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The tale of...David (14 February 2009)

I've had random attacks of IBS since my sixth birthday. I used to spend perhaps three hours cumulatively during the day, just sat on the toilet, because when I'd thought I'd finished and got to the bathroom door, I'd have to rush back. I always used to joke that 'number twos come in twos'. Now, 23 years on, each attack comes in threes or fours.

Every two years I'd see a GP or a doctor and be told like the rest of you were told that 'It's all in your head'. By the time I saw the sixth, it took a tremendous amount of restraint on my part having heard those five infuriating words, to not strangle him to death with his own stethoscope as I said 'It's all in your head' to his purple bloated face.

If it were just the diarrhea or soft stools (often covered in mucus) it wouldn't be as bad, but the pain is akin to turning one of those electric abdomen belts up to full power whilst trying to have a bowel movement. Sometimes I want to reach in through my abdomen and rip out my intestines because I know it would be less painful than enduring the rest of the attack. I've heard that some women have likened severe IBS to childbirth but over and over again. I've had two bouts that were so severe that I vomited suddenly whilst sat on the toilet.

The lack of sympathy from family and friends used to be an issue but thankfully and with my eternal gratitude they're now much more understanding, but I know that they're frustrated and I don't blame them, and I don't even get asked to events anymore because 'He's got that stomach thing!' If the pain I felt two hours ago before I hunted the 'net looking for help could be transferred into someone that's never had it simply by touching them, then they'd collapse on the floor screaming for their mothers and demanding an ambulance because 'they're dying'. I just sat on the toilet and quietly shed a couple of tears.

I have no life at all and this has led to depression, I haven't been able to have a holiday/vacation for over 10 years because I can't do with the drive to the airport, the wait there, and the flight. Nor can I take more than a 20 minute drive to any destination without knowing that there's a toilet on the route. Which reminds me of a tale I heard from someone that bought a van, so that when they were 'caught out' they could pull over, go into the back of the van and do their business with nobody waiting. If I want to go anywhere over 20 minutes, that's what I'm going to have to do, too.

And Mrs Right has been and gone, because I couldn't go anywhere with her or spend the time with her that she deserved and I became snappy and cruel at every suggestion and comment she made. I felt it best that we end the relationship because she had no life either. I haven't had a partner since, six years ago almost to the day, because it would just go the same way.

It sounds awful and please don't be offended or think that I'm being vile and repugnant because for some of you IBS is just a nuisance and for others they can sympathize with me entirely, but this is something that has affected my family too, but if a person has cancer, they either get cured and go on to enjoy life, or they die within a couple of years if they're 'lucky' enough to live that long, but they don't have to feel that pain anymore and suffer its debilitating effects.

But we, as IBS sufferers, are supposed to live with this excruciating pain on a weekly (and in my case daily) basis and keep our mouths shut for decades? Sorry, but I'd rather have a terminal illness, IBS of this magnitude is a fate worse than death. If a doctor told me 'There's a drug that'll get rid of your IBS, but you'll be dead within 10 years' then I'd rejoice and take it because at least I'd have a full and rich life for those few years, doing everything I've missed like birthdays, my nephew and nieces' school plays, parties, jobs that I'd love but can't have because I'll need the toilet every few minutes, a wife, children of my own, traveling, the theater, pretty much everything. I can't have any of that.

I've tried everything that's been suggested including exclusion diets, stress management, exercise, specialist consultants earning hundreds of thousands every year. All except the hypnotherapy, so I'm going to buy the CDs linked on this site and I'll let you all know if I have any success with it. There's nothing left to try after that, other than accept I'm going to live the rest of my life as I have done since I was six; in pain, alone, and empty.

Update on David...

Back on February 14th, I submitted a tale. I'd had IBS for years and it had ruined my whole life, whether it be love life, work life, or otherwise. I'd decided to give the IBS audio course a try, and although it didn't reduce the pain or frequency, it did make me think differently about the condition. I accepted that IBS just happened and there was little I could do about it, so rather than worrying about it and it being on my mind all the time like an obsession, I finally began to focus on other things, accepting the IBS. Though, sometimes, the pain would still be incredible.

I did the course for about a month. I'd never been more than two days without IBS and that was only about once a month. But at the start of June, I noticed I had been three days without, which turned into four days, which turned into a week, then a month, and now four months and not a hint of it.

I can't believe it. It felt bizarre at first, and I kept thinking it was too good to be true. But as time went on, I started to just feel better and better, because I was finally in control. People noticed the change in me and that spurred me on further. I've even completely changed my image and my wardrobe and I'm planning a holiday in France. Yes, a holiday! With a 60-minute trip to the airport and a two-hour wait and a two-hour flight, all without having to worry about where the nearest toilet is!

The only hard part was realizing how much of my life I'd lost to the IBS, and what I'd missed out on. But I've got my life back on track and can finally get back to living. The only good thing to come out of having IBS is that it taught me to appreciate life and the world, and I'll be doing a lot more with my life than I would have done, had I not had it.

