My IBS Story

I’m Sarah and I was diagnosed with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) almost nine years ago.  I was 16 when I started experiencing symptoms and I’m now 25 years old.  I was diagnosed in 2008 and finding information on the subject at that time was very difficult. One of the most exciting years of my life (my senior year of high school), turned into a lot of pain, confusion, depression and added stress.  I went from a very healthy weight to becoming underweight (people told me I looked like a stick).  Constantly experiencing abdominal pain left me feeling depressed and stressed out.  I had no idea when things would get better and I just wanted to go back to “normal”.  Now I laugh, because I know there’s never going to be a “normal” again.

It took an arm and a leg to find a Gastroenterologist to see me since I was still what they considered a kid.  Once I found my G.I. doctor, they put me through tons of really frustrating medical testing (blood work, barium study, ultrasound, colonoscopy, endoscopy).  I hear they’ve come a long way with the flavors for the barium study, anything beats what I had to drink.  The doctors were able to rule out anything serious and diagnosed me with IBS.  They later diagnosed me with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) after I had my endoscopy done.  I also developed anxiety because of my conditions.  The G.I. doctors put me on Bentyl (an antispasmodic drug) that I’m still on today.  The medicine is helpful, but does not work 100 percent and there are a lot of side effects. Beyond the medicine and ruling diseases out, the specialists were no help and I had to take things into my own hands.

Between my mom and I, we have done a lot of research on IBS and we learned of so many different ways that I could try to treat my IBS symptoms.  It was all very overwhelming in the beginning.  Like, what do you do when suddenly everything you eat is causing pain, but it’s really only certain things, but you have no idea what those things are??  I went from being able to eat what I wanted, when I wanted and how much I wanted to suddenly having to change my entire diet (bye bye entire bag of chips in one sitting).  Let’s face it, I had the worst diet prior to IBS  (did that bring on the symptoms??).  It’s crazy to think about how one day I was fine and the next day I was doubled over in pain experiencing my first IBS symptoms.  Over the last eight years I’ve tried all different types of treatments.  I’ve tried many herbal teas, supplements, essential oils, stretches and exercises, a gluten free diet, cutting out other foods, trying other medications, often switching up my entire daily routine and so much more.  In fact, it’s pretty difficult to have a routine with IBS.  But I have a routine!  I plan out what and when I’m eating as much as possible.

Eight years later, my symptoms are under control (FINALLY!).  I still get IBS flare ups, but they’re very rare for me.  It wasn’t easy to get to this point and I know what it’s like to end up in the ER because the pain is so unbearable.  I also know how hard it is to adjust your whole lifestyle and feeling completely helpless.  But I’m here to blog about all of the best IBS treatments I’ve discovered in hopes that I can help or provide support to anyone with IBS or chronic abdominal cramping, bloating and pain.

My diet is much different than the one I had in 2008, my meals and snacks are much more balanced.  In some ways IBS has been a blessing in disguise (here come the puzzled looks!).  I really feel like it was a wake up call to take better care of myself.  I’m much more conscious about what I’m putting into my body, yes I realize IBS pills are bad too, but they help me live my life.

At the end of each day though, I’m incredibly blessed for my life and wouldn’t have it any other way.  Without Irritable Bowel Syndrome, I feel that I wouldn’t know much at all about health and fitness and would probably be in a bad state of health anyway.  I avoid coffee, sodas, fried foods…yeah a lot of BAD foods and drinks.  I can’t say that I’m perfect though and sometimes I eat things and sacrifice my comfort levels.  Doughnuts aren’t the most IBS-friendly food, but I’m human and like to enjoy them here and there.

I’m a real person with real IBS symptoms and have been through a lot.

I’m not a health care professional and you should consult your doctor before making any lifestyle changes. For more information refer to the disclaimer. If you’re looking for more information on what exactly Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is, read about it Here.