sad tales: women with ibs-c page seven
The tale of...Linda (November 2005)
I use Epsom Salts (cheap to buy) to combat constipation, but I do not consume them, I put them into the bath water when I have a bath each night. I don't need a great deal but pour it into my hand and then distribute it in the bath water. It is absorbed via the skin, and I have noticed that I have had less symptoms and have been well now for the past few weeks. Obviously with IBS it comes and goes and may well return but I have not seen this tried on this site and thought I'd let you know.
As it says on the packet do not use long term. I have noticed that after a week or a week and a half it makes me quite thirsty and have stopped it until I feel I need it again, so that's worth bearing in mind. All the best of luck and hope this can help others.
E-mail Linda: [email protected]
The tale of...Jennifer (November 2005)
In November 2004 I contracted salmonella on my honeymoon. I was forced to deal with the gut-wrenching symptoms that go along with this parasite: major stomach pains, continuous diarrhea, loss of appetite, fever, etc. As a constipation-dominant IBS sufferer, I was not accustomed to this shift in bowel habits and found it very draining.
I went to the doctor who assured me that it would 'work itself out' on its own, usually in a few days. Well, that few days turned into a few weeks, and into a few months. After three months of salmonella, and 20 pounds lighter, I finally achieved a clean bill of health, parasite free. Little did I know that thinking everything was back to 'normal' was a mistake.
I have been experiencing the same symptoms ever since - diarrhea, disabling stomach cramps, and generally feeling tired and sick. I also managed to pick up a case of arthritis in my hips due to the salmonella setting up camp for so long, which flares up every time I have a diarrhea attack. To say the least the past year has been wreaking havoc on my body.
I am hoping to hear from anyone else who has experienced lingering symptoms from parasites, even though the physical parasite is no longer in their system, as I have heard that IBS sufferers are more likely to have symptoms for long periods of time after the fact.
E-mail Jennifer: [email protected]
The tale of...Kimberley (November 2005)
I'm 23 and I live in Australia. I've had IBS for about 18 months. It started with food poisoning, it was either dirty water or bad frozen pies. I've seen two doctors. I suggested IBS to the first one and he just laughed in my face as if I was stupid and said I was too young to get IBS. The second doc was better, and he put me through the usual tests - gastroscopy, CT scan, numerous blood tests etc. I was sent back to the gastroenterologist who did my gastroscopy and he concluded that I have IBS.
I have spent the past one and a half years tearing myself apart, wondering what was wrong with me, how no-one can find any physical evidence of a problem, which made everyone say it's all in my head which really got under my skin. People said it was stress and I was thinking up the pain. I would get so angry when people said that, and they would say it so often that I started considering it a fact. I started wondering if I was really that psycho.
IBS is affecting my whole life and also my work, and now I'm afraid I'm going to get punished (by work) for something I can't help, which is not fair. I am 23 and should be living my life like there's no tomorrow but I am at the point where I am scared to go out anywhere for a few hours, especially by myself, because how are you meant to drive yourself home when you feel like throwing up? Besides I can't be on my feet for more than a couple of hours in one go without feeling like I'm going to faint and throw up. I am also scared to eat. I love food so much and hate it at the same time.
I've got the bloating, gas, nausea, constipation, fatigue, panic attacks. The nausea is the worst because feeling/being sick is my biggest fear. My boyfriend hates sleeping in the same bed as me because if he moves I get woken up and when that happens I'm aware of my stomach hurting and I get angry because all I want to do is sleep.
The best time of the day for me is mid-morning. I can't eat breakfast because I can't stomach anything so early, so mid-morning I can eat light things like biscuits and fruit. My boss thinks I'm an unhealthy cookie monster because he always sees me eating cookies. Pity he can't understand that I only eat lots of cookies because that's one thing that doesn't make me feel sick. I still get the gas after eating them but it's the only time the symptoms are the most minimal.
There are some days where I feel pretty good (still have gas though) and there are some days where the only time I don't feel sick is when I feel hungry. My stomach is growling, so I eat something and then the vicious circle starts again. Sometimes I go to sleep feeling sick, then have horrible dreams and wake up feeling sick. I've lost two dress sizes in weight and people think I'm on drugs or have an eating disorder. People say 'Oh, IBS is common' like the common cold. Little do they know how it affects people.
I feel so relieved that I now know what is wrong with me, yet at the same time I'm so depressed because all I can do is try to ease the unpredictable symptoms and hope that one day it will all just go away. I've only had it for 18 months and I already feel like I'm about to fall apart. I feel sympathy for the many others who suffer too, and for those who have suffered even longer than I have.
