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happy tales: women with ibs-d page seven

The tale of...Amanda (November 2005)

Just a quick, happy tale. I'd been suffering intestinal problems for several years that were eventually diagnosed as IBS (having previously suspected candida). The main symptoms were extremely bad abdominal pain and alternating diarrhea and constipation.

With the medication prescribed by a rather uninterested doctor having no effect, I spotted Marion's story on your website and tried the freshly ground flaxseeds each morning. In the last two weeks there has been no pain at all, compared with every other day at least. Fingers crossed it will continue.

E-mail Amanda: [email protected]

The tale of...Anne (November 2005)

I was just diagnosed with IBS in August of 2005 at the age of 26. Starting in college I noticed that I constantly used the bathroom far more than my roommates or friends did, but I just thought that my body couldn't handle the junk food and nights out on the town as well as theirs could.

I have been taking Imodium since high school, but thought it was completely normal. But after college and starting a new job, I realized taking Imodium three times a week was not normal. So, I finally found a great doctor who diagnosed me. I had to have a colonoscopy, but found it to be more uncomfortable than anything, not as painful as I had assumed it would be.

They put me on the generic form of Nulev, and for once in my life I didn't have to get through the work day with the anxiety of 'What if I have to go?', 'What if someone comes into the bathroom while I'm going?'

I take fiber daily which helps a lot, and my body is finally back on a regular schedule for bowel movements. I just don't think people who don't have IBS realize how good they have it. Sometimes my friends laugh and make jokes, but when I really sit and talk with them I think they realize just how awful it is to have to worry about bowel movements every single day.

I'm just glad that I found a drug that works for me. Yes, I do have moments maybe once or twice a month, but nothing like it used to be. Nothing I can't handle. And what helps even more is that I sit right across from another girl at work who is a little younger than me who has also been diagnosed. We are each other's support system, and even though people around us think we're crazy, we really appreciate that someone understands what we're going through.

I think the support I get from her and the understanding helps a lot, I only wish everyone had someone they could lean on from time to time as well.

E-mail Anne: [email protected]

The tale of...Margaret (November 2005)

After six years of agony with nausea and diarrhea, and a year surviving on nothing but Ensure and stage two fruit baby food, I am now the happiest person on earth. My doctor prescribed Viokase, a pancreatic enzyme. It worked! I still have to be careful what I eat (I'm on a special low fat, low insoluble fiber, low lactose diet called the gastrointestinal two diet).

My doc says it's important when using pancreatic enzymes to use the name brand, since the generics aren't FDA regulated yet (for more on that, check with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, they have all sorts of info on enzymes) but the name brand is not very expensive so that is OK. I take two to three tablets with every meal, and one with every snack. I am so happy to be able to eat again, and to be completely pain free and symptom free! Wow, I wish I had tried this stuff sooner!

E-mail: [email protected]

The tale of...Tara (February 2006)

I am currently beginning treatment for my IBS, which appears to be candida related. For more than four years I have had stomach issues that have gotten progressively worse. What started as sporadic bouts of constipation turned into frequent constipation, then diarrhea and, over the last year, near daily diarrhea episodes that left me drenched in sweat and exhausted like I have never been before.

During the same time span I began suffering from chronic yeast infections which would reappear every time my husband and I had sex. My regular GP put us both on Flagyl and Diflucan but the symptoms returned every time we went off it. While this was going on, my husband began developing his own set of gastrointestinal problems, mainly very bad smelling gas, stomach pains and frequent trips to the bathroom.

At first his doctor thought his symptoms were some kind of virus left over from his last bout of 'food poisoning' (which I now think was an IBS flare-up). Later I thought it was wheat intolerance and then my husband thought it was from long-term use of Celebrex, which he had been taking for years. He stopped the Celebrex and then found he could tolerate wheat for a time.

During this same time period my GP sent me to a gynecologist for my stubborn yeast infections and chronic vaginitis, and the gynecologist put me on Diflucan once a week. This seemed to help the female infection problems but my intestinal issues became worse and I also started to suffer from numerous vague and seemingly unrelated problems such as brain fog, loss of concentration, chills, mood swings, exhaustion, depression, achy joints and an occasional irregular heart rhythm.

