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happy tales: women with ibs-d page fourteen

The tale of...Barbara (23 June 2007)

I too have discovered the wonderful properties of calcium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate. To think something so simple has had such a profound effect on my life, it's almost absurd when you think about it. How many doctors have I been to, how many prescription medications have I taken, when all it took was a simple, home remedy that I had on my baking shelf all this time! I am still going to advise the doctor that I have started this carbonate routine, to allay any doubts I may have about adverse reactions.

Thank you, Linda, for turning me on to Caltrate! I was getting tired of baking soda and water before each and every meal. This is so much easier, user-friendly, and better for me because now I am getting the benefit of the vitamins as well.

The tale of...Allira (29 June 2007)

I just wanted to let everyone know that I have a happy story! About eight months ago I made the decision to leave the safety of my house and go to see a rock concert (18 hours from my house) armed with whatever would be necessary to counteract the stomach pains...but I pulled out all of the stops in my preparation and I have hardly had IBS for the eight months since! I have been at full-time university for six months and I have my life back. It is not easy to keep to the dietary restrictions and lifestyle changes, but it is simple and worth it!

  1. No dairy products, fatty or processed foods, red meat, garlic, onions, citrus or acidic foods, coffee, bread or anything else that I know will make me sick (junk food is the main one).

  2. Mint tea and Panadol for tummy pain when I get it and one Imodium every morning half an hour before I leave the house.

  3. Plenty of water and lots of sleep (if I am tired, stressed out or overwhelmed, I will have a flare-up - sleep cannot be underestimated, I need to sleep for my tummy to work properly).

  4. Exercise and weight loss (I don't know how it works but I have done a lot of reading on exercise - slow and steady and regularly - and it does work!).

  5. Cooked starchy vegetables are amazing for IBS - potato, carrot, pumpkin and white rice.

  6. Help for IBS has a million and one suggestions for diet and treatment.

  7. I avoid toxic people (the ones who make you feel sick, stress you out or don't take your problem seriously), and surround myself with positive, understanding people (as much as I can) and people who are supportive and want to see me get better.

  8. Understand that I am the most important person in my life and I take the time to take care of my body and do what I need to feel better.

  9. Give myself time - if I want to go to a party and it is going to take two hours to have some rice, a hot shower, some mint tea and wait for the Imodium to work, I take the two hours and wait until I feel ready to go out.

  10. Make provisions for myself. I have not had a flare-up in months but I take special exams in a separate room with a university disability support person who knows I have stomach problems and will let me go to the bathroom if I need to during exams, simply because I feel more comfortable when I have this option available to me and when I feel more comfortable, my tummy feels better (not perfect, but much, much better!). Do what it takes to give yourself a break - go to places where the toilets are clean and there are enough toilets so that you are comfortable, sit in the aisle seat at the movies and take Imodium tabs and a water bottle with you if it makes you feel better...and good luck!

E-mail Allira: [email protected]

The tale of...Carol (7 August 2007)

I am a 62 year-old Australian woman, and I have had this problem since 1994. What I have found is that nerves appear to be the first thing that trigger the problem. I also find that MSG (a flavor enhancer used a lot in Chinese foods) and chili are triggers as well. Lots of foods like tinned soups can contain MSG, and reactions from this can take minutes.

Upon my husband's transfer to the UK in 2000 I had to have surgery, and the subject of IBS came up with the surgeon. He stated that there is no such thing, there is always an underlying problem in the gut. I have to admit I am now finding out what can affect me personally, and lactose is one thing that I stay clear of. Also it appears that a lack of biotin and the multivitamin Bs can cause the runs.

Some IBS attacks are very traumatic, so much so that I have had to go to emergency in the local hospital as my pulse rate went over 122. I passed out and cannot remember one and a half hours, and I was dehydrated.

It stands to reason that when the body hates something and wishes to get rid of it violently all the minerals and vitamins are going to get washed down the toilet too. These need replacing, so I keep handy Megadophilus, a large dose of lactobacillus organisms. Very good for going traveling when different water is alien to our bodies.

I am no expert, but I have continually researched what is good for my body, and what assistance I can give my body. Having had three colonoscopies and bowel x-rays I delight in finding what affects my own problems, as I feel this continual sensitivity to some foodstuffs and colorings triggers off side effects and leaves the body with an unbalanced flora.

Diagnosed with a heart valve problem some years ago, I was for years given mega-doses of antibiotics that turned my flora upside down, and I am sure this was the beginning of my problems. As it turned out five years later the diagnosis was wrong, and my heart valve did not have a problem!

I can only finish in saying that if I was able to put the clock back I would restrict my intake of antibiotics, I would keep Megadophilus handy when traveling, and I would eat as many natural products as possible. The sprays farmers put on our crops do have an effect on our bodies after several years. For that reason I much prefer to eat organic vegetables, fruits and manufactured cereals, and it does help me.

E-mail Carol: [email protected]

The tale of...Jan (7 August 2007)

I am 28 and I have been recently diagnosed with IBS. It all started in November 2004 when I was out with friends. We had been for a pizza and we were going on to a club. We stopped off at a bar and all of a sudden I needed the loo. It was a pretty crowded bar so this made me panic. Luckily, I was able to make it to the loo on time - several times over! In the end I had to ring my dad and get him to pick me up; by the time he arrived there couldn't have been anything left in me.

