44-year-old Callan Fabian used to be a fit and energetic man, but due to a rare disease of paralysis, his body is increasingly turning into stone.
The disease is called scleroderma, an auto-immune disease that solidifies the skin and in some cases, the internal organs which leads to death. To learn more, click here.
Callan is bed-ridden. He requires assistance to eat and roll over, as his body is slowly falling into complete paralysis. Because his joints are deteriorating at a snail’s pace, he is experiencing horrible pain.
Fabian grew up in the small Auckland town of Point Chevalier, before moving to Australia as a teen, where he worked as a stonemason. He noticed his hands began to swell and grow stiff, just like the very stones he worked with. After visiting a specialist, Fabian was given the diagnosis of scleroderma, which is also known as systemic sclerosis. The specialist said he would have it for the rest of his life.
For people with this disease, the immune system attacks healthy tissue and creates an abundance of collagen, which leads to fibrosis hardening. It’s such a rare disease that it only affects 1000 people in New Zealand, and kills one third of those affected within 10 years.
In the early stages of the disease, Fabian tried to keep moving strong at his job and riding to work every day on his bike. When he moved back to New Zealand, the disease hit him like a wave. It began with his hands, and as his fingers slowly died on him, it spread to his legs.
When it became too difficult for his mother to care for him, he was admitted into the nursing wing of Terence Kennedy House, a resting home in Glen Eden. Since he was unable to use his car or walk again, the bed became his permanent dwelling.
“I thought I was going to die at times but I stay positive,” he said in an interview with stuff.com. “There are a lot of people in the hospital going through other things too, that are just as bad, so I use that as my marker. Just be positive and appreciate every day as it comes.”
Fabian has around the clock care by a volunteer, Ray Farrell, a support advisor for the Returned and Services Association. A support group called Scleroderma Auckland has set up a crowdfunding page to cover the costs of Fabian’s care. He is not alone in his suffering.