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sad tales: teenagers with ibs-d page six

The tale of... Sobia (July 2006)

I'm 17 years old, and I've had IBS since I was about 12 (just like most other teenagers on this site). It just started out with diarrhea...and my mom telling me 'Beta, why you try to get attention,' because as a Pakistani mother, she was not at all thrilled. Found out pop's family had a history of lactose intolerance. Great, I just assumed I was lactose intolerant, like the rest of the family.

By 13/14, I cut out all diary products from my diet, which helped, but I still had diarrhea, and not only diarrhea, but constipation and extreme stomach aches...I mean extreme, like the X-games for stomach cramps! I went to the doctor who proclaimed, 'Why, you're lactose intolerant.'

'Yes, I kind of figured that out.'

'Well, stop drinking juices too; I think fructose, only from juices, has been hurting you too.'

'OK, but...'

'Are you arguing with me?' I personally think my doctor was PMSing that day, but I took her advice, and it helped, but it cured nothing.

As I got older, the symptoms worsened. The stomach pains got so bad, it felt as if the life force was being sucked out of me, and I would randomly need to rush to the bathroom or sit down from the pain. I took diarrhea pills; I thought it was stress for a while, and then the stress left, but the symptoms stayed.

Being pre-med myself, I have many pre-med friends, most of which know my woeful plight. One of these ran a search on my symptoms, and alas! I knew what I had: IBS. I went to the doctor, and he concurred. My mother was not at all thrilled: 'Beta, now you will not get a good proposal. No-one will want to marry you.'

'Mum, I'm engaged.'

'Doesn't matter, don't tell him.'

Ha ha. My mother, no doubt, is the only one who views people with any type of dysfunction as incapable of living. Although IBS does hinder many things in my life, it never completely stops them. It only reinforces my gratitude towards the rest of my well-functioning system and reminds me to be careful.

The tale of...Rachel (July 2006)

Hi, my name is Rachel and I am 14 years old. I have suffered from IBS for as long as I can remember. It really started to become a problem when I was in the second grade. I had an attack almost every morning before school. It almost became part of my routine: wake up, brush my teeth, sit on the toilet for a while in pain. Now, when I am having an attack, I can't eat or drink anything because it just makes it worse. Because of this, I haven't eaten breakfast since the second grade. I seem to be very vulnerable to attacks in the morning.

My parents didn't really think anything of it at first, but when the attacks didn't let up and just kept getting worse, they decided to take me to see a doctor. I'm not sure exactly how old I was when I was diagnosed. All I know is that I have tried many medications and am currently taking two different pills every day. Still, I will get severe attacks.

I have missed many school days because of the pain. It bothers me so much that people just don't understand what I go through. My friends think it's not that big of a deal and even my teachers will make comments about me not being at school because they really don't know the severity of my pain. And yes, I have also heard it is just in my head or I'm just going to have to learn how to deal with the pain, but sometimes I just can't. Sometimes it is physically impossible for me to get off the toilet because that slight movement would worsen the pain.

There have been times where I honestly have felt that the only way that the pain could possibly get worse is if my organs were to explode. The pain is that intense. I would never wish this disorder on anyone. There are times when I wish that my friends could experience it for just one day so that they would know what I have gone through pretty much my entire life. I pray every day that someone will discover a cure for IBS.

E-mail Rachel: [email protected]

The tale of...Danielle (July 2006)

I am 18 years old, and I have been dealing with IBS since I was about 17. I have to go to school whether I have stomach pain or not. I am not happy with the way the system works in my school. I have to get my planner signed by the teacher, you have a time limit of two minutes, a limited number of times going out each grading period, and the teacher has to know where you are going.

I can't go between classes or I'll be late, and get a detention. We only get four minutes between classes. I still have one school year left (I'm in 11th grade) and then somehow get through college. I'm staying home for college to avoid embarrassment.

The tale of...Kaitlyn (July 2006)

I am an 18 year-old girl with IBS. I have been struggling with this disorder almost my entire life. Every time I would have an IBS attack in the morning my mother would feel my head and said that I am fine and I had to go to school. My family thought I used this excuse as a way of not going to school. In 11th grade my mother finally took me to see a gastro doctor. My mother told me if I am lying about being sick and I was just wasting her time that I would pay for it.

When I saw the doctor he did some procedures like pushing on my stomach and finding where my stomach hurt and then he asked some questions. After the procedure and the questions he said it sounded like I had IBS, but I should have a colonoscopy. After getting a colonoscopy he said I had IBS. I finally had a reason why I was sick all the time. I felt relieved that I could prove that I was not lying about the sickness and I had a reason as to why I was missing school.

I have taken medications but they do not seem to work. I have tried eating enough fiber a day but it just seems too difficult. Now that I am in 12th grade I am the starting pitcher for my high school. Struggling with my IBS and not coming to school I was put on the ineligible list and no longer can finish the year off. I have been the starting pitcher for my high school team for four years now and my IBS has gotten in the way of me playing. I feel like I have let the team down. Not only that I do not think I will get a scholarship to college for pitching ability.

This is the worst thing that has ever happened to me because of my IBS getting in the way of my goals. When my principal and sports director had to tell me I was longer able to play softball the sports director started to cry because she knew I had been fighting with this disorder and it was not her choice to not let me play. As I sat there crying I was very disappointed at myself, thinking 'Well maybe if I just forced myself I wouldn't have had to let anyone down'.

My principal said to me that I was not letting anyone down and that sometimes I should worry about myself before others. He knew I had the IBS and said to me that there was just nothing I could do about it and not to be so hard on myself. I am sure that my softball career is ruined and I can only thank my IBS for it. I just hope this disorder does not get in the way of college.

E-mail Kaitlyn: [email protected]

The tale of...Meredith (30 July 2006)

In the fifth grade I was diagnosed with IBS. Now at 15 my symptoms have only got worse. I have awful cramping and get sick often. I'm so afraid of the pain that I've developed an anxiety disorder - so I'm nervous when I get sick, and getting sick makes me nervous. I've been stuck in a loop like this for four years.

I've tried cutting things out of my diet such as wheat, grease, butter (I basically just eat grilled fish and broccoli now) but if I make even the smallest mistake I get sick. I miss a lot of school because of my IBS, and even when I'm in school it's hard to explain why I left the class for 20 minutes. I only want to feel normal and hang out with my friends, but for now I have no way out of this. Good luck to everyone with this condition.

E-mail Meredith: [email protected]

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