A teenager is desperate for a cure for a strange condition that leaves her looking nine months pregnant whenever she eats.
Rachael Harley, 19, was diagnosed with congenital adhesions – a condition in which bands of tissue fuse organs together, causing swelling and excruciating pain.
The teenager, from Balmedie, Aberdeenshire, said: "It feels as though my stomach is about to stretch open."
Her nightmare began in April when her stomach suddenly swelled overnight and she was rushed to hospital.
She had various tests and scans but doctors could not determine what was wrong. Her condition improved and she was sent home.
But the pain and swelling came back and Rachael was re-admitted later in the week.
Exploratory surgery in July revealed she was suffering from adhesions on her bowel and appendix.
She told her local paper: "The adhesions were causing an obstruction in my bowel and my organs were struggling to move about.
"They were cut out and everything was just fantastic and I started eating again. But it didn't last long. I was put on different medications but nothing seemed to help.
"Then about eight weeks ago, I was taken back into hospital."
She has now been in hospital for two months while doctors work to try to find out what is causing Rachael's bizarre condition.
She said: "My weight's gone up and down in a very small space of time.
"I put on weight after surgery but I did get down to 6st at one point because I couldn't eat.
"My mum couldn't bring herself to look at me. I was just bones.
"Every time I do eat, I look about nine months pregnant.
"Somebody in the hospital canteen actually asked me how far along I was.
"I didn't even know what to say. I felt so awful that I lied. It's horrible."
Rachael had to leave her photography course at Aberdeen College because she has missed classes through her illness. She also had to turn down a place at London Metropolitan University to study fashion buying.
She added: "I've missed out on so much. I see photos of all of my friends out enjoying themselves and it's heartbreaking."
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