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happy tales: teenagers with ibs-d page one

The tale of...Emma (7 March 2006)

I'm 18 and I was diagnosed with IBS about three months ago (two days after my 18th birthday). I haven't had any tests done but according to my doctor I fit in the 'zone for diagnosis' as he called it with the symptoms that I have.

My symptoms are not severe as some of the people's accounts on here but my main problem is the stomach cramps and nausea. I can be working and have to stop what I'm doing to take deep breaths and calm myself down and wait for it to pass. I get episodes of diarrhea then constipation, which is a pain when you're out socializing with friends.

I also suffer from excessive wind and constant noises which are embarrassing and demoralizing. For instance you can be standing in a queue and have a real urgency to pass wind without people a) hearing it and b) smelling it.

I had a think about my symptoms after I was diagnosed and I think I've actually had IBS since I was about eight. I used to get the same kind of pain but more intense and was diagnosed with a stomach migraine, but I've always had problems of some description since then. Even when I was a baby I used to suffer really badly with colic. IBS also seems to run in our family, with my nan and my mother both suffering from it.

I get constantly told by my friends that I need to get out more and socialize and get a boyfriend, but how do I explain to him that I have a condition where I always need to be near a toilet? Not the most romantic of first liners. I feel that my friends don't understand why I don't want to go on long car journeys or go to gigs, or when I need to sit on the end of the row in the cinema. The hardest thing I find about this condition is not cutting out food but the lack of understanding with people. My parents constantly tell me to go back and see the doctor, but what can he do apart from change my medication?

My IBS is a lot better lately after I've cut out gas-producing foods such as baked beans and cabbage. I have also given up caffeine and alcohol, which is the worst when out with friends. I am currently considering having an allergy test done and having hypnotherapy, as I want my symptoms to be better before I start university in September. I tend to find that if you switch your mind and concentrate on breathing, the pain goes away quite quickly. I also make myself think that it will go away soon and that nothing bad is going to occur, and that if I do need to go to the toilet and be sick then that's what will happen and just let it be.

I'd be more than happy to talk to anyone who wants to get in touch with me.

E-mail Emma: [email protected]

The tale of...Tommy (17 July 2006)

This story is about my son who was a very healthy 13 year-old. His illness started two years ago. Right after boy scout camp Tommy started having severe stomach pains, diarrhea, vomiting a little blood and hot sweats. After four visits to the hospital and every test known to man Tommy was diagnosed with severe acid reflux, and was put on two Nexium a day.

The Nexium seemed to help for three months, until the stomach pains and diarrhea came back - the only thing missing was the vomiting. Ninth grade began and Tommy was sick enough to miss school. The stomach doctor told us that Tommy now had two different diseases, acid reflux and IBS. After many trials with anti-spasmodic drugs and an anti-depressant, Tommy was sicker then ever. He lost over 20lbs and the medicines were making him sick. He was on seven pills a day, two Nexium, three Bentyl, one brewers' yeast and one anti-depressant.

Tommy's stomach doctor suggested that we should get a second opinion. He basically left us in the dust because he could not help. I took Tommy off all medicines, and he seemed to improve. We went to a Boston doctor who mentioned it might be a parasite. Tommy took a medicine called Alinia and it was like a miracle - the diarrhea seemed to stop, but the severe cramping was still there and nothing helped, until I discovered calcium and Beano.

Tommy had sworn off milk two years ago because his first doctor thought he might be lactose intolerant. Tommy now takes two calcium a day with vitamin D and Beano. Beano has an enzyme that helps digest food and take away gas pains. Tommy is back to eating anything and everything again, and he has been good for almost two months and that's a long time for an IBS sufferer to feel well. I hope this helps someone, I saw the pain and suffering my son dealt with for two straight years.

E-mail Tommy's Mom: [email protected]

The tale of...Jasmine (July 2007)

I'm 17 years old, and the doctor has told me there is a 95% chance that I have IBS. I've had stomach problems for about four years and it's got worse as I've got older. I've been having tests for years. I've had blood test but they all came back negative. I've also been on a diet, no wheat or dairy which was hard! When I went food shopping I had to check on the backs of things to see if it had wheat or traces of dairy, I couldn't eat anything, well it felt like I couldn't. Then it got to the point where I didn't see the point in eating anymore and just got really depressed so my doctor thought it was best if I went back to normal and ate everything again.

