My Struggle with IBS

For as long as I can remember, I have had digestive issues. The symptoms have fluctuated and changed over the years, but it is good to finally get some answers and help with management. I’m sharing my struggle with you for you to learn about how complicated IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) is and to help if you think you may have it yourself.

After speaking with my mom and thinking about all of the doctor visits in the past, it seems I have had IBS my entire life. In letters and talking with her, I always had trouble relieving myself or would have tummy troubles. I remember getting diagnosed with a stomach ulcer in middle school, but it now makes me wonder if it wasn’t an ulcer, but just a symptom of undiagnosed IBS.

High school was when I started having trouble with digesting cheese and ice cream. I remember never being able to eat pizza without having to rush to the toilet fifteen minutes after eating. It got to be so bad that I didn’t consume any cheese products for a year. When I tried to go back to eating cheese, my stomach was fine. However, I was soon going back to having terrible gas and bloating with dairy.

When I studied abroad in London, I went a long time without any “episodes”. I thought this was because I was eating healthier, less processed food. After finishing study abroad and coming back to the United States, my body struggled with the return back. There was a time for over two weeks, were I could barely keep anything in my body. It seemed like my intestines were rejecting everything. I was getting fed up with constantly being sick that I decided to seek out answers.

For the longest time, we (my parents and I) thought it had to do with my gallbladder. My mom had gallbladder issues for years and eventually had to get hers removed. I just went with that assumption and tried to avoid greasy or spicy food. My pain was on my left side, which is not consistent with where your gallbladder is located in your body. When I went to the doctor and explained my symptoms, as well as received an ultrasound, x-ray, and blood work, they determined it was IBS.

When I came back over to the UK, it happened again where I could eat everything without issues. Eventually, when my body got used to living here, I started to have flareups again. This past Christmas, I was in extreme pain, the worst flareup I had in over a year. When I had another bad flareup that almost led me to the ER, I consulted with a physician here. She helped point me in the direction of OTC medicine specifically for IBS and recommended doing a low-FODMAP diet.

Since changing my diet and taking the medicine, I have noticed a change. I can feel my body change when I eat something that’s not the best for me. I’m not in as much pain as I used to be and it’s such a relief.

IBS is something that can’t be “cured” and I know there will most likely be another flareup in the future. I am just thankful after all of these years I know what is wrong and how to lessen the burden.

If you feel like you are struggling with your digestive issues, please speak with a doctor before trying new medication or diets.

Stay healthy!

xx Hannah

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