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sad tales: men with ibs-d page seven

The tale of...Josh (October 2007)

Wow, I (Josh, 28) just stumbled on this page doing my typical searches for diarrhea. I saw Peter's story first, and as I read it, it sounded word for word what I have been going through. The whole not eating out, the timing of attacks after eating, etc. Everything is exactly the same so I won't bother repeating it. I am glad I found this page. It's hard to explain how comforting it is to read some of these stories and feel 'Wow, that's just like me'.

Mine started in 2000. I do have one embarrassing story which I'll write on another day - it's funny now, but wasn't so funny then!. At any rate, I went through blood tests, stool tests, CT scans, biopsies, the barium thing, upper GI, lower GI, flexible sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, etc. I don't think there is anything I haven't done. I did gluten-free diets, lactose-free diets, and exclusion diets even to the point of crossing out ingredients with a sharpie and adding one at a time. I've tried anti-spasmodics, and that Digestive Advantage stuff. Basically I'm left with IBS as the only diagnosis.

In 2004 my sister started taking Lexapro 10mg for some anxiety before she would start teaching again in the fall. I looked it up for her to read about it and found that some people with IBS were given serotonin reuptake inhibitors to help with IBS symptoms. So I asked my GI specialist what he thought. He said 'Well, Josh, you know, if it doesn't make you feel better, you'll be happier about being sick'.

So I tried it. It did help tremendously when coupled with 2 to 4mg of loperamide every day. I've been able to eat out sometimes although I still get a little anxious. I teach as well and keep a bottle of loperamide in my closet. I was able to travel back to France for the first time last summer since all this started.

Occasionally I still have attacks, but the combination of the two keep them farther between. The awareness I feel of my mid-section has diminished; however, I'm still on the hunt to find that special something that can ensure that I won't have to rush home after eating.

I've decided to try and go to medical school in 2008 to be a gastroenterologist. I figure, I've read so much about it and everything else having to do with GI - I should put it to some good use. I sure as hell know I will be able to sympathize. Thank you Sophie for this site and to everyone else who has shared their stories!

E-mail Josh: [email protected]

The tale of...Daniel (2 October 2007)

For anyone who is interested I thought I would share my story with you. I wanted to share it with people who are aware of IBS and get this off my chest and out into the open with people who may understand, and have any kind of tips/advice.

I am a 23 year-old male and I have had severe IBS and stomach spasms over the last two years. I have always been fit and healthy. I am about five foot seven and I weigh about 10 and half stone.

One thing I read a lot with IBS sufferers is the fact that not many know what set their IBS off in the first place. I can imagine for a lot of people this brings added stress, as I'd imagine many people would like to know. In my case I know what set it off - I contracted a bug which was in the water supply (cryptosporidium) which gave me many food poisoning-like symptoms. As a result I have been left suffering with severe IBS.

The depressing thing is as a result of me not being able to control it I lost my very good job, my girlfriend and the last year of my life, as of most of the last year it had made me housebound. I have a great GP and I have also been under the care of a few gastro specialists. I have had all the tests to rule out anything else.

Even now, two years after I was ill, the effects on my body are devastating, and it's got so bad that my body always feels like I need to go to the loo even when I don't need to, and even when I do it's of a loose nature. I have been seeing a dietician and a physio, and although this has helped, things just have not significantly improved. I of course avoid all things that worsen my IBS - certain foods, etc.

I can have my very good days when I take my medication. On my good days I get about three to six bowel movements, and then there are my bad days where it has honestly been as high as 15-plus or I am just stuck on the loo for hours. At one point I was even sleeping in the bathroom because of the worry of soiling myself by not getting there in time! A colonoscopy revealed that my bowels were very sore, and this is due to the frequency of bowel movements.

My movements definitely do increase if I get stressed, but it's hard not to become stressed when this is so much of a burden on my life. It's not just the severe diarrhea; on some occasions I have been hit with chronic constipation (fecal impaction is a term they also used). I have spent over a month in hospital this year alone due to this problem. The worst time was when I was unable to have a bowel movement for over three weeks!

Medication I have taken, or am currently taking, include: loperamide, mebeverine, amitriptyline, colifoam, tramadol, citalopram, zopiclone, canesten, paracetamol, Buscopan, ompeprazole, diclofenac, Movicol, Senokot, Fybogel, Cirtafleet (if severely constipated), and Forti-sip food replacement drinks. Then there are also the fluid replacement sachets I take to try and prevent dehydration.

As you can see quite a list, and all of this has been prescribed by either my GP, specialist, or hospital management pain team. My days just seem to be filled with taking medication, but if I don't then things get all the worse.

I try to take a positive outlook and hope that things will eventually improve. If there was any kind of surgery on offer I certainly would have it done. I have to manage my IBS on a daily basis, and mix the medication to match how I am feeling that day (of course staying within the daily dosages). I see my GP regularly to assess everything.

If you have any questions just ask, or if you wish to share your stories with me then please do.

E-mail Daniel: [email protected]

The tale of...Juan (October 2007)

I almost had a panic attack two weeks ago. I went to eat Chinese food in Chicago with my friends. I promised myself that I would never leave any kind of food just because of this damn sickness. So after we ate we went to the park to see a Chinese festival.

