ANONYMOUS’S PERSONAL STORY

I’m 40 and was diagnosed with IBS in my mid-20s, after several years of suffering. Anyone who’s reading this & is losing hope or feeling frustrated & alone — I’m here to say that managing & treating IBS is possible!

 In my 20s, life was terrible; my stomach constantly hurt no matter what I ate & how many OTC drugs I took. I tried everything – Pepto Bismol, Imodium, Tums, Rolaids, Prilosec, Zantac, etc. They were all temporary Band-Aids. I had flare-ups that would last for days or weeks, and during that time I would get severe diarrhea, gas pain, & bloating; other times I’d be constipated & have hard, painful BMs & rectal tearing. Several times at social functions I almost didn’t make it to the restroom in time. The unpredictability was like a rollercoaster – I’d think I was getting better and then plummet into days of bathroom/gut misery. IBS disrupted my daily life, my sleep, & caused a ton of stress (and, I later learned, my stress was causing my IBS!). I was constantly sweating and would dread socializing or traveling. I mentioned it to my doctor during my annual checkup, but they dismissed it as simply stress and food sensitivity & suggested I keep a food journal. I wanted to laugh at the suggestion! “Dear Diary, today everything I ate upset my stomach, just like every other day.”

 After spending several hours in the ER one night for unbearable gas pain, dehydration, & cramping, I went to the doctor again, a different one. She diagnosed me with IBS & thankfully recognized that my stomach was over-producing acid; I was prescribed Pantoprazole, an anti-ulcer med. The Pantoprazole started helping almost immediately! Eventually I started to identify my triggers and get a handle on my symptoms. Keeping a food journal did help, but it would have been pointless prior to being medicated. Once I got the acid under control I was able to note several trigger foods – tomatoes/tomato sauce, cola, coffee, sugar, grease, artificial sweeteners, excess caffeine, & certain raw fruits & vegetables.

After years of trail & error, I’ve become more successful at managing my IBS. 100% the hardest but most important thing is CONSISTANCY!!!  You cannot only manage your IBS when you have a flare-up; you must be diligent 24/7. The things that have helped me the most are: taking my med every day & not falling behind when I need a refill; a diet high in fiber from fruits & vegetables, eating several small meals a day, & avoiding my trigger foods; drinking a lot of water (64oz +/day); regular exercise (30 mins 5X/week); sufficient sleep (I need 8 hours); and managing stress. Now I only have flare-ups a few times a year. When my stomach/bowels start to act up, I stop & take note of how I’m taking care of myself – if I’ve been eating crap, skipping my workouts,  stressed at work, etc., I know I need to get back on track before a flare-up happens.

If IBS is ruining your life, please don’t give up. Keep going to the doctor until you find one who listens to you. Find a medication that helps. Control what you can control – diet, sleep, exercise, etc. And share your condition with the people closest to you, so they understand & can offer support.

Share this page
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on print
Want to share your story?

Share your experience of living with a digestive disorder – it can be therapeutic for you as well as others who suffer.

Skip to content