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happy tales: women with ibs-d page eighteen

The tale of...Alysia (1 September 2008)

I was diagnosed with IBS a few weeks ago, although the problem has been going on for about two and a half years. I'm 21 and I'm really excited and glad to have found this website because I do not know exactly what I should or shouldn't eat or really how I, as a just graduated college student, should or can deal with what's going on.

My friends don't understand and my family helps as much as possible (thank goodness). My tummy is real touchy and then some days I can eat anything and nothing happens. I can't sleep sometimes because of pain in my stomach and gassy feelings bubbling away inside. It is really nice to be able to talk about this with people who understand how IBS feels. Thank you!

E-mail Alysia: [email protected]

The tale of...Anouska (October 2008)

I first developed acute symptoms of IBS when I was 11. In retrospect I know now that it was completely stress-related, having grown up in a very stressful and fearful home environment. My IBS is the type where I get severe intestinal cramps in waves as the diarrhea tries to work its way out. The cramps are so severe that I actually think I am going to pass out. I wonder if childbirth is more painful than this, does anyone have any experience of that to compare? I'm hoping that one bonus to come out of this is that I now have a ridiculously high pain threshold!

I have never found the medical profession to be of much help at all with this illness. I was originally hospitalized at 11 for suspected Crohn's disease, but after exhaustive tests they could not find anything and half-heartedly mentioned IBS, which was very much in its infancy then. I was simply told to eat All Bran every morning! Over the years I developed the symptoms regularly, especially when in unhealthy relationships, and I suffered from extreme daily gas and colic. However after my experience with the doctors I didn't go back as I presumed they could not help.

I am definitely what you would call an emotional type and my IBS was always related to this, in that I was more susceptible to allergies from certain foods in stressful times. Also whenever I was afraid/anxious it would manifest directly in my stomach. However I've done a lot of healing work on myself over the past six years on an emotional, mental and spiritual level and my digestive problems have all but disappeared. Now the symptoms only reappear once or twice a year, mostly when I have been abroad, as every time I go abroad I get constipated and I come home with cramps for a few days from the change in diet. I have been prescribed mebeverine by my doctor which does help.

I also get occasional mystery attacks which I really cannot identify or link to anything - although I do know that I am wheat and especially dairy intolerant. In those situations I just have to rule out any new food that I've been eating and my rule of thumb is to throw away anything that is suspect. Interestingly I have also developed acute allergies in the last six years, such as to nuts, seeds, grass and bleach. These are all triggered especially if I am stressed, and I then need an epipen.

So I do wonder if perhaps I am the type of individual who has been traumatized as a child, and so my body is hyper-vigilant for any irritant or any substance it perceives as a threat? My allergy doctor did also say that it is hereditary to have a malfunctioning immune system where it is overly vigilant - again I do wonder if this is linked, as my IBS seems to be a response to something in my gut it perceives as a threat.

Anyhow since I have focused on my emotional healing through 12-step groups and therapy I rarely ever get IBS attacks and when I do it is directly from a food my gut is allergic too. I rarely have to take medication, I eat very healthily, I don't drink alcohol or coffee, I eat little sugar. I do eat dairy but I have to be careful. I'm very aware of my life choices and how much stress I invite into my life.

I hope this gives you hope. I am now 34 years old and my life is very manageable and my stomach is very happy most of the time. I've learnt to listen to it over the years and learnt to be kinder to myself!

E-mail Anouska: [email protected]

The tale of...Victoria (7 October 2008)

I was diagnosed with IBS about a year ago now and at times it has been hell to live with. I already knew a little about IBS which sort of helped when diagnosed as my Dad suffers too. I don't know how and when it started but a couple of years ago I suffered a bout of gastroenteritis and I think since then it lay dormant, but in June 2007 whilst on holiday in Florida it seemed to come alive.

The last few days of my holiday were horrible and upon returning to the UK I didn't seem to be getting any better. I chose to ignore it and hope it went away, but it didn't and eventually I ended up seeing my doctor who took some stool samples and found nothing wrong and basically said it was IBS. For the next nine or 10 months it was a nightmare, I constantly had a 'bad stomach' as I put it, and found it hard attending classes, which wasn't good considering I was in my final year at university.

It eventually got to the stage that I wouldn't leave the house for the fear of having an attack. I often got so anxious about leaving the house that I began to panic and just freak out, and if I managed to get out I was just desperate to go home again. There were times I wasn't leaving the house for weeks at a time, apart from going into the garden at most. I used to take loperamide constantly but then it would make me constipated so I couldn't win either way. I also tried probiotic drinks which turned out to make my IBS worse, and so I tried multivitamin probiotic tablets which didn't help either.

I also tried peppermint oil capsules but these just made me feel sick and were no help and so I stopped taking them. I was desperate for it all to go away, I just wanted to be 'normal' again. I then sat one afternoon and trawled through website after website of different things IBS sufferers have tried to relieve their symptoms, and I came across a herbal remedy called slippery elm bark.

At first I thought it sounded awful but then again I was willing to try anything, and so I looked through health food shops until I found it. For the last two months or so I have taken three capsules a day, with my breakfast, lunch and dinner (the capsules can also be opened and poured into a glass of water) and I am pleased to say I have never felt better since my symptoms first started.