All of a sudden, I felt something and I thought it was gas. I was wrong, and I almost had an 'accident'. Because I didn't have a bathroom nearby I started to feel very anxious and desperate. I was trying not to think about it by counting candies or cars or saying 'This is my body, I know that's nothing' but it did not work. I was about to start running but all of a sudden my cramps left, but I still felt nauseous and had a lot of adrenaline.

Coming back from Chinatown the traffic was very intense and I felt trapped. I started to breathe heavily, feeling desperate and getting crazy with the noises in my stomach and the cramps. I was thinking 'Get out of the car and run'. After counting to 1000 everything vanished and the traffic started to move.

I never had that symptom before, and it was maybe the worst thing that has happened with this damn sickness. But also I realized that with a lot of concentration the sickness can be fought. Since then, every day I say to myself 'I'm stronger that this sickness, I will do my errands even if I have an accident!'

My symptoms are the same, but now I can make myself think about something else, or at least make my body wait to find a bathroom, telling myself that there is nothing I can do but wait. I also say this to myself: 'What will happen if I have an accident, people are not going to see me again' or 'What's the worst that can happen if I'm late, if I lose my job, I can get another one, or if I miss a class, I can explain to my teacher what happened'.

Making things look simple is working for me. It is hard but I'm seeing improvements, little by little. Let me know about you. This is my cross...and I want to end it by my own means.

E-mail Juan: [email protected]

The tale of...Garrett (27 November 2007)

I am 21 years old and I have had IBS since I was nine or 10. I thought for many years that I simply had a weak stomach that could not handle certain foods. All through middle school and high school I fought with this silent syndrome with no help from my parents or the medical community. I was trapped! My parents would joke that every time I came into the house they knew where I was going...(everyone who has IBS knows where this is going)...right to the bathroom!

I'd have the worst cramps followed by diarrhea and a pain that I can only describe as blinding. I am not kidding when I say I was in so much pain I wouldn't be able to see. Everything was foggy.

Finally when I went to college my symptoms culminated. I go to a nursing school so one day I finally went to the hospital where they ran tests and found no 'problems'. I knew I had to take things into my own hands! I found a GI on my own and was finally diagnosed with IBS. I wish this was the end and I lived happily ever after...negative! I am still suffering every day!

I've gone through two GIs, as let's just say we did not get along! I wanted to be proactive instead of reactive. Meaning I'd like to be able to take medicine instead of having to go to the ER to get relief. I go to the hospital about once a month or every other month for IV's because I get so dehydrated from diarrhea. I am currently on Zofran for nausea, Levsin for cramps and an antacid for gastritis which I've recently been diagnosed with! IBS and gastritis! I know I don't have Crohn's but damn my symptoms have a scary resemblance to it.

I am captain of my college baseball team and I have been wrestling with the issue of having to quit because of losing 20 pounds in three months and no end in sight. I just want to be normal, just like everyone else here! I'd love to travel to all the continents in the world, but frankly I'm scared of going to a third world hospital for an IBS attack! Thanks for letting me vent...

E-mail Garrett: [email protected]

The tale of...Clark (25 March 2008)

I am a 23 year-old college student who has been suffering from IBS for 10 years. I wasn't diagnosed and treated until I was 16, and after reading everyone's stories it was a good feeling to know that I wasn't alone in that I was feeling so isolated from everyone. I was always extremely active in baseball, football, golf etc until my IBS got so bad around age 15 that I pretty much locked myself in the house and wouldn't do anything.

My junior and senior year in high school I ended up going from weighing 170 pounds to 130 and I'm five foot 10. I would get up every morning at 4am to take my meds so they would be working by the time school started, and only eat one meal a day, at night, due to the fact I had golf practice and matches after school every day, and I didn't want to eat until I got home to my safe place where if my stomach started hurting it was cool. It still hampers my ability to just go out on a whim when my friends all of a sudden decide to do something because it takes two hours for my meds to work before I will leave the house.

Now that I am older I have become less embarrassed about it, particularly around my friends because I finally told them the problem, and why I have to leave when we go somewhere or when I tell them I can't go out tonight. I also can sympathize with sufferers who have been told 'Oh, it's all in your head...just don't think about it and it will go away'. It's so frustrating to try to talk to someone who doesn't have a clue what it feels like to try to eat a bite of your dinner when you are out on a date and as soon as you put a piece of salad in your mouth you are instantly nauseated, sweating, and have stomach cramps like Ben Stiller from Along Came Polly.

This problem has bled into my dating and nightlife, because when you're getting to know someone the first thing you want to blurt out is the whole IBS deal, since you just can't pick up on a whim and go out and about due to worrying about embarrassing yourself with your date.

In conclusion, for those who work and go to school, here is how I try to cope with my problem and maybe it could help you. I am a senior marketing major, and I know how hard it is for people to go to school and work with IBS. You get so anxious knowing that you're going into a class or work and you'll be stuck in one place knowing that you can't go to the restroom, and if you have to you will get singled out and embarrassed.

I decided to start taking night classes, which allow me to get up in the morning and eat a little something like cereal that I know will make me use the restroom, and if I have cramping like normal, by the time I have to go to work or class later on my stomach has been soothed a little bit and my tract is cleaned out. Also I stay away from chewing gum or coke (which I love) before I have to go somewhere. I usually keep a few pieces of peppermint in my pocket when I go out to soothe my stomach. I know this isn't a comprehensive plan but maybe you can adopt something that would help you.

E-mail Clark: [email protected]

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