Today kicks off our journey to find out more about inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), as we head into Coeliac Awareness Week!
We sat down with Georgia, who shared her experience living with coeliac disease:
Q. Tell us about yourself?
“My name is Georgia, I’m twenty-two and a student La-Trobe.”
Q. What were you diagnosed with and how old were you when you were diagnosed?
“I was diagnosed with coeliac disease at 18-months old. I’ve had it my whole life, I don’t know anything different.”
Q. How has coeliac disease affected you?
“I don’t think I was educated very well on it – as I just accepted the information as a child and never really understood properly what coeliac was. I just knew not to eat gluten or wheat. It wasn’t until later on that I learnt that if I don’t follow a gluten-free diet I could be at risk of developing cancer or have fertility issues.”
Q. What is something you wish people knew about your illness?
“That it’s a serious thing – with serious long-term effects. Brittle bone, cancer, gastrointestinal issues. It’s not just an allergy, it’s an autoimmune disease. It’s more inconvenient than not eating bread – it’s annoying and not a fun thing.”
Q. What does the term ‘invisible illness’ mean to you?
“Outside of myself, I know it means that it is an illness that you can’t see, not like a physical disability. For me personally, I grew up with not much understanding of it besides just ‘don’t eat gluten’ so there’s a disconnect of being ‘gluten free’ and having coeliac. Especially because if I just follow the diet like I’m supposed to I’m pretty much fine and have minimal to no discomfort or issues. I often don’t feel like I can say I have some kind of ‘chronic illness’ or use similar terms because I’m basically in control (of my diet) and if I suffer with it or not.”
Check back in for more interviews as we travel through Coeliac Awareness Week. For more information about coeliac disease, head to www.coeliac.org.au/caw/
Interview prepared by Clare, YAG Member