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happy tales: women with ibs-d page two

The tale of...Louise (November 2003)

Firstly I must say, what a relief to find this website. I was diagnosed with having IBS four years ago and I thought I was becoming a food freak! The doctors told me about the physical aspects of having IBS, but not once do I remember them saying 'You'll go partially insane through constantly thinking about going to the loo!' And believe me at the age of 22, trying to complete a degree in teaching, you have enough to worry about.

Like most IBS sufferers I have cut out food such as bread, pasta and chocolate (hard when your parents own a sweet shop) but for me personally I find the strain it has on your social and working life more of a challenge than the physical aspect.

At university I would not be concentrating on the lectures but trying to plan how I could leave the lecture hall if I suddenly needed the toilet. Whilst on teaching practice I would be counting the minutes to when I could next visit the ladies room. Believe me the mental strain to keep going was unbelievable. There is a happy ending (well sort of - there are no miracle cures). I finished my degree and am planning to start teaching soon.

The tale of...Rachel (November 2003)

My IBS started when I changed jobs. I am in my mid-20s, and when I say I changed jobs, I actually mean I changed jobs and moved 200 miles north at the same time. I didn't have any time off for the move and my first week of work was awful, every time I went into a meeting room with someone for an introductory chat, my stomach would make growling noises and I was in so much pain.

My stomach kept swelling up like a football. Immediately after eating I would feel like I was going to have diarrhea and when I got to the toilet I would be constipated. Often I had to run trying not to break wind. It was awful. Every time I got up to collect something from the printer or do photocopying I had to pretend to look at my watch while the sensation passed before I could carry on walking.

This carried on for months, so eventually I went to my doctor. I was so embarrassed to tell him I was flatulent all the time, and I couldn't think of an appropriate word for it at the time either! He said it was IBS and it was often stress-related, and suggested my change of job was to blame.

Since then I have found this website really helpful, and I realize that my constant toilet trips (at work I am known for going every hour on the hour) and pain is nothing compared to some of the stories I have read. I have found the oddest things set me off, namely pineapple juice, yogurt, alcohol, bananas and biscuits to name a few...

I know this sounds really obvious, but near to my period it gets really bad, so I never do the top button of my trousers up and try to wear as loose-fitting trousers as possible, that really seems to help the pain and swelling. And I try to eat well, but sometimes when the IBS gets me down, all I want to do is eat cake and chocolate.

Work is definitely the hardest thing for me. My team mates joke about the fact I always seem to know where free toilets are in all major cities in Britain - but for me this essential when going out (finding money wastes valuable time). My doctor put me on tablets to aid my weight loss and the side effects were oily stools and the need to got to the toilet urgently - great.

Going to the toilets at work has become a bit of a trauma, I am obsessed about the cubicles being empty in case I have some sort of explosion (I'm not kidding!). I hope that nevertheless this is a happy story because knowing what my problem is and learning to cope is positive for me. I also appreciate that my symptoms are not as bad as they could be. I hope that those still suffering find things to help them soon.

Worst moment: Breaking wind in a restaurant when a child decided to tickle me. Either that or breaking wind in front of my manager. I'm still not sure whether I got away with it...

The tale of...Jacquie (November 2003)

I fortunately have a success story. It is so wonderful to be free of all that pain and bloating. I, like others on this site, suffered constantly from age 17 to 27. Sometimes day in and day out for weeks straight, sometimes it would come for a day and then not be back for a month. I know too well how it feels to have to get to the bathroom and go through those cold sweats. Pepto-Bismol and Rolaids were my best friends.

I nearly had surgery on my appendix because the doctors thought it was about to burst, the doctors even had me call my mom. Luckily the pain subsided a few hours later and I was sent home. I hadn't been diagnosed with IBS yet, so started worrying about my appendix. The stress! That made it worse and brought on my worst bout of IBS.

