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happy tales: men with ibs-c page one

The tale of...Jerry (7 July 2005)

I am a 50 year-old male and have had bad to severe constipation IBS since my mid-thirties. I have gone through different phases (all bad) of IBS and have tried many different things, including fiber. For the past two years the IBS has been extremely bad - I'm constipated for a week, then I get extreme pain and terrible diarrhea.

After the diarrhea episode is over, I am more or less 'out of it' for 24 hours. For a long time, I resisted taking Imodium because it contributes to the cycle, but taking it was the only way I could stop the spasms and get back on my feet.

About two months ago I started taking Metamucil and Colace (a stool softener). In the past I have taken fiber, with varying degrees of success, but I would have to take a lot of the fiber and would end up with very bad gas. It seems that the combination of the fiber and the stool softener leads to the need for less fiber.

I take one tablespoon of the Metamucil (in the morning) and three Colace tablets (before bedtime). I have felt better (but definitely not cured) for two months. I am able to move my bowels without an enema and the once a week terrible pain has been gone. I am not completely regular and I still have had episodes where I am moving my bowels for up to an hour, but there has been an improvement. I am able to eat more and I feel a bit more confident about going out to eat. I have also gained some weight for the first time in a very long time.

I have gone through IBS long enough to know that the gains could be temporary, but if you have it like I have it, even a temporary gain is something. Also, psychologically, it is important to believe that you can help yourself. Good luck to all.

E-mail Jerry: [email protected]

The tale of...Mike (27 March 2007)

I had every intention of including this in the sad story section of the site until I read what some of us go through and I guess mine is a happier tale than some others. I don't know. I am really happy to have found this site today, and I have been reading about so many people who have been going through some of the things I have.

I have been writing this in my head all day long because I hate to even try to talk about it with anyone else. Who could understand but one of us? IBS is a horror for any of us, man or woman, but for men we get the added kick of having what is perceived as a 'woman's affliction'. As in 'You have IBS? Isn't that something that just women get?'

I am 44 years old and I have had IBS since shortly after graduating from college, 22 years ago. Half my life. Untreated, I can go three, four, five days or even a week between bowel movements, though there will be bloating, pain, and many unsuccessful attempts in between. During this in-between time it won't be too bad, but as the days pass, going out becomes like a combined game of Russian roulette and musical chairs.

One thing is for sure, when the time comes there is no reasoning with it - find a bathroom or else. Once safely behind closed doors, I give in to the spasm and all hell breaks loose. It feels as if my intestines have been tied in knots. The spasms and movements seem to come in waves and the pain is tremendous. Than it backs off a bit and the temptation is to get up and resume my life, but I can't. I know that in five minutes or so the spasm will return, worse than the one before it.

This can go on for a half hour or more before I am permitted to leave. On a bad day I can expect about three such visits in a three or four-hour period before it is over and I am wrecked, and the cycle of constipation starts over again.

The damned thing rules your life. I have had to abandon my full shopping cart in the middle of the food store to rush home to the bathroom, with my kids in tow. I am afraid to do anything outside of my routine. Vacations terrify me. Work is tolerable because, thank God, I work in a family business and they understand when it is one of 'my days'. How could I ever deal with an office environment?

It is bad enough that my employees see me disappear into the bathroom for a half hour or more at a time. I can't help but feel I am being laughed at, but what can I do? I'm sure that even family members think I am in there reading the sports page. I love it when I get advice like 'Just go in there and do what you have to do and get back out here. Don't waste any time and you won't have time to be in pain. That's what I do'. Right.

I have been on Librax for IBS but it does nothing but make me more tired. I have tried taking Metamucil several times a day, which can help, but my stomach has trouble tolerating so much of it. About a year ago I went on Zelnorm (after arguing with the health plan because IBS is a woman's problem and Zelnorm a woman's medication). It is certainly not a cure-all, but I find life on it preferable to life off it. An hour or so after I take it (empty stomach a must) I will usually have, with little warning, an urgent bowel movement which is usually loose and often liquid. Not pleasant, but there is minimal cramping and no spasm, no intestinal knots.

On the weekend I must get up early to take it or a large part of the day will be shot. I can't be worrying about this when I take the kids to their various sporting events etc. At least with the Zelnorm I have a daily movement, and I have some control over when it happens.

E-mail Mike: [email protected]

The tale of...Dennis (20 May 2008)

I have had IBS for 10 years. I had a colon resection five years ago which made the constipation even worse. I have tried everything, Zelnorm, every drug under the sun. I was at Costco about two months ago waiting for a script when I noticed a box of Fast Acting Lactase Costco brand Kirkland. I left and continued shopping, went back on a whim and I have been using it before everything, and two or three times during a big meal, ever since. I even use it before a candy bar or coffee with non-dairy creamer.

