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happy tales: women with ibs-c page eight

The tale of...Kelly (22 June 2010)

I feel for everyone here. I also have been told I have IBS. It's so bad that I suffered daily, not even wanting to eat. I couldn't tell if it was caused by any particular food. In January I decided to try Alli to help me lose weight and I discovered that it saved me from IBS. I feel wonderful taking this. I almost forget I have IBS. If I do get some symptoms they move out of my body very fast, within minutes. Then I feel better again.

Prior to taking Alli, my doctor offered me nothing except for a probiotic which did nothing for me. I hope my story helps someone else. Of course Alli is also helping me lose weight because it puts excess fat out of your body. It also helps me have better bowel movements. I guess I should inform my doctor that I found my own cure.

E-mail Kelly: [email protected]

The tale of...Karen (31 July 2010)

I am in my mid-20s and I have had IBS since I was in my late teens. It all started with two food poisoning episodes which I never quite recovered from. In the first few years my symptoms were diarrhea and gas. The symptoms then turned into chronic constipation accompanied with occasional diarrhea, something which made me go through all the laxatives I could find. They all gave me diarrhea and I could never properly go to the toilet, it was only liquid that would come out. In the end however the laxatives would all fail to even give me diarrhea and I became quite frustrated at not knowing what to do.

I have tried many things such as homeopathy, diet modification, acupuncture, Chinese herb medicine, exercise, detoxification, enemas, and as mentioned many laxatives. To make a long story short I have over the years, through a lot of trial and error, managed to find the best way to cope with my troubled bowels, and I did honestly not believe I could get this well. I pretty much believed my bowel was a lost cause.

The strategy that works best for me is a combination of diet modification, digestive aids and specific mineral supplementation. So here is what I do: no grains, no refined sugar, no dairy products, not too much fruit. I keep it simple by eating a lot of vegetables, brown rice, fish, meat, berries, some nuts and occasionally some fruit. Basically this is what many people call the Stone Age diet. Then with meals I take digestive aids in the form of stomach acid, digestive enzymes, a beetroot concentrate supplement to help my bile and a bile supplement. I have been found to have low stomach acid so for me this was good, but this may vary a great deal for people. I also take omega-3, a vitamin B complex and make sure I eat healthy oils. In addition I take psyllium seed husks and probiotics.

I was also found to have low magnesium (using a hair mineral test, the serum test is not good enough) and tried many oral magnesium supplements which did not help. Then I discovered magnesium oil (derived from condensed seawater) which is applied to the skin. Magnesium oil applied to the skin worked wonders for my bowels. When first starting it my bowel started to do things it had not done in years. And now I regularly apply oil to my stomach and bowel area or other areas and leave it on for half an hour to an hour making sure it does not dry out or get cold.

So now when I manage to do all these things correctly I go to the toilet once a day and what comes out is normal. I almost never have diarrhea. Since calcium has the opposite effect to magnesium I make sure I do not get too much calcium from too hard waters or any other source. The magnesium that I apply to the skin has also produced some nice side effects such as almost absent period cramps and better sleep.

To some it may seem like a hard regime to follow but for me it has been worth it. In addition I have put effort into detoxification which seems to have made a positive contribution. Today I function beyond what I thought was possible. That does not mean I am perfect, but compared to what it was this is great. I still experience some problems, but I mostly understand what has been going wrong and manage to correct it. It is so great to be able to a large degree control the condition and wear slim-fit clothes again.

I don't know how many people could be helped by similar measures as people can be very different. For me magnesium was the key, but it was only the magnesium absorbed through the skin which would work. From all this I learned that it pays to not give up trying to find solutions when traditional medicine tells you there is nothing you can do.

The tale of...Vicki (8 January 2011)

After years of doctor visits, increasingly painful attacks of IBS, and ultimately reaching the point of deciding I could not live like this any longer, I finally found help. This was just by accident. An aesthetician I knew had a client with IBS who felt she had received tremendous relief and an understanding of her condition through an outstanding acupuncturist.

