A young woman has not eaten any food in over four years due to a rare disease.
Kelly Beckers, a 21-year-old woman from the Netherlands, suffers from the disease CIIP (chronic idiopathic intestinal pseudo-obstruction), which has destroyed her entire digestive tract.
Her intestines as well as her stomach are not working due to the disease which she contracted after complications that arose because she was born in a breech birth (in the wrong position).
Kelly has since been given an IV-line into one of her arteries so she can receive the vital supplements needed to survive.
She also has two ostomy bags to collect her faeces, as well as a line running from her nose which is meant to discharge her bile.
Despite the serious – and potentially fatal – disease, Kelly remains positive and has come forward with her story on World Ostomy Day, which was observed last Saturday, to tell more about her disease and to encourage others suffering from it.
“I’m living life to the fullest and try to get everything out of it,” Kelly said.
Because of the IV-line into her artery, Kelly runs the risks of infections which would cause blood poisoning.
“I had this so many times before, with even antibiotics not working. If I get sick again now, the chance is high that I will die.
“In November I was on the edge of death. An infection started in my line which stops three centimetres away from my heart.
“My parents then even said their farewells to me because it looked like I would die. The line was then removed, which was my luck.”
She said there is only one thing that she cannot do just like any other person: eating. She has not had a meal in the last four and a half years.
“I don’t miss it, because I can’t really picture it anymore,” she said. “But I do miss the social aspect around it.
“Think of it: what will you do if you want to meet with your friends for a fun day? Everything revolves around food. I can’t partake in that, so often I sit there rather uncomfortable with a cup of light broth just for the form.”
Kelly said she is not ashamed of her body despite the many lines and ostomy bags.
“I hope the taboo around ostomy bags gets less and that people dare to ask questions to me instead of just staring,” she said.
Even though she is unable to work because of the illness, Kelly is giving classes about her disease at schools and also volunteers at the local sports club.
Kelly has a support dog named Lyfke, who has helped her gain her independence back.
“It has happened before that I became unwell and my father just got there in time. It turned out I suffered from internal bleeding. If I was alone at that moment, I would not have been able to tell the tale,” she said.
“Now with Lyfke I dare to be home alone again. She can warn people if something goes wrong and she helps me around the house. She is only unable to iron my clothes.”