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Man With Crohn's Posts Personal Photo After Being Accused of Faking Condition

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Ste Walker is tired of people making assumptions about his health based on his appearance.

Walker, 24, from West Yorkshire, England, has severe Crohn’s disease and has spent all but four weeks of the last 18 months in in the hospital, the Mirror reported. He’s undergone three life-saving operations in the last three years and he also faces heart, liver, bowel and kidney problems as a result of his condition.

While Walker’s condition is debilitating, it is also nearly invisible to those who don’t know him, and because of this he’s often faced with questions and criticism from strangers. Sick of people taking issue with him using a handicapped parking permit, or a toilet for people with disabilities when in public, Walker took to Facebook to vent his frustrations.

On Sunday, October 25, he posted a photo of himself looking “normal” along with one that shows his scars and tubes. He then wrote an extensive post about all the difficulties he’s had to face because of his disease. His post clearly resonated with people, as it’s been shared nearly 9,000 times and liked by more than 26,000 people.

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Read Walker’s full post below: 

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.

– I have a Hickman line, which is a line that comes out on my chest and rests in my heart. This is what is used 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 person’s 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 three times in the last two 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 to, to collect poo because inside my bowels it’s full of Crohn’s disease, ulcers, strictures, fistulas, narrow sections, tumors, etc.
– a normal person would have about 20 feet of small bowel and five feet of large bowel, [but] due to all my surgeries, I have three feet of large bowel left and only eight feet of small bowel left. This causes major problems, short bowel syndrome (SBS) is one of them. This causes me to have a high output in my stoma which in turn dehydrates me. It also means I don’t absorb nutrients from food (which is why I’m on TPN) and I don’t absorb oral medications, liquids or tablets as all these are absorbed in the small bowel.
– I have a section of bowel attached to my stomach because my duodenum is full of strictures and active disease so my stomach doesn’t empty through it. The loop of bowel I had joined to it (gastrojejunostomy) was meant to solve this problem but because my stomach hasn’t worked in so long it won’t start working again so that’s why I use TPN.
– All of my medication is IV and I [get] them through 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 because of Crohn’s disease, things like osteoarthritis in my knees from prolonged steroid use, gastroparesis 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.
– 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. [I haven’t] been able to eat a meal in two years, and I’ve only been at home for four weeks in the last 18 months. I’ve been away from my family and friends [and] seeing what my illness does to them has a massive effect on my mental state of mind.

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?” or “You’re conning the system, you’re 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 know what I go through on a daily basis and you have no right to judge me just on your perception of me 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 try to look “normal.”

Sorry for the super long post but I needed to rant.

 Related: 49 People With Chronic Illness Who Are Totally ‘Faking It’

Originally published: October 29, 2015
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