Still Going Strong
Hi everyone, today I’m not here to teach you about an IBS diet or about some cool product.
I’m here to share my journey with you.
I’ve had Irritable Bowel Syndrome for nine LONG years.
While this really isn’t something to ‘celebrate’, in a way I am.
I’m celebrating my strength, how far I’ve come and what I’ve learned about myself in the last nine years.
This has been a huge lesson for me and a chance to grow, to grow into who I am today.
Trust me, I’m not celebrating the fact that I have an incurable disorder that negatively affects my body on the daily (although I try to see the positives).
Nobody wants the dreaded IBS diagnosis.
I’m also here to show people who have been recently diagnosed with IBS what to expect and how to move forward.
Giving up has never been an option.
I hope this will be helpful to you.
Nine years ago, I would wake up to a day that would change me forever, in ways I could’ve never imagined.
Where It All Began
My journey began on a typical weekday morning.
I was a 16 year old girl embracing her senior year of high school with many hopes and dreams.
The alarm went off at six in the morning and I woke up and felt stomach pains immediately.
Yes, this basically hit me overnight, no previous problems.
I stayed home from school that day, but brushed it off as no big deal, thinking I’d be back to”normal” in a couple of days.
HAH! I’m laughing at the 16 year old version of myself for being so naive.
There would never be a normal again.
In many ways, that is the point where I feel like my childhood ended and adulthood began.
From then forward, I would face so many challenges in my life.
Seasons of Change
Like the seasons in a year, my journey has had many seasons, many chapters and nothing but changes.
My original problems aligned with my IBS diagnosis.
The lack of appetite, change in bowel habits, cramping, it all made sense at that time.
But my digestive health has greatly changed over time.
We change in many ways over the years between our health, personalities and even appearances.
So this is really no surprise, but it wasn’t something I expected either.
At this point, I’ll be honest, IBS is the least of my worries.
I feel like I’ve got my IBS on lock down.
My IBS has been under control for at least the last three years and I’m grateful for that.
The journey getting there was rough and full of days stuck in bed or in the worst pain I’ve ever had.
Though my IBS is in good shape, one thing always leads to another.
The problems continue…
A Second Diagnosis
Back in 2012, I underwent an endoscopy to rule out Celiac Disease.
I don’t have it and I feel very fortunate.
But that procedure uncovered something else.
That day, I was diagnosed with GERD on top of my original IBS diagnosis in late 2008, early 2009.
At the time this meant nothing to me, I didn’t have the symptoms and I went about my life as I would’ve before.
A year or two later I began experiencing the typical GERD symptoms.
I took the quick fix route of prescriptions which only made the problems worse for me.
I had no idea that these medications would do what they did.
I truly stand behind the fact that these medications changed my digestive health for the worse.
Weaning off a Proton Pump Inhibitor (medication for GERD/acid reflux) is a total nightmare that they fail to tell you about.
After qutting all medications for GERD, acid reflux, etc. I felt even worse off.
I’m suddenly bloated all of the time, burp non-stop (I’m trying to be a lady here) and both of these things make me feel horrible 24/7.
After having BOTH of these illnesses for several years, I’ve questioned if these are really part of a much bigger illness that I have.
I’m on a quest for all of those answers.
Time will tell.
Nine Years Later
Nine years later and I’m not at all worried about my IBS.
But I would’ve never imagined I’d be battling other GI problems.
I’ve done an extensive amount of research on IBS, GERD and many similar illnesses.
Yet, I still have no idea what’s going on.
The bloating and burping remains a mystery.
I easily go up two to three pants sizes after eating, no matter what I eat.
You can’t tell me that’s normal.
I have that feeling of being overstuffed on Thanksgiving, but that sickly feeling doesn’t go away.
Having a chronic illness can bring out so much more in a person (this is usually not a good thing to be honest).
For me, I developed chronic anxiety over the years and it’s just another illness for me to battle daily.
Prior to IBS or any of this, I didn’t have anxiety, I didn’t have worries and I rarely felt stressed or sick.
That was practically a lifetime ago in my mind.
I’ve learned that most chronic illnesses end up causing another chronic illness in a person.
That chronic illness could be another physical illness OR it could be something like anxiety or depression.
It’ll sneak up on you too. Out of nowhere they come.
No matter what, despite the harsh realities I’ve told you about, I always choose to move forward.
For the first time in over five years I’m visiting a GI specialist.
I’ve always been terrified of any GI specialist, I didn’t like the previous two I had.
I’ve gotten used to not having my questions answered and having medicines pushed at me.
I got tired of dealing with that and just stopped going all together, I had my primary doctor refill my medications and I ignored my other problems.
A lot of these doctors and specialists just want you in and out, to them you’re just another part of the paycheck.
It’s much more difficult to find a doctor who is willing to hear you out and work at your pace (but don’t give up!).
I’m hopeful that my new doctor will be a bit more personable.
I’ll find out in less than two weeks!!
Wish me luck!
Pieces Of Advice
If you experience any new digestive symptoms, visit your doctor, don’t try to fix it on your own (this can come back to bite you…I’m living proof!).
Whenever I have an IBS flare, I use this. It takes care of the extremely painful cramps right away.
Diet changes will be significantly helpful in lowering IBS symptoms aka your new bff.
Lastly, take it ONE day at a time. Please PLEASE don’t overwhelm yourself, stress and anxiety will make your IBS a lot worse.