A former soldier has become a “human beer keg” due to a bizarre medical condition that causes his stomach to turn food into alcohol.
Ray Lewis, 48, suffers from auto-brewery syndrome (ABS), a rare and controversial condition that means his body turns excess carbs into booze.
One meal can leave him paralytic.
The former US army paratrooper, from Eugene, Oregon, claims he ended up losing his job as a truck driver after he crashed after eating his lunch.
His wife Sierra even feared he was a closet alcoholic and put him on a strict detox diet, banning him from having access to his bank account to buy alcohol.
But Ray was still getting “drunk” every day – until he was eventually diagnosed with the bizarre condition in September 2015.
Ray is restricted to a diet of protein, vegetables, and nuts, and is not allowed to touch chocolate, chips, or any other sugars or carbohydrates.
And his wife has even resorted to attaching a GPS tracker to Ray if she has to leave him alone – in case he becomes drunk and wanders off.
“Most people have laughed at us when we say the words ‘auto-brewery’. They only stop making jokes when they realise it is not a joke and that we are both suffering,” Ray said.
“It has the same physiological effects on the body as lifelong binge drinking. The body’s organs don’t know or care where the booze originates.
“The triggers can be infuriatingly inconsistent, but I can’t eat sugary snacks or carb-rich foods I used to enjoy.
“Obviously drinking is out too, but I wouldn’t want to do that. Getting drunk without knowing when or why is just horrible.”
Long term alcohol misuse has been linked to heart disease, stroke and cancer.
Sierra, who runs a soap business and looks after Ray, said: “I only leave him alone at home when I must go to work in town. I rarely leave his side for long.
“I got a GPS tracking device that is clipped to his backpack if I have to leave him unattended in public.
“One minute he is fine and the next it smells like someone has smashed a vodka bottle on the ground.”
Ray and Sierra met in California 17 years ago and married in 2006.
Ray began experiencing ABS symptoms in late 2013, feeling nauseous, sweaty, and repeating conversations up to five times a day.
But the alarm bells did not truly start ringing until Ray crashed his truck in December 2014.
Sierra added: “He would suddenly be intoxicated after spending hours within arms-reach of me as he helped me sell my soaps at various craft fairs.
“We were working side-by-side for eight to 10 hours straight, eating the same exact foods, and sharing beverage cups. I had no idea what was going on.”
Sierra and Ray only came across ABS when a friend mentioned they had seen it on a television show.
After researching the condition they decided that however rare and unlikely it sounded, ABS was the only explanation for Ray’s sudden drunkenness.
Even after swearing he had not let a single drop of booze past his lips Ray’s blood alcohol readings could measure above the legal limit.
In 2015 they were referred to Dr Anup Kanodia in Ohio who diagnosed his condition.
Since his diagnosis Ray has been struggling to adapt to life as an “alcoholic”.
“I used to be an avid outdoorsman. I learned to fish before I could walk, and am always most content in the middle of nowhere,” he said.
“But it’s almost impossible to lead that life now.
“I have to self-test for blood alcohol levels ten times a day and then again if someone asks me to.
“I’m getting better at noticing when flare-ups are starting, but I can go upstairs for five minutes and before I have started to come back down I’m unable to walk or talk.
“Spikes leave me unsteady and very confused, to the point where I lose track of time and forget to eat or drink.
“Fortunately I have great friends around who help take care of me. I’m exceedingly grateful for those caring souls.”
Culled from The Sun UK