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happy tales: women with ibs-c page four

The tale of...JS (30 September 2007)

I was diagnosed with IBS about 11 years ago. I had been having horrible pains in my lower stomach, and when a diagnosis of endometriosis, and surgery for, it didn't alleviate the pain I was sent to a gastro specialist who told me that I had IBS. At the time, I thought it was a catch-all; a 'made-up' illness.

For the next eight years I worked out heavily and ate a low-fat diet, and my symptoms disappeared. Three years ago I took a break from my heavy workouts and let my diet slip. I started to bloat and have horrible constipation, pain and tenderness. I felt too exhausted and miserable to work out at all, yet alone the several hours a day I'd worked out before. Every few weeks, I'd hit the other extreme and have horribly loose stools.

After some research, I realized that I was exhibiting classic IBS symptoms and that it was a 'real' illness. I bought Digestive Advantage at the supermarket, and it worked miracles. The bloating left. I have bowel movements every day. The only mistake I made was giving up the medicine when my symptoms stopped. You have to keep taking it, or the symptoms come back.

E-mail JS: [email protected]

The tale of...Susie (27 November 2007)

I'm 22 and I've had IBS-C for half a year now, which I know is nothing compared to those sufferers who've been blessed with this illness for decades, but believe me, I am fully aware of how debilitating it can be and how it sours your life. All my problems stem from constipation, ie: the bloating and spasms go away if the constipation is relieved, and consequently I have been looking for remedies to tackle just that, up until now not entirely successfully.

So-called 'Dr Schüssler salts', which are similar to homeopathic remedies, help, and homeopathy (silicea). These often help me, but admittedly they never restored my once perfect bowel movements. Something that helps me go as well, especially in the morning, is warm tea and lots of it (even without milk)

I've found that milk relaxes my muscles when I'm troubled by constipation. Although if I drink it in the afternoon or evening it makes my symptoms much worse, as I get the urge to go to the loo but my colon simply won't co-operate. My diet is more than ideal, and that actually worsens my symptoms.

Insoluble fiber in large quantities, especially in the evening, makes me want to go, but I can't. It's a nightmare with cauliflower or bran, but actually better with white bread (which I know is not very healthy). The way things used to be, I lived by the rules of food-combining, ie: not eating protein and carbs simultaneously, but something like that again has me desperately straining over a toilet bowl. Outcome: pellets. At the best.

What helps though is soluble fiber. Even things like chocolate or sweets cause me no problems, but I don't actually like them and I know they aren't exactly healthy, that's why I consciously came off them a while ago and never again acquired the taste for them. Danone Activia has helped me once or twice, and coffee does as well. There are special yoga poses you can find online, and the ones recommended for constipation do work for me to a certain extent.

Ironically enough, what has helped me enormously is exam stress, or more like anxiety before an exam. No more lazy bowels then, curiously enough. Of course this can't last forever, but I just thought I'd jot it down as it's nothing short of intriguing. Constipation apart, for the symptoms which go with it, I've found something excellent for bloating and flatulence, which is Protexin Balance.

The types of medication I've been on are too many to count, but the two I could say that actually worked are Meteospasmyl and Buscopan. I must admit though that my body got used to them after a couple of weeks, so I stopped taking them. I did try Digestrol, which is incredibly expensive and did not help me, if anything it made my symptoms worse.

I sympathize with all of you. The number of times I've wished I had any other illness but this. But you're not the one that decides, your digestive tract does, and anyway we all know one can't think like that. I do get down sometimes and the future seems bleak. Occasionally I have wished that I'd have diarrhea instead of constipation. But would it be better to be struck by an attack on the bus and not being in control whatsoever...you know how that continues. That's all I wanted to share with you, good luck.

E-mail Susie: [email protected]

The tale of...K (10 December 2007)

I am 25 years old and I have been suffering from IBS for the last three years (diagnosed a year and a half ago). It began with irrational diarrhea and now tends to consist of waves from excruciating pain from bloating and constipation, to what feels like a mild stomach upset. I have gone for a whole month at a time without too much bother, only to be hit by an onslaught of symptoms without an apparent lifestyle change that I can pin-point.

