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'I put it off until I was at the stage where I couldn't walk properly or eat'

Over 20,000 people in Ireland suffer from either Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis. Clara Caslin shares her story.

BOWEL DISEASE CAN be a crippling problem if left undiagnosed.

As part of world inflamatory bowel disease day, an Irish organisation has called for more services for those who suffer with bowel disease.

Ireland has one of the highest rates of people living with either Crohn’s diseases or ulcerative colitis in the world.

There are over 20,000 sufferers of Inflammatory Bowel Disease(IBD) in Ireland.

Clara’s story:

Clara Caslin is a 22-year-old who suffers from Crohn’s disease. She was diagnosed when she was 18 but had been suffering from symptoms since the age of 12.

Photo 4 Clara Caslin Source: Marc O'Sullivan

She had bowel resection surgery in the past few years, and attends Beaumont Hospital for her disease.

For me, living with Crohn’s disease has become a daily reality. At first, when I experienced my symptoms, I didn’t want to acknowledge that there was an official problem.  I put it off until I was at the stage where I couldn’t walk properly or eat. I was in constant pain and tried to pretend that nothing was wrong but it was clear to see that I was rapidly deteriorating.

Caslin spoke about her journey saying she could have avoided surgery had she sought treatment earlier on. She also said how important having a specialist IBD nurse is to her:

If I didn’t have the support of my IBD nurse Mary Forry, I would feel a lot more vulnerable. There is a huge need for more IBD awareness in Ireland. The number of people suffering from IBD is increasing and I feel that there are so many undiagnosed cases because of the lack of awareness. I had never heard of Crohn’s disease before I was diagnosed and I think if I had any knowledge about it that I wouldn’t have been so afraid to address my illness in the beginning.

Support needed

The Irish Society for Colitis and Crohn’s Disease (ISCC) today launched a campaign urging minister for health, Simon Harris, to invest in resources for sufferers of the disease.

Chairperson of the ISCC, Bruno Lucas said:

All Inflammatory Bowel Disease patients should have access to a specialist nurse who understands their needs and can provide the right kind of support when they most need it

The campaign and manifesto launched today are to mark World Inflamatory Bowel Disease (IBD) day.

Photo 1 Bruno Lucas, Clara Caslin, Angela Mullen, Padraic MacMathúna launching campaign Source: Marc O'Sullivan

Lucas continued:

With the new government’s commitment to a fresh approach to the health service, it is time for a priority to be placed, for the first time, on the 20,000 people in Ireland who live with Crohn’s or colitis.

Every year there are 1,000 new cases of people diagnosed with the disease.

Lucas added: ”We desperately need a national strategy to fix the significant gaps that we see in terms of diagnosis and access to treatment.”

 This disease has a real, tangible effect on our economy, with almost 500 people each year forced to leave their jobs due to their condition

According to the ISCC over 450 children in Ireland live with Crohn’s or colitis, and 100 new cases are identified each year.

The disease:

Sufferers of Inflammatory Bowel Disease may be diagnosed with either Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.

Both chronic disorders cause inflammation of the small or large intestines or both. They may affect other body parts as well.

ISCC Manifesto 2016-2019

The manifesto asks for:

  • Immediate increased access to specialist IBD nurses and care team,
  • More self-care and patient empowerment,
  • Introduction of a sustainable funding model.

The overall aim is to improve the quality of life for patients suffering from bowel diseases.

Read: Living with Crohn’s disease: ‘I bring spare clothes with me in the car for the times I don’t make it to a bathroom’ >

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