Cyprus, Natasa

When I was first diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, I was at my last year at university. It was during the Christmas break that I had several abdominal pains and blood loss. After many medical examinations I had my first operation and after six months the second one.

When I recovered from the second surgery it was necessary to do a colonoscopy and CT scan. So, that was the day that I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease! I lost the last year of my studies but I found the courage between the surgeries to visit the university for some exams and classes.

The day of my graduation was a day of mixed emotions. A new part of my life was about to start· the search for a job. At the beginning I was disappointed because I couldn't find a job in which I was comfortable with my symptoms but after the first shock I adapted to a new reality.

Before I have the job, I have now, I have tried a lot of jobs not analogous to my degree and I had to quit several of them because of my symptoms. The last four years I am working as a Physics Teacher in public schools in Cyprus.

I have to say that at the beginning nothing was easy. I had to deal with my morning symptoms and the several visits to the toilet because my job was starting at 7.30 in the morning. I still have some problems some days but I put myself in a routine. So I have to wake up at 5.30 in the morning to do all the necessary things to be ready to reach the school.

When I met the school principal, I didn't hide my medical condition and I requested him to give me the opportunity to inform all my colleagues via a presentation and to explain them what IBD is and how they can help a student or the parents or a colleague. We had also discussed how the school could help me and I have asked them to do same changes to my daily schedule if that was possible. During first year school schedule changes weren’t possible to be made because I was working for two schools but the second year when I went back to the same school the schedule was made to fit my needs. I felt so happy and satisfied that they didn't forget my request.

They treated me as equal, as a professional qualified for this position but also, they didn't forget my needs as a person. I do everything assigned to me by the school just as my colleagues and I have never used and I will never use my health condition to do less things.

I would not hide that all these four years I needed to get a sick leave some days because of a flare. Some days I insisted in going to school with flare up and the fear of what will happen if I didn’t reach the toilet on time.

I don't see myself as a patient with CD but I see myself as teacher, human, artist and many other things that I like. I turned CD as a superpower helping me to raise awareness, break the silence and fighting for the rights of IBD patients and for a better quality of life.

Never give up searching what make you happy. Be open and talk about it. Maybe the best job for you is something that you have never imagined.

Natasa Theodosiou