I don't know how to express this, but this has changed my life. I still don't believe how something so simple as a lactase enzyme could do this. I was never diagnosed as lactase intolerant, and I have been on dairy-free diets that didn't work, so go figure.

I really don't care, I would drink sewer water before every meal if that would have worked. You take for granted a daily bodily function, but when you're cursed with this quirk of nature that nobody has an answer for you lose your joy of life. I hope this helps someone else, it's cheap and easy.

E-mail Dennis: [email protected]

The tale of...J (July 2008)

I am 48 years old, living in Melbourne Australia. I suffer from alternating D and C and I have been a sufferer for several decades, but I am doing fairly well nowadays. In August 2000 I was medically retired from employment due to the IBS. I was mostly housebound/bedridden for the the next two years, but with a concerted effort and systematic approach I managed to ever-so-slowly improve my situation to where I am today.

I do volunteer work at least three hours per week for my local community house, I work two hours a week at a French bakery, and I also do several hours a week from home: volunteer PC hardware and software support for disadvantaged people, as well as being a full-time house-husband. Need I say I am also the main cook and housekeeper at home. My wife knows how lucky she is!

I am very lucky to have a multi-disciplinary team looking after me comprising a general practitioner, gastroenterologist, dietician, psychologist, physiotherapist, and dentist. There have been several other professionals along the way who have dropped off the team once they were no longer adding value.

I reached a plateau in my recovery process about a year ago. The surprising intervention that allowed me to move forward was referral to an incontinence clinic run by a physiotherapist (I referred myself after happening to read a brochure in a waiting room). I had some minor urinary incontinence problems (believe it or not an irritable bowel can set up an irritable bladder situation) but after the physio quickly resolved that issue she turned her attention to my IBS.

What happened next was completely unexpected. I thought I knew everything there was to know about my IBS. She basically told me that she would need to teach me to poo properly again because I had been doing it wrong for a long time. As you can imagine I took some offense at this...after all I was 47 years old and had been a bit of a high flyer in the corporate world as well as being academically gifted.

She has a special area set-up with a toilet, foot stool, and other aids. You keep your clothes on and pretend to go through the motions of producing a bowel motion. She checks your posture, breathing, abdominal muscle tension etc...I was very skeptical but agreed to play along.

After several visits, lots of coaching, lots more 'homework' and perseverance I finally managed to relax enough to remove most of the fear, pain and trauma of going to the toilet and let my body go about its business without my interference. Of course, no prizes for guessing where all that fear had originated...IBS will not teach you to love your toilet!

My visits to the toilet are a lot easier, take less time with less 'mopping up', a better 'emptying outcome' with less effort, therefore leading to fewer visits. My recurring hemorrhoids have faded away (hopefully never to visit again) and I no longer feel like I am the only male in the labor ward. As I continue to work on this aspect I hope that my new toilet behaviors will require less focus and will eventually become the second nature they should otherwise have been. Flow-on effects have been significant reductions in my medication regime.

I hope that the above information will help someone to consider a perhaps unusual intervention that could remove yet another barrier to progress.

The tale of...Jeff (16 January 2010)

I have been an IBS sufferer for six or seven years now, and lactose intolerant for over 20 years. I cycle between constipation and diarrhea. I noticed that every year the constipation gets much worse in the winter. I can handle the diarrhea but the constipation is painful and debilitating. It also leads to bloody stools and internal hemorrhoids. No doctor could give me any help or advice other than medications which did not work very well. I had better results from eating a lot of probiotic yogurt.

I finally had a eureka moment. I asked myself what is different about the winter? The only thing I could think of is that I get a lot less sunlight. The human body absorbs vitamin D from sunlight, especially a body as pale as mine. I did a little research, and found that vitamin D is crucial for creating the mucus lining of the intestines. I read one study where rats were deprived of vitamin D. The scientists reported that the rats became constipated, with bloody stools. Sound familiar?

This winter I have been taking vitamin D supplements. For the first time in six years I have no constipation, no blood, and no hemorrhoids! Yes, I still have discomfort and diarrhea, but that's a heck of a lot easier to live with. I found that I need about 1000 IU of D3, which is 250% of the US recommended daily value. I also found that when I take a week vacation in Florida, and spend most of my time lying in the sun at the beach, I don't even need the pills.

E-mail Jeff: [email protected]