If you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) you are NOT alone. To do our part in helping spread further awareness about IBS during April’s IBS Awareness Month, we are sharing different stories of various individuals who have IBS.
What symptoms do you experience with IBS?
I have something called post-surgical IBS that I developed after many surgeries to bring my Crohn’s Disease under control. Symptoms include: bloating, nausea, abdominal cramping, chronic constipation (but if I take laxatives, then intense diarrhea).
What has been the hardest challenge with IBS?
Dealing with such intense constipation and obstructions from IBS and avoiding the hospital unless I absolutely need to go. Who would have thought after years of diarrhea with Crohn’s, I’d end up taking the reverse route?!? My greatest struggle is striking a balance and sticking to a low-grain, high fibre/high protein diet as a vegetarian. I’m literally ALWAYS hungry without a colon and without grains.
What has having IBS taught you?
That my gut has a mind of its own. I can’t control everything surrounding my gut and all of its issues. All I can do is try my best and have faith in myself to manage through all the ups and downs.
How do you manage having IBS on a daily basis?
I take Miralax and other supplements to help prevent obstructions. I do also actively manage my diet (low grain, high fibre/high protein/high omega-3 fatty acids). I have found that acupuncture helps as do meditation and light exercise.
What’s your one “pro-tip” for living with IBS?
Work with your GI and a registered dietitian who specializes in digestive disorders to come up with a multidisciplinary approach to managing your IBS (medication, diet, exercises, etc.). Also, consult with a psychotherapist to see if there are ways to help manage the psychosocial aspects of IBS. It isn’t easy but it can be managed if we take the time and energy out to keep tabs on our IBS.
What do you wish people knew more about with regards to IBS?
That it too may wreak havoc on lives both physically and emotionally. IBS feels like a loss of control, not just over one’s bowels but over one’s life. IBS may not be Crohn’s or colitis and it may not cause life-threatening complications in the same way but it can still result in many life-altering complexities, including SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) from chronic constipation. And IBS can be very messy to deal with and manage on a daily basis.