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sad tales: women with ibs-c page twenty-one

The tale of...Wendy (20 February 2010)

Hello everyone! I have recently been diagnosed with IBS but I have suffered with symptoms for years. Off and on throughout my life I was put on Prevacid for acid reflux but wrote it off as a consequence of years of drug and alcohol abuse (I have been clean and sober for 10 years now...yeah!). I also entertained the thought that it was from PTSD, stress and anxiety disorders due to childhood sexual abuse.

About two and a half years ago my health took a turn for the worse and I thought it was due to smoking and stress. I was fearful enough that I quit smoking. A few months after that I was feeling even sicker than before so I started to look at what I was eating. I went to see a naturopathic doctor for the first time and I was put on an elimination diet (gluten-free, no dairy or eggs). I also started taking probiotics, ground flax and soy protein in a smoothie daily. This helped somewhat but the constant bouts of bloating and constipation were so distressing and painful.

I became so frustrated at the impact my increasing symptoms had on my overall life and wellbeing...but I pressed on choosing not to give up! I got a referral to a throat specialist because of very unusual symptoms of spasm type pains in my throat plus a sensation of food being stuck in my throat. He did an uncomfortable throat scope in the office and sent me for a barium swallow which confirmed acid reflux with no known cause.

I was then referred to a GI specialist and sent for a colonoscopy and endoscopy (this doctor's bedside manner was horrific and I felt almost traumatized!). After a very teary experience I learned that the only result was that my bowels had many twists. Surprisingly, I had about seven or eight months symptom-free after the colonoscopy! I thought that after my c-section (vertical) there has been scar tissue forming over the years combined with the possibility that my bowels were not put back in place - hence the twists. I also feel that stress and PTSD have irritated the IBS.

During my symptom-free phase I began to eat whatever I wanted again and my lifestyle change through diet went right out the window. About two months ago I flared up again. I was so frustrated with myself because I didn't watch what I ate nor did I take care of myself through stress management, exercise etc.

Like many of the sufferers here I have tried a multitude of remedies, diets, supplements, laxatives, herbs etc. I now resolve to 'listen to my body' and I have gotten back to my daily food log (everything in and out) and writing my symptoms down. I have gone back to my GP for a referral to Women's College Hospital in Toronto, Ontario (I have heard great things about it) so I can get a second opinion.

Last night I spent 10 hours in the ER waiting to see a doctor because I flared up so severely with bloating, constipation and pain. The doctor had a rude bedside manner and I left in tears feeling worse than when I went in. Blood work and urine screens came back normal.

I can so identify with the emotional roller coaster that goes with this journey. I am so grateful to have found this website - I no longer feel alone! Thank you all so much...I feel hope again and I have already jotted down a bunch of new tips that I am excited to try.

My biggest frustration is that I have turned my life around in the past 10 years and today have years of sobriety from alcohol, drugs, cigarettes and even coffee and sugars (especially chocolate!). I am remarried to a wonderful, supportive man, I have great teenagers (most times ha ha) and a fantastic career. I am frustrated because this is the time in my life where I want to live feeling fully alive and I feel so physically ill, fatigued and emotionally fearful and stressed! Deep sigh.

I am facing these feelings and choosing to do something different. I am going for reflexology and deep tissue massage plus prayer and meditation for the stress. I am taking a weekend vacation with my family to relax this weekend and I am standing firm with the doctors and getting the second opinion that I deserve. I will not let this 'minor inconvenience' take over my life and I will continue to press forward.

I would really love to hear from others who have shared their stories and I look forward to experiencing the mutual support that I am finding on this website. If there is anyone here from the Toronto, Ontario area and knows of a support group for IBS I would love to hear from you.

E-mail Wendy: [email protected]


The tale of...Gigi (8 May 2010)

I have had IBS with constipation for a few years now. I am suffering terrible. I weigh only 95lbs, and I'm five foot three. I was so healthy, before I developed allergies to chicken, fish, MSG, marination, egg plant etc. I can only eat lean roast beef, potato sometimes hot cereal, and ham sandwiches once a week maybe. Apple sauce and crackers are what I live on. I am hungry but the pain and bloating and no bowel movements are killing me. I have been using Fleet enemas or I fill them with water. I cannot stand it anymore. I want to be normal again. I am 63 but look 23 because of my tiny frame. I have GERD bad too, and Prilosec does very little.

I have tried Benefiber before and got nothing but gas pains and then an explosion, it made me sick and nauseous. I cannot live with the pain of the attacks any longer, it is like labor pains and the baby won't come out. I have to use a laxative to go every time. Is there anyone out there who can help me before I die from this pain. I appreciate any help, please. Thank you!

E-mail Gigi: [email protected]


The tale of...Kelly (8 May 2010)

I have had IBS constipation all my life. I started taking milk of magnesia 10 years ago. The GIs have told me to stay on it for life. However, four years ago while going through menopause at age 46 I developed a terrible pain in my upper gut that I thought was a heart attack. The pain dictated my life and kept me home for most of the time.

I recently saw a neurologist who ordered an MRI and discovered that I had all my thoracic T1, 3, 4, 5 and 6 ruptured and it was impinging on my spinal nerves and radiating to the upper frontal stomach area - my chest. I realize I have that as well as IBS in the same area - double whammy - but I was also told that hormones and menopause play a big part in IBS because it causes a change in the gut. I appreciate any feedback from the IBS community.


