I developed IBS at the age of 16. I had always had loose bowels from nerves for years, but after I had my spleen removed at 18 things kicked up a notch. Firstly I thought it was a stomach infection from the surgery that was just left to fester, but the repeated doses of antibiotics given to me to combat all illnesses should have killed that too.
Like so many others I developed an obsession with where the toilets were, and taking Imodium before a night out. I was determined not to let having a bad stomach stop me from having a life. I also felt silly that something like having to use the loo was becoming such a problem.
Eventually I met someone and settled down, and they understood and supported me. By my late 20s I was starting to have panic attacks and fainting spells because I was working myself up for my body to let me down. I was also have therapy, in the hope I could get past it. The final straw was when my whole family had to leave a restaurant on my brother's birthday because I felt sick and had severe stomach cramps. I then had a panic attack. That same year I had to be driven home from my own birthday party because of the same thing.
My best friend suffers from acute constipation and suggested we see a specialist at a clinic in Surbiton, Surrey. I felt really stupid talking about my bowel movements, but it was nothing compared to having my first enema. The nurse was great, but I had built up my own sense of shame and it was going to take more than a few kind words to get rid of it.
She suggested I have further food allergy tests, but started by giving me probiotics. She said that repeated use of antibiotics over the last 10 years had left me with no natural bacteria in my intestines, so the slightest change in diet was resulting in vomiting and acute diarrhea, and of course the embarrassment, shame and depression that usually follows.
I started taking the probiotics and they seemed to work. I also started to feel a little more confident. I took food enzymes with every meal to start with, and paid attention to what I was eating. I had an intolerance to lactose, and all things cow.
I now don't use antibiotics if I can help it. I don't suffer with colds and flu as much. I don't have vomiting, the diarrhea is still around but not at often, and I can usually sense when something is up. I went to see Celine Dion in Vegas recently and nearly missed the show, until my partner reminded me that there were toilets everywhere. I had to go several times, but while I was in there, there were at least five other women with either vomiting or diarrhea themselves.
The tale of...Roxanne (3 November 2006)
I've suffered from IBS since I was 11 - I'm now 21. The first stomach pains were agonizing, and it only got worse as I was living with parents who would divorce when I was 16. Whenever I get anxious about anything, even something trivial, the pain begins and I start worrying that I'll need to be near a toilet. I hate being at a restaurant and seeing everyone else ordering whatever they want and I know I have to be so careful. I have to eat sitting totally upright if I don't want any pain afterwards.
I think the worst thing is that the doctors not only have no cure but don't even understand IBS and its causes - you are simply told it is stress and that you are to learn to relax! Because you cannot prove the doctor wrong you cannot argue! But come on, I am not dealing with a significant amount of stress, and the only reason I'm stressed out is because some doctor who clearly thinks I'm making a big deal out of nothing is telling me I'm stressed!
Since my parents split up the pain has subsided a lot, but I still have stomach pains and diarrhea almost every day. But what can you do - all you can do is become an expert, know yourself and piss off the doctors when they tell you stuff that's totally irrelevant!
I've got mine sort of under control and am doing stuff to make it better, but it's just nice to know that you're not the only one out there who feels like a freak - not that I'd wish IBS on anyone!
I just wanted to say that I discovered calcium as a treatment for IBS after reading about it on this site. I have suffered from severe IBS since I was 18 (I am now 25) with sudden urges, cramps, bloating, gas and diarrhea. I would treat these symptoms with Pepto-Bismol or Imodium which would cause constipation for up to two weeks, then I would repeat the vicious cycle.
I discovered Caltrate Plus calcium and vitamin D from this site, and I take one chewable capsule with breakfast once a day. It has been almost two months now and I have had far more control and regular bowel movements. I still get the diarrhea when I get really nervous such as being on a long car trip, but overall I have had one episode when I normally had them four times a week. It has changed my life. Who would have ever thought calcium would help? Thank you very much for this information.
The tale of...Deborah (November 2006)
I've suffered from IBS for over a year now after I contracted a stomach bug. My main symptoms are diarrhea, cramps and nausea. The nausea is the worst thing and it caused me problems nearly every day, to the point that on several occasions I had to go to bed and lay down for several hours cause I felt so bad.
Luckily my doctor is very understanding. We talked it over and he prescribed Metoclopramide (Reglan). I still have nausea and some bad days but the drug has helped me a lot.
I have suffered from IBS-diarrhea for about 20 years. I am now 42! I went most of that time having almost daily accidents and I was at the point where I could not leave the house if I had eaten anything at all. My doctor prescribed Bentyl and it was better for about a year and a half. Then I began to experience shortness of breath, high blood pressure, dizziness and flushing of my upper body. I went to the hospital and had to be treated for the reactions to this drug.
I read on this site about calcium for IBS. I take two tablets a day and so far have had no side effects and can work a job now and leave my house even if I have eaten something. It has also almost eliminated any problems with gas, which could be very embarrassing in the past. Thanks so much for having the courage to let people post about their success stories and about this awful condition, because I would not have known what to do.