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sad tales: women with ibs-c page two

The tale of...Jennifer (17 October 2004)

I am a 23-year-old woman just learning how to deal with the IBS with constipation I've experienced since about the age of 13. At that age, I was terrified of being fat like my mom had become and was very vulnerable to images of models with flat stomachs. My IBS with constipation was then characterized by daily gas and bloating, but I thought my problem was that I was getting fat, so I succumbed to unhealthy practices of starvation until my hip bones jutted out and my stomach burned, and later, bulimia.

I thought I had stomach aches as punishment for eating like a pig, though I was far from overweight. My stomach aches got so bad that I hesitated to go out with friends because of the pain and because of the fear they'd see my large stomach and think I was fat.

I put my body and emotions through a lot of torture, and by the time I was 17, I knew I needed to change. I became vegetarian and, at the wonderful suggestion of a physician's assistant from India, decided to try treating my stomach aches with yoga rather than all the harsh and useless medicines thrown my way by busy doctors. The yoga did wonders for me in so many ways, especially by relieving the gas and bloating I so loathed.

Now my IBS has the added problem of chronic constipation, and I am doing my best to continue my very healthy vegetarian diet despite the days that I wish I never had to eat again. I am also learning how to keep my stomach pains at bay as I am getting into running. My current mileage is between 25 and 30 miles per week, but I think if my stomach weren't so temperamental I would feel more confident running under many circumstances.

I just recently learned about Heather van Vorous' book Eating for IBS which explained the difference between soluble and insoluble fiber - what a difference that knowledge makes! I had always been told to eat more fiber for my constipation and to try a laxative. I have tried every laxative and enema ad, but nothing really works in the long run. I realized that eating probably 50+ grams of fiber per day as I have been for years could actually exacerbate my condition rather than cure it!

I hope others will read Eating for IBS and look into the types of fiber in their diet and benefit as I am beginning to. Most importantly, I hope others will continue reading and sharing stories to gain a sense of hope in controlling what can too often be such an embarrassing, confusing, and shameful set of experiences.

My mood has lifted by reading the stories on here and it has helped me to realize that I can find support if I am willing to look or ask. It is in fact a relief to know I am dealing with a digestive disorder and not an eating disorder anymore, and my self-image has improved as a result.

The tale of...Michaela (11 November 2004)

I was diagnosed with IBS some 12 years after I suffered severe stomach cramps. No other symptoms, just severe pain and sometimes a bit of bloating. Every couple of months I feel it start - a severe pain two inches below my belly button. Oh no, here we go again. It is sheer agony. Another night spent rolling around in agony, another day off work.

It will usually start in the early evening or during the night and can go on for as long as 14 hours. The pain is so severe that I just have to lie still and it is so painful that my body seems like it is suffering from shock. I go cold, clammy and on occasions when it is really bad, I am sick.

There are times when it has been so severe that I have wanted to call an ambulance. Nothing helps. And when it's gone, my whole abdomen feels sore, painful and bruised for a few days and I am weak and shattered - but I am pleased it has passed - until next time.

After pleading with a doctor that if I was a dog suffering so much pain the owner would put me down, he prescribed some very strong painkillers that seem to take the edge off it...just.

I still don't know what causes it, don't think I ever will. It took me ages to be convinced I was suffering from IBS because I don't have any other symptoms. I've had tests that confirm 'there's nothing wrong with me'. It might only be IBS but not many people understand just how bad it can be.

The tale of...Lorraine (December 2004)

Having IBS has been a life-altering experience for me. Having been professionally diagnosed for a year, I have in fact had bowel problems for approximately 12 years. Since having a professor of gastroenterology on the case my gut problems have improved in small increments. However, I can have bad days that seem to last all day, usually worst at night, but still manages to either give me pain in the upper abdominal area, bloating, pain and wind, need I say more?

Any sufferer knows the scenario all too well. It constantly reminds you of its presence. I have had part of my colon removed and two prolapses hitched up which were believed to be due to a redundant part of my bowel and a slow system, thus frequent straining enforcing weakness hence the prolapse. I now have some incontinence. So I totally understand how difficult and debilitating and stressful this can be for other sufferers.

