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happy tales: teenagers with ibs-c page one

The tale of...Hayley (February 2008)

I'm 19, and I have been diagnosed with IBS now for two years. I suffer from both constipation and diarrhea....most of the time it's a combination of both together, and I struggle to pass diarrhea-like stools. I am currently doing a primary teaching degree which is going well, but I have missed quite a few lectures due to IBS.

It is such a disabling illness and I hate it with a passion. The thing that is most annoying is the fact that I cannot pinpoint what foods affect me, because sometimes they do and sometimes they don't. It's hard trying to explain to people how disabling it is and sometimes I hate telling people that I'm ill a lot because I don't want sympathy and I don't want people to think I use it as an excuse, because I'm ill so often!

I have found though that sometimes you have to make light of the situation, and I have found myself making jokes at myself about IBS simply to make light of it (however painful and embarrassing it gets for me). It's nice coming on here and reading everyone else's experiences because I know I'm not alone and that we can all understand each other. At the end of the day non-sufferers really don't know how horrible it actually is. But at least we are not alone as IBS is just something us sufferers have to live with every day.

E-mail Hayley: [email protected]

The tale of...Emma (June 2005)

I would like to share my story of being the mother of a child with IBS. My son is only 11 years old but he has suffered with this condition since birth. I have realized that it may not be very common but young children do suffer with this as well.

It has been a real struggle trying to convince doctors that my son has IBS. I still don't have a diagnosis of IBS as my doctors seem to not want to believe that a boy can suffer with this. He has had all the medical tests but the doctors found nothing. But my son constantly complains of awful pains in his lower abdomen and he has a bloated stomach every day. He has a lot of trouble with constipation and often will go a week without being able to go. And then when he does it hurts him.

He has now been referred to a dietician, but I await to see how effective this will be. As my son is starting secondary school in September I am now taking his treatment into my own hands. I've started to give him Senokot fiber sachets and I've switched him on to a Free From everything diet and it is working. He is going to the loo more often and his stools are slightly more to come out. He has only complained of the tummy pain once, just before he managed to use the loo for number two.

I am very hopeful about this diet along with the extra fiber and lots of water. I'm not sure how this condition will develop with my son in the future. I truly hope it will gradually lessen to nothing at all, but for now I will be on the Free From aisle for all his dietary needs. It would be such a help if this food was not so expensive as well. My son didn't like the foods straightaway but it's what he has to eat so that he no longer has to have days off lessons. I know he will not be able to have the foods that he wants, which is probably a good thing anyway.

I remember being a teenager and feeling as though I too may have had IBS. I would get a bloated feeling and have some tummy pains after certain foods like bread but I seemed to grow out of these symptoms. But I would like any parents who may have a child with this condition to just go with your parental instincts and take over the reins from the medical profession. He has only been on this diet for two weeks, but where my son would have some form of pain or nausea almost every day, he has only felt pain once.

I've felt deeply sad at many times especially when it wasn't clear what was wrong with him. But knowledge is power so I will keep optimistic about the future. Good luck to anyone with this condition.

E-mail Emma: [email protected]

The tale of...Ellie

'It's all in your head' might as well be the quote of my life. When I was 12 years old I couldn't go to the bathroom. I was contantly ill and in pain and feeling sick to my stomach. It wasn't until I was 14 that I got any medical attention, other then my father telling me 'It's all in your head', screaming it at me, my friends saying it, my other family members saying it...it was extremely painful. I soon became depressed and suffered from suicidal thoughts and anxiety, in silence, so as not to be a 'burden' on everybody else in my life, like I was apparently being.

But there is a light in this sea of gray, and I call him Homefries. I won't use his real name, since it's being published, but he's my very best friend. He believed in me, spent long nights with me, and I am utterly thankful for that. Without the hope he gave me I wouldn't have pressed forward. Life with IBS is hard. You miss things, you can't eat things, it's embarrassing, and for a lot of us we get told it's all in our heads, but truth be told it's not all in our heads and all we really need is one person to get us through. One glimmer of hope. Thank you Homefries, for being my hope. I love you kiddo.

E-mail Ellie: [email protected]