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sad tales: women with ibs-c page three

The tale of...Sandra (December 2004)

I was diagnosed with IBS about a year ago, but have suffered from the intense pain for almost three years. I went through all of the painful and embarrassing tests but they could not find any explanation for the pain except IBS. I am a mother of two and will be 28 years-old in a couple of months. I hate this so-called disease. It is ruining my life.

I quit my job about six months ago mostly because worrying about another attack often triggered one while I was at work. My co-workers and boss were very understanding but I felt guilty always pawning off my duties as a dental assistant onto my co-workers. The pain just comes out of nowhere, always in the mornings. I would much rather go through labor and childbirth than have an attack.

The pain is crippling and there is no way to know it's coming or when it is going to stop. Most of the time I can get through an attack and groggily get through the rest of the day. I often have a bowel movement but it doesn't relieve any of the pain. I just suffer and wait for it to stop. I have tried some of the anti-spasm drugs but they do not seem to help either.

Sometimes I wonder 'How am I going to live the rest of my life like this?' IBS seems to ruin everything, my son's birthday party, a weekend trip with my family and friends, which by the way ended up in the emergency room because the pain was the worst it had ever been. I often feel very depressed even when I'm not in pain.

I am constantly thinking about it, trying to figure out a way to make it go away. I am tired of worrying about it, tired of being in pain, tired of trying to guess what I should eat or if I should eat at all. Tired of not having my job, tired of not being able to plan things. Nothing seems to work, and the doctors I have seen are not much help either.

I cannot believe that there is not anything anybody can do. There has got to be something out there that works. I want my life back. I want to be in control of what I do and when I do it. There at least has to be a medication to relieve the pain. If anybody has any help for me please let me know. Thank you.

The tale of...George (25 February 2005)

Hi, I'm 28 and I've suffered with IBS every day for 10 years. I suffer mainly from constipation but also have lots of bouts of diarrhea. Most of the time when I go to the loo it feels like the poo gets stuck in my bowels somewhere, and I am in constant pain and discomfort with a very swollen belly.

I have tried just about everything available, alternative and conventional, and have found that peppermint oil capsules and an anti-depressant help, but I am still suffering all day every day. Daily exercise also helps but no amount of changing my diet seems to.

I had surgery to repair an anterior rectocele (unusual as I am young and have not had children yet) also to no avail. I am unable to work or enjoy a social life, and I feel constantly tired and unwell with lots of dizzy spells and nausea. My whole life revolves around trying to 'settle' my guts and is therefore extremely restricted.

I'm scared to leave my house a lot of the time as if I don't get to a toilet in time, meaning a few seconds, and have to hold it in, I become painfully constipated and nauseous. I can't just push it out, I have to wait for the urge to come and then I must go straight away or else...

All I can do is continue trying to find something that helps, and maybe try to get my government to recognize IBS as a serious problem.

E-mail George: [email protected]

The tale of...Andrea (15 March 2005)

I want to share my story because, frankly, I am so damn scared, and so damn lonely, that at times - like now - I feel paralyzed. I'm 25 now, and I've have IBS since I was about 14. I always used to wonder if I was imagining my symptoms, especially because they do get worse with nerves. I thought that perhaps I was inventing the pain, the weight gain, the cramps, the constipation and the other gory stuff - or at least that it originated in my head.

When I was about 23 I realized that I had to have something because this sort of thing couldn't have been completely my imagination. Shortly before I turned 25 I finally got up the courage to go to the doctor, and I was diagnosed - I'm a textbook case, apparently.

The doctor put me on Zelnorm, and it has been a miracle for me. What used to be a constant problem is now not nearly as common. However, I still have the old limitations because of the symptoms that inevitably crop up - I don't travel well, and I certainly can't travel with others. I can't stay at other people's houses and I don't like people staying at mine.

I quit university once, but am finally working my way through it again (looks like I'll have a BA before I'm 29, at least). It's hard though, and I miss many days when I go through difficult periods. I guess the crux of my anguish is that I can't lead a normal life because I don't know what the next day will be like. I've never had a boyfriend for long, and I can't stay the night at one's house when I do.

I'm afraid - afraid that he'll discover how unpleasant I am to be around in the mornings when the gas is the worst and when I'm noisy in the bathroom because of my inconsistency. I'm afraid that I'll spend the rest of my life alone because of this horrible disease. Is it really possible for someone to love you if you have such an unpleasant disease?

It's one thing when you develop a disease after being with someone, but I can't imagine someone wanting me knowing that I have this...I'm so lonely and this thing scares me so much because I have no control over it.

I also don't know how to deal with questions from professors, classmates and friends. What do I tell people that want to know why I missed class the other day? I don't want to lie, but I don't want to get into it either. Usually I just say that I have a gastrointestinal disease where I don't process food correctly sometimes and it makes me ill, but people want to know the name of the disease, and frankly, I'm not ready to say it yet. I'm so embarrassed by having such a repulsive, embarrassing disease.

The tale of...Ann (March 2005)

I have had what my mom used to call spastic colon since I was in my late twenties. I used to take two charcoal pills from GNC to help with the pain and it was a miracle drug. Unfortunately, it was explained to me that charcoal will also hinder/or knock out other drugs from your system.

I'm not sure of the validity of that, but being on Prozac, I didn't want to chance it. The Prozac was for anxiety by the way (OCD symptoms) and that saved my life. So, the charcoal was out, but no problem as the attacks were so seldom.