I went once, very skeptically, to see this practitioner. As soon as she looked at me, knowing why I was there, she announced I was 'impacted', then she looked at my tongue, which was coated, and felt my pulse. The fact that this acupuncturist was so familiar with my condition, having successfully treated IBS before (and giving me references to those who had been successfully treated), was very encouraging. I continued seeing her for several weeks, on a weekly basis, for one-hour treatments.

The acupuncturist also helped me in reformulating the diet I ate. She advised no 'dark' foods, such as coffees and chocolate, because these are 'hot' foods and my system was hot already. She advised several kinds of light teas, such as green tea (which I don't care for, but with jasmine, it became a treat). Also, no legumes, including re-fried, black or kidney beans because these are difficult to digest. I had eaten beans very regularly because they were 'good for me'...well, not for someone with my serious IBS. She advised no red meat and also suggested vegetables that were the colors of my intestines, oranges, yellows (such as squashes, yams, etc).

This advice I have taken in earnest. I not only feel better as I continue to see my acupuncturist, but I have lost over 10lbs from my change of diet. It has not been difficult for me to change what I eat, because I can tell that by avoiding the foods mentioned above I no longer have the excruciating pain I once had. I also have much more regular bowel movements. I occasionally get some cramping if I eat the wrong foods, such as during the recent Christmas holiday season. I notice that right away, my system is off. But I know what to do to get myself back on track.

Other items to avoid are alcohol, soft drinks and regular iced tea (a 'dark' food). I didn't have any of these drinks often, so it wasn't hard to stop them altogether. At the time I first saw my acupuncturist, she also informed me I had an allergy to dairy, which I had never known. I dropped dairy altogether, including ice cream. I now use soy products in place of milk and creamers, and I replaced regular ice cream with coconut milk ice cream which is delicious - and I am truly a diehard ice cream lover. I do not like coconut and so was very wary about trying this, but now I'm a believer. You cannot taste the coconut and it is also so low in calories I can't believe I'd never heard of it as a viable alternative to real ice cream!

You have to be very careful when you look for an acupuncturist, and I realize many people do not believe in them at all. I am now a firm believer but believe me when I say there are acupuncturists and there are acupuncturists. You must be careful to find one who doesn't use this treatment in addition to being a chiropractor or a practicing MD who has learned acupuncture as a sideline to his conventional practice of Western medicine.

I am truly grateful to have found help for my lifetime of suffering through the worst kind of pain imaginable. To be cleared of an impaction and having lost the huge stomach I had for many years makes me feel so much better and healthier. I sleep better and have more energy and continue to slowly but surely lose weight just by eating the right kind of foods....foods that are digestible and much easier for my system to handle.

E-mail Vicki: [email protected]

The tale of...Jenny (14 February 2011)

This has been quite the year for attacking the enemy of IBS and I finally feel I am getting somewhere, although I'm not so foolish as to think that couldn't change again at any time. I've taken a multi-pronged approach and tried to come at it with both physical and psychological - and even spiritual - armory.

Now I will say here that I have never suffered to the point of being totally debilitated. I have had severe constipation for almost all of my life which is at times worse than others, and recent years have seen an increase in bloating, pain and gas. My doctor thought it might be IBS or just severe constipation but either way it has gotten me down and been my sole focus for way too long.

So this year I found this website and I got really tired of the whole fight. First I saw a dietician and was dumbfounded to hear that my super high diet might be the worst thing I could be doing for myself. I loathed the white bread and zero fiber cereals and peeling my apples but the bloating seemed to go down; there were no other major effects though. Around that time I found myself obsessing over every meal and noting down every day's intake which was rather sad and time-consuming and provided no enlightenment whatsoever.

I wasted money on each and every miracle solution I read about online: the psyllium tasted vile and totally failed to work, aloe vera tasted cleansing but drew a blank, magnesium just produced scary side effects at the dose I had to take to do anything, slippery elm tea tasted soothing but wasn't the big cure, molasses last thing at night worked once and then never again.

I spent ages researching enemas but knew there was no way I was ever going to lie on my bathroom floor holding a bag of coffee or purified water over my head. Lactulose was probably the best thing I discovered as it worked consistently and was easy to take. However I am amazed to say that I no longer need to do anything special at all and have had no bloating or problems going to the bathroom for several months.

