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happy tales: women with ibs-d page thirteen

The tale of...Lisa (13 February 2007)

IBS sufferers are indeed heroes. And there is something heartening about knowing that you are not alone and understanding that coping with the disease means going through a sort of process (and I think acceptance is the last stage.) I also think the 'sad tales' section reflects a stage in this process and that is why there are getting so many of that sort. Perhaps that is also the stage when people are seeking information out on the internet. It is healthy to talk about it - we have a need to do that.

We need the health care profession to take a serious look at all aspects of our disorder - there are certainly a lot of us out there. Certainly enough to justify the research. And it is not acceptable for them to say IBS is a disease of exclusion or to keep handing us prescriptions that only mask symptoms (and badly at that.) I know they can do much better.

I was officially diagnosed when I was 17 (but had the first motility symptoms when I was eight) and I just turned 40 - the majority of my life. I was lucky to be diagnosed so early because my doctor had it too and knew immediately what it was.

My story is the same, really, as all of the others: 28-episode bad days (my personal max) alternating with periods of remission or 'normalcy'. New medicines that make you hope and disappointments when they fail, endless invasive tests (just in case), useless diets, sprints through the mall where you have memorized the bathrooms. Year-long bouts and cornfields and days thinking you cannot, simply cannot, go one more day.

But there are days I do not think about it at all. I am still able to work and I have traveled throughout the world and I have had one heck of a glorious, lucky life so far. And I think the best part is still coming. You do not have to let this disorder win.

There will be funny stories because you need a sense of humor. There will be good friends, family and loves who listen to the gross stuff and support you. There will be fellow IBS buddies. And there are doctors who try with all their hearts to fix you up. And everybody who survives with this eventually finds a way to cope that works for them. You simply have to - there is no alternative.

Even with this disorder, you can still stand in the long lines to see the Boticellis in Florence. In fact, I think that rather than paying for one more unnecessary and painful test, that is exactly what you need to do (it is about the same price!) That, or whatever rings your bell. Walk on the beach in Hawaii! Take that trip to India! Get in the car with a change or two of clothes, wet wipes, and go wherever you want to go!

Live your life the best way you can and try to transcend the pain of our excessive humanity. And remember that no matter how bad it gets some days, you are never ever alone. From an IBS suffragette!

E-mail Lisa: [email protected]

The tale of...S (18 April 2007)

I have been an IBS sufferer since before it had a name...many doctors just excused what was wrong. I teach school and obviously cannot leave my classroom to use the restroom on a needed basis. I have changed my diet to very little fruit, vegetables, and no milk, but since using three Imodium Advanced in the morning and three more in the evening I have been able to live a semi-normal life again.

Regular Imodium little green pills do nothing for me, but the Imodium Advanced has made my life possible. I still have bad mornings, but if I leave out all fruits, all dairy, and all vegetables and eat only meat and bread I have fewer problems. I cannot travel for an hour after waking up as I go through my usual morning. But I rarely have symptoms during the day or evening even after eating out. I did talk to my doctor years ago about the amount of Imodium I was taking and was I told if it worked it was fine.

The tale of...Roni (20 April 2007)

I've had IBS since I was about 15, although I was not diagnosed until I was about 18. I've hardly ever had to deal with constipation; my problems are mainly of the opposite kind accompanied almost always by nausea, cramps, and spasms. A few doctors blamed it on my weight and diet, and one blamed it on stress.

I have noticed that when I eat certain foods or when I'm stressed my symptoms worsen, but those certainly are not the main causes of my illness. When I'm having an episode, I find that it's best to cut out any dairy products to help with the nausea. Peppermint tea also works wonders for me - even better than the medicines that I've been prescribed (in fact, the meds don't really work at all).

I've been blessed with an understanding family, and my boyfriend is extremely supportive. I've even found a co-worker that shares my problem. Peppermint tea and no dairy during flare-ups can be a lifesaver.

The tale of...Caroline (28 April 2007)

I have suffered from IBS for the last six years, but in the past year the symptoms have gotten a lot worse. This had been brought on by serious stress. I've been to so many doctors and had so many tests done and everything came back clear. My doctor was helpful to start with but towards the end she was sick of hearing about it. I tried Colofac and Buscopan and these worked for a couple of weeks and then they just stopped working.

I ended up in hospital after months of pain. The doctors thought it was either appendicitis or a kidney problem. I was getting severe pains in my back and side. They did further tests in the hospital but came back with the same story, it's just IBS. I started a high fiber diet and this went really well for about a month, but once again the symptoms came back. I also tried acupuncture, reflexology and hypnotherapy and nothing worked.

Finally, another sufferer advised me to see a nutritionist and I made an appointment. I have been on a special diet for the past two months and I have no symptoms whatsoever. I have cut out all wheat, dairy and red meat. I now have my life back.

The tale of...Mislay (26 May 2007)

I have been suffering with IBS since I was a child (I am 27 now). It's horrible. I can't eat late because I will have to run to the bathroom in the morning. I can't eat at Six Flags because I will have to go and the cramping will ruin my trip. I can't do anything normal anymore. I fear going to a restaurant because I have to go right away and it can be embarrassing at times. I too like the 'safe zone' of my house...

I have been to doctors and gastroenterologists and all they say is to lay off dairy products. It's not the dairy products. It's IBS, as I learned later on. I am glad to see other people are in this with me! I am happy now because I can more or less control my IBS...I know when to eat and when not to eat!

E-mail Mislay: [email protected]

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