Teen discovers he's allergic to all food
While most of us rely on food to make us feel better after a tough day, this Utah teen only feels worse when he attempts to indulge in his mom's homemade lasagna or a comforting slice of chocolate cake.
Alex Visker, 19, is allergic to all food. More specifically, he's allergic to the proteins that food contains. After even just a bite, he knows he would get hives, fatigue, extreme nausea, and a long-lasting headache. In an interview with PEOPLE, Visker said:
"I'm hungry and I want food all the time, but I know it's not worth it," Alex tells PEOPLE. "It's not worth my life. I feel lucky to be alive."
Visker has not had a single bite of any solid food in four years. Instead, he is fed through a feeding tube connected to his stomach. The tube contains a high-calorie formula that supplies all of Visker's necessary nutrients. He told PEOPLE:
"I can't even put something in my mouth just to taste it, and that's hard because I remember what food tastes like. 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's condition has no official name. His Salt Lake City dermatologist, Gerald Gleich, combines antihistamines, Xolair, and formula to help partially curb the symptoms. Nevertheless, Visker still doesn't want to risk feeling miserable from just a bite of food. Gleich told PEOPLE:
"Alex's situation is indeed rare, but he is much better now than he was a year ago."
Although he was only diagnosed four years ago, Visker began feeling sick after meals when he was only a toddler. His mother, Jodie, told PEOPLE:
"He had constant nausea and bone and muscle pain, and eventually he started having stomach convulsions. By the time he was in the fifth grade, things were so bad we decided to aggressively look for some answers."
At first, Visker received many false diagnoses. He was diagnosed with constipation, anxiety, and many other conditions that could contribute to Visker's bizarre symptoms. Finally, when the family got in touch with Gleich, the reasoning behind Visker's illness became more clear.
After Gleich prescribed medications for Mast Cell Activation Disorder, a genetic condition that gives people hives, itching, and even anaphylactic shock, Visker began to feel better. By that point, the high schooler had already missed over 300 days of school. His mom said:
"He managed to keep up a 3.6 GPA, but he was quite fatigued. It doesn't help that he can't go anywhere with strong scents or chemicals – they cause a reaction. In the 10th and 11th grades, he pretty much lived in bed."
Despite his upsetting prognosis, Visker remains positive and wants to make sure his friends don't feel uncomfortable eating in front of him. In fact, the 19-year-old even cooks for his friends. He also wants to keep up with his education. Now that he has graduated high school, he's hoping to take online college classes to become a computer programmer.
Given Visker's impressive strength and perseverance, it's not surprise that his friends and even some strangers have joined forces to raise finds through a GoFundMe page to pay for Visker's medications and education. Visker told PEOPLE:
"I'm just grateful to wake up each morning and know that I'm alive and feeling better. 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."
Watch this video to learn about some of the strangest allergies on the planet:
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