The tale of...Chance (19 June 2010)

I've had IBS for a long time. It runs in my mother's side of the family. Many times as a child I would spend nights in the bathroom, doubled over in pain so bad that I thought I was going to die. It was the first time in my life I ever thought about suicide. I didn't even know what that meant at the time, I just remember thinking about putting a gun to my head because I couldn't bear the pain. It's scary to think about now. I was in middle school. The pain was that bad. I slept in the bathroom floor more than a few times, covered in a blanket. I never had a normal schedule. I was afraid of school trips and vacations. I hated that my parents had to wait for me every time I had a bad flare-up.

My doctor when I was younger took stool samples and listened to my stomach and intestines with a stethoscope. He said my guts were contracting at a much faster rate than is normal, and that it caused my pain to be worse than is usual. I took Zantac for quite a while. It sometimes helped me from getting violently sick after certain foods, but it was in no way a cure.

Fast forward. Same problems throughout high school. I often had to go to the office and ask to go home because the pain was too much. I couldn't even sit in class without doubling over and shifting around in abdominal pain. Needless to say, I wasn't learning anything when I had flare-ups in class. The drive home was hell. Our roads are very bumpy, and every one of them jarred my guts and sent a wave of pain through me.

I also had a lot of trouble with anxiety causing immediate flare-ups. I've always been a nervous person, and at any big function like a dance I would almost always get sick and have to spend a lot of time in the bathroom. Zantac helped a little, but it didn't stop it. My doctor said I had peptic acid disease. (No idea if he was really right.)

I finally stopped taking Zantac later in high school. I would just eat and do my normal activities, and handle the flare-ups. I tried stool softeners. They were very little help. If I didn't use the restroom in a week I would take two extra-strength laxative pills before bed. The next morning I was guaranteed a very painful BM and relief for the day. After this, my stomach (or intestines?) would ache badly after I ate for the first time after the painful BM that cleared me out. It was like it was stretching back out after being squished empty.

I was slapped in the face right after I started college with my first panic attack. I say first because I had chronic panic attacks for a long time after that. It was the beginning of a miserable life. I've been on a plethora of different medications now. Anti-depressants, Xanax (always on Xanax, the doses just go up and down, which makes my digestion even slower) etc. I'm now on Xanax, Cymbalta and Miralax.

My new doctor said I do have IBS. He told me to take Miralax once a day, and that I could take it every day to help regulate my BMs. I am happy to say that it has helped me very much! It is no miracle cure, I won't lie. It just keeps me from backing up and experiencing the excruciating pain that I once had to fear so often. It does a good job of making all my BMs soft and easy to pass.

The effects vary. My IBS is a lot better than it was. I go fairly regularly now, and I still have the occasional flare-up, but never do I go anywhere near a whole week without a movement anymore. I have to be careful to skip a dose after diarrhea, since I don't want to overdo things. I can't say that it doesn't work perfectly. I have to place a lot of the blame on Cymbalta and Xanax for slowing my system down so much that the constipation is much harder to resolve.

I forgot to mention that I had an upper GI and a colonoscopy. They found nothing, but the doctors took a biopsy from my intestinal wall and it came back clean. My gallbladder was only 18% functional, and the hospital surgeon wanted me to have it removed, but my primary care doctor said that if it was him, he wouldn't, and that that wasn't too abnormal.

I know I've left a lot out, but I hate to ramble. Reading this site has made me feel a lot better about myself, knowing that I'm not the only one. (I knew I wasn't, but reading the stories on here makes it a lot more real.) I should also mention that my IBS also triggers panic attacks because I get backed up and it actually pressures my lungs and my heart seems to skip beats a lot when I am really bloated.

I need to dissolve my Miralax in coffee. I always dissolve it in a water bottle, but it doesn't seem to want to dissolve completely. Anyways, thanks for this site, thanks for listening, and best wishes to everyone!

E-mail Chance: [email protected]


The tale of...Stacy (30 October 2010)

All you ladies out there I feel your pain and I can relate to everything you go through. As a baby I remember my mom telling me how I would struggle to move my bowels. As a little girl it wasn't too bad, but I remember my mom taking me to the hospital because I was vomiting all night and couldn't stop. I was so impacted and the doctor couldn't believe how I survived. Once I hit 15 it got progressively worse and that's when I was diagnosed with IBS.

I went through every possible test and tried every possible medication and nothing helped. Since then I have had my gallbladder removed and been diagnosed with gastroparesis, which intensifies every IBS symptom. Over the last year it has gotten progressively worse and I am 28, engaged to me married and I have no life. I feel like I drag my partner down even though he is always there for me when I'm not doing well. I am so unreliable at my job and I am a physical therapist. I don't want to give up my job, I love what I do, but there have been so many times I have had to rush to the bathroom during my treatments. Luckily all of my patients have been very understanding.

During my period it's horrible, I just want to curl up in a ball and die. I know that sounds horrible but I am sure you all understand. I am so glad that I am not the only one suffering with this horrible condition. I panic in public because it can hit me at any moment, I don't want to do anything anymore because 99% of the time I am sick. The only thing that gives me any sort of relief is Miralax, which I have to drink at least three times a day for it to work, and I actually drink half a can of Pepsi for the stomach-emptying effects, it's very acidic and it cleans the stomach out, it's just like clearing a clogged drain.

You girls with IBS constipation, stay away from fiber it's your worst enemy take it from me! It slows down the digestion process for me. Eat a low-fiber diet, stay away from whole grains, raw fruits and veggies. Make sure everything is cooked or canned and eat slow. I could go on and on about how much I struggle with this. All I can say is that I will be praying for all of you. Remember that God is our only great physician and He is who I am relying on to help me. Hang in there ladies and God bless!

E-mail Stacy: [email protected]

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