At the age of 13, having just returned from school camp, Tim was struggling with constant diarrhoea, and stomach cramps. At first he and his parents thought that Tim had caught a bug while on camp, but his symptoms did not abate. After many blood tests, stool tests and diet changes, Tim was sent off for a colonoscopy, after which his diagnosis was confirmed as Crohn’s disease.

Initially, Tim received steroids to settle down the inflammation in his gut, and then he was prescribed various medications over many years to manage the disease. Tim found that his body would eventually get used to the medication and it would become less effective, therefore his specialist would need to prescribe a new drug.

Living with Crohn’s disease can be very limiting, as you never know when you are going to suffer an attack. It is difficult when Tim suffers a flare up as along with the pain and diarrhoea, there is also incredible fatigue. In addition Tim explained ‘people don’t always understand what you are going through as you don’t look sick’.

Like all people living with this disease, Tim has become used to planning his life knowing that he may become sick very quickly. Whilst at university, Tim felt a sudden onset of immense pain and he collapsed; he was sent straight to emergency, and it was discovered that Tim’s bowel had perforated. Tim was initially treated in hospital for a few weeks, before being sent home to continue his recovery and prepare for bowel resection surgery. Tim then spent another few weeks in hospital recovering from his surgery.

It is living with the uncertainty of when he will have a flare up that has had the biggest impact on Tim’s life, however Tim is determined not to let it define him. Tim has a very positive attitude, and looks after himself with a healthy diet and exercise. Tim has even run a couple of marathons in the years since his surgery, and has used his experience of living with Crohn's disease to make theatrical performances to spread awareness and challenge the stigmas associated with the disease.

Tim was very interested to learn about the progress at the Bionics Institute whereby our researchers have created a novel device that will enable detection of gut inflammation that will therapeutically stimulate the vagus nerve to ease the symptoms of Crohn’s disease. In particular, Tim found the concept of inflammation being reduced without the need for steroids and prescription medication very appealing.

Tim is thankful for all the medical support he has received over the past 16 years and is appreciative that his symptoms are controlled most of the time. Tim chooses to live the best life possible and he is excited about what the future may hold in regards to the research into Crohn’s disease.