Anyway...a few months ago, several years after the last bout of attacks, suddenly the dang spastic colon starts to act up again. I am so used to it, and it was so infrequent, I never really thought about consulting a doctor about it. That was until about a month ago. All hell broke loose.

A few weeks prior to the big nightmare as I call it, after I would eat, I would feel have terrible pains that would only be relieved upon, well, how do I say this gracefully, going number two. And we are not talking smooth sailing here either...we are talking either disgusting diarrhea or even worse terrible constipation.

One night...I can't remember what I ate...I started feeling the pain come on. So, I head for the bathroom to relieve the pain and I take what I would call a respectable poo. Well, it didn't relieve the pain.

Throughout the whole ordeal of trying to go to the bathroom, I am sweating, cursing, crying, praying...my roommate didn't know what to do. Usually I lock the bathroom door and just suffer the pain but I knew this was different. I gave up trying and decided to lie down on my bed and I was in a fetal position the cramps were so bad.

Oh! I forgot the best part. I tell my roommate to go get me the Fleet enema and I tell her to get two as I'm not sure I know how to work those things! Anyway, I read the back and it says to hold the water in for a couple of minutes or something? Um, no. Not going to happen. Needless to say, the enema failed. Finally my roommate says we are going to the hospital now!

I really didn't feel like riding in a bumpy pickup truck for miles and miles, especially when I wasn't sure when I would feel that 'knocking on the back door' if you know what I mean. Turns out, it wasn't a worry as I was constipated the whole time in the emergency room.

The first ER doc gave me a shot of Demerol. The nurse and my roommate assured me I would be 'feeling no pain' soon. Half an hour later, nothing. No relief from the pain. I was on my side and had just endured an exam where this doc tells me my rectum is 'empty'. You could have fooled me! I told him I was in major pain, and he responded by going off duty.

So then another doc comes in and if I have to tell one more hospital staff member my story I am going to freak. Finally...after hours have passed...they give me a dilaudid drip. Ah relief. I have to admit, it was almost worth the pain! Almost but not quite, as I am sure you sufferers can empathize with.

So I am high as a kite and go get the obligatory x-rays and all looks fine. The ER doc sends me home with Vicodin...got to love that constipation inducer...and something for nausea. I go to my regular doc and he says he thinks it's IBS. He gave me some Nulev to take before eating and the attacks have since decreased. I also have read up a lot on IBS and constipation, etc. That's how I got to this site.

I was so moved by all of your stories I had to share mine. I am going to the GI doc soon and we will see what he thinks. I really hope I can get some medicine or hints on dietary changes to help me out. In the meantime I am off to buy a coffee grinder as one of the folks on this site mentioned freshly ground flaxseed and its benefits. (Thanks Marian!)

Peace and healing to all of you as I know what you go through. Please continue to update your stories as it's great to get hints here and there as well as know you aren't alone.

The tale of...Blue (March 2005)

I don't believe my story stands out as extraordinary now that I have read so many of the suffering tales of my fellow IBS peers. But in the hopes that someone can learn something or at least feel a common bond, I will write my story.

I was married in 1992 and my health was perfect. I began to take birth control pills and six months later began to be constipated and gassy. I dropped the pills and had the Norplant put in my arm. My symptoms became worse. I gained 15 pounds and I just couldn't get any relief from the constipation. I saw doctors, but no answers and no sympathy, just a diagnosis of IBS.

Two years went by and then a friend told me to use prune juice. So, I used prune juice as a laxative for six years or more. I was able to perfect the formula by constant use. I would drink 5oz of juice and three 16oz glasses of water as a chaser. That worked for a long time, but then I got pregnant and things became more difficult. After the pregnancy, my fluctuating hormones affected my symptoms and I begged a Harvard-trained gastroenterologist at my clinic to test me.

He performed a sigmoidoscopy and then later approved me for a colonoscopy and barium enema tests. I had balloon tests for the rectum and an x-ray etc, etc. Those truly were humiliating. In the end he couldn't help me and gave me a prescription for Lactulose and said goodbye.

In the subsequent years, I have become my own research team. I search the internet and medical journals, magazines and anything with info about new studies and really the internet has been my greatest ally. I am so grateful for the IBS self-help websites.

I think after 12 years I've learned how to deal with my body pretty well. I survive each day by drinking four, 18oz glasses of water at one time at 5:30 am, then I wait a while, and drink another 18oz glass. This pretty much cleans me out after being in the bathroom three hours straight. It may end up damaging my health in the end. I am sure I am washing out many minerals and nutrients.

I can't eat after 6:30pm. I don't drink milk, don't eat bananas or whole wheat or oats, or raisins, red meat, ice cream, blah blah. A long list of don't do's. I never do any movement that requires my stomach muscles to be used because then I suffer pain, gas, bloating, and diarrhea. (That's one I haven't figured out yet.)

My husband and three kids are supportive of me, in spite of the hardship my illness causes them. Of course, some things can't be avoided. I spend a lot of time in the bathroom. Sometimes I can't even figure out what happened and I'm in again later in the day.

I am tired of the pain, and the unpredictability and I am tired of looking like I am five months pregnant. But again, I am so thankful for the support of all the other IBS sufferers who care enough to write and encourage the rest of us.

E-mail Blue: [email protected]

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