I coached gymnastics at the time, and at work I would often have to lay on the mat with my legs up, and coach from that position through clenched teeth. Such a nightmare. That's when a doctor diagnosed me with IBS and recommended Metamucil, fruits and vegetables and plenty of water.

I couldn't stomach the Metamucil drink so tried the wafers which I thought tasted pretty good, like graham crackers, but they didn't get rid of my stomach problems. The water and fruits had been in my diet, so there went that. I began a diet similar to slim fast, I won't name it, but it consisted of a soy drink high in protein and vitamins.

I would eat a protein bar, fruit or vegetable for snacks between meals, and one full meal, usually; chicken, baked potato, vegetables and dessert (most of the time it was vanilla ice cream). I also upped my water to 10 to 12 glasses a day (since it flushes out fat, and the goal was to lose weight).

In less than a month, all of my symptoms were gone! I continued this diet for a little over two years. I lost a ton of weight, which I've gained back, but I'm now 32 and haven't suffered from IBS for five years! I know what you're going through. I don't know if this will help anyone else, but I hope you do find relief from your suffering.

The tale of...Mina (November 2003)

Hi there. I was diagnosed with IBS about two years ago when I was about 20. But the truth is I've had symptoms of IBS for years before that. My worst symptom is diarrhea. I'm lucky that I haven't really had any awfully embarrassing incidents.

I'm usually very lucky and manage to find a bathroom fast enough. But that's usually less luck and more planning on my part. I've managed to learn the art of scoping out all the bathrooms within a few minutes of stepping in to any situation.

Aisle seats, sit close to bathrooms at restaurants, and never get trapped in a booth. It gets pretty stressful at times trying to always find an escape route. But I've gotten used to it. As far as getting better, I've made a number of changes to my diet. I've eliminated milk and mostly any dairy, fried foods, sugar for the most part, pop, alcohol, potato chips, spicy food, rice, pasta and bread. Most recently I'm eliminating flour. And I've actually just added soy milk and bran to my morning routine. I thought I'd give it a try.

But my best friend for the last couple of years has been Imodium tablets! I don't ever leave home without them. I've got packs in my car, my purse, my jacket. I just have to make sure I don't overdo it. If I ever become immune to the wonder drug I am going to be a real mess!

I guess the hardest thing about IBS for me is being afraid to go out, all the planning that goes into everything I do. Leaving the house is always really scary. Not knowing when I might suddenly need a bathroom. I think part of the problem is as soon as I am on my way out I start second-guessing myself and get all tense. That in turn brings on the diarrhea. I just know that I don't want to spend the rest of my life like this. I'm 22, I want to get married, have kids!

Anyways good luck to all the sufferers out there. There is hope, we all just have to keep giving our feedback and sharing what is working for us. And I am so glad to see so many great boards and IBS help sites online. I'm not the only sufferer!

E-mail Mina: [email protected]

The tale of...Marion (November 2003)

Flaxseed - who knew? I had IBS for several years. After about six months of a horrendously restrictive diet (ultra low-fat vegan with no raw veggies or fruit except banana) and a lot of Metamucil, I managed to get it sort of under control. But if I deviated from the diet, the chronic diarrhea would come back.

Someone I met casually told me that she had cured her IBS by taking a tablespoon of freshly ground flaxseed with a glass of water or juice every morning. I thought it was another crackpot cure, but eventually, when I had yet another flare-up, I decided to try it. She had told me that pre-ground flaxseed didn't work because flaxseed starts to oxidize as soon as you grind it and that whole flaxseeds are no good either, because they cannot be digested properly.

Fine. I got out the coffee grinder (which obviously, never got used!) and tried it. Guess what - after years of IBS, in about two weeks it just went away. That was about 10 months ago. I can now eat anything I want (except dairy as I'm still lactose intolerant) and get this - I can even drink normal coffee.

I cannot believe that I now have perfectly normal, regular bowel movements. I've told other people about this and so far, no-one has told me it didn't work for them. If you try it and it works for you - please spread it around!

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