Everything I've tried, whether it's pills or food, works for about two or three months but then I just go back to feeling ill all the time. No-one seems to understand. My mum tries so hard to understand but it just upsets her to see her little girl so ill. I have no friends with IBS, they don't understand what I'm going through at all. I just need someone I can talk to about things and a person who can relate to my problems, to give me some advice! I'm trying so hard to not let it ruin my life but sometimes it just gets too hard to cope with. I still go out and go to parties but what I do (which I know isn't good for me) when I go to parties or up town, anything like that, is not eat at all until I get home, so I don't have to worry about getting a belly ache and it ruining my night.

Recently I've had a barium meal, where you have to swallow some liquid and it lights up your inside on an x-ray. The liquid made me so ill. All over Christmas I needed to go to the loo more often than usual and that was a lot, which I hated so much! In two weeks I'm going in to hospital to get the camera down my throat which I'm scared about but I'm being put to sleep for it so I can relax a bit, then I just have to wait on the results. So anyone who can relate to my problems, I would be very happy to talk to you!

E-mail Jasmine: [email protected]

The tale of...Lowri (July 2008)

I'm a 19-year old university student from the UK. For about three or four years I've had a 'dodgy' stomach and went to the doctors now and then just to be told to 'lose weight' or 'improve your diet', both of which I never tried to improve greatly. Around six months ago I was on holiday and got food poisoning, but when I still had these symptoms a few weeks on I went to the doctor who then diagnosed me with IBS.

To start with when I heard this I cried and thought my life was over, and the doctor explained that there is no 'cure' but only ways to relieve symptoms. I suppose I'd always known that there wasn't something quite right with my body, but hearing it confirmed did upset me.

But eventually I started researching IBS and realized how lucky I am, my case is only mild in comparison to what other people have to live with every day. I can still go out and socialize (even though there is a mild panic when I'm asked if I'm free).

Since my doctors visit I've improved my diet, started exercising (although I could still improve this aspect!), and come to terms with IBS. Today my pains are nowhere near what they were six months ago and I feel healthier. I still got the pains and regular toilet visits, but I'm looking at ways I can improve all this. I'm considering the supplements others have taken and have worked for them, and constantly changing and altering my diet.

Basically, I'm not going to let IBS depress me, I've got a whole life to live and I'm not going to live it thinking about my bowels every minute of the day. Feel free to email me...I don't know anyone else with IBS in my group of friends.

E-mail Lowri: [email protected]

The tale of...Laura (December 2008)

I'm 19 years old, and I have recently been told that I have IBS. I can't exactly remember when I started having symptoms, but I guess I knew that something wasn't quite right in that area for a while. I remember feeling tired and drained, and after visiting the doctor I had many blood tests to find out what the problem was. The results came back negative and I was told just to get on with things and if I noticed any other changes to come back.

I remember at one appointment the doctor asked if I was having any issues with bowel movements etc. At the time I remember thinking something wasn't quite right, but I was too embarrassed to say.

I think my first real symptom was having bad wind. Not nice! I live with three other friends at university (I'm from the UK by the way) and I could swear they could hear everything going on in the bathroom!

After a while I noticed that I was getting bad pains in my stomach after eating, often so bad that I would have to lay curled up with a hot water bottle. I knew then that something definitely wasn't right, so I plucked up the courage and visited the doctor. After asking many questions, they diagnosed me with IBS. A lot of the things they asked hadn't even crossed my mind as being an IBS symptom. (I didn't really have any knowledge of it at the time).

I realized then that the amount of times I visited the toilet wasn't normal. I don't have diarrhea or constipation as such, although occasionally I've had to make a run for the loo. I just feel like I need to 'go' when I don't. I guess this is constipation, but when this happens I have been previously during the day. My body generally seems to be a bit unpredictable!

I've been on two types of tablets. At the moment I'm on peppermint oil, and I'm not sure if it's helping. I did stop taking it for a few days and I noticed a change for the worse in my bowel movements, so I guess it's doing something. I've also been cutting out certain foods. At the moment I've cut wheat right out of my diet, and it seems to have helped a great deal. I haven't had so much wind (which to me is the most embarrassing thing) and the stomach pains have gone.