I treated this as a one-off, but sure enough a week later I was going to a friend's house with my boyfriend and we had to stop off at the local supermarket, where I spent a good half an hour in the toilet. I got my boyfriend to take me home and spent the rest of the night by the loo. I was gutted. It is then that I decided to go to the doctor as I had never had toilet problems before. (Needless to say that after the second attack I was afraid of going out again).

The first doctor said I was probably stressed and it was when I began to relax (at the weekends) that everything else relaxed too - including my bowel. This was plausible since my job has a reputation for being incredibly stressful, but I did not feel stressed as I enjoyed it.

Over the next few months I saw three other doctors who all had a go at prescribing a different anti-spasmodic each. None of these worked. I found out about Imodium - having never had diarrhea previously I had never heard of it. It turned out to be my savior, especially in getting me to work.

After a while I had not improved and I was relying on a daily dose of Imodium to get me out of the house. I couldn't understand how I had gone from being very regular and 'normal' to this! So I went back to the doctor because I really wanted a second opinion and I was worried about the amount of Imodium I was taking. She passed me on to a specialist who said that a daily dose of Imodium was fine, but the liquid version would be better as you can get the dosage more accurate.

The specialist then referred me to a dietician who put me on a low fiber diet (she was meant to put me on an elimination diet). The low fiber diet worked thankfully, but not to any great extent as I was still getting diarrhea and taking Imodium (although these had reduced from every day to on average twice a week). I went back to the doctor as I had developed bleeding, and she sent me back to the specialist who, after subjecting me to a colonoscopy (it's not actually that bad - the worst part is the taste of the bowel cleanser), sent me back to the head dietician with strict instructions.

The elimination diet made me worse, even when I was using Imodium (almost daily) as well. I kept with it just in case but she took me off it straight away when I went back for a check-up. It turned out I was severely allergic to soya (which had been one of the few things I was allowed to eat on the diet, so I had been consuming more than usual), and intolerant to dairy. I was also advised to leave out monosodium glutamate and yeast.

This was all diagnosed last month. After three years of diarrhea I am now combating the psychological dramas that come with the urgency of needing the loo (or next bush) ie: panic attacks. I have developed these in the last three years which has made it all worse - even though I have left the offending ingredients out of my diet I still panic in case I do feel ill when I am out - I have become so used to it.

I cannot go to crowded places in case there aren't enough toilets or there's a queue. I have not had an accident yet but I am prepared: I have an 'emergency pack' which fits in my nice, fashionable, large handbag. It contains: Imodium Plus and Instants (normal Imodium doesn't work with me - I am told this is because they work in different ways), wet wipes, lots of tissues, and a plastic bag (and my car also contains a large ice cream container for traffic jams). I am also about to take up hypnotherapy. I will let you know how this goes.

The tale of...Louise (August 2007)

I was sitting here this evening thinking: 'Ouch! Why are you hurting tummy? There is nothing wrong with you!' I typed 'Fix my IBS' into google with the hope that someone had finally come up with a miracle cure, but sadly no such luck. I did come across this site though, which has made me realize I am not alone.

I really feel for those who are terribly affected by IBS because I thankfully can have days when I am unaffected. I am 19 years old and I have had IBS since I was 15. It first started during my mock GCSE exams - I sat in the examination room with terrible cramps, and desperately needing the toilet. It was awful and most embarrassing to have diarrhea at school!

When I was diagnosed the school arranged for me to sit my exams in a separate room, and this eased my symptoms a lot. My IBS is mainly triggered through stress, although I find eating and sleeping well a key as well as avoiding alcohol (tough as I enjoy a drink!).

I have days when I want to shut myself away forever but I can't let this beat me. I find going for a drive useful because you can not think about it anymore. As soon as I think about it it starts again!

I managed my GCSEs and A levels, achieving high grades, and I am now at university and loving it. My IBS has affected me and lectures terrify me, the thought of that silent lecture hall where people can hear my stomach and I have no easy escape to a bathroom! But I managed last year, only missing a few, and I'm not giving up the life I love this year!

I never thought I could have a boyfriend and to be honest when I first started seeing mine I thought the IBS would end it. Spending the night together did upset my stomach but he has been great and the more we're together the better it is. In fact I went to stay at his house for a week, thought I would need the bathroom all the time, but it was like I wasn't even a sufferer! I was amazed! I'm at home for the summer and I am working as a cashier, and it's fine when we're busy as my mind is occupied. If I don't stress then I am fine.

I still go clubbing, see my friends etc. My advice is to let your friends know. It may be embarrassing but it will ease your anxiety, and they will understand if you need the toilet! I hope that I will eventually beat this horrible condition, it really does affect everything, constantly thinking 'I can't do this because it will affect my stomach'.

Krispy Kreme doughnuts are ones to avoid! I've been in casualty in pain because of them! I hope that everyone can find a way to deal with their IBS, and if people were open about it more, maybe we would all relax about our condition.

E-mail Louise: [email protected]

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