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sad tales: women with ibs-c page one

The tale of...Rebecca (October 2003)

OK, where do I start with this...Well, I have had IBS now for 10 years. It is mainly the constipated and bloated feeling that gets to me most, however I feel that I am a textbook case when looking at the symptoms associated with IBS. It is true to say that certain foods do not help, I try my best to find out what they are but behold I am still trying to find the enemy food...I have been to a private dietician and she has said that I am intolerant to wheat and yeast, but looking at labels in shops many if not all foods have either wheat, yeast or both.

When I have an attack of IBS I feel totally useless and most of all I feel a total burden on my partner, I constantly complain to him about how I am feeling but I am sure he thinks it's all in my head and that I am obsessed with the issue of my stomach...To be honest with everyone, I would not want my worst enemy to suffer from this awful illness, to me it is an illness, an incurable one.

For those who suffer from IBS I really know what you go through, especially the constipation type. Stress is also a factor and I have also thought that hormones also don't help very much as I always find that it is much worse each month after my period has finished...I have missed a lot of work and feel that I will lose my job eventually, it's not a very good one but how many more jobs can I go through because of IBS?

I graduated from university two years ago and feel that IBS is a never-ending saga which just creeps up on me when I feel I have finally got a grasp on it. I want a successful career but at the moment living everyday is all I can manage to get through, even that is often hard work and I find myself curled up on my bed with a hot water bottle (not knowing that this is really helping me!) and dreaming of the day when I can live a normal life with a normal bowel which works everyday, not when it wants to.

I am living in the south-west of the UK and would like to set up a help group for anyone in this particular area with IBS and constipation. Please get in touch, I look forward to hearing from you.

E-mail Rebecca: [email protected]

The tale of...Misty (October 2003)

Well I've been suffering for about 10 years but just recently learned that my condition wasn't normal. It wasn't until I started talking to my friends that I learned you're actually supposed to 'go' once every day and I was suffering from bad constipation. I go once every 7-10 days, maybe longer. Food is my enemy.

If I have plans for the night, I try not to eat. I can't stay out very long anymore because my stomach will bloat, and I'll look six months pregnant. My stomach fills to the point that I get shortness of breath. I writhe in pain and nausea. My son, who is three-years-old, is showing signs of IBS also. I just hope it's my over-protectiveness shining through.

I finally went to the doctor and he mentioned IBS and as soon as I read some stories, I knew, finally, what was wrong with me. It was such a relief, yet I cried because I know that I have to live with it for the rest of my life.

I thought that once I saw a doctor, he'd make everything better and I would finally have a life. No more hiding from my boyfriend because I felt like I was going to pop, no more turning friends down for a night out, and no more telling my boyfriend he couldn't stay the night because I felt sick. How do you explain your utterly embarrassing constipation problem to anyone, never mind your boyfriend? I am so jealous of people who can go to the bathroom, how strange is that?

I'm humiliated and scared. I feel like no-one understands. I take laxatives regularly, now I'm switching to enemas in hope of some relief. I can't even be social, because my stomach will make such loud horrible sounds and I'll have to go home to relieve myself of the pressure. Then sit there alone for the rest of the night.

I don't even know where to start when it comes to any kind of medicine that will make me feel better. I'm trying not to be depressed but this is not only painful physically but mentally.

The tale of...Cheri (October 2003)

I was diagnosed with IBS two years ago. First the doctors told me it was gastric acid then they told me that because I was sexually abused I needed counseling and that would make the pain go away. In the last year I have gone for extensive and quite embarrassing tests. In the results of these tests they found a five centimeter cyst on my ovary. Now I thought that was the answer to my pain but it wasn't.

In the last three months I have gotten worse. I may have endometriosis. When I eat a piece of toast my abdomen swells up and I look six months pregnant. It is very embarrassing to look big one day and then your stomach flat again, people must think I'm weird.

To get rid of this bloating I must eat laxatives and the pain is intolerable. There's not too much the doctor can do but give me Dicetel painkillers and see another specialist. Sometimes I do not want to live anymore because this is no way to but I try to keep hope there will someday be a cure, an inexpensive one.

E-mail Cheri: [email protected]

The tale of...Julie (November 2003)

I am 27 years old and have suffered with IBS for seven years now. I can relate with many of the previous stories, and am amazed at what the human body, mind, and spirit can endure without dying. My irritable bowel syndrome is predominantly constipation, although years ago when I first began having attacks, it was always IBS-D ('D' for diarrhea) associated with large quantity, high-fat meals.

For the last few years, my symptoms have changed from explosive, unpredictable diarrhea to being constipated at all times. I have experienced both, and honestly one is not any worse than the other for me.

With diarrhea, I would always get the relief from having the bowel movement, but the number of movements in one sitting could vary from one to dozens, painful cramps coming in waves before each loose stool. I already had two babies before my first episode, and for me, the pain of abdominal cramps during an episode is so similar to transition labor. It is that intense.

Now, experiencing cramps with constipation is totally different. The pain is identical, however I may or may not pass the bowel movement, which sometimes can be absolutely terrifying. Some episodes, while horribly painful, are so common to me that I know I will be OK. I have had about a dozen episodes however where I was sitting on the toilet, cramping horribly, and totally unable to get anything out.