I have tried several remedies, both self-prescribed and those recommended by my very supportive GP. These include soluble fiber, peppermint (tea and capsules), laxatives of every variety under the sun, Wind-eze and every other brand of the same product, diets consisting of vegetable soups and masses of All-bran, etc!

My doctor was shocked when I made a list of the amount of laxatives/over-the-counter wind-relieving products I used on a daily basis and made me promise never to touch any of them again...A difficult task indeed as I had become reliant on many of the pills I'd been taking on and off for the previous couple of years! I have been prescribed mebeverine tablets to take as and when I need to relieve the pain from bloating. These worked at first but after six months I am finding them less successful.

I took up smoking in a moment of desperation when hit by possibly my worst case of constipation (it had been a long, long time!). A daily diet of strong coffee, strong cigarettes and lots of bran did begin to do the trick, and as a staunch anti-smoker I am sad to say that smoking was quite possibly one of the best remedies I have tried. However, after five months I gave that up too, and what followed was two months of embarrassing wind at work, terrible cramps from my constipation and sudden inexplicable bouts of diarrhea when my body appeared to suddenly give way.

I have said that this is a happy tale because the most success I have had recently has been from what feels like an excessive consumption of...water! I wake up, drink about three liters of the stuff and continue in the same vain as the day continues. Together with the yoga poses taught to me earlier in this year when I was in India (the yogi masters there ask you several medical questions before they decide which poses you should practise) and replacing my six cups of builder's tea at work with peppermint tea, I feel much better!

I cannot tell you if I have found a remedy that works for me which does not rely on the excessive consumption of chemicals, or if my body has just fallen into one of those spells where my IBS doesn't seem to be as severe as normal, but I can tell you I feel so relieved right now! They say that IBS is exacerbated by stress and worry. It is therefore a terrible cycle - I was constantly asked by my doctor 'Are you stressed?' to which I would reply 'I wouldn't be if only I could go to the toilet normally and not have this pain!' No other part of my life is stressful!

The worry that comes with having taken excessive amounts of pills for the last few years has been (I hope not temporarily) relieved by finding natural remedies (that work!) for my problem. Perhaps it is merely this relief which has eased my symptoms - I don't know if I will ever really know, but for the moment I feel better than I have in a long time!

The tale of...Kelly (February 2008)

I have been suffering from IBS for about six years, and it got really bad when I came to college. But I have found that following Heather Van Vorous's diet, using her fiber supplements, and doing yoga have had huge impacts on my health. I feel so much better and my symptoms have almost completely disappeared! I can't stress enough how much this has helped and I hope other people will look into her site and also consider yoga for treatment. It takes time for these things to change your symptoms but the change is real.

E-mail Kelly: [email protected]

The tale of...N (25 March 2008)

I was diagnosed with IBS over six years ago. I can relate to the very unfruitful doctor visits. I have been prescribed several medications, some of which I took for a few years. My IBS was so bad that traveling anywhere outside of my house was always a scary experience because due to the unpredictable diarrhea episodes, if I was not near a bathroom I would find myself in quite the predicament.

Three years ago I was told by two different women that they were diagnosed with IBS and their doctors were not very proactive in helping them seek out answers to this very unpredictable syndrome. Both women told me how they believed they had celiac disease or were gluten intolerant. So I started to cleanse my body and avoid all gluten products.

I am so thankful for these women's stories because I have been given a new lease on life. I am no longer held captive by my moody colon, spastic bowels, unrelenting heartburn or sluggish bowels. I am not scared to go on a road trip or to a movie. As long as I avoid wheat products my IBS is nowhere to be seen. By the way my doctor doesn't think it is a wheat allergy, but I went for allergy testing a few months ago and they also said that I was allergic to wheat. I have not been only any medications for my bowels or heartburn for a number of years now!

E-mail N: [email protected]

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