Jennifer Boudreau

First post: Feb 28, 2020 Latest post: Mar 5, 2020

Welcome to my CaringBridge website. I am using it to keep family and friends updated in one place.  For those of you who don't know what I've been dealing with these past few years, let me tell you my story. Three years ago I was at the top of my game. I was a national level fitness competitor who had won shows in bikini, figure and physique divisions. This time three years ago I was about 6 weeks out from The Emerald Cup, a show that if you place top 2 you're almost gaurenteed a Pro card. I took 2nd place in both figure and physique. Determined to get that Pro card I began lifting weight I had never before pushed myself to move. Upon hitting my best PR for bench press, 315lbs, I dislocated my bicep and fractured my collar bone. I didn't know it right away and later moving a bench for client I tore the bicep from the insertion point. Needless to say surgery was inevitable three days later and the muscle mass practically melted off during my four month recovery. People at the gym would come up to me and ask if I had cancer or something because I lost so much weight (about 35 lbs total from pre-surgery to when I was allowed to return to weights).

From this point on I had all sorts of odd problems, rashes, hives, red swollen joints, joint deformity, unintended weight loss, night sweats that lasted half the day, unbearable abdominal pain, and kidney stones that came in droves. Doctor after Doctor told me there was definitely something going on they just didn't know what because it wasn't a "text book" case. The stomach pain became so intense that every morning when I tried to get out of bed I was brought to my knees and would have to curl into a ball for 20-45 minutes until the episode past. One morning hours went by and it wouldn't let up and I began throwing up bile so I went to the ER. I was more terrified of the doctors telling me nothing was wrong then anything it could've been.  Apparently I really looked in pain because the doctor ordered an IV contrast CT after asking me three questions. The scan showed what appeared to be a blockage. They called a GI surgeon who was on call for the hospital and he asked them to run a few more tests. They found that it took over 35 minutes for liquid to pass through the blockage and while it was passing the blockage was so dark you couldn't see the barium pass threw it on the image.

The ER doctor came in after conferring with the GI surgeon and said I had Superior Mesenteric Artery Syndrome with a 20 degree angle (Under 25 is where they generally start seeing symptoms of the syndrome). What this means is the mesenteric artery and the aorta compress the duodenum and restricts passage from the stomach to digestive system. Occasionally the compression of the arteries reaches to the left kidney. This would cause blood in urine and potentially kidney stones.

The constriction of my small intestine was going on for so long, it appeared that it had died. Two days later I followed up with the GI surgeon and after he asked me questions for an hour he said "This is a text book case with three scans to back it up. I'm 100% confident that this has been the cause of your symptoms". I was ridiculously over joyed to finally hear those words. Not only did I have answers for the health issues for the past three years but other unknown, never diagnosed abdominal pain starting as early as age 12.

That being said, SMA syndrome is very rare and there is limited and conflicting studies on treatment options. With less than 0.3% of the population experiencing this syndrome finding a doctor who has performed the surgery was, well not possible. And even more hard put to find one that had done it laparoscopic. I decided to stay with the GI doctor I met in the ER because he was the first doctor to take his time, ask me questions rather than ask me to ramble on about every symptom I have ever experienced. Also he performs 100s of laparoscopic abdominal surgeries a month and that is what he specializes in.

So here I am, two weeks later, four days out from a surgery to repair the intestines and create a new passage from stomach through my digestion. It has been one of the most challenging things I've ever had to over come, going from having a body that was pristine, never failed and looked like a statue of a Goddess of War to feeling weak, frail and having my body give way beneath my feet unable to perform the most basic acts of self care. I'm forever grateful for the GI surgeon who went out on a limb and diagnosed me with the very rare condition and is even coming in on a Saturday to perform the surgery because he knows how much pain I've been in.

Thank you for listening, words of encouragement and support are greatly appreciated!