I had a fairly normal school life up until 5th year when I started experiencing IBS like symptoms. That was when I started to hate school and everything started to go a bit wrong. Tears, failing tests and A LOT of sick days.
5th and 6th year was a struggle but when I look back now it was totally understandable. I was in more pain than the average woman in labour but had no access to pain relief or understanding of what my body was doing. This pain was with me every day throughout my Higher education – it was not the fun and sociable 2 years I had been expecting.
No one had a clue what do to help me so I just tried to continue on with life as best I could while taking Buscopan for IBS. Days just got harder though…
Between unsympathetic teachers, exams, university pressure and constant speculation that I had an eating disorder, it was no wonder I wanted to spend my time wrapped up in bed. My exams didn’t go great, my social life suffered and I never ended up going to university. WHY?… As my classmates where able to concentrate on the teacher and learning, I was more concerned about sh*tting on the floor or passing out mid-exam.
I wasn’t diagnosed until the end of 6th year so I had no explanation to give the teachers for a year and a half as they shouted at me when I wasn’t getting the grasp of Pythagoras or falling asleep during a class reading of ‘Death of a Salesman’ I was ill but sadly, they never believed me as I had no proof or medical note to excuse me from class.
I was monitored for a bit to make sure I was eating at lunchtime. Which then just left me in pain for the afternoon and a big grump. On the outside I was seen as a bubbly girl, always up for a laugh or a joke. ALWAYS talking but in reality, I would cry myself to sleep as I knew the diagnosis of what I had wasn’t going to be pleasant with the symptoms I was experiencing!
Finally I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. I hadn’t been faking being ill, I never had an eating disorder and I could get on with my life. However it wasn’t that easy, obviously.
My school lacked knowledge, support and sympathy to help me. What I should have done was push for more help, get toilet passes, exam help, extra lesson time, extra exam time and work from home days (if agreed by the school of course) but I was embarrassed. Any young IBD sufferers reading this, you are entitled to help. So raise your voice – remember everyone poos to some extent (Probably just not as much as us) and try to get over the embarrassment of this disease.
In the long run I know I would have struggled with uni so I am quite glad I never went. I now have a full time job, where I am gaining qualifications and I’m not afraid to speak up if I need extra help.
So you young ones out there – you can do anything you want to it, it might just take a few extra toilet trips that’s all x