Woman’s fight to cure mystery liver problem and malnutrition
When a former model got sick when she was aged 20, she assumed she had picked up a stomach bug after she moved to Spain.
But after 13 years of illness and visits to a string of specialists Mickia Brangman will have to go to the UK for treatment for a serious stomach problem — or risk death from a poisoned liver.
She said: “My liver is at a state right now that is so bad that it’s going to reject anything that might even be a little sensitive for me.
“I’m not able to drink alcohol. I’m not able to keep food down and I can’t eat whatever I want to eat without feeling uncomfortable.
“Doctors have even recommended that I not get vaccinated.”
Ms Brangman was speaking after she started a GoFundMe last week to help raise money for a six-week course of medical treatment in London.
The fundraiser aims to raise £6,500 — about $8,832 — and the page had collected more than £3,500 by yesterday.
Ms Brangman, a sailing instructor with the Endeavour programme for young people, said that she learnt only last Monday that she had suffered for about 12 years from a type of gut bacteria that stopped the absorption of nutrients in food.
She added that metals had also built up in her liver for a separate and unknown reason and that was poisoning her.
Ms Brangman said that the malnutrition had caused her to lose weight over the years and that she now weighed just under 90lb.
Ms Brangman, who wore a scarf and coat in 75-degree weather when she spoke to The Royal Gazette, added that her low body weight made her feel cold — even on balmy days.
She said: “I’m always getting cold. My hands and feet are always freezing.
“I can feel my body wanting more food and I get very tired and fatigued easily.”
Ms Brangman moved to Europe in 2008 to work as a model and first became sick when she moved from London to Barcelona.
She explained that, because of the fever and diarrhoea she developed as well as constant vomiting, she assumed she had fallen victim to “a bad food poisoning”.
Ms Brangman said: “It was really bad, but then I got better and I just took it as ‘I ate something bad but I’ll get better’.
“But the scary thing was that it kept reoccurring. If I would travel and have my first meal I’d go through that same experience again.”
Ms Brangman said that she travelled across Europe to try and solve her health problem but nothing worked.
She added that her health problems also stumped Bermudian doctors when she returned to the island in 2016.
Ms Brangman said: “It’s scary because doctors are only doing their jobs, but if they don’t know what’s going on then you get a bit confused and can make yourself sicker if you’re not careful.”
She added: “It stopped happening when I travelled. It would just happen on a random weekend or something like that.
“I started to get really strict with my diet. I tried the alkaline diet, I tried going vegan, I tried all of that stuff but I would still get sick.”
“In January 2020 I got sick and at that point I thought, ‘Okay, I really, really am going to have to start going to specialists’.”
Ms Brangman said that she did not get a better understanding of her problems until she went to OceanRock Wellness in Paget last October.
The clinic ran a battery of blood and other tests that were sent to the UK and her results came back at the start of the year.
Ms Brangman said her doctor recommended that she go to London to take part in a treatment programme that would use enzymes to combat her malnutrition and try to heal her liver.
Ms Brangman said that she was “overwhelmed” by the support from her GoFundMe page.
She also appealed to the public to be careful about what they eat.
Ms Brangman said: “I think that now that they’ve found all this bacteria in my gut I started to realise how important it was to watch what you eat.
“I was definitely one of those children who grew up on chicken nuggets and Popsicles and soda.
“But when I tried to eat differently and live a different life my body rejected it.
“We have to really educate our parents about what they’re feeding their kids because it starts from them.”