If you've got a broken leg in a cast everyone clamors to sign it. A dramatic set of stitches and your friends pour over you to offer their sympathy and get a closer look. You come down with the flu and although your boss probably isn’t convinced you’re really sick enough to need a day off work, it’s clear from your puffy eyes, drawn face and red nose you’re not on top form.
But some suffer from diseases and ailments that aren’t so visible. Not everyone appreciates or understands the battles and hardship they face every day.
One young man recently tired of being judged and deemed perfectly able, despite suffering a debilitating condition. 24 year old Ste Walker from Halifax, England, suffers from Crohn's Disease.
Ste recently vented his frustration on his Facebook page, after people called him out using disabled parking and disabled toilets.
“People are too quick to judge these days, just because I look normal and speak normal, that doesn't mean I don't have a major disability....to look at me I look like any normal guy my age, but that's because I want you to view me like that....look a bit closer though, or ask me questions, and you will soon realize that I have a major illness...”
A young healthy looking guy. Via Facebook
Looks can be decieving. Via Facebook
The NHS described Crohn's disease as a “long-term condition that causes inflammation of the lining of the digestive system”, of which the cause is unknown, but likely attributed to genetics or an inflammatory immune response.
Crohns itself can lead to many complications and is a life-long condition, which can occasionally go into remission of periods of time.
Ste goes on to elaborate that hidden underneath his thin veil of clothing, he constantly wears his Hickman line, which is a silicone tube inserted under the collarbone with two or three “lumens” attached - these lumens allow medication and nutrients to be administered intravenously at the same time (as Ste’s stomach doesn’t function properly). He also has an ileostomy, or a stoma bag, which attached to the outside of his body and funneled into by part of his small bowel, which does the job of his bowel as he explains his is “full of chrohns disease, ulcers, strictures, fistulas, narrow sections, tumours etc.”
Not only does he also require a Ryhlls tube down his nose to assist with draining his stomach, he also only has 3 foot of large bowel whereas the average person has 5, and 8 foot of small bowel as compared to 20 foot in an average person due to a series of major surgeries.
Ste goes on to explain the many complications he suffers due to Crohns
All my medication are IV and I give them threw my Hickman line, this means at least I can use medication to help me cope, but the downside to this is it has caused one of the arteries in my liver to clog up. My kidneys are also not in the best condition as I am dehydrated constantly.
Then there's the conditions that I have got because of crohns disease, things like osteoarthritis in my knees from prolonged steroid use, gastro-paresis from not using my stomach in so long, chronic pain syndrome, anxiety from spending all my time in hospital, these are to name but a few.
He also explains that it’s not ‘simply’ physical problems he contends with on a daily basis.
It's not just these physical conditions I have to deal with and fight everyday, there is also a mental battle raging inside me all the time, not being able to eat a meal in 2 years, or only been at home for 4 weeks in the last 18 months, being away from my family and friends, seeing what my illness does to them has a massive effect on my mental state of mind.
Just because you can’t, at that very moment see a person's illness (which is none of your business anyway) does not mean they do not suffer.
Ste summarises by saying “you have no right to judge me just on your perception of me that you can see, because you don't know what goes on inside.....so stop and think before you speak, think about the struggle I've gone through just to get out of bed and get dressed and tried to look 'normal'.....