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The teachers knew what I was dealing with on a daily basis
and they were very accommodating and flexible. It made all the
difference to my studies
We all know that studying, even a subject you're passionate about,
usually comes with its own challenges. Assignments, deadlines,
juggling study with part-time work. Trying to stay focused on those
low energy days.
So imagine how difficult it must be to study while living with a
This is more common than you may realise. There are many chronic
illnesses that people live with on a daily basis without necessarily
even looking sick. There may even be one or more of these people in
your TAFE class.
Justan Singh is one such person. Diagnosed with Crohn's disease at a
very early age, Justan, now 27, has lived with this condition for
virtually all of his life.
"I was always a sick child," he said. "I missed a lot
of school. I actually thought it was normal to go to the children's
hospital. Doing the H.S.C. was a very difficult time for me because
Crohn's is affected by stress."
Crohn's Disease is a gastrointestinal disorder which currently
affects more than 75,000 Australians of all ages. It is usually linked
with ulcerative colitis, collectively known as Inflammatory Bowel
Disease (IBD). Episodic flare-ups can affect the colon, rectum and
gastrointestinal tract and can be aggressive enough for sufferers to
require hospitalisation or surgery. There is currently no known cure.
"I was picked on a lot at school because I was weak and
scrawny," says Justan. "It was a really difficult time. I'd
have bleeding from the gut and a lot of fatigue. Sometimes my hair
would fall out. I was on lots of different medications. But all of
that has made me the person I am today."
After high school Justan studied a Certificate
IV in Digital Media at Miller TAFE, which he followed with a Diploma
of Digital Media at Campbelltown TAFE and a Certificate
IV in Web Design at Padstow TAFE. His study experiences at TAFE
were a lot better than what they'd been at high school.
"The teachers and my classmates at TAFE were great, very
understanding and supportive," he said. "The teachers knew
what I was dealing with and they were very accommodating and flexible.
It made all the difference to my studies."
Justan's life changed for the better in 2010 when he finally
underwent an Ileoscopy. An Ileoscopy is a surgical procedure where an
artificial opening is created in the abdomen, allowing the ileum,
which is the lower portion of the small intestine, to be brought out
to the surface of the abdominal wall. Waste can then drain into a
sealed pouch that's affixed to the outside of the body. The patient is
required to wear the bag all day every day for the rest of their life.
"It's as though my life really began at 21," says Justan.
"The surgery made all the difference. It made me realise that
happiness isn't about material possessions - the big house, fancy car
and expensive watch. It really begins and ends with having good health."
May is Crohn's
and Colitis Awareness Month, with 19 May being International
IBD Day. More than 40 countries participate in awareness-raising
activities to help put Inflammatory Bowel Disease on the public radar
and fund research into this largely misunderstood disease.