happy tales: women with ibs-d page fifteen
The tale of...Lisa (17 September 2007)
I am 26 years old, and my first experience with IBS was when I was 17. I got very sick while I was out with my boyfriend at the time (he is now my husband). Long story short...I had it for six months to a year the first time, and then it eased up for a while and I didn't start having it again until years later.
I have been diagnosed with it. I have had endoscopies, sigmoidoscopies, and a full colonoscopy. I have had stool studies, tons of blood work and been through hell, all for yet another doctor to tell me that I, along with many other women out there, have IBS.
When I first had it, after months of being afraid to go out, because I would get diarrhea, I decided that I must be making myself sick. I kept a food journal and wrote down everything that I ate all day long. I noticed some things that would bother me that I never thought about before. Not just dairy, but greasy food, things that weren't really that spicy but were too much for me, and little things like pizza sauce or thousand island dressing (that kills me!).
Anyway, I eventually just stopped having episodes. Then of course years later they popped up again. I got to the point that I hated the way I was. I felt like I was young and should be out enjoying my life, instead of being stuck at home, afraid to go out, because as soon as I got a certain distance away from home I would feel that old familiar cramping, burning feeling that told me I was going to get sick.
I really like my medical doctor that I am seeing now. He takes the time and talks to me about my problem. He said that it is safe to take Imodium to prevent diarrhea. He jokingly told me that I should have a baby, because that would stop me from worrying about myself. Then I decided that he was right. Why do I worry about getting sick all the time? What was the one thing that started all this?
I sat down and thought it over. The first time I got sick, I had broken up with my first love for my now husband. Us women are so emotionally attached to people that even though it is the right move, we still have a very hard time letting go and moving on without carrying around the stress of the past. I realized that I stopped being sick when I got over him.
So, years later me and my husband went through a hard time, where I was very stressed out. Shortly afterwards, I started getting sick again. So, a lot of the reason that I have gotten sick and stayed sick in the past is because there is something that is bothering me. It sounds crazy, but if there's something that you have been through that really has bothered you, whether it was a divorce, marriage problems, children, jobs...whatever - you may not realize just how stressed out you are, because you just keep working and keep going through it.
But stress does manifest itself in some way, and many times, that way is through gastric upset and sickness. Think about it...haven't you ever made yourself sick worrying over a presentation you had to make in front of the class, or a trip you have to take? Ever notice that when you are off work and at home and relaxed, without stress, knowing that you don't have to go anywhere, you don't get sick on the days when you can stay home. You get sick right before you go to work, or an appointment, or anything new or out of the ordinary that worries you.
We sometimes, not all the time, but sometimes do it to ourselves. We usually can't help it, but we do. Although IBS is pretty much chronic, and I will always have occasional flare-ups, I don't have to let them control my life. I have learned that when I am going down the road, almost at my destination, and I feel that cramping, burning feeling that I am all too well familiar with, I just take deep breaths and tell myself that I can do this. It's going to be alright and I am stronger than this.
I think about what is the worst thing that could happen (I have had panic attacks in the past too) and I decide that the worst thing is that I will get diarrhea and have to go to the bathroom. It's not going to kill me, It's no big deal. There are tons of women out there like me, and it is OK if I have to go to the bathroom. Once you feel this way about it, it's like it doesn't have this power over you anymore.
You control your mind and your thoughts. Your mind controls your body. You can make your condition worse by freaking out and panicking about it, or you can take control of it, and make it through it. I know a lot of people out there will disagree with me and think that they've tried everything, and haven't been able to control it, but I wanted to share my story and tell you that I too went through a period - long periods - where I felt hopeless and even became depressed.
But I am stronger than that and so are you. I am working full time and living a normal life, and have a happy marriage, because I made it through it. I didn't dwell on the worrying, I pushed through it and took control of it.
E-mail Lisa: [email protected]
The tale of...Tammy (8 October 2007)
I have had symptoms of IBS for three years. I couldn't even eat a grape without getting cramps. I had my gallbladder removed two years ago and the symptoms got worse. I don't have any health insurance so the doctors just guess at what I have. One doctor said it was from my gallbladder not working, and one said it was IBS.
Finally a doctor put me on Colestid three times a day, and it has worked wonders. It is for cholesterol, but it also has something to do with bile. It is not really that expensive and it has made my life a lot easier. I still have tenderness and I get a sore feeling in my stomach sometimes, but if I take the Colestid as directed I can eat without worries. It is definitely worth checking into.
E-mail Tammy: [email protected]
The tale of...Lynn (5 November 2007)
I have been an IBS sufferer for 30 years. Although I have missed some traveling, I decided long ago not to allow anything to impact my life and stop me from living! Life is too short and I have friends who have basically become housebound because of their infirmities, no matter what they are.
I have found that here and abroad, no one will deny you use of a loo if you simply say 'Please, this is an emergency'. In 30 years, I have never had an accident because I couldn't get to a bathroom. However, I do have an emergency Port-a-Potty (get it in any durable medical supply store) in a tote in the car with a towel, extra underwear and hand wipes. Just the comfort of knowing that it is there is enough to not go through the panic attacks.
Also, simply make yourself aware of where all public bathrooms are wherever you are. I have been in board meetings and just excused myself to use the loo, even in the middle of a meeting. You would be surprised at how many people understand an emergency, especially when you just say the words. In other words, IBS is a terrible thing, but no disease should stop you from living. You are not alone...just look at this website!
E-mail Lynn: [email protected]
The tale of...Ali (7 December 2007)
I just would like to say a big thank you to this site. I was diagnosed with IBS about six months ago and the first four were hell. I considered giving up my job, my social life nearly stopped, and I was being really quick-tempered with my kids, all due to the awful pain, cramps and diarrhea I was suffering from. The doc did not understand how much this was affecting me and at one point put me on steroids, which resulted in me being constipated and again doubled up in pain, but he thought that was a good thing as at least I didn't have D.
After several lots of tablets from him, in desperation I turned to the internet and found this site. Thank you. I started taking Caltrate (calcium carbonate) which is pretty hard to get in the UK. After I would say three weeks of getting the dose right my life has changed. I sometimes have a little pain in the mornings, but I normally go once or twice when I get up, then I am normally fine for the rest of the day.
I cannot thank everyone who recommended it enough. My heart goes out to the people out there who have not found any help yet. If you suffer from D and haven't tried this yet give it a try, you have nothing to lose.
E-mail Ali: [email protected]
The tale of...Amy (27 January 2008)
I've had IBS-D for about nine years now (I'm 27) and it basically sucks! It is especially difficult for me as I am a teacher (so I cannot go to the washroom when I need to) and the fact that most people cannot relate and understand what I struggle with adds to the depression of this syndrome. In the last two years I have developed severe anxiety as I am now so afraid of being embarrassed by my stomach acting up that I cannot cope. I am waiting for the day that I can afford therapy for my anxiety.
I have tried many, many things over the years, and I finally found something that helps a lot, is all natural, and is safe for long-term use. It is called Florastor and it is over-the-counter here in Canada. It is basically yeast/bacteria that helps your stomach restore its natural balance. You take it two times a day and I have found it to be quite helpful. I take it with calcium caltrate also twice a day. I find that with this I go to the washroom two or three times in the morning...but after that, that's usually it for the day. Mind you, I watch what I eat for any trigger foods, etc.
My next goal is to try to add digestive enzymes to this mix of things I take. I really want to keep my treatments as natural as possible since this is a very long-term syndrome.