A 19-year-old who spoke out about her battle with Crohn’s disease to raise awareness of invisible illnesses has gone viral after she shared photos of her scars and ileostomy bag. Aimee Rouski, who was diagnosed with Crohn’s at 15, has undergone three major surgeries and has had long hospital stays.
“I’d had severe Crohn’s for a very long time and wasn’t responding to any medicinal treatments,” Rouski told Metro.co.uk. “Eventually I got so bad that surgery was the only way to save me.”
In the Facebook post, Rouski reveals that she a permanent ileostomy, no large intestine, colon, rectum, anus or inner thigh muscles, which were used to cover the wounds on her stomach.
“I’ve been okay with the stuff that has happened to me, but some people have real difficulties accepting these things so I just want to say this,” Rouski posted. “No one will know unless you tell them. People who know will still love you and still find you beautiful. Your illness is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about.”
The post has been shared more than 7,500 times and has more than 26,000 likes.
Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract that most commonly affects the end of the small bowel and the beginning of the colon. Symptoms may present as persistent diarrhea, rectal bleeding, urgent need to move bowels, abdominal cramps and pain, sensation of incomplete evacuation and constipation. According to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, as many as 700,000 Americans may be affected by the disease, though it is more prevalent among adolescents and young adults.