Sometimes I think of the other people out there with worse things than I have like poverty and cancer, then I think we are all human in the end. There is a Russian proverb that I heard years ago and have never forgotten: 'Hope is the last to die'.
E-mail Kimberley: [email protected]
The tale of...Gemma (November 2005)
I graduated three years ago and in the last year my IBS (constipation) has got really bad after traveling to Nepal and coming off the contraceptive pill. Like other people on this website, I think hormone changes and food poisoning was the initial cause. However, even when I was young I was diagnosed with a nervous tummy by the doctor.
I have been told my stomach aches are wheat and yeast intolerances (by doctors, nutritionists, naturopaths and an allergy test) and I have cut out both at various times in my life, once over a three-week period, only to find myself underweight, pale, drawn and not enjoying one of life's greatest pleasures which is food. After an Italian meal I'm usually crippled and have to take painkillers, peppermint tea and a warm bath! As for alcohol its not only the hangover I have to cope with, it's the cramps and pain, so yet again another one of life's pleasures I have to limit/give up.
My family generally have similar symptoms so we named it the 'Elliott tummy'. I feel my partner thinks I'm mad and has to put up with a lot! When we travel I take every stomach remedy there is on the market from senna to Windeeze to Imodium. I think it is a great way to dampen your lovelife and I pray he doesn't want to go off with a IBS-free woman.
I do find probiotic yogurt helps or Actimel and Yakult, also evening primrose seems to help a wee bit. Eating nothing but rice and cooked vegetables for a few days often settles my stomach down too, however, how boring and uneasy...and being pretty slim I lose more weight. I'm a big fan of chili, garlic, cheese but I have to suffer big-time afterwards, especially after pizzas.
I have a new job starting after quitting teaching (one of the issues was having to stand in front of kids panicking because you can't leave the room to go to the toilet). I'm hoping I can tailor my diet and lifestyle to keep it under control. I have just been to the doctors and got mebeverine, has anyone tried anti-spasmodic drugs, do they help? I'm nervous as do not want to make it worse for my new job!
I do yoga regularly and find that and brisk walking is amazing as it keeps away depression (another symptom of IBS I gather). Traveling is a killer and I'm off on holiday soon and bracing myself for stressful times ahead looking for loos in airports.
Do get in touch, it feels good to know I'm not alone in this but would love to speak to other people about this, no-one except my family with the 'Elliott tummy' understand.
PS: After reading other people's stories I have now discovered that depression, migraines and lower back pain are associated with IBS...is this true do you know? I look forward to hearing from fellow sufferers.
E-mail Gemma: [email protected]
The tale of...Calandra (November 2005)
I first of all want to say that I found this site yesterday while I was at work and I was experiencing yet another constipation bout that now falls into my Top Three Most Painful Constipation Episodes - actually it ranks at number two. I was practically in tears after reading all of the testimonials. Just to know that somebody else knew exactly what I go through day after day was a comfort.
I am a 30 year-old female who has been suffering from IBS as long as I remember. I am one of the lucky ones who can thank genetics for this. My mother has battled with it for almost 45 years although she has not experienced the constipation side like I have.
My first memory of IBS occurred when I was five or six years old. My feet could not even touch the floor as I sat on the toilet. I remember the painful cramps that had doubled me over and I didn't understand why that was happening to me. This was a diarrhea attack which was the first of many to come for the next 16 years. I won't get into the details of that phase - you know the drill.
I experienced so many episodes that it would take all week for me to catch you up. I hadn't experienced much constipation, but then my lucky day came when I was 22 years old. I was four months pregnant with my first child. I will never forget this day. (This ranks as number three by the way). My stomach had been cramping off and on for two days. It never even occurred to me that I might be constipated.
Then I remembered that it had been five days since my last bowel movement. No matter what I did, I could not get anything to happen. I was at my parents', eating dinner (roast and potatoes), and about half-way through I was doubled over in the most horrible stomach pain I had ever experienced, even with my one million bouts of cramping diarrhea.
I never had any morning sickness throughout either of my pregnancies, but I was vomiting and hurting so bad. After about one hour of grunting and pushing (which I now know was my trial run for childbirth) I finally got some relief. I had no idea what I was about to embark on for the next eight years and counting...
Needless to say, I had a horrible time while I was pregnant, and I couldn't take anything! The doctor blamed my pre-natal vitamins (all of that damn iron) so I limited them to only two a week instead of daily. I tried all of the usuals...eat more fruits and veggies, take fiber, drink plenty of water and walk, etc.
