I suffer from nervous tummy IBS, and reading through the stories on this site, I am extremely relieved that I have the lightest symptoms of this
awful condition. Almost 15 years ago I started to become aware of feeling extremely nervous when amongst company I didn't know and felt that I could not stay in a waiting room with strangers, or shuddered at the thought of sitting through meetings and courses where the surroundings were quiet. My stomach would bloat and then make the most horrendous gurgling sounds over and over again, which I used to blame on hunger - it was most embarrassing.
The more I'd think about my stomach, the more nervous I became and I spiralled into a shy and introvert person. I would not eat breakfast in hotels, or partake in business lunches, I would make excuses to leave meetings (forgotten paperwork, or needed to get information from someone).
I started to recluse from situations where I thought I may embarrass myself, and in a couple of cases where I was 'laughed' at, took it extremely personally and made a joke of it at the time, but made a mental note not to put myself into that position again.
Because of the nature of my job I declined from essential meetings, I would ask others to take my place, or make my apologies and leave - I had to do something about it, it was making me feel extremely depressed.
Roughly two years ago I was moved from my own office into an open plan team office and my condition worsened - I knew I had to talk to someone. I'd start work and constantly watch the clock, make excuses to visit another office or the factory - my work was starting to suffer, so I picked up the phone and made an appointment to see my doctor.
I was a nervous wreck in the waiting room and fidgeted constantly. When he called me in I didn't know where to start, but he seemed to ask all the right questions and listened sympathetically. He diagnosed IBS straight away and prescribed Mebeverine to take 30 minutes before eating, meetings, or similar situations.
It took a few occasions for me to trust them. I didn't want to take them too early in case they wore off, but soon realized that it wasn't the right thing to do. They need 30 minutes to take effect, and whether it was me relaxing or the tablets becoming effective, I instantly felt more confident in myself.
I keep them with me at all times packed into a small dispenser in my pocket, just in case I'm faced with a spur of the moment situation. I don't have to make excuses any more and they haven't let me down - I'm so relieved! Even though I'm still of a shy disposition I am confident that I can face any situation, and for the first time, enjoy it.
The tale of...Melissa (March 2005)
I have suffered from IBS for many years. I was a bulimic for over 13 years, had anxiety (still do at times) and when I get very stressed, my
stomach flares up immediately. I have been to the gastroenterologist and have had many tests done. They gave me different things, which most caused a lot of flatulence. I do not go on a regular basis and have the IBS of constipation where some have the opposite.
I have found that if I take cascara sagrada this helps me tremendously. I do not go without taking anything and then my system gets backed up and makes me ill from the blockage. When I take the cascara sagrada, it help me go in a day or two and I do not have the cramps and bloating from taking regular laxatives, such as Correctol or Exlax. (Please bear in mind that cascara is a strong stimulant laxative and should not be used long-term).
The tale of...Renee (June 2005)
My stomach/cramping condition had been diagnosed as 'possibly' IBS - extreme pain/cramping/constipation, followed by the big 'D'. It was the worst pain I'd ever endured. Then, a couple years ago, I met a woman, my age (at the time, 34) who'd suffered the same, identical stomach pain as I had. She'd gone through all of the same tests (colonoscopy, endoscopy) and experimented with the same drugs her gastroenterologist had given her.
By some chance, she figured out, over the course of several doctor visits, that she 'probably' had endometriosis. They performed a laparoscopy (the only way to diagnosis endometriosis) and her symptoms disappeared. Of course, endometriosis can return (ie: grow back...and as it does, can grow on your surrounding organs...gallbladder, ovaries and yes, your colon!), so this is not a lifetime cure for endometriosis....you may have to repeat the procedure every few years, or other treatments as prescribed by gynecologists.
I also had a laparoscopy and guess what? No IBS symptoms for two years! I could live my life without having to think about when I was 'going to go' and revolve my work schedule around all of this pain! Of course, long before ever undergoing this procedure I had been talking to my gynecologist (and got a second opinion from another gynecologist) about all of my symptoms.
I had been tracking my symptoms (type/kind/duration) on my day minder. It seemed to me that a lot of my symptoms/pain was just before and the week or so after my period. It's important to keep records of when the pain occurs. The only way a doctor can confirm endometriosis is via laparoscopy (they look at your internal organs by going through your belly-button via a small scope.
Since my laparoscopy, over two years ago, my symptoms have slowly started to return...not in full force, certainly, but it is coming back. So, I will be undergoing another laparoscopy soon. Although it's not an easy procedure, it is one that works for my symptoms.
