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sad tales: men with ibs-d page four

The tale of...Mark (9 August 2005)

After reading some of the postings on this site I can honestly say I share many of the same problems. I am a 23 year-old male. About two years ago I left my country (Australia) and moved to Mexico City to be with my girlfriend. Needless to say I ate like a pig when I first arrived. A week into my stay I got very sick. You know how the doctors are when the Westerners get sick in Mexico...'Oh, you have been overeating and you're not used to the food, take this anti-diuretic pill and you will be fine'.

So I went back to my country for a while because after a month I was feeling worse than ever. Back in Australia my doctors prescribed me with drug after drug, all to no avail. So I bit my pride and came back to Mexico. I got sicker...and then sicker...and then some more. After losing almost 10 kilos in nine months I said enough was enough and I saw a gastroenterologist.

So I had an endoscopy...stomach good...intestine good...the biopsy showed I had helicobacter bacteria...and so I began my treatment for that. However the complication arose because I left it incorrectly treated for so long and now I have irritable bowel syndrome.

I'm sure I do not have to go into all the details about how my life has changed and how depressed I feel sometimes. I feel pathetic. Some days I wake up and I'm laying in bed and I can hear the gastric juices making endless noises (a sign that I'm up for about a week of chronic abdominal pain and diarrhea). Anything and I mean anything can trigger it - stress, the wrong food (no matter how careful I am), a vitamin pill...God...

So I began to develop other secondary symptoms because of the lack of proper nourishment...sores on my tongue (I have read in Chinese medicine that this is a reflection of the colon)...inability to get over colds fast, cramps in the upper part of my stomach (those are the worst, I cry for hours on end because nothing, not even painkillers, can stop them). Drained of all my energy, darkness under the eyes, blood in my stool sometimes.

I have developed intolerances to many types of food and I fear I will never get my weight back. I am not a rich man and so seeing specialists every month is not an option for me. All the publicly available drugs like Dicetel have the opposite effect of calming my system down.

I could sit here and type for hours on all the horror stories I have had, from the chronic diarrhea in public places to the 4am visits to the emergency room only to find out that they can't do anything for me.

I have found some ways to control my symptoms. These are (and I hope someone else can be helped by these): stress management - eating smaller meals but divided throughout the day. Keeping a diary of what happens to help you find some kind of pattern in how your body works or reacts. A medication which is called Motilium (which helps slow down the rate of digestion so as to avoid diarrhea).

A tea made from gyuaba leaves (to stop diarrhea or at least help slow it down a bit) and also echinacea to help my immune system. Yakult is too much in a delicate digestive system like mine, so I find acidophilus pills help restore my floral intestinal bacteria after a rough bout of IBS.

These measures might seem a bit unorthodox but believe me they work. The horrible part is that there is no cure for IBS, only treatments to help the symptoms and lifestyle changes. I don't care if I am never 100% again, all I ask for is 75% so I can live my life without pain and so much stress.

I want to say that there is also hope for people like us who suffer from this horrible type of pain. No-one could understand it unless they have had it. I don't ask for sympathy, in fact I want people to know that this will not stop my life. I will live to an old age without pain one day...

E-mail Mark: [email protected]

The tale of...Paul (13 November 2005)

Been having a read of some of the tales on this site, both good and bad. Doctor diagnosed me with IBS about five years ago, and yes I agree it is a curse. What between having diarrhea and not being able to go and the bloating, life can feel pretty awful.

Looking back I see the symptoms starting at about secondary school, cramps on the way to get the morning bus would mean running home (if I could run that is) just to spend 20 minutes in the loo.

Anyhow the symptoms have just gotten worse over the years, although not as bad as some I've read about, and I feel sorry (if that's the right word) for them, and realize that perhaps mine isn't so bad after all.

Just wanted to give some info though. Drinking 'soft' water seems to help me, as does eating junk food (McDonald's etc), avoid pizza though. Some veg seems to set it off and produce gas and a bloated feeling, mainly cauliflower and broccoli. Mushrooms really do upset things, but these add reflux to the equation (something else I suffer with, perhaps they're linked), but reflux and bloating/gas seem to give palpitations and sweats.

Things usually settle a little if I holiday in a place I'm very comfortable with and with people I trust. In fact they settle so well sometimes that apart from cramps in the morning after coffee or tea or breakfast, about an hour after waking, they almost disappear.

I guess I must be one of the lucky ones to not suffer so bad with this curse, but we all suffer in varying degrees. My best wishes and thoughts to all.

E-mail Paul: [email protected]

The tale of...Peter (November 2005)

I can't recall the first time I was affected by IBS. I recall the first time it affected my life though. I was around 14, at my friend's house, and my stomach was hurting quite badly and I had the feeling that I just needed to go to the toilet. I made my excuses and got back to my house as soon as I could. I know prior to that I'd had bad stomach aches and diarrhea for around two years on and off, nothing major or drastic, certainly didn't have a major influence on my life.

Over the years though it all got worse and worse and started to affect my life. I think a lot of it is to do with the fact that as you get older your diet gets richer and more varied, whereas at 12 spaghetti hoops are quite exotic. As time goes on, foreign food and alcohol become staples.

