Man battles an invisible illness everyday whilst caring for the elderly

Cookstown Care Centre manager Phillip McGowan battles an invisible illness everyday whilst caring for over 75 elderly residents.

Phillip suffers with the incurable disease Crohn’s. This is a chronic inflammation of the digestive tract which leads to severe abdominal pain and in turn bowel issues.

Whilst dealing with his Crohn’s he also manages a care facility in Cookstown which houses over 75 residents. All the residents require 24 hour care, this means Phillip must oversee a huge team of medical staff as well as domestic staff.

To do his job he has overcome many health challenges that lay in his wake. In the beginning Phillip’s diagnosis of Crohn’s disease resulted in a change of direction for his career.

He trained to be a nurse and states that this was his ‘passion’, “I wished to look after others and become a super nurse, this required me to deal with emergencies and be at a patients beckon call, but my body can no longer facilitate this”.

The uncertainty of the condition created a need to achieve his passion in another way. ‘’I required a job which could help me to regulate my eating and sleeping pattern in order to make my life with Crohn’s disease somewhat easier”.

This led to a battle with mental health alongside the physical impact of Crohn’s disease. “I was no longer able to achieve my dream this resulted in a fear filled depression”.

Despite these battles Phillip gained his current position as care centre manager in Cookstown’s Fair Field care centre. “This job has given me back my spark, I feel I still have an input into a job I love”.

“Through this position I am able to give back to the residents emotionally rather than physically by spending time with them and ensuring their needs are being met and respected”.

This position allowed Phillip to achieve his passion and overcome the barriers that at first prevented him from doing what he loved.

Crohn’s has not only impacted Phillips job but daily life as well. “I have also had to alter my family life as well as profession, due to the uncertainty of the condition you can be well and on top of the world and all of a sudden be in pain. As a result, plans for the whole day can go out the window”.

Phillip has overcome many of the barriers the disease has presented however he has had to “learn to deal with symptoms rather than try to cure them”.