Ste Walker goes through daily life much differently than many people, though you probably wouldn’t know it by looking at him.
The Halifax, England, man is battling Crohn’s disease, an incurable condition that affects about 1.6 million people in the United States alone. The inflammation in the digestive tract brings with it many painful problems that cause numerous complications.
In Walker’s case, he’s gone through more than 80 operations in the past two years. Despite all that he goes through, Walker still faces criticism from people who doubt his illness.
“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,” he wrote in a now-viral Facebook post. He goes on to explain the various medical devices and lines he must maintain on his body.
“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,” he added. “I have a Ryles tube down my nose and into my stomach to help drain it, because my stomach doesn’t empty like a normal person’s does.”
He also has a scar that runs down his chest and to his pubic bone, which has been opened three times in the past two years for major surgeries. He goes on to explain the long list of physical and mental aspects of dealing with Crohn’s, and it shows just how much he bravely battles each day just to stay alive.
“There is also a mental battle raging inside me all the time, not been able to eat a meal in two years, or only being at home for four 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,” he added.
The public is just now learning more about the importance of not judging people who have invisible illnesses, but posts like Walker’s show we have a long way to go in understanding that just because you don’t see an illness, doesn’t mean it’s not there. “Stop and think before you speak, think about the struggle I’ve gone threw (sic) just to get out of bed and get dressed and tried to look ‘normal,'” he wrote.