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sad tales: women with ibs-c page thirteen

The tale of...Jenny (6 September 2006)

I am 30 years old and I was diagnosed with IBS at 16. I had just completed my GCSE exams and suffered with severe cramps followed by diarrhea every other day for two weeks. I had never had this before, and after listening to the physical symptoms my GP enquired about any recent stressful events. She diagnosed IBS arising from the stress of exams and I was put on Colofac.

From what I remember the tablets worked but I have suffered regularly over the years. And up until this week, I have learnt to expect the cramps after the evening meal (not in the morning, always in the late afternoon or evening) and then explosive diarrhea involving several trips to the toilet until my bowels feel empty.

This week, however, I am experiencing different symptoms - of constipation and painful bloating and trapped wind. I can feel the wind moving in my intestines and I feel like I am about to have diarrhea but then I just pass mucus and wind and no poo. I am fed up, bloated, uncomfortable, sluggish and miserable. I have suffered with the mind-numbing, all-consuming abdominal pains and diarrhea most of my adult life and to discover that there are now more 'treats' in store for me is just depressing...

I have managed to sort of control the spasms by taking Colofac in order to control bad flare-ups, and thought I had found a light at the end of the tunnel when I was told about the benefits of Muller Vitality yogurts and drinks. These worked wonderfully for several months (bliss!) but I feel as if my system has now 'got used to it' and they are no longer preventing symptoms.

I see from reading everyone's stories that a few people have experienced this change in symptoms, and while I feel comforted by the sharing of this, I also feel really upset. IBS is horrendous and I am so disheartened at the thought that I now have extra symptoms to cope with and try to control as best I can. I am off to the chemist tomorrow to get some Senokot for the first time and I just have to hope it works for me. As a result I am having to miss work and a planned social event.

I think for me, the unpredictable nature of when IBS attacks will occur and how bad they will be causes me the most stress. And now I am faced with more uncertainty about the symptoms I can expect to experience. My family, boyfriend, and close friends are brilliant though and never ever fail to be any less than supportive and sympathetic, but considering how many people out there suffer with IBS, I don't personally know anyone with this condition. It can feel quite isolating so I was so reassured to find this website.

The tale of...Michele (6 September 2006)

I am a 30 year-old single parent with one child. My mom came down to 'assist' me after I asked my daughter's father to leave our home before my daughter turned one. I can definitely relate to the frustration everyone here feels when people get on the 'It's all in your head' soap box.

In addition to my IBS ailments, I am also a long time anxiety disorder sufferer. I was diagnosed the summer before I went to college by a psychologist my mother dragged me to because she thought that I was a malingerer who complained about stomach problems to get out of doing things. Turned out, my psychologist (and all of them since) have been more interested in talking to her than to me!

I now have to live daily with a person who thinks IBS and my anxiety is like the flu and will go away. I have food tested to great lengths over the years and despite being lactose intolerant, have ended up becoming a lacto-ovo vegetarian with minor success, aside from stressful living arrangements/predicaments.

As a child, I was made to feel that needing to stop and use the bathroom was an unwelcome interruption. Requests were met with 'Now? Right now?', 'Can't you wait?', 'You should have gone before we pulled off' and other various expletives conveying her level of annoyance. Thank God no super-embarrassing events ever happened. But I became quite adept at finding where the restrooms were in just about any establishment I visited! Then after 'disappearing' I would get it for scaring her half to death. It was and still is well worth hearing her mouth.

My point of sharing my story is not just to commiserate about how bad IBS is. Parents of potty-training children: think about how you go about this process. Be mindful not to show or voice your annoyance about ill-timed bathroom breaks. The reason for the disapproval is not evident to a two or three year-old. All they learn is that 'If I tell them I have to go potty they will not be happy with me'.

Take care with your words and actions. (Read up on bowel withholding and Freud if you don't believe me.) You just might be raising another anxiety-ridden IBS 'malingerer' to be ridiculed by the rest of the unsympathetic 'normal' defecating folk in the world.

The tale of...Linda (29 September 2006)

I have had difficulty with IBS for over 12 years and am currently under a doctor's care. Every year it seems to get worse and I am considering disability because it has affected my work. I don't have time in the morning to fight the bowel problems, which in turn makes me stressed to get to work on time. I do try to have a positive outlook but some days it does depress me. The doctor has put me on Zelnorm and Lexapro (an anti-depressant) but there are times I still struggle with my condition. Anyone reading this, if you have any input, please reply. Thank you.

E-mail Linda: [email protected]

The tale of...Louisa (20 October 2006)

I'm 24 years old and live in the UK. I was diagnosed with IBS about a year ago. I would maybe get an attack of diarrhea once a month. The pains were like labor pains and really hurt. I had to quit my job because I would worry that I would get an attack at work, then the worrying would set it off. It's a vicious circle!

About four weeks ago I discovered that I was pregnant. Unfortunately I later had a miscarriage. Since that day my IBS has taken a turn for the worse. I don't know if it was the stress, the not eating or my hormones that caused it but it has been terrible.

I have had really bad constipation. The pains have been unbearable. I have a dull ache in my left side between my ribs and hip bone. I've had stomach cramps and a really sharp pain in my lower abdomen. I have been to the toilet once and the pain is awful, it's like I can feel my poo (sorry for the horrible details!) moving in my stomach trying to come out but it won't. I think I'd rather do childbirth again! These pains are terrible.

My friend and my sister have also been diagnosed with IBS, which makes me feel better as I have someone who understands what I'm going through, as many people don't know what it's like. I wouldn't wish IBS on my worst enemy!

The tale of...Melissa (21 October 2006)

Wow, I finally found others just like me! I can relate to all the stories that I have read. I have had IBS for many years and I know all too well the frustrations you feel and how the porcelain halo can become the devil's horns for those with IBS.

I have dealt with doctor after doctor and the same thing happens every time - take two tablespoons and call me in the next century. I have tried everything on the market, from mineral oil, prune juice, fiber tabs, colon cleanse, vegetable laxatives, suppositories, enemas, Epsom salts, Dulcolax, etc. I have even had to do like one of the girls on here and dig it out manually.

My doc has given me Miralax, Colace etc but still nothing, I can go weeks without a bowel movement. One time I even took all of these in one day. Oh yeah, it worked alright, but where I come from they call that 'overdose', but I was in so much pain and discomfort I was desperate.

Last year I had not gone from Thanksgiving until Christmas. I called my doctor who asked me if I had been eating anything, and I don't know if you all have an appetite when you're backed up, but putting more food on your stomach when all the old is there is the last thing you want to do. Anyway, he tells me 'Well dummy, you won't poo if you don't eat'.

I inform him that I can't eat because I can't poo and that I had been eating, but when the tank's full the tank's full. I'm not adding insult to injury, I already felt like I had eaten a 10lb steak and a side of potatoes, and that's just from eating small bites here and there. I have bile backing up in my throat, I'm miserable, I am so bloated I can't breathe, a sip of water would make me puke. I don't think he understood I was screaming for help!

I get so backed up that I get pain in my back that feels like you do when you have the flu (tender to the touch) which I am sure most of you can relate to. I would like to get in touch with others who have dealt with or who still deal with situations like mine, like all of you I thought I was all alone in this.

E-mail Melissa: [email protected]

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