Nineteen-year-old Aimee Rouski may look like any other carefree, attractive teen on the outside. But when she showed what was underneath her clothes in a viral Facebook post, she let the world know that there is often more to people than what meets the eye, especially for those dealing with chronic or invisible illnesses.
Rouski has been a long time sufferer of Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory autoimmune disease of the bowel that left her in a huge amount of pain and with mouth ulcers and constant stomach cramps. When she was 15, she decided to undergo a 7 month hospital stay to help resolve her issues after her disease didn’t respond to traditional treatments. The surgery removed her colon, large intestine, rectum and anus she now has a permanent ileostomy bag to collect waste. The doctors used her inner thigh muscles to help close up the wounds on her stomach.
She wrote a Facebook post, complete with pictures of her ileostomy bag, which has been shared over 20,000 times and has received over 13,000 comments of support. On May 25, 2016, she wrote:
“I’ve wanted to do this for a while because I always see body posi posts for weight, but not many for disabilities / invisible illnesses.
First off I have Crohn’s disease, it’s a serious incurable illness that nearly killed me, not just a stomach ache like most people seem to think.
A person with crohns will go through many different treatments including surgery, and it’s the surgery I want to touch on now.
My Crohns has left me with a permanent ileostomy, no large intestine, colon, rectum, anus, or inner thigh muscles as they were used for plastic surgery on my wounds.
I’ve always 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.
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 ❤️”
“I’ve never really been a very confident person so the bag made no difference initially, but I actually feel much more confident in myself now after doing my post.”
Anna Scanlon is an author of YA and historical fiction and a PhD student at the University of Leicester where she is finishing her degree in modern history.