Suffering alone, in shame: living with bowel disease

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Suffering alone, in shame: living with bowel disease

Misjudged and ostracised by their peers and teachers, thousands in SA keep their illness under wraps

Journalist

Having been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at 24, Vicki Sleet never had the courage to talk openly about her illness.

It was only in the past few years, after two decades of living with the medical condition and having gone through more than 20 surgeries, two near-death experiences and an ileocolectomy, that she finally faced up to her health struggles – to “marry the truth and life”.

“For many years I swept it under the carpet. I just didn’t want to talk about it. People would say, wow! You’ve been in hospital for two weeks. I would say, oh! Yes, I’ve got Crohn’s, but I’m fine now and quickly change the subject. My whole life I’ve been doing that. I didn’t want to talk about it because I was ashamed to tell people what I’m going through. I mean, who wants to tell people that you’ve been to the toilet more than 40 times in one day!”..

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