I'm Natasha, and I'm going to describe my experinces as a student with an ileostomy. I did my apprenticeship in Business & Administration within the NHS. I really enjoyed my course and had a good balance of theoretical and practical work. I had regular class sessions, where I learnt with my peers and worked on assignments. The beginning of the apprenticeship went well. I was able to talk openly about my stoma to my colleagues. I made everyone in my office aware that I sometimes have leaks and therefore I would have to rush off to change my bag - this happened a few times and colleagues were understanding. I kept some stoma supplies in my drawers just in case I forgot to bring mine and needed to change my bag. When I was off ill for my first hernia operation, my manager and study coach were very communicative and supportive. They agreed to extend my apprenticeship which would help me finish all units and be less stressful. I went back to work with reduced hours and increased it gradually. I found a couple of hours every day where I didn’t have much to do, so I was able to spend those hours completing my assignments. I couldn’t do my work at home as a lot of it was private data that can only be on NHS computers. The following year came, and I noticed more hernia like pains, I had a conversation with my manager to discuss putting something in place if I was unable to come into work. We agreed I could have a laptop to work from at home. Before I received my laptop I was admitted to hospital and communication with my manager was very limited. There were a few times where I felt my health sometimes got in their way and annoyed them.
Prior to being admitted, my manager asked if I would take on a permanent position that they would have for me at the end of the apprenticeship. The interview date was a week after being discharged from hospital and I was still on a cocktail of painkillers. The date couldn’t be moved, so my dad had to take me in my wheelchair, and I had to do the interview half dazed. They told me a few days later that I wouldn’t t be kept on after my apprenticeship had ended. This really upset me as they led me to believe the job was mine. When I went back to work, I was on reduced hours for roughly a week. It became an environment I didn’t want to stay in long. Everyone was still friendly, but it wasn’t the same friendliness as before. Also, the one colleague who I was close to left whilst I was ill, so I felt alone. I had a few months left before I finished. I stayed focused on the work and assignments and finished them in time.
Overall, the apprenticeship itself was a good experience. I had done one before and there wasn’t a healthy balance of studies and work. I noticed they treated me well when I was healthy and getting lots of work done but treated me unfairly when I wasn’t well and wasn’t able to do much.
However, as you can see from reading my biography on the Committee page, things are going well for me now.