At the moment though the symptoms have flared up. I have the pains back and I feel the need to have a bowel movement, but only the tiniest stool will make its way out. So I don't know, maybe the diet isn't working. But I read on this site that the menstrual cycle can affect you, so maybe that's what's happening to me now? Who knows!

All I know is that I have to live with it and keep trying new things. There seem to be people with IBS who are worse off than me, so I have to be grateful there. All the same, I still feel alone and the only one in the world who sits in the toilet for ages, praying no-one can hear me.

The tale of...Sophie (May 2009)

Well put it this way - I'm 14 and not going to let IBS ruin my life! I get really anxious about this, and when I need to go I need to go and it just hits me straightaway and it hurts. In school there were trips to France, Paris, Italy, even Tanzania! So I thought straightaway no way can I sit on a coach for two days with no toilet, plus I wouldn't have used the coach toilet anyway, way too embarrassing!

So I explained this to my doctor because I really wanted to go on this skiing trip, but it was getting me down that much I ended up breaking down in tears! He gave me Buscopan which was rubbish, didn't help me one bit, and Lomotil which stopped me having to go to the toilet seconds after I swallowed food. So finally I plucked up the courage to go!

It was great fun! I had a few IBS attacks whilst there but my friends helped me when I was in pain. One IBS attack led to me having a panic attack and nearly falling down a flight of concrete stairs, but one of my very caring teachers caught me before I fell. He was so understanding because his wife has the same as me so he helped me feel better. From then on I just carried on going on school trips!

I've been to Italy skiing, to Austria skiing, both for a week, I've been to France on a summer camp adventure trip which was amazing, I had a ball. It wasn't too nice sitting in a canoe in the middle of a river needing the toilet as fast as I could though! But my most recent trip was on the Duke of Edinburgh scheme with school.

We had a ball even though the thought of having the worst IBS day and having to walk for 20 miles all uphill in the sun and then rain is not nice, but it was so fun I totally forgot about my IBS! I just had to watch what I was eating even though everything sets me off!

The aim of my story is don't let IBS put you off doing things you really like and want to try! I never thought I could ski, surf, windsurf, kayak, canoe, sail, tri-sail, and even spend a night in a tent!

E-mail Sophie: [email protected]

The tale of...X (May 2010)

I am 14 years old, and I am sorry to say that I have IBS. My parents don't really understand what's so bad...but they try really hard. I've had it since I was 12 and it sucks because I'm very pretty, I'm a singer and I'm a songwriter and guitar player. I wanted to die, but then my mom did some research and found this thing called hypnotherapy. I'm doing so much better...but of course it's not eliminated. I plan to try a lot of the formulas people put on this site.

I also have OCD...which kind of makes it worse. I never get them when I'm doing something I love and it keeps my mind off it. I used to stay home from school; now I go even if I feel bad because it goes away. Hypnotherapy truly helps. My outbreaks are only like 20 minutes now, when I do get them, but I hardly ever have outbreaks anymore. Instead, I have little stomach aches every day, ha ha, but it's better.

I refuse to let this stupid thing control my life and these doctors need to get their act together and find a cure. But at least it's not the worst thing, we could be dead, or have leukemia, or cancer or something. This thing actually makes us stronger if you think about it, we'll always be thin ha ha and we have a higher pain tolerance then everyone else. I refuse to let this take over me and just because I'm 14 doesn't mean I shouldn't be listened to. I hope all of you try as hard as you can and never lose hope.

The tale of...Lauren (June 2010)

I am 19, and my IBS has been developing for about five years now. It's gotten worse and worse every year, but I recently had a revelation that's greatly improved my condition. I had tried so many different forms of pills, powders and herbal remedies, as well as cut out every food that was irritating me (or so I thought), but I still wasn't getting better. I had acid reflux, bloating, alternating constipation and diarrhea, constant belching...you get the drift.

As all of the medicines I tried failed to help, I realized that there must be something wrong with my diet. Then I discovered the paleo/primal diet. It explained why grains, dairy, legumes and all processed foods are bad for you and destroy your digestive system.

