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happy tales: men with ibs-d page three

The tale of...Mark (23 September 2006)

More than a story about how much I have suffered from IBS-D I would like to take this time to write something a little more meaningful. I offer you my philosophy on the matter. I would firstly like to say thank you to the community of IBS sufferers who frequent this site and especially to Sophie for her ongoing project of maintaining it. Many times, when I have had particularly bad moments, I have found myself in a sweat searching desperately through web pages looking for anything to help myself. Strangely enough, I always end up back here at IBS Tales.

I always used to be frustrated when I got an attack, blaming everything from people not being understanding, or the opposite of people caring too much, to the point that it aggravated me. I blamed my own stupidity for eating something or just blamed myself for not being 'normal'. I guess that is in fact the most frustrating part. More than the pain and more than the social complications that IBS offers, knowing that once upon a time I was normal tortured me the most.

I could never understand why I was afflicted by this dysfunctional syndrome. I swear to you I can remember clearly every detail of the day I had my first attack. I can also remember the day I sat in a medical room listening to a doctor clinically describing that he couldn't measure my pain but he understood how horrible it must be, and yet was unable to help me. At the time I thought well, he could make me feel better by not charging me…(bad attempt at humor).

That was the turning point in my experience. I had the results in my hands, the colonoscopy biopsies and the blood hormone analysis. No matter how much I believed I must have something there was nothing out of the ordinary. I looked at the prescriptions the doctor had sent me and then I looked around at my loving girlfriend whose worried face is something I will never forget.

I felt like a failure that day. It was funny though, but it was that day that I realized something which had been so obvious for the very first time. Every time I had been to see a specialist during a hard time, amazingly the symptoms started to dissipate shortly afterwards. I came to the conclusion that although it must be impossible that everything I had was in my head, at least part of it 'could' have been. So I made a resolution to remove that 'could be' factor from my life.

I got strategic, I analytically analyzed my life. Where was my main source of stress coming from? How often did I get attacks and when did they get worse? What was my recovery time like, three days, four days, five days after the first symptom? Was my underweight issue really that big of a trauma for me? How much attention did I pay to people who couldn't possibly understand my problem telling me I should just eat more? When did I make time for me?

Around this time I was introduced to Michael Mahoney’s hypnotherapy recordings. Supplemented with my new proactive view on life, I started to build a sense of confidence I had not felt in God knows how long. My symptoms did in fact improve a bit, definitely not to a point where I could measure it statistically, but I did and still do feel an improvement.

More than anything, these tools which I armed myself with helped me to become more relaxed and a much less pessimistic person. I don't have all the answers, but being at peace with yourself and enjoying every moment, even it is painful is part of the key to starting an improvement in the quality of your life. Something that no drug or doctor or therapy can do for you.

IBS is a bit like a journey, and every person's experience is different. What you need to understand, especially if you have only recently been diagnosed with IBS, is that you and only you have the power to heal or better yourself. That means, finding a strategic way to approach your problems and yet finding a balance so that you aren't always focusing on the problem consciously or subconsciously. Fighting against the problem, refusing to accept the facts, will only make your problems worse. Make the necessary sacrifices to feel better - it is worth it.

Positivity is the door right in front of you which can change your life and make you a better person in every sense. If you read this and you have been suffering, I beg you not to get aggravated at those words. They are not easy to accept, believe me I know it is not easy. But it is true. I hurt myself so much before I truly understood the saying that no-one cares about you as much as you do. Love and understand all.

E-mail Mark: [email protected]

The tale of...Bob (27 October 2006)

After having gallbladder surgery I began having frequent bowel movements after meals. It seemed that the more spicy and greasy foods triggered it. My doctor told me that I have IBS so I have watched my diet for the past year.

Then I read that some people who have had gallbladder surgery have too much bile in their system which triggers bowel movements. I then learned of a medication, Colestid, which is used by IBS sufferers and those with my condition. I take one to two tablets per day and I have found that it controls my BMs to the point that I am back to normal. Apparently, IBS and my condition is similar in nature, but not the same.

The tale of...John (1 November 2006)

I suffered for years, not only from IBS-D, but from anxiety and panic attacks. While the anxiety and panic dealt with other issues, one of the things that reinforced my anxiety was my constant stomach trouble. I was trapped in a cycle where I would get anxious when my stomach hurt, and my stomach hurt when I got anxious.

I was able to deal with the anxiety and panic through Zoloft and therapy, but my stomach trouble persisted. I had to plan my entire life around my IBS. I felt scared to do things I love, like going out to eat, or traveling, because I was afraid I was going to get sick. My doctor suggested Fibercon, and this did work for a time, but it was not as effective as I would have liked.

I switched to Lomotil last year and it worked very well at first. Even with the Lomotil though, the IBS seemed to 'break through' on occasion for days, and then it would subside. The Lomotil eventually stopped working completely and for an entire week I was in total agony. I was going to the bathroom so much I wondered if I needed to be hospitalized.

My mother suggested Imodium, which I had never considered before. After all, I had always thought that Imodium couldn't be taken for more then two days at a time. After some research I found that this was utterly false and that Lomotil, not Imodium is not recommended for long periods of time.

