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happy tales: women with ibs-d page three

The tale of...Belle (December 2003)

I was recently diagnosed with IBS. I'm 20 years old and throughout high school never had a single problem with my digestive system. Then about two years ago I began experiencing some very strange symptoms. Firstly my heart would start to beat faster, then I'd begin sweating and have these awful cramps in my stomach and my legs would begin tingling, and I would need to use the bathroom right then and there with no warning at all.

I went to the doctors almost every month for a year - at one point all I could eat without throwing up was oven chips, which I had to live on for about eight weeks and they soon lost their appeal! It finally came to a head about six months ago when I was asleep one night and I woke up with the most excruciating pain in my stomach that I have ever experienced - I couldn't even move and felt like I was dying.

I spent about 45 minutes on the toilet sobbing, just wishing someone would tell me what was wrong with me. I went to the doctor the next day and after some tests he confirmed that I had IBS - I felt so relieved and now that I knew what was wrong I could do something about it.

It's still hard living with it now but it's a lot better than it used to be. Learning what my triggers are was a big help - I can't eat cheese, yogurt, white bread or pasta, and definitely no spicy foods whatsoever! I also found that lack of sleep was a big contributing factor, so I make sure I get at least nine hours sleep a night.

My savior had been Kaolin and Morphine - as soon as I take it the pain just disappears and I can get on with whatever I'm doing! The doctor prescribed me some tablets and they're like a stronger version of Imodium and they have been very helpful too.

I still get sad now and again that I can't do the things other 20 year-olds do like traveling or clubbing but I'm blessed with a wonderful and understanding fiance and family and I realize that my IBS is nowhere near as bad as some people get it. I hope that one day I'll be completely cured and it won't be something that I have to think about.

The tale of...Marilyn (July 2004)

IBS really ruined my whole life, and just like everyone here, I felt torn between being grateful I didn't have something 'serious' and guilty for feeling like I was dying anyway. People treat you differently when they know that IBS is something that isn't 'serious' as in life-threatening, but as my gastroenterologist told me that he could treat the pain of his colon cancer patients better than the IBS patients.

So we have to endure serious and life-altering pain, without the empathy we would have if what we have was terminal. Sort of ironic in a way...how many times have we all heard 'Well, at least it's not serious and you don't die from it!' You feel badly for those who do die from diseases, but yet from all the pain and embarrassment you wish you could die...such a dichotomy. That's how I felt anyway...

Well, I was officially diagnosed in 1988, after about five years of not knowing why I was having increasing severe diarrhea and abdominal pain. With the birth of my daughter that same year, I thought I better get tested, that maybe I did have some digestive disease, but several colonoscopies later, it was confirmed as IBS. Trips to the Mayo Clinic and two other gastros further confirmed that every single prescription and OTC medication had little or no effect, and only short-term, if any.

My gastro finally told me that he had exhausted his treatment options, and to go look up other treatments on the internet. In my search, through the IBS Group Bulletin Board, and my friend there, I found out about the use of clinical hypnotherapy for IBS, which worked for him, but in my opinion, I thought was pretty far-fetched and seemed to be absurd to me.

But I was desperate and he told me to try it, so I did as a last resort in the summer of 2000. This was the IBS Audio Program, which is a set of CDs with a specific schedule of several sessions that you listen to. That was over three years ago, and now I can actually leave the house, whereas before, I raised my children 'through the bathroom door!' I had attacks of diarrhea and pain lasting for hours on end, sometimes six hours a day, almost every day, never knowing when...even if I ate small amounts, the attacks would come out of the blue.

My IBS cost me a whole lost life...events and special celebrations for my kids, just taking them to routine doctor and dentist appointments was an ordeal, and my marriage suffered and collapsed in part because of it. I went from being able to travel and talk professionally in front of large groups of people, to being just about housebound.

This program saved my life. I now have a life! And I now help the author of the program, clinical hypnotherapist Michael Mahoney, as a result of my gratitude for getting my life back. That's what worked for me and I hope this helps someone too. Thanks for letting me share!

The tale of...Share (July 2004)

I'm in my 60s and have had to watch what I eat for the last 12 years or so. Certain foods seem to trigger this. I read an article by a doctor who suggested that exercise might help. Well, one year ago I started doing stomach, leg lift, etc exercises and discovered after a few weeks my bowels were improving. Not as much diarrhea and now it's rare.

At about the same time, I started taking probiotics daily - after several months I stopped the daily routine and now take them a few times a week when I remember. I now can eat almost anything. Between both of these things - exercise and probiotics - I have had the healthiest year in a long time.

As a young mom and child I was into aerobic type of exercises. As my family grew, I didn't have a lot of time and stopped. I do this first thing in the morning at least four days out of seven - and spend 20 to 30 minutes at it. I feel great and I've not been bothered with a cold since then either. I even lost 10 to 15 pounds. For me that's doing great.

The tale of...Shari (July 2004)

I am 46 and was first diagnosed with 'spastic colitis' when I was 15. About five years ago, my father was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and began to take a type of herbal tea called Essiac, which is rumored to work miracles in cancer patients.

He suggested we all start to take it. After all, if it can supposedly cure cancer, perhaps it can also prevent it. Two weeks after I began to take the Essiac, I noticed a dramatic improvement in my own condition. There was much less pain and diarrhea. I experimented with going off the Essiac, and my symptoms returned. Essiac is available in health food stores.

The tale of...Laura (August 2004)

I was diagnosed with IBS five years ago in my junior year of high school. My life at the time had been wrecked by the frequent stabbing pains in my stomach. I had to quit the swim team (which I had belonged to since age six). Most of my friends didn't understand why I didn't want to go out and party, but I knew the consequences on my stomach.

Before realizing the problem the doctor suggested my extreme weight loss was due to an eating disorder (ie: bulimia or anorexia). He suggested I see a psychologist. I was crushed and rumors spread throughout my small hometown. No one believed that I didn't eat because it was simply too painful. Weighing a measly 90lbs and losing all my muscle, I knew I had to figure out what was going on.

I continued to see the specialist and finally was diagnosed. Then I was placed on every kind of medication and went through periods of sometimes they worked short term, sometimes they didn't work at all.

The doctor finally suggested trying to alter my diet in cycles to see what caused the problem. Finally we discovered that eating meat was my problem. I became a vegetarian and no longer have constant problems. Sometimes I even go years without any pain at all. It's worth all the effort you put into it when you finally feel better. After all, time isn't relative it's what you make it.

E-mail Laura: [email protected]

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