Sometimes I could hardly drag myself through the day and on days when I had frequent bathroom trips I was so tired it was all I could do to put dinner on the table for my family. I went back to my GP to ask about these symptoms and what I thought could be hypoglycemia or diabetes, as I would become shaky and weak very quickly at times and craved sugar and baked goods. She ran blood tests and told me I was perfectly healthy.

I never connected all the symptoms so I didn't mention the gastro issues to her. I had a lot going on with my business (I work from home, thank goodness!) and my extended family and I thought they must be from stress. I also stopped eating wheat and gluten thinking that might be it. That seemed to work for a short time to alleviate the diarrhea but then it came right back, even worse than before.

I tried taking acidophilus but thought I was allergic to it when I broke out two days later in a rash, so I stopped. Now I know I was probably starting to detox from the yeast. My husband, in the meantime, had such horrendous gas that I had to air out the house almost daily and sometimes ask him to sleep downstairs on the couch because of the smell. (As you can imagine, this does wonders for the old love life...not.) Both of us were using a variety of gas relief and gastro OTC medicines like Gas-X, Pepto and the like.

Finally, last month, I went back to my GP in total desperation for fatigue and gastro problems. It may just sound like I am whining, but I really cannot express how run down and terrible I felt nearly every day. I've been a vegetarian for years but became so weak that I started to eat organic chicken in an attempt to get some protein and gain my energy back. I started to think I might have cancer or chronic fatigue syndrome.

My GP pretty much dismissed my fatigue and told me I probably had IBS but could have Crohn's or a number of other problems and told me to schedule a colonoscopy. At that point I began researching IBS and eventually found my way to some candida information. As I read through the symptoms I had a huge A-ha! moment and decided to research the matter as much as I could.

Much of the information I came across suggested a strong link between IBS, candida or yeast and Leaky Gut Syndrome. I decided to take matters into my own hands since my GP was of no use. I figured, 'Heck! What do I have to lose?' I started by cutting out all refined sugar and flour products as well as NutraSweet type products. Within two days my brain fog was lifting and, although I still had diarrhea, it toned down considerably.

My husband started a colon cleanse program and began taking a product called Yeast Defense. Both products were recommended by my local natural pharmacy and seem to be providing some relief. I was leery to start acidophilus again because of my previous detox reaction so I drink a yogurt like drink called Kefir that is enhanced with 'good bacteria'.

Both my husband and I tested our urine Ph and found that we were too acidic, which I have read contributes to an unhealthy ratio of good and bad bacteria in the intestines. We have both started to take a calcium supplement to help correct that. In addition, I take a multivitamin and flax oil daily. Both of us appear to have lost inches from our waist because the constant bloating is decreasing.

I've also found a naturopath in my area and have scheduled an appointment for further consultation and help with a thorough system detox because of my previous die-off reaction. Even though it has been only a week of changes we both feel much better. We are excited to go places and have the energy to do things again without worrying about bathroom issues or suffering from mood swings and exhaustion.

Best of luck to everyone out there dealing with these issues. Don't give up your search for relief or be afraid to get a second, third or fourth opinion from a traditional MD or an alternative health care practitioner. Help is out there!

The tale of...Sally (4 February 2006)

Yesterday I was diagnosed with IBS. I had suspected I had it, but I had been putting off going to the doctor as the last time I went, the nurse there told me I was wasting her time with my sore throat as she couldn't see anything wrong. Rude woman.

I am glad I went to the doctor as he was friendly, polite, respected what I had to say, prodded me thoroughly but with the minimum of undressing (just undid the top button of my jeans and half undid the zip). He said I had classic signs of IBS and recommended enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules, Imodium and Buscopan, and also recommended some websites where I could find out more, including this one.

This is a happy tale as I know that I am not a time-waster and know where to start with helping myself. I have read tales of people who haven't been to the doctor or have been told by their doctor to just 'live with it'. No! See another doctor until you get one who knows more about the condition. You are worth it!

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