A UK man shares intimate details about his fight against Crohn's disease in an effort to correct misconceptions about the "invisible" disease.
In a Facebook post that has already gone viral, Halifax resident Ste Walker, 24, shared what it's like to have Crohn's disease, a chronic and long-term inflammatory disease affecting the digestive system especially the small and large intestine, after people have judged him of pretending to be disabled just because he looked normal.
According to his post, the disease has caused him to undergo major surgeries that reduced the length of his small and large intestines by 8 feet and 5 feet respectively. For a normal person, the length would have been 20 feet for the small intestine and 5 feet for the large intestine. The reduction led to problems including short bowel syndrome, which prevents his body from absorbing food nutrients as well as medications. It also leads to dehydration. He has gone through a number of life-saving surgeries as evident by a long scar that runs close to his chest down to the upper part of his pubic bone.
Although he has gone through bowel resection as his duodenum is severely affected by the disease, his stomach isn't functioning. Thus, he is connected to a Hickman line where TPN (total parenteral nutrition) passes through. He also wears a tube that helps drain stomach contents since his doesn't like a "normal person does." Walker also needs a stoma bag to collect his wastes since his bowels are littered with the disease as well as fistulas, tumors, and ulcers.
His Crohn's disease also contributed to the development of osteoarthritis due to prolonged use of steroids, chronic pain syndrome, and gastroparesis due to the long-term non-use of his stomach. He further mentioned that aside from physical pain, the disease is challenging him mentally. He's been battling anxiety and other mental issues for not being able to spend enough time with family and friends, for being in the hospital multiple times, and for being not able to eat a regular meal for the past two years.
His honest post has obtained strong support including from Colostomy Association who shared that many people who have a similar condition are often judged if they use the disability toilet. They stressed the importance of an enhanced public awareness about the disease so people like Walker can use the toilets without fear of being embarrassed or harassed.