I've started taking one or two Imodium every day and my IBS symptoms have disappeared. I now know what it feels like to have a normal stomach! I only hope it continues to work, but the research I have done indicates that unlike Lomotil, it will continue to do so.

The tale of...Stewart (November 2006)

Oh well, here I am at home on a work day after catching a sickness bug transmitted via the children of my partner's class from her to me. The only problem is that it is, as always, aggravating my IBS. I live in the UK and have had IBS (diagnosed recently) since 2000 following a trip to Guatemala where foolishly I went swimming in Lake Tikal. Lake Tikal is a freshwater lake, but - unknown to me at the time - is pumped full of raw sewage. Needless to say I caught what I believed was a very bad case of food poisoning.

After Guatemala (and some close toilet calls) we flew to New York. I was still feeling very ill...needless to say passing through customs in USA with your trousers loaded is not an easy or fun thing to do! They were however very nice, and I ended up being sent to the hospital where I was looked after very well for 24 hours.

The doctors took blood etc and after being rehydrated I was released and advised that I did not have anything tropical, just a bad case of food poisoning. Well, with lots of Imodium I made it through the holiday.

Back in the UK three weeks later the symptoms continued to get worse. The pain was becoming unbearable and I headed off to the doctors again. After a stool sample I was diagnosed with food poisoning and put on some meds that eventually cleared things up for a while.

I returned to work and all was well until the Friday night. Yep I had a pizza, followed by toffee cheesecake and ice cream, all washed down with beer...my friends thought I had got lost in the bathroom at one point. The pain was incredible and I soiled myself on the way home in the taxi, which cost an extra £50. I then spent the entire night strapped to the toilet in immense pain...this took two days to pass.

I believed that it was a bout of food poisoning again, but then I was free of symptoms for a while till the next time I had a night out. I began to put two and two together and dropped many things from my diet until I had relatively few incidents, and these were normally after or during a night out - so were anticipated on the most part.

Then two years ago I had to get my gallbladder out, and since then I have been suffering daily. Constant bloating - sometimes I can eat and my gut distends so much that I look pregnant! Cramping and pain that is more severe than my attacks of pancreatitis! Cold sweats, pasty skin, lower back pain and trapped wind (oh boy does that hurt). Oh and the uncontrollable diarrhea and dehydration!

But I am not going to let the bloody thing win...This is what I do! Medication - not all at once obviously - Nexium as an anti-spasmodic drug, Omeprazol is a brilliant anti-acid, Codeine helps fight the pain, and Imodium to try and make them stools hard.

Prevention - avoiding all dairy (but hard cheese), caffeine, carbonated drinks, white bread, sugary sweets, chocolate, alcohol, smoking and smokers (thank-you Scotland for making most places smoke free), bacon, pork, spicy, rich or frozen foods. Grilling all foods on the George Foreman. Drinking plenty of water.

Sanity saving - playing sport, staying fit. Keep going to work, or your brain will rot. Do have the nights out and indulge sometimes, just be prepared and take precautions after/during. Tell your friends and family and work about it. Once it's out it isn't the dirty secret you think it is, people do understand and if they don't well that's their loss for being ignorant not yours.

The last thing to remember is it isn't your fault...there isn't a cure (yet!) but you guys are alive so live. Just don't set yourself up to fail. If anyone wants to talk to me please e-mail me with the subject heading 'IBS' or it will be filtered away. Take care.

E-mail Stewart: [email protected]

The tale of...William (13 May 2007)

My IBS is diarrhea-predominant and I suffer on a daily basis. I am 27 and I have suffered since I was 20 years old. It began at a stressful point in my life - my long-term partner had just given birth to my lovely baby daughter, I had a highly stressful job as a chef, and I was working long hours. It just tweaked at work one day and ever since it has maintained itself to the same standard.

Since it began I have lost my job as my employers didn't understand, and my long-term relationship managed only another two years before ending too. I went into a big lull, and I had lots of tests etc to no avail.

But I never let it take total control of my life. I had parents who didn't really bother with me and I was in the big wide world at 16 with no help from them. In the last year I have really started to get to grips with the limit to which I can actually do things when I am suffering, and I have gone on to have a fairly normal life.

I started university and made the mistake of telling someone in my flat about the IBS. The phrase used by him a few weeks after was 'Don't take him, he's like a dog, needs to go to the toilet all the time'. This was said in front of a large group and it deflated me a little. I have since abandoned him as a friend and decided to keep it to myself again.

I have just completed my first year of university with good grades and my life is fairly happy in between attacks. My IBS is treated with codeine phosphate and loperamide and I am still seeking the perfect balance to at least give me a couple of days off the pain.

Update on William...

A few years ago I was at university and struggling to make lectures due to diarrhea. Only Imodium helps a little. Sadly at 28 I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease and had to have six months chemotherapy. This in turn made my bowels worse! I am now in remission but my life is sadly very restricted due to my bowels. I am back at university part time but so far in seven weeks I have made no classes.

E-mail William: [email protected]

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