I don't know if any of you have ever had this type of experience, but I just wanted to get the word out there, because I feel that I had been misdiagnosed and had been on IBS drugs for years before finding out what was going on with my system! In fact, my gynecologist had said that many women come into his office thinking that they have IBS, when in fact, they suffer from endometriosis. Don't know...just know what worked for me! Good luck to everyone out there...I felt your pain!
The tale of...T (July 2005)
For years I have suffered with really bad stomach problems. I just figured that it was stress. Working full time and going to college full time
tends to do that to you. I would get constipated really bad and then experience an 'attack'. I hated it so much. It finally got to the point that I was spending so much time in the bathroom during class that I missed most of the lectures. And most of my exams were lecture-based.
So I dropped out for awhile until I could figure out what was going on with my body. I ended up having a child, and after that my attacks got
worse. I passed out a few times on the bowl. All I knew was that sometimes, the pain was worse than childbirth. My greatest fear was that my
child would need me and I would be tied to the toilet and couldn't get to him. My son was good though and never complained about me dragging him into the restrooms with me for what must have seemed an eternity for him.
Anyway, I tried all the laxatives and some would work, but the gas pains that came with them were unbearable. At that time, two of my best friends were diagnosed with IBS. They would listen to my tales of woe and would tell me, 'Go to the doctor, you have IBS'. So finally, I did. And I hated the tests. Don't we all!
At this point, my mom got really sick, so I took care of her and my problems were put on the back burner. I got married about a year after this. My husband is pretty understanding. Plus, I like the fact that he can watch the kids while I'm in the restroom. Yes, I said kids. I had another child a couple of years back. My attacks got worse after that birth (which is why I don't want to have any more children). Pretty much every day was a bad day. Luckily, I can run off to the restrooms at work. The girls I work with are really understanding (one has IBS herself) and cover for me.
My husband hated seeing me in pain. He finally dragged me back to the doctor for more tests. Now it's official: I have IBS. The doctor put me on Zoloft because I was suffering from depression because of my stomach problems. I noticed that after I started the Zoloft, my stomach got better. I asked my doctor and he told me that Zoloft can help with IBS in some cases.
I've been on Zoloft for about four months. It does help with my problems. I'm not running to the restroom every single day, endless times a day, for what seems like hours. I don't get constipated like before. But I do eat and then have to go to the restroom about 5-10 minutes later. But like I tell my husband, I don't have to strain to have a bowel movement. There is no pain sometimes. And I've actually had some 'pain-free days'.
The only times that I still do have a problem is when I'm on my period or ovulating. I have endometriosis. Endo and IBS do not go well together. So during those periods, I do have a problem. But considering that it's only a few days out of the month, I can deal with it.
The tale of...Alexis (August 2005)
I have had IBS for close to three years now. It first developed after I graduated from college, when I moved out on my own without a job. Between having a (rather difficult) new roommate, having to buy furniture, running errands, and trying to pay the bills with temp work while trying to find a permanent job, my stomach just 'gave out' from all the anxiety.
I became too sick to work - or do much of anything - for over a month, and during that time I had to move back in with my parents and take Tylenol with codeine. (Since we had no idea what the problem was, they had me on codeine, which actually made it worse - I have the constipation variety of IBS, and codeine is constipating.)
I went through a variety of tests, gynecological and gastroenterological, and finally, when no results came up, my gastro said 'you have IBS.' He handed me a bottle of anti-spasmodics and told me to go home. I was given no further guidance from doctors about it. I did a lot of research on my own and found that I have a wheat intolerance and had to cut out all wheat products. More recently, I've found that soy and peanuts are a problem, too.
I found a great gastroenterologist a few months after my diagnosis, and he and I tried all sorts of treatments. The one that worked the best was hypnotherapy! It sounds wacky, but hypnotherapy is not at all like the 'hypnosis' that you see in the movies or on TV. It's just a process of getting your mind and body to relax, and then gently suggesting to your stomach that it will start to digest food properly, etc. If you feel that your IBS is connected to anxiety at all, I would highly recommend it.
I was also diagnosed with fibromyalgia last July. I'd had it for five years prior to that, but no one knew what it was! Apparently, fibro and IBS often come together.
About six months ago, I wound up with very severe abdominal pain that did not feel like IBS. I had to go to the ER a few times. It's taken six months for the doctors to diagnose me with an undetectable case of endometriosis (I've had laparoscopies, with no result). I am now being treated, but haven't had much success as yet. I am still experiencing a lot of pain.
I am beginning to wonder if the doctors actually know what any of this is! But, I'm hanging in there. I've started my own business making and selling jewelry, and I work from home so I can make my own hours. I truly enjoy what I do, which helps to make the pain much more bearable.
So I'm just waiting to see what happens next! What a demented adventure my life is! Hopefully many of you have also found happiness despite the pain - and maybe one of these days we'll all find a way to make our tummies better.