A year ago, Chelyn suddenly lost the ability to keep food down. She was constantly throwing up, losing over 20 pounds in less than 5 months. Chelyn loves food, describing it as her love language, and was utterly confused by the sudden change in her body. Seeking help initially proved fruitless, as her doctors and insurance company assumed she was a teenager with an eating disorder and refused to authorize the appropriate tests. She got worse and worse over the course of a year, finally finding herself in the emergency room. At that point her insurance finally authorized an emergency CT scan, revealing superior mesenteric artery syndrome (SMA).
In this episode of the Major Pain podcast, Chelyn shares her experiences living with SMA. This rare disease involves compression of the superior mesenteric artery, leading to partial or full obstruction of the small intestine. She describes the intense relief of finally receiving a diagnosis, just weeks before recording this interview. Chelyn is currently getting all nutrition through a feeding tube, working with her doctors to gain 30 to 50 pounds before removing the tube. This tube goes through her nose and is very visible, but Chelyn has not let that stop her from going to school or sharing her story. She has even gone viral on TikTok with her inspirational confidence through medical adversity, not letting what others think impact her positive self image.
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