Pennie is an artist, fitness enthusiast and our dedicated advocate who has been fundraising and distributing educational packs to the GPs.
She remembers having EoE (Eosinophilic Oesophagitis) symptoms since childhood but has received her diagnosis only recently. Interestingly, her diagnosis followed a hospitalisation with what looked like a heart attack. You can watch her full story in the video below.

As a young girl, Pennie swallowed a prune stone, damaging her oesophagus and causing ongoing swallowing issues, resulting in her frequent sickness.
These problems escalated during her teenage years, impacting her social life. Yet, despite numerous visits to the doctor and undergoing a barium swallow test, which didn't provide much insight, her condition remained undiagnosed.

Pennie endured symptoms such as heartburn, reflux, and swallowing difficulties, which became more severe over time. Then, one night, she woke up experiencing intense chest pain and tingling in her arms. She was admitted to the hospital suspected of having a heart attack and was kept under observation for a week.

A woman painter is standing with her paintings

Pennie in her studio

Subsequent tests revealed that her heart was in good health. She was referred to a gastroenterologist who diagnosed her with a severe oesophageal spasm. Further examination revealed a Schatzki ring and Barrett's oesophagus in Pennie, although it had not progressed to cancer.

Multiple Dilatations were necessary to bring relief from the narrowing of her oesophagus, a long-term effect of her as yet undiagnosed EoE, and this procedure brought about a remarkable change as she could finally swallow pills easily. After that, however, new challenges emerged, including episodes of severe oesophagal spasm.

Over a year later, she woke unable to swallow water; her doctor confirmed she had EoE after finding shreds in her oesophagus.

Receiving a diagnosis really revolutionised how I am... At the moment, I'm quite fit and healthy; I do have periods of oesophagal spasms, I do sometimes swallow food hard. But that's much better, and I think compared with some people, I've been very fortunate.

A dietitian advised Pennie to eliminate wheat, dairy, and soy from her diet, resulting in significant symptom relief.
Despite the improvements, Pennie still experiences occasional oesophagal spasms, particularly when accidentally consuming wheat or soy. But she believes more people with EoE can have an everyday life and be fit and healthy if they get a proper diagnosis and treatment.

I'd like to say to people that have chest pains or difficulty swallowing, nausea, heartburn and awful reflux: go to your doctor and badger them. Persist because it's very important to have a diagnosis; once you've got it, it's a relief.

Throughout her journey, Pennie has highlighted the importance of seeking medical assistance and has advocated for an accurate diagnosis. She finds comfort in understanding her condition with the help of resources such as the EOS Network.
She also advises using self-care techniques, like mindfulness, to manage discomfort.

Pennie's story serves as a reminder for others experiencing chest pain, difficulty swallowing, or related symptoms to persist in seeking medical attention and not be deterred by dismissive responses. A diagnosis and treatment can bring relief and pave the way for a more normal life.

The good side is that the treatment does work for me, and it allows me to have a normal life.

Despite the ongoing challenges, Pennie remains grateful for her progress and encourages others to enjoy simple pleasures, such as walking or watching favourite shows to lower discomfort. She walked for her impressive fundraiser "100k in 10 days" - and you can still support her appeal here.

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