Crohn’s Awareness Week

Hello, my name Is Adam Waugh. I suffer from a condition that many people don’t necessarily. I’m writing this piece to shed a little light on the world of Crohn’s and Colitis , not just what it is but also what it is like for the thousands of people that suffer with a condition that even they know very little about.

Crohn’s disease is defined as “a chronic inflammatory disease of the intestine, especially the colon, ileum and is associated with ulcers”. To those who suffer from it, it is much more than that. Crohn’s disease is an unfortunate lifestyle forced upon someone that affects everything from their diet to their social life. Crohn’s disease and its many forms are what is known as an “autoimmune disorder”. This is where the body’s own immune system attacks the natural bacteria in the gut trying to fight off an infection that doesn’t exist. In doing so it creates ulcers and tears in the intestinal wall which affect the ways in which food passes through the intestines. This can lead to some pretty un-fun side effects such as, constipation, diarrhoea, malnutrition and in worst cases anaemia from loss of blood. The most common symptom of the illness is an urgent and sudden need to go to the toilet. This causes a lot of distress and panic for sufferers as well as for many can be very embarrassing to have to constantly excuse yourself to use the toilet.

The biggest problem many sufferers face from Crohn’s disease is misdiagnosis, with over 115,000 people in the UK suffering from this condition the vast majority of which will have been misdiagnosed at some point along the line. I personally was misdiagnosed for 2 years with irritable bowel syndrome due to lack of knowledge on the subject and lack of testing done. Another big issue is the way Crohn’s can affect each individual sufferer. As it is different from person to person, what they can and can’t eat, what does and doesn’t trigger symptoms, it becomes very hard to treat. There isn’t one single way to treat the illness often requiring years of trial and error with medication and other therapies in order to achieve a decent lifestyle. For those who aren’t as lucky and don’t respond to medication the only other alternative is often surgery, this involves removing a large portion of the affected intestine and the use of a stoma bag which for some is the most embarrassing thing possible.

There is ongoing research to find a cure for this condition with help from societies such as Crohn’s and Colitis which provides help to those in need, organising events and funding research into a cure. Their website can be found at https://www.crohnsandcolitis.org.uk/. As of yet there is no cure only ways to manage the symptoms, there is hope however that there will be a cure someday in the future.

Stay Curious

aThe beginning of university can be daunting. A fresh start is filled with unknown possibilities which makes it exciting but also nerve-racking. My university experience began in the middle of September as I thought it best to give myself a good month to move out and settle into a new city. Unfortunately, I was unable to secure a place in halls but did manage to find myself some amazing housemates on the Facebook house hunting group. Finding a house was initially difficult but there must be a first time for everything and with a little help from everyone we managed to find a lovely seven bed house not too far from campus.

It has to be said that the two weeks of fresher’s flew by so quickly it was almost a blur and although it happened half a year ago it still feels like yesterday. Meeting people for the first time has always been a type of experience that I have enjoyed and in Brighton you meet people from all different walks of life. The social aspect of university thrives upon the unique atmosphere that a city like Brighton provides. Nights out at the local bars, restaurants and clubs have been by far some of the best memories I have made. There is such an eclectic mix of events available to students here that means that there is definitely something for everyone. In the day, the beach provides a perfect escape to relax and soak in the sea breeze but you only start to appreciate this in the second semester when the English weather takes a turn for the better and shopping trips become viable with the recent influx of the maintenance loan.

The beach is somewhere I like to go between lectures with my course mates who have become some of my closest friends. It is safe to say we all really love our course and the opportunities it offers for our future are endless. The lecturers that teach us are some of the best I have ever learnt from and they all make time to ensure you understand the content. There are two modules to choose in the first year which allows for some flexibility in learning subjects you are passionate about. This adds an aspect of independence and gives added motivation to succeed. I found that a university course is the first step in education where you finally begin to learn about topics you really want to and explore all areas you were curious about at A levels and even GCSEs. I would never trade my place at university for anything as learning something new every day is not an opportunity everyone is given; especially when it is something that you love.

To end my first blog post for PABS, I would just like to say to everyone with the upcoming exams I wish you luck and to any perspective students reading this I hope to see you here next year (maybe even writing a blog post)!

Lauren Fernandes (1st year BSc(Hons) Biomedical Sciences).