World IBD Day – Andrew's story

By Hannah Freeman - May 19, 2020

Today is World IBD (Inflammatory bowel disease) Day, uniting people worldwide in the fight against Crohn's disease and Ulcerative Colitis. Crohn's disease and Ulcerative Colitis are the two main forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, with thousands of people in the UK living with these lifelong, often hidden chronic conditions. Sufferers can be affected both psychically and mentally, making it difficult for many to talk about.

The charity Crohn's & Colitis UK are currently campaigning to raise awareness of IBD and the stigma the condition can carry. The current ‘#ItTakesGuts’ campaign aims to encourage individuals to share their stories with IBD. Creating the opportunity to start the conversation and raise awareness of both conditions. Our Web Development Engineer, Andrew Collins, spoke about his experience with Crohn’s in his recent FedTalk. Here at Concirrus, FedTalks are a chance for us as a team to get together and share knowledge. We host both internal and external speakers, covering topics from hobbies and careers to personal stories or challenges.

Andrew opened his talk with how Crohn’s disease has affected his day to day life. Developing the condition in 2004 when he had just started university. (Individuals tend to get diagnosed in their 20s and 30s). Before his diagnosis Andrew started to develop symptoms including acute weight loss making everyday life extremely difficult. Symptoms can include abdominal pain and cramping, Diarrhoea, vomiting, mouth ulcers and fatigue. With many experiencing other side effects leading to further complications. In the space of three months Andrew went from 19 stone to just 11.5 stone. Everyday activities that many of us can take for granted such as going for a drink after work or commuting can be stressful for sufferers.

In the last year Andrew has undergone two surgeries related to the condition which has led to time off work. Like many autoimmune diseases, Crohn’s is invisible which can lead to more challenges for suffers. ‘50% of people with Crohn’s and Colitis have received negative comments for using accessible toilets and 29% have been refused access’. For people with Crohn's and Colitis, the work that Crohn's & Colitis UK does includes creating a community who understand. It offers support to those affected by both conditions, whilst helping to break down any stigma observed.

“Just because you see a seemingly able person using a public disabled bathroom or using disabled seating on a train doesn’t mean they don’t have the right to sit there. We need to get rid of these assumptions as not every disability is visible. The ‘it takes guts’ campaign is what I'm participating in by talking about my experience in my fedtalk. There is a lot of stigma attached to talking about bowl habits and toilet usage which can be a taboo subject, especially at work, however its everyone's reality. Over 300,000 people in the UK alone are registered to have Crohn's or Colitis, with research suggesting that this number could be more than double as people are too scared to go to the doctors to talk about their issues. By starting the conversation, we can remove the stigma and raise awareness so more people can be helped.” - Andrew Collins.

We’d like to thank Andrew for taking the time to talk about his experience with Crohn’s, using his voice to raise awareness and start the conversation with the Concirrus team. #ItTakesGuts.

To find out more about Crohn's and Colitis or to donate and get involved with IBD day head to their website.


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