Learning To Live With IBS

Today I'm talking about something a bit different and its pretty personal. I'm hoping that maybe its something some of you can relate to. As April is IBS Awareness Month it’s inspired me to talk about my personal experience. After undergoing what seemed like endless tests, scans and procedures I've recently been diagnosed with IBS. A common invisible illness that effects those who suffer with it for life. I’m still learning to deal with it on a daily basis therefore I'll be sharing my experience so far.

It’s seen as a bit of a taboo subject really, especially with women. Yet it effects twice as many of us as it does men. I think it’s about time we started talking ladies!

With 1 in 5 of us suffering from the condition you’d think that we would be a little more open when talking about the condition. But unfortunately it’s not the case. Why are so many of us suffering in silence?

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What Is IBS?

In case you aren't already aware, IBS Stands for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. An invisible illness that has no specific cause or treatment.

IBS can cause a number of symptoms such as -

  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Bloating
  • Severe abdominal pains
  • Fatigue
  • Heartburn
  • Backache.

And for each and every person suffering from IBS the symptoms are different. Each one dealing with any number of the symptoms on a daily, if not hourly basis. If you've ever suffered from food poisoning or a stomach bug you'll have a slight idea of what some of these symptoms can feel like, if only on a short term basis compared to those of IBS sufferers.

My Story So Far

Back in November of 2017 I fell incredibly ill with what the doctors told me at the time was Gastroenteritis. I started to suffer from stabbing and stinging abdominal pains that are that severe when I get them, that I can't even sit up straight. Accompanied by constant nausea, having no energy, feeling tired all the time, needing the loo as soon as I eat anything and bloating that leaves me looking at least 6 months pregnant. Those being just some of the symptoms I suffer with on a daily basis.

As the weeks turned into months the doctors became worried that I had something more sinister. Which was absolutely terrifying, as you can imagine I started to fear the worst. I was referred to see a Gastroenterologist - A Gastro Specialist. I under went an endless amount of tests, procedures and scans over the next few months to test for illnesses such as; IBD (Inflammatory bowel disease) and Coeliac Disease just to name a few.

After all of the tests came back clear I was then diagnosed with IBS. All I can remember thinking surely they were wrong?! That something more sinister must be causing all my pain and problems. But that was as close to an explanation of what was wrong as I was going to get.

I was prescribed an antispasmodic to help with the pain. Referred to see a dietitian and then sent home. With not much more information than when I'd arrived.

Its not been long since I was diagnosed, so I haven't had the medication long enough to know if it actually makes a difference. As for the dietitian I can't comment on that yet - I'm still waiting for my first appointment (Ill post an update on how it goes soon)!

IBS is now something that effects every plan I make. From something as simple as going to the shop to making plans with friends. Where as before falling ill I was carefree and didn't have to think twice. Now I plan my outings around what I've ate, where I'm going to eat, how it will effect me and where the nearest loo will be. It has well and truly started to rule my life.

Learning To Live With IBS

So far learning to live with IBS has been one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. Especially as nothing I've tried yet has relived any of my symptoms. I have felt isolated and had to put my life on hold since falling ill. Leaving me feeling pretty stressed about everything and yet nothing at the same time. Stress can also be a trigger of IBS which doesn't help matters.

Although I have found that keeping an eye on what I eat and how it effects me by keeping a food diary, has helped me become slightly more aware of what may be triggering it. Hopefully this will be useful when I finally get to see a dietitian.

Planning everything has become something of a daily routine. To minimise symptoms while out of the house I make sure I plan outings in advance. Unlike other 26 year old woman, I can no longer go on spontaneous trips, not even to the supermarket.

I'm hoping that further down the line, when my symptoms are under more control, that I will not have to plan every hour of my life.

I may sound like I'm being a little dramatic but unless you've had the pleasure of trying to live with the illness you probably wont understand how hard it can be.

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Raising Awareness

Even though I've read no end of articles about IBS and another family member suffers, I still feel though I'm suffering alone. Although I know its not true, there's so many others out there with IBS. I still feel that nobody else really understands what I'm going through.

IBS is a serious illness, that people, including myself are affected by every single day. It can feel embarrassing, belittling and debilitating. Unfortunately not everyone seems to view it that way. Possibly because its a taboo subject, that its embarrassing or that people don't feel comfortable talking openly about it.

I appreciate that its a private issue for some and others may be thinking that it doesn't effect them, why should they care? But as its IBS Awareness Month I want to bring as much awareness to the subject as I can, so that it can be more understood by others. I don't wish for anyone else to feel like they are alone in their suffering.

If anyone who has similar symptoms, illness or experience wants to talk you are more than welcome to drop me an email, I will always get back to you!

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