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happy tales: women with ibs-d page ten

The tale of...Marissa (4 October 2006)

I am 22, and I was diagnosed with IBS when I was seven. It was horrendous for me when I was a child because I had to miss so much school. I was a straight A student but my absenteeism was always a problem. I think I was absent something like 80 times my senior year of high school, which impacted both my social and academic life. To top it off, I was always a somewhat serious child so everyone around me thought that my IBS was psychological, that I worried too much and brought it on myself.

My IBS symptoms have calmed down in the past year or so, but I still experience random IBS attacks. I have tried to manage it with fiber since the beginning, but I can't ever seem to get the balance right. I know I have certain trigger foods like spicy food and/or beans and caffeine (unfortunately I love coffee). I have also noticed that if I have small meals throughout the day my stomach can handle it better than one or two large meals that dump large amounts of food into my system at one time.

It is interesting to read that people have had stomach bloating due to IBS. I am relatively thin but have always had problems flattening my stomach. It always looks bloated. I am just glad to relate to so many other people who have the same problem.

The tale of...Anna (4 October 2006)

I have IBS as diagnosed by a doctor, although not too severe. My biggest problem has been a bloated and painful stomach, but also varying stools, from morning-after-diarrhea to sudden-and-impossible constipation. I've tried all the tricks and meds out there, but have finally found something that works, and I just have to spread the word.

I read about something called the SCD (specific carbohydrate diet) which seemed like such a hassle. Still, the theory that certain types of carbs feed the kind of intestinal microbes that cause symptoms consistent with for example Crohn's disease and IBS seemed believable. I soon realized that it's pretty much like a low carb or slow carb diet. So I tried the trendiest diet (easy to follow because everybody knows about it) here in Sweden, the Glycemic Index diet. It's basically a slow carb diet that excludes sugars, white flour, and other 'fast' carbs.

It has set me free. My stomach actually works, the pain and bloating is gone and I have a bowel movement every 24 hours (I know this is too much info but from one IBS sufferer to another, you know what big a deal it is). I could never have imagined that it was the bread that messed up my system! For years I've excluded things like coffee, alcohol and dairy products, but I can now eat all of them again! Not in excess, of course, but that's true for most people.

I'm also lactose sensitive so I don't drink pure milk, but can now eat stuff like cheese. The second I commit a sin and eat something sugary or light bread, my stomach gets painful and blows up to pregnant-size. The difference is just so dramatic. Apart from my stomach working the way it should, my whole body and blood sugar levels feel very balanced. An example of what I eat in a typical day:

Breakfast: cheese omelet with slices of ham or turkey and veggies, low-lactose yogurt with home-made muesli (which has walnuts, pecans and sunflower seeds as a base and often includes a little dried fruit - apple is best - and just a tiny handful of unsweetened regular muesli or all-bran flakes), or super duper dark bread (typical Danish bread with whole seeds, only 35% carbs) with cheese and veggies. Tea or coffee.

Lunch: Tuna fish salad with an egg, some cottage cheese and an extra tomato.

Dinner: One filet of chicken, beef or fish with a good sauce and veggies - either a salad or baked in the oven.

For snacks I eat nuts, fruit, cheeses, yogurt, ham/turkey slices, cottage cheese, carrots, boiled eggs etc. Coffee and wine are fine to drink, although I mainly stick to water.

It's important to stick to slow carbs that you find in whole meal pasta, parboiled rice, beans, very dark bread, etc. Yes, everything is rich in fiber but (despite my problems basically being due to gas) I'm way better than before! I used to eat white bread/crackers/oatmeal/white rice because I thought I was being nice to my stomach! In fact it was making it worse.

Basically you stick to very fresh food, the way mother Earth gives it to us and the way we ate way back when, before sugar - anything processed is likely to cause trouble. I haven't been to the States, but I've been to Canada, and one thing that really hit me is how hard it was to find non-processed food (this was even before I was on the diet).