My whole body starts sweating profusely, and I have even had the sensation of vibrations in my extremities. I don't know what exactly that is, but it probably has to do with a dramatic drop in blood pressure. Just about the time I am ready to scream for my husband to call 911 because I seriously thought I was going to die, I have a major bowel movement, and although exhausted, I know I am finished, and I feel fine.

I went to a doctor about the problem about two years after the onset of symptoms. I was so happy to hear that there was a name for what I was experiencing. I was thrilled when he prescribed anti-cramping drugs. I felt like those pills were better than solid gold. I was so happy to have them.

Sadly, they did not work, and neither did anything else! I have done the whole diet, exercise, meditation, mind-body connection workshops, etc and while I do believe they have provided some benefit, I still have unpredictable episodes that cause so much anguish.

Non-sufferers can never understand the fear involved when you feel your first cramp (or whatever the symptom that tells you 'here we go again' happens to be. They don't understand the fear of finding a toilet, and fast The total urgency. For me, the urgency isn't even a matter of having an accident. I haven't yet, and doubt I will while in constipation mode.

However, the pain just makes you need to be alone in a locked stall, so you can just sit there and suffer quietly without people looking at you hold your gut and walk doubled over. I know the best bathrooms in every single mall, restaurant, plaza, gas station, etc in the entire city.

Thank God my husband is supportive. He has never made comments like the rude ones that are posted on this site. He has sat in many a fast food joint for over an hour while I am doing my thing. My kids are wonderful, also. I can't believe how understanding they are for being only seven and eight. The second I say I'm cramping, they run to get an ice pack for my stomach, ice chips, and wash cloths. I am lucky in that regard.

My work life has suffered tremendously, though. I quit my job and am hoping to get disability. I feel like a loser for having to do that, but people just aren't understanding of an employee or co-worker hitting the restroom for an hour at a time, at absolutely any given moment. I was so embarrassed that I never told anyone I was having an attack.

Finally I left the job and have stayed home. Not having to stress about attacks at work has really improved the frequency of attacks. Stress=attacks=anxiety=fear=attacks=stress=etc forever. What an ugly cycle this is. My heart goes out to all of you suffering. Thank you all for posting your experiences. I am glad to know I am not the only one who has these same feelings and anxiety.

E-mail Julie: [email protected]

The tale of...Sam (December 2003)

I've not suffered from IBS for long so I'm not well-educated really! I'm only 21, it doesn't seem very fair at all! I guess I am mainly a cramp and gas sufferer. I don't really get diarrhea much but can get constipation a fair amount.

I think my attacks started when I split up with an ex last year. I turned up in the supermarket where I worked on Valentine's day to find him walking around with his wife and child he kindly did not tell me about.

I went on a big drinking binge for a whole week and got so drunk one night I almost passed out, and the next few days, I got the most terrible constipation I couldn't sleep or eat for days and couldn't go to the loo at all, nothing cleared it until I got my last resort of Lactulose from the local chemist but even then I had to take four doses.

It cleared up and I assumed I would have no further problems but since then I've noticed every time I go out with friends for even non-alcoholic drinks I get such bad gas, and this builds up over the evening until I can't walk home as I am doubled over in bloated pain.

If I get home quick and lie down I can sleep and it will be gone in the morning but it always manages to ruin things for me. I didn't even know at this point that anything was severely wrong with me I just assumed I got bad gas or was drinking or eating too fast, but then people noticed how bad it was and it stopped being slightly amusing to concerning as they told me it never happened to them and they never felt pain the way I did before bed.

It does seem to get worse with stressful times in my life, when I have a row with someone and end up crying if I try and eat the next day it's so painful and bloated, as if my bowel is cramped up and tight.

I went to the doctors recently and as my main symptoms are pain and bloating he gave me Colpermin, a standard antispasmodic. Although I've been taking it for a week I've found it seems to wreck havoc on my bowels. I'm now getting attacks of D and really intense pain in the evenings after meals.

I'm starting to now think of other ways to prevent the pain and cramping although my major problem is I have a chronic phobia of needles and have had such bad panic attacks on simple injections that I've had to be sedated so it would only serve to make my life intensely stressful to undergo more tests such as enemas or blood tests.

I have heard things about food intolerance but all cases seem to vary so much I have no idea what would help my kind of case. I have heard soluble fiber such as citrus fruits, beans and peas are good as opposed to insoluble fiber like wheat and vegetables like cabbage and sprouts.

I had a terrible attack after a Christmas meal and I believe this may have been due to a large intake of sprouts and starchy potatoes. Red meat I hear is also bad for cramp sufferers but poultry is OK. The worst thing to eat I hear is sweets like chocolate and other rich fatty foods such as greasy burgers or dairy, cheeses and too much milk.

I have decided the only real way of tackling the direct effects of this is to write a diary about what you eat for about a month and write on it exactly after which meals you get an attack and hopefully you will then be able to acquire a general summary as to what triggers your particular case.

I would just really like to hear from any other people who have or do suffer from this cramp/bloating type of irritable bowel syndrome and if they've heard of any other medical treatments or have had any other successes as I am still in pain and having to go off to bed early to relieve my aches!

E-mail Sam: [email protected]

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