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sad tales: women with ibs-c page four

The tale of...Gerry (March 2005)

I am a 63 year-old woman with two problems which are getting worse and more confusing/exasperating to deal with.

First problem: I had colon cancer in 1994 (large bowel). From the surgery and subsequent adhesions I have had small bowel obstructions every two years, five in all. The last one hospitalized me for five weeks, the last just last month subsided in eight hours of hellish pain and one vomit. Since then I've had a very slow return to health and the IBS is worse...

Second problem: my IBS is horrible constipation. The stools get harder and harder and so does the straining until even missing a day affects my mood (irritable and then adrenalin rushes). After taking more and more Prodium Plus (fiber and laxative combo) plus milk of magnesia the dam bursts and I have bad cramps for two days, then a migraine for two to three days (which I can't take any painkillers for because of the small bowel problem), then fatigue and depression from all the above.

My gastroenterologist put me on modulon/trimebutine for the past eight years at $200 every second month. I saw two GPs in the last two weeks (I've moved and don't have a regular doctor out here), both of whom say this medication does zero for constipation - one suggested domperidone and the other Dicetel. Who do I believe? If anyone has had experience with this situation I'd be grateful to hear.

E-mail Gerry: [email protected]

The tale of...Julie (March 2005)

I have been dealing with IBS for a year and a half now. After spending Christmas with my fiance's parents and eating one of his mother's home cooked meals, I became violently sick. The next day we had to stop at at least four rest stops due to me having severe diarrhea. This lasted a few days, along with a fever and the chills. I noticed that (I know this sounds gross!) when I did go it was covered in this weird substance - which later I found out is mucus that is produced by your colon that helps along the digestive process.

My IBS symptoms had disappeared for five months and now they are back with constipation, shortness of breath and fatigue. Nothing has helped my constipation and the dicyclomine I take when I feel a bout only makes it worse. I am going to start on Zelnorm tomorrow when I pick up the prescription. I make myself crazy thinking that it's something more serious - just because there is no rhyme or reason to this! And fiber is not the solution for me either.

E-mail Julie: [email protected]

The tale of...Sam (March 2005)

I have suffered with IBS for 10 years. I mainly suffer with flatulence and feel I have no control over it, especially in my work place. My office at work is very small and the atmosphere gets very warm, which in turn makes me get all flustered because I don't feel I'm getting any fresh air. Some of my colleagues don't like the window being opened because they get too cold.

I have eliminated certain foods that aggravate my tummy, but I still find that I just cannot control the wind. I know that people at work are making comments, because they make comments in the office to try and embarrass me. I feel that I need to find a cure as I don't like being labeled as being smelly.

E-mail Sam: [email protected]

The tale of...Melissa (17 March 2005)

Well, we'll start with some stats - I am a 35 year-old female. Work full time. Have no financial problems, marital problems, or career problems.

August 30, 2003 - my wedding day. The night before my wedding day I did the whole rehearsal dinner thing, went home with my best friend, didn't drink. Went to bed, woke up at 2:00 in the morning with this urge to poop. I did but very little...very little...

The next morning when I got up I was a mess. Stomach was in knots, thought I was going to throw up (nerves), oh and this unbelievable urge to pass a bowel movement - and nothing was happening. Got married, did the whole reception thing (still have this feeling like there is a stick up my behind) and that was my wedding day. Well the feeling never went away.

Decided to see my family doctor. He said go to a gastroenterologist, and so I went to the gastro and he scheduled a colonoscopy. Had the scope done, came back with nothing wrong. GI doctor put me on Zelnorm and gave me hyoscyamine for the cramps. The hyoscyamine was prescribed for 30-60 minutes before each meal, with the lowest dosage of .0125mg. It made me feel like I was in another world, and didn't make the pain go away.

The Zelnorm didn't do anything but give me some gas. Didn't reduce the pain of this feeling like I had to go to the bathroom all the time. Three months later I went back to my family doctor and told him I still didn't feel good - I had these 'cramps' all the time. Going poop would make them go away but only for about 1/2 an hour, then they would slowly creep back.

I had this crampy feeling all the time, and this crampy feeling gave me the sensation that my rectum was full and I needed to pass a stool, but usually didn't. So my family doctor scheduled some tests - blood work, ultrasound (abdominal/pelvic and intra-vaginal), cat scan, x-ray, small bowel series. Went and had all these tests done - negative, nothing wrong inside.

Doctors said try a high fiber diet and start using Metamucil. So I started using Metamucil, went to a dietician and learned all about fatty foods and what to eat. Now I'll fast forward to the last three months. I never experienced pain that would land me in the ER when I had my period. Well December, January, and February I ended up in the ER getting pumped with morphine and fluids to rehydrate me because the pains were so bad for three days that I wasn't eating or drinking much.

My GI doctor put me on a low dose off Zoloft (anti-depressant) because they say that SSRIs raise the pain threshold...Well I was on 50mg and I don't think it has done anything. Over the last four months I have gotten somewhat depressed inside because I always have cramps. I always feel like I have to have a bowel movement, always! I feel like such a burden to my husband because he doesn't know what to do for me...Is anyone else feeling this way...

E-mail Melissa: [email protected]

The tale of...Catherine (26 April 2005)

My IBS began about two years ago. At first the agonizingly painful attacks were only when I had my period. At these times I would find myself lying on the bathroom floor, or literally crawling to the bedroom. There are no words invented to describe the agony of the attacks. It feels like my body is trying to give birth to a huge child and that my muscles keep contracting violently without a release. Along with the pain comes sweating, vomiting, shaking and the feeling that I am about to pass out.

Shortly after starting a new job earlier this year, I was sitting on the bus in a long traffic queue and the same pain started coming on. This now happens quite regularly, regardless of the time of the month. When I have a really bad attack nothing else seems to matter and my only concern is to get away somewhere private. I've found myself lying on the floors of public toilets and disappearing for long periods from my desk at work.

Once the spasm is over, I find my whole abdomen is so sore that I can hardly walk for up to three days. It feels like the muscles are stretched and bruised.

When I first experienced IBS I was convinced that the sheer level of pain meant there was something seriously wrong with me. As my dad died of colon cancer at a young age, after experiencing similar agony, I was particularly concerned about this. I have now had every test going and apparently IBS is the diagnosis.

Apart from the agonizing episodes, I also get milder cramping on a daily basis, bloating and severe constipation. Laxatives also cause me real pain and irritation so there is no easy escape from the constipation. I really feel for everyone who has experienced these symptoms. The level of pain and stress they cause sometimes seems impossible to get across to people who have not experienced IBS.

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