A Crohn’s disease sufferer in Limavady has spoken of the ‘loneliness’ of her illness and the support provided by a local charity.
Jennifer Devlin, a mother of three from Limavady, is trying to raise awareness of the charity Let’s Talk Crohn’s and Collitis Northern Ireland.
It is an illness that leaves you very isolated and lonelyJennifer Devlin
The charity have been in existence for almost exactly one year after they were set up by three young sufferers of Crohn’s and Collitis.
Limavady woman and Crohn’s sufferer Jennifer Devlin told the Sentinel that the charity have provided invaluable help and support as she struggled with her diagnosis.
“I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease last year”, she said. “When I was in the hospital they said to me about the charity. At that time, they weren’t going all that long. There were a lot of things, events and things like that, that were happening up in Belfast. It was three young people that set it up. They were all sufferers themselves.
“In January they had their first meeting, the first time everybody was able to meet together at the same time. They had another in March.
“I have found them to be a great help to me personally. I didn’t even know what Crohn’s was before I got the diagnosis and they have been very helpful for me because I have been able to ask people who have got the illness about things and that has been a great comfort.
“I’m still learning things about it all the time. I can ask people about the side effects of treatments and see if others are having the same problems.
“You hear from other people who can relate to you and who know what you are talking about. You also hear so many success stories from people who got their lives back. When you are sitting in the situation and you are going through all these treatments and you can hear from someone who has had a colostomy bag say that it was the best thing they ever did then it makes you more positive.
“Before I was diagnosed I never really talked about bowel movements. It is an illness that leaves you very isolated and lonely. I’ve now got depression and anxiety because of it. If I was explaining to people about the effects it has on you they maybe don’t really know, or want to know, what you are talking about.
“The people that are sufferers are all on the same page - you know you are not on your own. They have been brilliant. When I was in the hospital there was no support group. I am a member of a UK charity as well but I get more information about the illness from the local charity.
“Fatigue can be a big part of it. If you say that you are having a bad day, someone from the group will respond. The ones in the group are very helpful because they understand what you are going through.
“I would really just like to raise awareness of the organisation - especially in this area. There are maybe five or six different people in Limavady that I didn’t even know before we met through the charity. I don’t know how many other people there are who have never heard of the charity.”