However, despite the bad days, hours and weeks sometimes, there is hope. I have recently been trying Alverine Citrate that has helped ease pain after meals, and I am hoping for a new drug that has yet to be approved by the European health council, hurry up I say! Don't get me wrong, I am grateful for the ops being a success, and having had a fantastic medical team.

I'm not working mainly because of this condition, and partly out of choice, but I don't choose or wish this on anybody, having to convince myself and explain my anxiety and general behavior to others. I know this is not in my head and is physical alright.

Back to positives, I am an avid keep-fit fanatic and over the years found exercise a great help and it certainly brightens my mind, thus giving me a happier frame of mind in all senses of the word. I used to model, mainly swimwear and lingerie, hard to imagine now. One of my glamorous jobs was modeling on Japanese TV for Gossard, to the complete opposite, incontinence pant modeling and I was recalled for a re-shoot!

I do actually laugh about that one. I do remember thinking poor people having to wear these, little did I know what I had ahead of me. Swimming has been the best exercise symptom solver for wind and pain. I have driven to the pool in pain and after 10 lengths it's gone. Do give it a try, I do believe it to be a huge help. It helps open the diaphragm thus helping your breathing, helping the digestion, it helps circulate blood to the gut thus helping aid digestion and you have the soothing massage of the water, so please give it a try it's always been worth the trip.

I have managed to not let this condition totally stop every thing I do. I will not let it, although it can halt me sometimes, I will always try to challenge or accept that it will not last forever and I will be able to lead a normal life one day. Got to go, you know where. Love Lorraine.

E-mail Lorraine: [email protected]

The tale of...Beth (December 2004)

I am so glad that I have found this site! I have been going through this since I was in high school, I am now 35. I use to get lower stomach pains that could only be relieved with laying flat on my back and after a short time the pain would go away.

A couple of times I had stomach pains so bad that the fetal position was the only way I could get some relief. I went to the doctor and he told me it was gastroenteritis. I was OK with troubling times here and there, it seemed that if my stomach started feeling bad I would eat some soup and crackers for a couple of days and it would be better.

But since September of this year I had that God-awful pain at the top of my stomach and feeling like I had to go to the bathroom. Ever since then I have been dealing with the pain and one day constipated the next day not, it does not seem to matter what I eat. I am constantly passing gas which really bothers my husband.

I do not work anymore because I am so afraid that the pain is going to turn into an attack so I just stay home. I know coffee bothers me but I need it so I can have a bowel movement.

I have an appointment with a specialist in a couple of weeks and I am scared that it may be something else. Anyone who has these same symptoms or any advice please contact me...Thanks for listening!

E-mail Beth: [email protected]

The tale of...Maureen (December 2004)

I am 43 years old and a couple of weeks ago I picked up a tummy bug and was vomiting quite badly for a couple of days. After that stopped, I had diarrhea for 24 hours. I felt OK for a couple of days but then I got a severe shooting pain in my back passage and terrible cramping pains in my lower left abdomen.

I went to my GP who tested me for pelvic inflammatory disease. All of his tests came back negative. I returned to the surgery and explained to him that my bowel movements had become erratic and that I felt full and bloated all the time.

He has sent off some stool samples to eliminate any bowel infection but has said that my symptoms could be due to irritable bowel syndrome. I was quite relieved as all sorts of terrible things had been running through my mind (cancer etc). After reading some of the stories on this site I'm not so sure.

The pain and discomfort that I have suffered over the past couple of weeks has been far worse than labor pains, and I should know, I have five children. I am hoping that this episode, which thankfully seems to be abating, is a one-off and due to the tummy bug I had previously.

You sufferers out there deserve a medal. I have been absolutely good for nothing since this thing started. How you all carry on with your normal everyday lives is amazing. I would love to hear from any sufferers who started with similar symptoms to mine. A trouble shared is a trouble halved after all!

E-mail Maureen: [email protected]

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