A former soldier says he “feels dead inside” due to a infectious disease that he says is slowly killing him.
Steve Kane, 50, a Gulf War veteran from Birkhill, has tabes dorsalis — an ailment that is characterised by a slow denigration of spinal cord nerves.
He says that he has been left unable to work and is in so much pain every day that his “life is ruined completely”.
He said: “I feel like I am completely alone.
“My life just gets worse and worse.
“It is going to be this way until I drop dead.
“Every morning and every evening, I need to take morphine for the pain.
“The disease leaves me feeling an intense burning in my head.
“It can be so bad that my legs can’t carry my own weight.
“I feel dead inside and so tired — I don’t have a life at all and it is killing me to have to live like this.
“I don’t think anyone understands or even knows how hard it is to carry on with tabes dorsalis and what I go through every single day of my life.
“I can’t live a normal life anymore — I’m too scared to have a relationship with anyone.”
Steve, who was a Lance Bombardier in the 1st Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, enlisted in the Army in 1981.
He was stationed at the Kuwaiti Embassy in Iraq and served up until 1993.
Speaking of his illness, he said: “I want to raise awareness because there could be people out there, like me, who are in the same situation.
“It has taken me a long time to even speak about it — it is so hard to come to terms with the fact that your life will never be the same again.
“My life is ruined completely, no one wants to employ me because I am on so many different drugs to deal with the pain I am in.”
Steve said he used to have a very high level of fitness from the time he spent in the Army and he continued to have a very healthy lifestyle when he left — he was running up to 10 miles every day.
But he said the illness has stripped that from him.
Steve is determined to raise awareness of the disease, which he thinks he may have contracted while serving in the Gulf War.
He was diagnosed with the illness in 2003. Steve added: “That is one of the hardest things — knowing what I used to be capable of and seeing how much I struggle with things now breaks my heart.”
Steve has two children — Danny, 27, who lives in Germany, and his 25-year-old daughter Jennifer.