Police officer with rare condition who can only defecate every two months quits

A woman who can only defecate once every two months was forced to quit her dream job as a police officer after her muscles started to fail.

Anna Cowling, 34, from Dunmow, has a rare condition that makes her stomach paralysed and muscles uncooperative, making it hard for her to go to the loo.

Ms Cowling's severe digestive problems have left her constantly in pain, either in hospital or sitting down at home.

Almost three years ago, Ms Cowling begun a gruelling process to get a diagnosis after she started experiencing multiple chronic symptoms. With so many issues, medics struggled to locate the cause of her problems.

One illness Ms Cowling was diagnosed with is gastroparesis, meaning her stomach is essentially paralysed and it takes hours longer than normal to digest food and tablets.


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She said: "Since I was younger I've always had problems with my digestion.

"I was going to the toilet around once a week, then it got worse.

"When I was 18 it became once every two weeks. I was taking laxatives to help."

She was diagnosed with, a Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a disorder that effects the connective tissue in a person's body, but also comes with a whole host of other potential problems.

She added: "My muscles are going. My body doesn't absorb things so the laxatives will stay in my stomach for eight to ten hours.

"It's getting to my bowel but my small bowel doesn't take nutrients in properly. It's a muscle problem, and even with my bladder now I struggle to pass urine. I sometimes go a day without passing urine.


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Every time she eats or sips water she experiences chronic bloating and constant sickness and nausea.

People with EDS are at a also higher risk of complications if they are put to sleep with anaesthetics during surgery, as sufferers bleed for much longer than others, making wounds harder to heal.

Anna claims that surgeons are now "reluctant" to perform major surgeries on her.

She said: "They won't do surgery because it's too risky, they don't think it's an option. I've also got a problem with my throat and it's blocking some of my airways."

Anna was forced to take a sabbatical from the Met Police in 2017. She had been working in the control room since 2011 and was also a special for Essex Police at the same time.

But now she has been left unable to take physical exercise of any kind, as her resting heart rate is between 35 and 40bpm compared with the average of 60 to 100. This leads to "chest pains daily".

Since the illnesses took over, Anna is now looking for a way to improve her health but she needs to raise around £30,000 for surgery outside the NHS.

A gastric pacemaker would speed up the emptying of Anna's stomach and hopefully improve her symptoms, but it comes at a cost.

The pacemaker and the fees for the surgery start from £18,000 and is capped at £30,000 depending on how much time she would need to spend in intensive care following the operation.

It could be performed at Broomfield Hospital, which is the only centre in the UK that provides a gastric pacemaker, but Anna would have to self-fund this.

Another option, which Anna claims would be the most effective option, is a procedure at a specialist bowel clinic in Cleveland, the US.


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No hospital in UK currently performs the operation which involves sniping off part of the end of the stomach, allowing your bowels to empty more effectively.

But travel, accommodation and the procedure could cost around £40,000.

Acupuncture is another potential option which would involve one or two weekly sessions in London, at a cost of £80 a session.

Anna has launched a  Go Fund Me page  to raise money for a procedure, where you can also find out more about the options for her future.

"I just feel so ill constantly and I just want to try something because I'm sat on the sofa not doing anything," Anna said. "My parents take me to A&E all the time and sometimes I can't even take water.

"I just have to go to the hospital for fluids, it's never ending. I'm there every other week. I spent seven weeks in a row in hospital last year just trying to flush my bowels out."

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