I decided to give it a shot, and instantly felt better. Mind you, there are tons of things included in this diet that I still can't eat (like red meat, nuts, eggs, any seasonings, certain fruits/vegetables...) but everyone is different. Now, my diet consists of just turkey, chicken, fruit (blueberries, grapes, apples, pears, cherries), vegetables (mushrooms, asparagus, carrots, artichokes), some oils, and dark chocolate. While this is really restrictive, it is the only thing that has helped me feel better, although I still take my probiotics and Prilosec. You should read up about the paleo (or primal - which includes dairy) diet. It might change your life!

The tale of...Agatha (April 2011)

I'm 16 now, and I was 14 when I was told I had IBS. It all started when I had diarrhea at school and I had to go home. During the following days I got nervous on the way to school in fear that I would have diarrhea again. Since that day I often went to the bathroom of a gasoline station every morning to move my bowels. It really affected me.

I started doing intensive research about my symptoms and I asked the doctor about it. I was diagnosed with IBS. I read stories about people who had had IBS for many years and I could not accept the fact that I had to live my life with diarrhea. I suffered more than a year with IBS. I started buying probiotic drinks and my symptoms improved significantly. I am now slowly recovering with very few symptoms and I couldn't be any happier!

The tale of...Angela's daughter (30 April 2012)

My 17 year-old daughter had been suffering from all the classic symptoms of Crohn's disease for over two years. She tested positive for an autoimmune disorder with every blood test taken. After falling very ill, an upper GI was done where the doctor was certain she had Crohn's based on the images, so they suggested an endoscopy and colonoscopy to get a better diagnosis. Surprising as it was, the results came back fine, but they did diagose her with very inflamed lymph nodes (referred to as lymphoid hyperplasia).

Still with no concrete diagnosis, and still watching her suffer with chronic diarrhea, vomiting, stomach cramps, fatigue, depressions and even hair loss, I decided to take matters into my own hands and take her to a holistic doctor. The doctor said she could tell by just looking at her that she was suffering from food allergies which were contributing to severe IBS and making her extremely malnourished.

She simply put her on a gluten-free, dairy-free (eggs OK, no cow's milk) and refined sugar-free diet, along with some supplements to help the healing process of the gut and restore the nutrients that were depleted from her frail body (a probiotic, aloe vera gel caps, rhodiola, B-100 complex, vitamin C, vitamin D3 and Super Omega EPA, all NOW Supplement Products).

Yes, I know it sounds like a lot, but for the first time in two years of feeling miserable my daughter started to feel immediate relief. Her color was coming back, her hair was starting to fill in, her dark circles were gone, her academics improved, and last but not least...no running to the restroom or stomach cramping. She put on 2lbs in the first week of eating gluten-free/raw foods and what a normal person would consider a low-calorie diet (the whole family has lost weight adopting her foods while she continues to gain weight!).

Some of her favorite and tastiest foods are (organic as much as possible bought from Wegmens or Whole Foods store):

  • soy milk, soy butter, almond milk
  • Ezekiel bread (the other gluten-free breads tasted horrible)
  • Heinz ketchup is gluten free, but not Hunts
  • Vanilla Bean coconut ice cream is delicious
  • Almond Bites (coconut ice cream bites covered in chocolate)
  • spaghetti with gluten-free pasta (Bionaturae noodles made with potato, rice, soy)
  • gluten-free pasta mixed with tuna and miracle whip, salt and pepper
  • scrambed eggs (cage-free) made with soy butter and soy milk (the whole family loves it!)
  • Oreida hash browns, French fries, mashed potatoes (they are all gluten-free)
  • any cooked raw vegetable (stay away from onions, they cause gas)
  • fresh organic fruits
  • organic chicken breast made in many different ways
  • chicken stir fry (using Wegmens stir fry sauce found in the Asian isle; unlike soy sauce this is gluten-free, lactose-free, etc)
  • Honey Nut Chex cereal and Cinnamon Chex cereal
  • Coco Pebbles and Fruity Pebbles (no gluten but high in sugar)
  • oatmeal
  • Glutino vanilla cookies and wafers are a real treat
  • trail mix from Whole Foods store (no milk chocolate)
  • Cliff Bars, Cliff Bar Fruit Ropes
  • kale chips, any dried fruit chips
  • rice cheese
  • olive oil is a must! Coconut oil for baking and making smoothies
  • yogurt and fruit.

Hope this helps you as much as it did her! Good luck on a healthier you!

E-mail Angela: [email protected]