When I left the dietician I felt the best thing that had happened was that I had stopped feeling so desperate for the problem to be gone. I guess I came to rest with my body as it was a bit and stopped wanting to punch my stomach in frustration and disembowel myself. I was often uncomfortable but it wasn't agonizing pain and I could get on with my life more or less.

When I kept a journal for the dietician I noticed that I was able to go to the bathroom occasionally. I was horrified at the thought of all the waste that must be increasingly backing up in my poor distended belly but decided to stop worrying about it so much since there seemed nothing I could really do and it wasn't going to kill me apparently.

But the big question I kept asking myself was what my body could be trying to tell me with these symptoms. I've read a few interesting books discussing this idea; sometimes I was dubious at the notion that every little symptom down to the mouth ulcer could be a message from the psyche, but it was compelling that my chronic constipation was a signal of something deep inside that was amiss.

I had read that digestive problems can signify a difficulty with digesting change. Or that constipation can be a metaphor for being stuck in a bad situation in your life that you can't move on from. Somehow this did ring true for me but I didn't know what to do with the information. However something did happen this year: I have spent the last 16 years in two difficult relationships and this year I finally got together the courage to start being honest and admitting that I need to be alone for a while and look after myself. My husband and I have embarked on a trial separation and I was astonished at first at the instant improvement in my bowel health.

They say our digestive system is our second brain and we have almost as many neurons down there as up top. So we store a lot of emotion in that region and not surprisingly this can make for problems digesting our food. My mother informs me that my constipation can be traced back to my father leaving us when I was around three years old. Once after seeing the dietician I lay on the living room floor and tried to listen to what my tummy might be feeling; what I got was a terrible sadness and going into that made me feel like a tiny frightened child again. Anyway, since moving into my own place I have felt a total sense of relief and safety and this has translated into a softer, more comfortable belly.

My dietician was wise enough to look at the problem holistically and we discussed all these ideas. I mentioned to her that despite pregnancy being famously a time when constipation is worse than ever, I had no problems at all. It felt like my body was working more efficiently, as it needed to for the baby, and that everything was flowing more smoothly.

But psychologically, during pregnancy, I was able to let go of all control and that was what I loved more than anything else about the whole nine months. Whereas I am normally quite uptight, I felt a magical sense that something incredible was happening within me and that I could do nothing to control it, didn't need to, and didn't want to. I just sat back and let it all happen. And this is a state I am trying to return to now as I see how key it is.

I am exploring my spirituality and my creative side and trying to flow with life rather than trying always to stop the flow and hold onto things as they are now. I have always hated most fairground rides and big slides on which you have no choice but to let go. I am absolutely terrified of losing all control like that. But taking care of my spiritual needs was extremely important and is helping me to feel a little safer in the world.

I was born a very sensitive child and the world is not exactly an easy, nurturing environment most of the time. Or at least it hasn't felt that way to me. I have always suffered from being over-stimulated a lot of the time and I believe my guts have been affected. I may be retreating a little too much now, I don't know, but I believe I'm doing what I need to do and finally respecting myself and giving myself what I need.

I really hope some of what I have written has resonated with a few of you. If so I would love to hear about it. For me, it was helpful to write all this down and to realize what I need to do to keep growing and healing. I wish you all peace and healing for your bodies, minds and spirits.

E-mail Jenny: [email protected]

The tale of...Kate (9 June 2011)

I have had GP-diagnosed IBS-C for 10 years now but I suspect that I have had it undiagnosed much longer. I saw my GP often with severe cramps and bouts of sickness and kept being given various different diagnoses (including possibly being pregnant despite being single for two years!). I was given laxatives and anti-heartburn meds which seemed to make things worse.

After being fobbed off by my previous doctor I went to see another GP at my practice and was diagnosed and given tablets straight away. This was such a relief as I was starting to doubt myself and wonder if my symptoms were all psychological. I have now tried various different tablets and combinations of diets with the support of my GP and I seem to have found my happy medium. My symptoms are much less severe and I feel I can just get on with things without having to worry about my IBS. All I need now is to overcome my parcopresis! Hope this helps with anyone else struggling to find a diagnosis and struggling with an unsympathetic GP.

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