So maybe it was the audio course, or maybe it just went away of its own accord, I don't know. But I'll tell people to do the course because it helps in lots of ways. I really hope that this gives hope to people who have IBS, whether mild or chronic, and I'd considered myself to have had one of the more severe cases, so there's hope for everybody. Good luck to everyone.

The tale of...Steve (19 March 2009)

I'm a 29 year-old from Bristol, England, and I have had IBS since I was about 14. It affected me quite badly when I was at school, but then seemed to ease off when I left school. I had a pretty care-free few years up until I was about 22 when it all started again.

A point in my life triggered the IBS again and got me thinking about it all the time. One particular incident was when I was on the motorway, when I got stuck in an eight-hour traffic jam and started thinking to myself 'What if I need the toilet?' Well, soon after that I did, I had to do the only thing I could do, I had to go at the side of the motorway, but luckily there was a big field so no-one could see me. Since then I hate driving on motorways, and I just hate driving in general just in case I have another bout.

Things these days are still quite bad, I think about my stomach all the time and it just drives me mad. I just get so jealous of the 'normal people' out there.

I have just started a diet and fitness program which seems to be helping a bit, cut out all the fatty foods, cut right down on alcohol, do some form of exercise every day, but I think until I get the thoughts of IBS out my head it won't fully get back to normal. Thanks for listening.

E-mail Steve: [email protected]

The tale of...Timothy (8 August 2009)

I have had IBS for a while now, and I have been rushed to the emergency room many times. On top of that, I also have acid reflux disease and a sinus arrhythmia (my heart skips a beat). I have found out that I am partly lactose intolerant, but that doesn't cause my stomach pain.

Countless hours have been spent crying and in a suicidal state from this disease, but there is a product that helps me a lot. It is called Activia. That stuff literally works miracles. I take it once every day for a month. I'm not a spokesman for them or anything, but it truly does help your system to regulate. But I don't ever miss a day, or it won't work properly.

I do not take any antacids (such as Tums or Rolaids). I have also found out that Tylenol doesn't work much, at least for me, but you and I are made different so it may be worth a shot. Also, I stay away from lactose, artificial sweeteners, caffeine, carbonation (a big one - this will really screw your system up) and cream-based foods. I hope this helps. If you have any questions or comments, email me.

E-mail Timothy: [email protected]

The tale of...Neil (6 December 2009)

I have suffered periodically from IBS for 15 years. It began after I was working in South Africa when I was wrongly diagnosed with typhoid and prescribed double doses of chloramphenicol by a doctor who I now know to be a scoundrel! My work took me all over the world, but due to IBS I can no longer tolerate long-distance flights. (I have been told by cabin crew that they are advised not to fly if they are suffering an IBS attack.)

My symptoms can last for a few days to several months, with a 14-month attack by far the longest. I've virtually given up trying to work out why it happens and, having tried a host of prescribed drugs, am still no wiser as to which one helps - if any! One thing I've constantly had from doctors, GPs and specialists alike, is 'Are you stressed?' I always tell them I am one of life's most laid-back people - the only thing that's stressing me is them and this bloody IBS! Sorry I don't have any answers but I hope that by joining this site I can share advice and hopefully some hope!

E-mail Neil: [email protected]

The tale of...Ken (December 2009)

I developed stomach problems 22 years ago. It all began with diarrhea, and I lost 65lbs in two months after many doctor's appointment and different diagnoses. I learned to live with the symptoms. I would take Imodium like candy, and I had bathroom locations plotted at different points on my way to work. If I went to lunch with friends I had to be to a bathroom in 10 minutes. If there was not a bathroom close I just didn't eat. When I took long trips I would take five or six Imodium and that would give me 10 hours or so of security most of the time.

About nine years later I started getting severe chest pain, I thought it was a heart attack. I would go from the gastro doctor to the cardiologist and they would point the finger at the other. After about four years I was told it was esophageal spasms. So I lived with the severe diarrhea and the severe esophageal spasms which could be a daily occurrence to a monthly one.

Then about two years ago I got a severe constant pain in my lower right side of my abdomen. They first thought it was my appendix, but the CT scans said no. Then I started getting consistent esophageal spasms all day along with the right-side pain. So the doctors suggest getting a Nissen Fundoplication surgery and having my appendix removed. Neither one of the surgeries has help any of the pain. All they can say is this is all tied to the IBS that I have had for 23 years. They tell me that I have one of the worst cases they have seen.

The pain is now so bad that I had to stop working and go on disability. I started going to a pain clinic, and they have tried nerve blocks and shots with no help. I have had to start taking Morphine and Percocet to dull the pain but it does not take it away. My life has been ruined, I spend a lot of time in bed in so much pain and so sick to my stomach that I just can't get up. My wife has to work so that I can have insurance, I miss a lot of my kid's sports events. There are days I wish I could just curl up and die. Is there anyone out there who has had these kind of symptoms and has found anything to help with pain relief?

E-mail Ken: [email protected]

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