But although it gave him all the seafood he could want, he became a carpenter and foreman and “never really thought about getting into food as a career.” That is, until October 2016, when fate intervened. After crippling pains (or “what I thought was a really bad hangover”) sent him to multiple GPs and eventually hospital, Ben, 31, was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis.
He and wife Caitlyn, 30, had been married only three months. “It was really shocking,” he says. And he’s been off work since then. “They think the cause can be stress and my job was quite stressful,” he recalls. “They also put it down to genetics ... It’s a lot more common than people realise and a lot of people don’t talk about it because it is a sensitive topic involving the bowel.”
Doctors first tried a blood infusion treatment, which was unsuccessful, and his ulcerated colon had to be removed. Then last May he had a colostomy bag fitted. Although it’s "very confronting," Ben acknowledges that "it isn't the worst thing in the world." In fact, it's cause for reflection. "If I'd lived in another country I could be dead," he says.
- With reporting by Erin Miller
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