I now work full-time and although I still get a 'bad stomach' in the mornings I am able to just ignore it and get on with the day. I can even walk around the shops without rushing and without wanting to go home straight away. I still take loperamide every now and then but mainly just in case and far less than I used to. I don't get as anxious when I leave the house anymore, but just in case I carry a rescue remedy spray in my bag which helps to calm my nerves. I am not saying that slippery elm bark has cured my IBS because I know that it can never be completely eradicated, but I have found that so far it has worked for me.

In addition to slippery elm I have found that caffeine is a no-go area for me, but then again I never liked tea or coffee so that helped in cutting it out of my diet. I have cut down on dairy; I still have it in my diet but just not so much, and every now and then I cut dairy out of my diet completely for about two weeks before slowly reintroducing it again. I also find that little things like nuts etc don't seem to agree with me anymore either and neither does fish, but I just keep an eye on what I eat and can sort of judge what my stomach can handle and what it can't.

I recommend slippery elm bark to anyone who is looking to try something which is natural and who is desperate like I was for some relief. I also find that this website is a great help as it shows we IBS sufferers are not alone and there is at least one person out there who knows how you feel.

E-mail Victoria: [email protected]

The tale of...Wendy (January 2009)

Hi there. I came across this website as I was googling diarrhea/abdominal pains/effects of eating cream/milk. I am so pleased I did! I had one of my episodes at 2.15am, about nine hours ago. I am 55 and I am not sure if I have IBS but I have suffered sporadic episodes where I have acute abdominal cramping followed by acute diarrhea since I was a child! I can remember being rushed to the doctor or having him come to the house and being given morphine for the pain as a teenager! However these episodes would occur and then I would be perfectly well, have normal bowel movements and not experience another for months or even years at a time.

I have seen a gastroenterologist and had proctoscopes inserted, but no-one has been able to say exactly what causes the attacks. However I did start to notice I seemed to get an attack after eating creamy foods or garlic and would avoid them and also full cream milk. Also as I got older the pain would be so intense I usually passed out whilst on the toilet and came around on the floor! I have called an ambulance but by the time they came I was already on the loo.

I usually am awoken by the stomach pain and cramping and then think 'Oh no here we go!' I know that I will usually start off trying to have a bowel movement and this will happen and quickly proceed to abrupt noisy and explosive diarrhea over and over until I am completely empty. I usually am bathed in perspiration and am as white as a ghost.

Lately (over the past few years) I often vomit at the same time and as I say often pass out too. The time before last about six months ago my husband and I were staying overnight at a hotel and I'd eaten a rich dessert. I awoke about 2am and experienced all of the above but then found myself on the floor in a pool of blood! I'd fainted and fallen forward cutting my right eyebrow on the edging where the bathroom tile finished and the room carpeting began. I ended up with three stitches above my eye. I then am extremely tired and freezing cold finding it hard to get warm.

Yesterday I must admit I had consumed quite a lot of skim milk in drinks and also had some chewy lollies and low fat ice cream for dessert. I am a Weight Watchers lifetime member and exercise daily plus watch what I eat so wonder if this is perhaps why my attacks are so sporadic? Who knows! However I was interested to read in some of your members' tales that stress seems to be related. I was told a couple of weeks ago that I am being retrenched from my job. A new system is being introduced and it will automate most of the work I and three of my colleagues do, so in about six months we will be let go.

I have been feeling stressed because of this and not sleeping very well, and also the fact that I have not yet shared this with my husband as he is in the UK visiting his ailing Mum. I chose not to tell him prior to his departure as I knew it would ruin his trip and he would worry about things, money etc. I thought I was handling it OK but now think maybe not so well! Anyway I shall continue to read your members' tales and also monitor what I eat in the future!

E-mail Wendy: [email protected]

The tale of...Lynn (14 February 2009)

I have had IBS-D for a number of years. I've used Lotronex although the cost is very high. I also was taking a prescribed anti-depressant at the same time, which left me feeling 'foggy' every day. Like everyone else, I was thoroughly disgusted with the whole IBS situation. A couple of months ago, I decided to take matters into my own hands and see what I could accomplish.

This is what I did. I identified some major trigger foods: sausage, bacon, deep-fried foods, buttery and oily foods. I gave up or limited the amount of these foods that I consumed. I also do not eat too much at any one time...and I avoid buffets like the plague! One of my most embarrassing moments occurred after I had eaten way too much at my local Red Lobster Restaurant. That taught me a huge lesson.

I started adding additional fiber to my diet in the way of fresh fruits and vegetables. Right now, I am eating at least six servings of fruits and vegetables a day...and, yes, I know we should all eat at least nine, but who really does that?!

I also started to work on handling stress better. I have 14 employees and that can be quite stressful at times. I do something for me every day, whether it is reading, playing music, deep-breathing exercises, etc. That seems to help me. As a result, I have significantly reduced my IBS issues. Some mornings may be a little problematic, but I know how to handle that.

I am not saying that my situation is the same as anyone else's; however, I thought I would send this in the hope that it may help someone else. By the way...if I want to eat something I know will cause a problem, I eat it when I know I am going to be home all the next day. That may sound silly, but it keeps me from feeling deprived of all of the goodies I love.

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