s weird, some crackers I like, others I don’t. Right now I can only eat crackers, but I can drink pumpkin.
“My eating has no pattern at all, so it’s always a guessing game. One day I can handle eating a certain type of food, and three days later I can’t stand it anymore.
“I went through a phase where I could tolerate mashed potatoes because it’s soft, but now I can’t.
“It’s really hard because it’s not like an intolerance where you can avoid a certain type of food — it’s very arbitrary.”
Talia first experienced her symptoms in 2018 when she started to feel “full” and “there was food on her chest.”
Her symptoms flared up at times, but became more aggressive and persistent over the years.
She solved the problem by eating smaller meals. Her doctor also prescribed medication, but it only relieved her symptoms for a short time.
In January 2022, her health rapidly deteriorated when she contracted a virus that attacked her digestive system.
After several medical tests, she was finally diagnosed with gastroparesis, a long-term condition in which the stomach cannot empty itself normally.
Talia is now desperate for a gastric pacemaker that sends impulses to her abdominal muscles to help her digest food.
She added: “So little is known and understood about my chronic illness, which is why it is often misdiagnosed and people go undiagnosed or told they have an eating disorder for years.
“I was lucky enough to get a diagnosis quickly. Although my symptoms have been there since 2018, they are really bad this year.”
Gastric pacemakers are currently not routinely available on the NHS – meaning Talia is desperate to raise enough money to get one.
She explained: “So far we have spent around £40,000 on tube insertions and appointments and I need a further £40,000 on a gastric pacemaker insertion – hence the total donation is £80,000.
“At the moment the most important thing is to gain weight so that I am fit and healthy for the operation.”
Talia hopes to complete the fundraiser within six months and have her pacemaker fitted next year.
She added: “I get tired very quickly and when I’m sick I always think about where the nearest toilet is.
“My life was put on hold and it was very difficult.”
A Talia says she has a particularly hard time around Christmas.
She said: “With Christmas just around the corner, it’s sad. I used to be a big foodie and I loved food and I still do.
“Even though I get tube feeding, I never feel full. Your brain doesn’t get the signal that you’re full and I crave food all the time.
“But at the end of the day it’s time and hopefully I can enjoy Christmas dinner next year.”
“I can’t wait to go back to college and eat and drink what I want. Can’t wait not to wake up feeling horrible and in pain.”
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