I live in fear of pizza, it's my really bad trigger. Oh don't get me wrong, if it was only pizza I would be a happy man and not have missed many concerts, events, social gatherings and days off work due to this. No, pizza is just the monster in the closet for me, but he has all his little deathly minions as well, and if I knew their names I could tick them off as I smite them. I don't though, and that's the problem.

Let me tell you about a typical IBS incident for me. Let's say midday I have a Big Mac, and around 6pm I will eat again. Around 8pm I will get the slightest little feeling in the back of my abdomen, and slowly that will grow. It may take till around 10pm or it may take till 2am, but the only way I can get rid of this (believe me the pain will be bad, but a funny pain) is by going to the toilet, and it is always diarrhea, which will last 30 minutes or so.

I know it's over as I will urinate, it's odd, that's like my all-clear sign, I urinate, only for about 10 seconds, but that's it, it's like an exorcism that has gone well and is now over.

I think because I have had this for around 23 years, the feeling among my friends went from concern, to familiarity, to them ignoring it, to now when you have my family having no sympathy at all, friends fed-up because I call off things or leave early, and all of them suggesting things that will cure it or help things. My wife's favorite is to take a Nurofen as it will stop the pain, I love her as she does try to help, but it doesn't and won't help.

I have tried every form of pain relief over the years and if I had found one that had worked I would have stuck with it, similarly the tummy tablets, things that did seem to work no longer work, maybe my body just got immune to them.

At the moment I am the most down about it than I ever have been. I need to seriously address my diet and food consumption and see what I can do to at least bring it to a manageable state.

The tale of...Martin (September 2006)

Seems I've had this for a few years. I think irritable bowel syndrome, gluten intolerance, celiac disease etc are all related. About 26 months ago I got a stomach bug while working under my car when the dog kicked up a bit of dirt from around his hut and caught me on the lip. About 30 minutes later I was sick.

A week later a small notice was in the paper about a sudden increase in food poisoning cases in our area and not to use public swimming pools etc... I'd pasted out on the toilet a few times, by two weeks later I felt OK.

About 20 months ago I got another bout after eating at a BBQ at a friend's place. Somebody (and I know who it was, like it seems it was intended, I can remember it so clearly) hadn't washed their hands before handling the cooked meat. I wasn't the only one to be sick. I got over this like the last bout in about two weeks.

But the bouts of constipation/diarrhea stayed. I thought that it was a bug in my stomach because after eating I would swell up and feel terrible. I was traveling by car to work (two days travel - one to three weeks work - two days travel), eating lots of McDonald's on the way.

About this time I started to find there was a connection between food/stomach/sickness. Dad had been diagnosed with cancer six months before. I went to a doctor who took blood/feces tests, but when they came back negative they didn't bother to tell me. Did this about five times. Finally he said about IBS and how it can be induced with flour/gluten. So I tried a gluten-free diet.

Gluten free was the way to go, my stomach stopped heaving all the time after about a week. After three days my indigestion disappeared. I'd been using Mylanta or Quickease everyday for about five years beforehand, haven't used it once since! So after about three weeks gluten free I was dismissed from work because of lack of work output and being sick all the time (fair enough). I still felt bad but I felt better than I felt before.

Anyway this was about 12 months ago. The doctor did a IGa and IGg gluten test about six to seven weeks after I'd given up gluten, then upon my next visit proudly told me I was OK because the test came back negative. He never called up with this info and never told me you have to have a high-gluten diet for at least three months before taking the test for it to come back with a positive. Anyway I now know the gluten is the main problem.

E-mail Martin: [email protected]

The tale of...Phil (18 September 2006)

I've only had two girlfriends in my life, thanks to IBS. If my stomach wasn't virtually destroying my life, I'd probably be confident, a bit of a jerk, and happy as a clam, like most guys should be. I remember having attacks as far back as kindergarten. For whatever reason, I thought it would work itself out. I thought it was a fluke...I'd block it out, as though all those moments of agony were isolated incidents. Every time I felt OK it was like an invitation to eat like everyone else again. My stomach was empty, so why not have a few French fries...wrong!

IBS has humbled me to the point were I appear to have no self-confidence. When I feel fine I have all the self-confidence in the world. I'm just as intelligent and fun-loving as anyone else. Even when I'm in agony I manage to put on a good exterior. I'm six foot tall and thin. People say I have lost weight, so I would eat thinking...I need to gain weight, but I can't retain large quantities of food. My body absorbs nothing.

I know where every accessible public bathroom is in the tri-state area. But the worst part is that it seems that this condition is only getting worse. This past Saturday we had a huge party at the house I'm living in. I don't eat before I drink, because that would result in catastrophe. This time it didn't matter. I had so much gin and tonic that night...you get the picture. Luckily I was in my own home.

As I type this, well, it's not that bad, but I haven't been normal since last Saturday, and it's Wednesday now. Everyone else throws up when they're drunk. I wish I could throw up. I never ever throw up. I was eight years old with the flu the last time that happened.

Anyway. I feel like a pariah. I'm trapped in my own personal hell. I avoid people because of my stomach. It prevents me from having a good time at bars, and I especially fear day-long outings with friends. Through it all I've kept positive. When I figure out what I should be doing I'll be reborn. That's literally how dramatic this problem going away would be for me.

It's embarrassing, and it makes me nervous when I feel an attack and I'm in a bar somewhere, with a gross bathroom and no toilet paper. It's the worst place to have an attack.

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