I mean, dark or whole meal bread was still only slightly darker than white bread! I went to an American school as a kid, and I remember the other kids having chips, crackers and cookies for lunch. I always tried to trade away my fruits and crisp bread sandwiches! Here in Sweden, over-processed food is really frowned upon and though it definitely exists, the amounts aren't near those of North America. Still, the low carb diets are of course very popular over there as well and I did notice that it was much easier to find it in the restaurants than it is here.

I hope that this could maybe help someone, if only even a little. For me, it's been a complete change of life.

The tale of...Laura (13 October 2006)

This is definitely a very happy tale. I have suffered from IBS since I was about 15. I am now 47. At first I could cope with it as it was just occasional diarrhea, but over the years it got worse and worse. I had all the usual tests done at the doctors, like everyone on this site has had, and I was eventually told it was IBS and I would have to live with it.

I tried a lot of prescription medication to no avail, and also went down the alternative route but no luck there. It was ruining my life, I couldn't go anywhere without knowing there was a toilet nearby. My friends, I know, used to get fed up with me as I was always running off to the toilet on shopping outings or theater trips. I have been caught short a number of times while out walking my dog (thank God for bushes!). I have even lost control in the kitchen of my house in front of my teenage son. I was absolutely mortified and cried and cried.

My savior was coming across this website. Firstly, reading all about other sufferers and how much worse some are than me - and I thought I was bad enough - made me count my blessings a bit. Secondly, in the happy tales section I read about a sufferer taking calcium and how it worked for her. I tried it and within two days this little (well big, actually) tablet completely changed my life.

I no longer have diarrhea, it has been three months now and not once have I had it. I go once a day now, usually in the mornings, and it is completely normal, a normal shape, size and color! I still can't believe it really, I feel like a normal person. I no longer get the spasms, the bloating, the sickness, no symptoms whatsoever. I feel totally liberated! I tell everyone!

I take 600mg of calcium first thing in the morning along with my breakfast and that is that. I can eat anything I want, when I want. I would urge everyone to try this, I know probably many of you have and it possibly will not work for everyone, but if it works for just one more sufferer like myself then it will have been well worth my time sending this in. Good luck and good health to you all.

E-mail Laura: [email protected]

The tale of...Karen (October 2006)

I have had IBS-D for over 25 years. My advice is to use probiotics (good ones) and then find a doctor who will listen and prescribe Lomotil to use when you know you really need to avoid a bad attack (like when you need to fly or give a lecture). It's the only thing that has ever worked for me. I do have to use more now but that is normal after eight years of using it every day.

At least with Lomotil I know that things will be under control for at least four or five hours. And don't eat a meal before you fly or lecture, wait until after. Lomotil has made it possible for me to lead a normal life and have some fun.

E-mail Karen: [email protected]

The tale of...Poppy (20 October 2006)

I've had IBS since I was a teenager, and it got to the stage where I couldn't face sitting in a classroom, let alone an exam, because I was having diarrhea up to eight times a day. I didn't do well in my exams and left school with some low grades. I got a badly paid job and let my IBS run riot.

Then I read somewhere that the symptoms I was having were actually a disorder - and a treatable one. Having got a diagnosis, I started taking mebeverine, which works to an extent, and is certainly 100 times better than nothing. I also made an effort to change my diet, do lots of exercise, drink lots of water and avoid situations that made me anxious.

I also gave up smoking, gave up coffee, learned a bit of basic yoga for relaxation and started avoiding large amounts of alcohol (I'll be honest - I don't always stick to this one, but I know it's my own fault when I feel awful the next day!). My symptoms became more manageable as I learned more about them (and about myself).

A few years ago, encouraged by my husband, I climbed a mountain in Scotland for the first time. It was amazing - and I did it all by myself! It was standing on top of this mountain that I decided that, OK, I have this disorder, but why should it control my life? I decided I wanted to do a degree (lectures, seminars, exams? With IBS? Horrors!) and went for it.

Now, lots more years down the line, I have a (very good) degree. I had a fantastic time at university and loved every minute of it. I now have a very good job, and travel all over the place to do all sorts of different things. No, my IBS isn't cured, but I've accepted it, I manage it and, most importantly of all, I live my life.

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