IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) is a condition that so many of us suffer and struggle with every day of our lives. It’s a condition that affects the digestive system of so many people, but yet there is such a stigma attached to it.
The exact cause of IBS is unknown, but there has been links to things like oversensitive nerves in the gut, food passing quickly or slowly through the gut, even a family history of IBS.
In my case, my chronic illness strikes again. In the early days, after being diagnosed with all my back problems, surgeries etc, I was taking ibuprofen daily. 4 tablets a day, for 5 years. While they didn’t do much to help my pain, they did leave me with a lasting additional illness. IBS.
It took me a while to realise just what was going on and that there was actually a problem. So when I discussed it with my GP, I was confirmed as having IBS.
The symptoms are things like painful stomach cramps, bad bloating, diarrhoea and sometimes constipation, and these were getting too bad to ignore. But these symptoms aren’t regular, they aren’t always present. With my IBS, I can go for a couple days without any issues, almost as if there is no IBS, and then, almost like the flick of a switch, sometimes for days, I can literally live in the bathroom.
IBS is such a frustrating condition, and one I’d be glad to live without, but I don’t have that choice any more. It’s had a massive impact on my life, in so many ways, just as my chronic pain has done, but it’s also another condition I’m learning about and trying to manage. I’m not going to sugar coat it, IBS is far from easy to live with, but there are ways of adapting and managing your symptoms. You just have to find what works for you.
That may be medication or even a change in your diet.
I asked my GP for a referral to the local dietician, and we talked through all the symptoms I have right down to how my poo looked (and no I won’t apologise for telling you this!). We talked about the foods I eat, and my diet is good. I was advised to change a couple of things, nothing major, but to drink more water, and another was to cut down on my tea (caffeine) intake, which for a tea-aholic like me is devastating! But I’m drinking lots of herbal teas to make up for it.
I am also now following a Low FODMAP diet advised and supported by the dietician, and eventually the “banned” foods will be reintroduced back in to my diet to figure what does and doesn’t work for me.
Its a learning process, and finding foods that don’t irritate is a long and sometimes painful process, but to have less pain from the symptoms of IBS is my main goal. I long to eat eggs and even mayonnaise again, but for now they are out, but I cling on to the hope that some day I may be able to have them again.
Its all about experimenting, learning and adapting. Sure there will bumps in the road, but keep going. Nothing in life is easy, and IBS certainly isn’t, but don’t hide away in embarrassment, shame or fear, there is nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to IBS. It’s a condition all on its own, just like any other condition and one that should be talked about.
Look after your body, it’s the only one your gonna get.
April is IBS Awareness Month. Take the step, speak out and support others going through the same thing.
Some handy links: