I was recently invited by Crohn’s & Colitis UK, a British charity, to test out their free app which has been designed to raise awareness of Crohn’s and colitis (both forms of Irritable Bowel Disorder) and show just how debilitating the conditions can be. The charity is fairly important to me so I was more than happy to provide a review for the new app and hopefully convince others to use it. Please note that I haven’t been offered any compensation or payment in return for trialling the app as it has been developed by a charity.
In My Shoes
Crohn’s & Colitis UK have teamed up with pharmaceutical company Takeda UK to create In My Shoes: 24 Hours with Crohn’s or Colitis – an immersive app that will allow anyone to experience first-hand what it’s like to have Crohn’s or Colitis.
From depleting energy levels to managing pain, from rushing to the toilet to juggling work and a social life, the app will allow friends, family and anyone you want, to see first- hand how the condition can affect every part of your body, and every aspect of your life. Don’t worry – after 24 hours they can return to their normal lives. But they’ll do so with a deeper understanding and appreciation of what you have to go through every day.
In My Shoes: 24 hours with Crohn’s or Colitis is a simulation experience to give the user an insight into the challenges faced by people living with these conditions. Crohn’s and Colitis affect people in many different ways, so the app aims to give a broad overview of the key symptoms and impact on daily living.
(Taken from In My Guts)
Why I Chose To Test The App
Although I don’t have Crohn’s or colitis myself I do suffer from migraines, a condition which has recently developed into a chronic illness and started to really affect my life for the worse. Being a sufferer of an invisible illness I know how difficult it can be to get your condition across to others, and those that do have invisible illnesses need much more support to ensure they can access what they require to in order to live functional, semi-normal lives.
The main reason I wanted to test out this app is because my Dad suffers from Crohn’s, and has done since before I was born. Although now in remission, with symptoms much less harsh than they once were, a misdiagnosis of his Crohn’s disease nearly led to a much more serious outcome – something which perhaps could have been avoided were bowel diseases more understood in those days. There has been lots of medical progress since, but not enough in the way of getting the general public to understand the conditions, so I was really excited to see how this app does just that.
My App Experiences
I chose a day whilst working from home to test out the app as I knew there was no way I could accurately use it whilst at work without severely affecting my job (which already says enough about the Crohn’s and colitis on its own!). It’s very easy to use – you simply download the app, set a timer for when you want to start, and then wait for further instructions.
Once you start using the app you receive notifications over the course of the day which highlight issues that you are experiencing – these range from needing to go to the toilet very suddenly to having to consider cancelling plans because you feel so awful. At the bottom of the screen is a measurement of three things – pain, energy, and mood. These fluctuate during the day and are directly affected by the decisions that you make during the tasks. Not all tasks come with a decision though – some things you just can’t change.
Some of the notifications would include timers, where you would have to complete a set task within the time limit to avoid something more disastrous – one of these was getting to a toilet in time. This wasn’t too difficult at home (though I still managed to fail this task a couple of times due to my phone notifications playing up) but I could only imagine how difficult this would be for me at work, where I often have to go for hours without a toilet immediately accessible. Usually there is a public toilet a short walk away, but the accessible one isn’t always available and sometimes that short walk may prove too long for someone that desperately needs it. Those notifications alone made me realise just how difficult having such a condition can be.
The other notifications brought up a whole range of emotions – guilt from having to take extra breaks from work, frustration at not being able to spend my free time the way I wanted to, and disappointment at only being able to eat low-fibre foods. Fibre is one of my favourite food groups and, growing up, wasn’t massively featured within our home-cooked meals due to my Dad’s illness, so I think this is one aspect of the disease I’d really struggle with (there’s only so much beige I can take on my plate). It made me think about just how limited my Dad’s diet is – although we could have different vegetable sides to him, he’d only be able to eat very basic vegetable portions specifically designed to contain low fibre, and if he were to eat something he shouldn’t then he’d suffer for days because of it.
Each time you have a task come up the app prompts you to record your feelings about it with a question or two. I loved this feature as it really got me thinking about the condition and how it would affect me personally, which is a great way to get someone to really understand it. There are often links or documents available to download as well, each containing further information on the issue plus other useful resources.
I was honestly relieved when the app experience came to an end, as the notifications were much more frequent than I had anticipated and had caused disruption throughout my day. That’s a good thing though, as it really showed me how debilitating Crohn’s and colitis can be. My experience was of course watered down as I wasn’t experiencing the actual physical issues that a diagnosed sufferer would be, but it was still enough to become annoying and quite eye-opening as to what people with the disease go through.
I wasn’t sure if I’d learn anything new, already having a sufferer in my family, but I feel like I did – my awareness has increased, as has my empathy (which was already pretty high). It really got me thinking about things, such as the lack of empathy towards people with invisible illnesses trying to use disabled toilets, and made me realise that there is much more that needs to be done for sufferers.
For anyone wanting to understand more about Irritable Bowel Disorder, Crohn’s Disease, and Ulcerative Colitis, this is an excellent app with which to do so. If I’m honest, I think everyone should download it and trial it for a day – the world might be a much more understanding place if they did.
If you’d like to download the In My Shoes app for yourself then you can do so using this link – available on the App Store and Google Play.
Crohn’s & Colitis UK
Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis are the two main forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, affecting more than 300,000 people in the UK.
Yet it is largely a hidden disease, and one that causes stigma, fear and isolation – it’s thought that many people with the condition go undiagnosed and suffer in silence. It doesn’t have to be like this.
We are the UK’s leading charity in the battle against Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis and we have dozens of free information sheets, booklets and guides that demystify Crohn’s and Colitis for anyone affected by them, including friends, family, medical professionals and even employers.
(Taken from Crohn’s & Colitis UK)
What are your experiences with Crohn’s Disease? Would you be willing to also use the app to find out more about it? Comment below, and don’t forget to like and pin!
You can check out some of my recent reviews here: