Teen With Solid Food Allergy On Why He's 'Blessed' Despite His Life-Threatening Condition

Alex Visker is severely allergic to solid food which resulted in him nearly starving to death. But despite his life-threatening condition he says he is still "blessed" to be able to live his life.

And we could all learn a thing or two from him.

For the 19-year-old, one bite of solid food can cause him to experience extreme headaches, bone and muscle aches, stomach convulsions, brain fog and anaphylaxis.

He is also allergic to environmental elements such as perfumes, paints, car filters, freshly cut grass, latex and car fumes.

Alex Visker

The 19-year-old stopped eating solid foods in 2013, and has relied on a feeding tube ever since. At one point Alex, who is 6ft 2in, weighed just 155lbs (11 stone).

Alex has approached dozens of doctors and specialists who have been unable to pinpoint his illness - leaving him still undiagnosed.

The teen, who is from Lehi in Utah, said: "I got to a point where I was just basically starving myself to death because food made me hurt and feel so sick.

"If I inhale certain perfumes I get what’s called brain fog which is literally the equivalent of not sleeping for like two to three days and not being able to think. If I eat tomatoes I actually get a high temperature.

"It’s changed a lot of things for me - I’ve had to rethink how I do a lot of things to make it work for me."

Alex has experienced health problems his entire life, which began with a common peanut allergy.

His mother Jodie Visker, 45, said: "From the time he was really young he had a lot of symptoms. He had really bad headaches, so bad we had an MRI done when he was five.

"He’s had such a wide variety of symptoms it’s one of the reasons why it was so difficult to pinpoint what was happening to him.

"It’s heartbreaking. It’s been so hard to watch - as a parent you want to fix it, you want to take it away and find answers.

"We have had many doctors who didn’t have a clue what it was - they would throw up their hands and say ‘we don’t know how to help you'.

"People don’t believe you - teachers, doctors, neighbours - people just think you’re crazy or making it up."

Alex has three brothers Brady, Christian and Jamie who have grown up watching him suffer from the debilitating illness.

Brady Visker, 21, said: "I think the biggest memory of Alex was just complaining that he had a headache or being in bed all the time.

"I thought he was complaining to get out of doing stuff. It makes me feel kind of guilty as I look back.

"My mom came to me one day and made a comment that he was literally starving himself to death, he was literally dying, that just hit me that this was a serious problem."

Alex in hospital

Most recently, under the care of Dr Gleich, Alex has received some relief after being prescribed Xolair, a mast cell stabiliser injection he gets twice a month.

Alex said: "It overall makes me feel better - it’s mainly used to treat asthma but with my allergies it seems to help a lot.

"It helps me get out of bed and not go down into anaphylaxis."

Because eating solid food makes him severely ill, he gets his nutrients from a protein-free formula through a feeding tube that he utilises every day around meal times.

"I sit down at the diner table with my family and I have my tube out and I put food in and join in conversations," said Alex.

"I’ve never wanted my family to feel bad about me not being able to eat food."

The teen's rare illness costs his family $7,000 (£4,500) every month for the medications and formulas.

The illness has also caused Alex to miss more than 300 days of school in two years. Additionally, he quit playing the saxophone and clarinet because he was allergic to the reeds.

But despite all of the hardship, he has managed to graduate from high school with high grades and plans to further his education from home.

"When things are taken from you you realise how blessed you are to be able to do certain things," explained Alex.

"I am grateful that I have what I have and it’s a whole new perspective. My hope is that I can do computer programming, get a job from home, and one day start a family."

To help Alex's family with medical costs, donate here.

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