Scots radio presenter opens up on battle with Crohn's after stress led to 'burnout'

Radio presenter Aarti Joshi has spoken out about her battle with Crohn's disease and shock diagnosis after hidden stress led to 'burnout'.

Crohn's is a lifelong condition where parts of the digestive system become inflamed. The unpredictable disease can see a person can go from being well to "incredibly unwell".

Aarti's symptoms included fatigue, an infection and a 'weird skin rash', Glasgow Live reports.

The Scots-Indian who suffers from eczema says that she knew the rash was different. But Aarti, from Glasgow, believes doctors misdiagnosed is because of the colour of her skin.

She was diagnosed after being rushed to A&E in 2019 following a busy weekend working at TRNSMT for DF Concerts. Medics told her she'd need emergency surgery.

She said: "For about six months, I was exhausted but I wasn’t giving into it and refused to accept it. I had been working on TRNSMT that weekend and had known something was wrong.

"When I walked into the hospital, they asked me what I was up to at the weekend so I told them and they all looked at me really confused. They said "we are going to need to operate on you right away" and were not sure how I walked into the hospital.

"That was pretty shocking to me."

Aarti's diagnosis came as a relief but brought a feeling of dread for her future.

She confessed she loved her job as head of marketing for DF Concerts. But said at times it caused her stress - which doctors said was a factor in her Crohn's flare up.

She added: "It can present in hundreds of different ways - you could be really ill or fine and it could be controlled. When I went to the hospital, they said that my Crohn's was caused by stress, it was a large factor.

"I was telling everyone I wasn't stressed and storing it inside. Looking back, I realise that I was in burnout. The minute you feel like that, it’s time to do something about it instead of waiting until you get really ill.

"When I get a flare up it’s really bad abdominal pain and my skin tends to flare up. I get red patches on my face and will be at the toilet a lot more than normally. I would also wake up and be really tired."

Aarti quit her job in March 2022 and went on to work as a presenter on GoRadio. She's also a life coach at Freedom and Joy.

After cutting out gluten and dairy from her diet she noticed her health improving, including her eczema and asthma. She has not had a significant flare up in two years.

Aarti added: "The trigger for me was stress and my realisation was that the job I was in would cause stress. I had to do something different.

"DF were incredibly supportive and understanding throughout that time and I made a wild decision to leave. Making that change has been the best thing for my health.

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"Some of what I was eating must have been causing that reaction but I never knew that. I am now managing the illness through my diet and am not on medication.

"It does scare me with how unpredictable the disease is. When it happens, you are just really sad and it can make me feel quite negative. Sometimes, I have to cancel coaching calls because I am not in a good place and my clients are understanding about it."

Sharing her advice to others who might have or have been diagnosed with Crohn's disease, Aarti said: "This is a warning to people: I’ve always been somebody who is like ‘it’ll be fine’.

"I kept going to the doctors for tablets and they weren't brilliant with investigating this properly and then I ended up in the hospital for three different operations.

"With this disease, it’s important to understand that you can be very well for a long period of time and then become incredibly unwell - so much so that your life could change completely.

"As South Asians, we could be a bit closed off and stoic. It would be so great to talk about it more in our communities because I do think it impacts so many people in our community.

"You can live a really full life with this disease. Most people live with it every day and have great, happy and fulfilling lives.

"People with Crohn’s are exactly the same, it’s just that sometimes we have really bad days."

Aarti says that knowing about the Catherine McEwan Foundation when she was first diagnosed would have been a huge support.

The charity, which aims to provide better treatment, care and life for patients battling Crohn's or Colitis, has launched a campaign to highlight the isolation that comes with living with inflammatory bowel diseases ahead of World IBD Day this weekend (Sunday May 19).

Having launched in Glasgow yesterday, the campaign features a QR code made from 100 empty toilet rolls. On scanning, the QR code comes to life with a straight-talking film about how "sh*t" it is living with IBD.

The film features Scottish football legend, Alex McLeish OBE, and musician Rick Parfitt Jr, as well as a number of 'real' people living with IBD from across Scotland.

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