Sunday, February 12, 2012

My Story

My name is Heather, and I have been a long-time sufferer of IBS. And I'm 21 years old.

When I was about 10, I started having major anxiety attacks. These manifested into stomach pain and later abdominal pain, but since I was young, I didn't think that maybe this constant nerve firing and stress in my guts would have major consequences. In high school, I started having infrequent bouts of IBS-D, usually due to stress from important events. But my main problem was IBS-C. In order to relieve the incessant backup, my doctor told me to take this home remedy called Black Magic. It was horrendous tasting, but a scoop every night made me more regular.

Things went from slightly annoying to pretty bad starting in my second year of college. I noticed that some things I ate (mainly lettuce and garlic) wrecked havoc on my stomach and intestines. Severe stress also made my IBS-D come back. I needed to carry Immodium with me at all times. Also I felt like most things that I ate ended up making me sick, so I started eating the blandest meals. And even that didn't help. If bananas, bagels, tortilla chips, and peanut butter couldn't make me feel good, then what could?

About a year ago I went on an antidepressant to manage my stress, and my IBS-D completely disappeared. It's amazing how the mind and the intestines are connected like that. Life was grand because I didn't need to pack Imodium in my bag every day, nor was I constantly leaving class to go to the bathroom. However, that was the only thing that got better. I could not gain weight, I had constant abdominal pain and bloating, I burped profusely after eating anything, and drinking alcohol caused me to have terrible cramps and awful bathroom visits the following morning.

It's difficult to enjoy college life when you constantly tell your friends, "Oh I can't eat that. I can't drink that. What's in that?" And then they make fun of you for not being able to eat anything. I wish I could go to Chipotle and get a nice, fatty burrito and follow it with some Corona's and mixed drinks, but I can't. I've eaten enough things and felt like crap afterward, which is not normal. I've also had terrible experiences with small quantities of alcohol. For us IBSers, eating and drinking isn't usually a pleasant experience.

However, in an effort to stop feeling miserable, I've switched to the FODMAPs diet. Surprisingly, things have gotten better. It's not one of those Joe-Schmo diets that you can find on someone's website that advertises that it WILL cure ALL of your problems. If you look on google scholar, a few papers come up showing that the FODMAPs diet has had a positive impact on many IBSers' symptoms.

It's easy to get caught up in the pain and the symptoms and the fact that most doctors don't know what to do except prescribe you Levsin (an abdominal pain pill) and an antidepressant. This is a frustrating condition to live with. However, I hope my experiences, and the things that I have found that work, can help others find answers to their own IBS problems. It sucks that there's no clear solution, but through a lot of trial and error, things can get better. Here's to happier intestines.

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