It helped some, but I still struggled and the only thing that kept me going through every cramp was that I thought this was only temporary. I was ready to get back to having diarrhea attacks every day after the baby came. This was for the birds! As you can guess, it never went away. I am always on a constant rotation of constipation and diarrhea.
I am a very open person, and I learned in about the 10th grade that I was just going to have to tell people that I had stomach problems and I may have to pull over if we are driving or I may be in the bathroom for an hour, because I hated the embarrassment of it all.
As soon as I get to know somebody, after about the third meeting you will know that I have IBS and I spend a lot of time in the bathroom so just deal with it. Once I did that, I rarely got embarrassed and it was much easier to cope with. I still feel bad for inconveniencing people, but at least they know I can't help it - well most of them.
I will now share my second worst constipation episode which brought me to this website. It began yesterday morning and I am still battling it today. I had had two very bad diarrhea attacks last week - one at Target and one at Wal-Mart. Of course, I always go when I am shopping. I can tell you where any public restroom is in Northeast Arkansas - thus the beginning of my never-ending cycle.
I had completely cleansed myself over those two days so my intestine starts to build a new dam - if you will - until I get extremely constipated and I finally go several times throughout the day and finish it off with extreme diarrhea. I woke up yesterday morning with that dreaded feeling - bloated as hell, bad cramping, and extreme pressure in my rear that felt like there was a mother-load of poop dying to come out every time I sat on the toilet.
I have two kids to get to school and I have to be at work by 8:00am, so I sat down two times and I quickly knew that this was a force larger than I, and I would have to deal with it later or we would all be late. I got to work, and my boss could tell by the look on my face that I didn't feel well. I told him my usual story. 'No, I do not feel well this morning. My stomach is hurting so I will probably be in the bathroom a lot, so if you can't find me that is where I will be.'
After one hour of pain and six trips to the bathroom that proved disappointing, I told my boss that I needed to run home for a few minutes. I went to my enema supply and there was one left. That didn't even work - still nothing! I drove back to work and had several more worthless trips to the bathroom. I had grunted so much that I was worn out and the only thing that was happening was the pain was getting worse.
I couldn't stand up straight and I was covered in sweat. Finally I called my husband practically in tears and asked him to go get more enemas and bring me one to work. Fifteen minutes later I am lying on the bathroom floor at my place of work inserting my second enema of the day and still nothing! What kills me is that the average person would think I was insane for doing such a thing at work, but it was just another day for me.
Somehow I made it through the day and once I got home I stayed in the bathroom for two hours. I had to lock myself in the bathroom while my husband took care of the kids (he has been wonderful through all of this). I was sitting on that toilet in tears begging God to please let me poop or please kill me! I really thought I was going to die if I didn't go. I gave birth to a 10 pound and an 11 pound child naturally, and I swear to you I did not have as much trouble getting them out as I did that poop!
My number one constipation attack came in the winter of 2003. I woke up to a town covered with a beautiful white blanket of snow. The kids (who were three and five then) were very excited. It was a work day, so me and my husband at the time (we have divorced and I am re-married to the wonderful husband I spoke of earlier) were getting ready for work.
It hit me as soon as I looked out the window to see the snow. I was doubled over with cramps and once again, I was constipated. It was so bad that I couldn't talk for the pain. I was finally on my bedroom floor in a fetal position crying and screaming for help. My ex-husband just looked at me and told me he didn't know what to do and that he was going to be late for work, so he left me there.
My mother showed up to watch the kids, and she couldn't believe the bad shape I was in. I finally said that I am going to have to go to the emergency room because I didn't know what else to do.
I called into work and told them that I was sick and they were very short-handed due to the snow. I said I would try to come in later if I could. I drove myself in the snow to the emergency room. I was miserable! The people at the hospital just looked at me like I was crazy! I told them that I couldn't take the pain anymore and I needed help now! I was getting irate and they kept making me wait.
After being there an hour (I was on the floor in that fetal position again) I was called back and the nurse finally administered an enema. I am not talking about any Fleet either. This was the size of an IV bag and a large tube connected. I went through two bags of that.
The nurse told me that she had not ever seen anyone in that bad of a state with constipation. Most people say they would never allow a stranger to do that to them. My response is that if they were in the pain I was in they would allow anybody to do it in front of as many people as they wanted. I could've cared less if the president was standing there, I needed help! Of course, I did make it to work by noon. If I stayed home sick every time my stomach was hurting, I would never get a paycheck.
It really sucks to have to live your life based on how your stomach and colon is that day, but I have had every test, tried tons of medications, and no matter what I do, I will become immune to it and I am right back where I started.
I just go day by day...as long as the people close to me know what is going on and can cope with me when I am like that - I will be OK.