Many Australians living with Crohn’s disease can relate to the powerful message given by fellow Crohn’s sufferer Ste Walker.
Ste Walker, who is 24 and currently resides in Halifax, West Yorkshire, was sick and tired of people judging him for using disabled toilets, stating that while he may not look ‘disabled’ at a glance, people need to know that not all illnesses are obvious.
“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,” Walker posted in an emotional Facebook post which has since gone viral.
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“You 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 realise that I have a major illness…”
Crohn’s is a chronic, inflammatory bowel disease which causes inflammation, irritation or swelling in the gastrointestinal tract and typically affects the small intestine and the beginning of the large intestine. It can be painful, cause severe diarrhea, and lead to weight loss and malnutrition.
In Walker’s Facebook post, he continued to inform those who look down on him for using disabled parking spaces and bathrooms by posting a selfie wearing a t-shirt, looking like a normal guy alongside an image of him bare-chested with tubes running from his chest and nose.
“I have a Hickman line, which is a line that comes out on my chest and rests in my heart. This is what is use to feed me on something called TPN as my stomach doesn’t work correctly.
“I have a ryhlls tube down my nose and into my stomach to help drain it, because my stomach doesn’t empty like a normal persons does.
“I have a scar that runs from the centre of my chest to the top of my pubic bone which is where I’ve been opened up 3 times in the last 2 years for major life saving surgeries.
“I have an ileostomy, or stoma as they are more commonly known, this is a section of small bowel that comes out of my abdomen which I then attach a stoma bag on to, to collect poo because inside my bowels it’s full of crohns disease, ulcers, strictures, fistulas, narrow sections, tumours etc.”
Walker finished his rant with a powerful message.
“So the next time someone says to me – “well you look perfectly fine, why are you using that disabled toilet, or parking in that disabled spot, your conning the system, your not disabled, you don’t need that walking stick” just stop and think maybe I just want TO BE FINE or to feel normal, you don’t no what I go threw on a daily basis and you have no right to judge me just on your perception of me that you can see because you don’t no what goes on inside…..so stop and think before you speak, think about the struggle I’ve gone threw just to get out of bed and get dressed and tried to look ‘normal’…..
As of Thursday, the post had received more than 66,000 likes and thousands of comments and shares.