Utah teenager Alex Visker has not had a single bite of solid food in past four years.
On his bad days, he longs to taste his mother’s homemade lasagna or indulge in a big slice of chocolate cake, but he knows that acting on his cravings would make him sick for days. Even when he’s hungry, he has to refrain from eating because it may give him severe stomach convulsions, bone and muscle pains, headache and extreme nausea.
“I’m hungry and I want food all the time, but I know it’s not worth it,” the teen told People. “It’s not worth my life. I feel lucky to be alive.”
The 19-year-old high school graduate survives on feeding tubes and high-calorie formulas because he’s allergic to food – especially the ones rich in proteins.
“I can't even put something in my mouth just to taste it, and that's hard because I remember what food tastes like,” he explained. “The sight of food and the smell of food – especially something I used to love – can make me crave it. But I don't want to feel miserable.”
Visker has been sick most of his life. From an early age, he had constant nausea, stomach pain, headaches, sudden drops in blood pressure, bone and muscle ache, chest pain, hives, and fatigue. He also went into anaphylaxis for no apparent reason.
By the time he got to fifth grade, his condition had worsened. All his medical tests came back negative for known illnesses and specialists diagnosed him with everything from constipation to anxiety.
Finally, dermatologist Dr. Gerald Gleich gave the family real answers to Alex's illness. The Salt Lake City doctor diagnosed the rare disease and prescribed medicines for severe allergies and mast cell activation disorder – a genetic condition that gives people hives, itching and even anaphylactic shock.
“Alex's situation is indeed rare,” claimed Gleich. “But he is much better now than he was a year ago.”
The treatment worked for Visker, though he still relies on elemental formulas and feeding tubes to sustain.
“Alex can physically eat food,” explained his mother Jodi Visker. “He can chew and swallow. His digestive system works. Any food, however, makes him very ill. Sometimes it causes him to go into anaphylaxis. We don’t really know why or when it will happen.”
Despite his upsetting prognosis, Visker remains positive hopes to take online college classes to become a computer programmer. However, due to the mounting medical bills and other expenses from their son’s condition, the family has set up a GoFundMe for the teen’s further treatment and education.
The online campaign has already drawn a lot of attention and (as of yet) has raised more than $7,500 required of the $30K mark.
“I'm just grateful to wake up each morning and know that I'm alive and feeling better,” added Visker. “Everything in our society revolves around food, but I've learned to live with it. I remember what it tastes like. And that will have to be enough.”
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