People tend to have questions about IBS, so here are some answers:
What is IBS?
IBS is Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Basically, my digestive system is normal to look at, and my tests tend to come back normal. My stomach just doesn’t know how to function properly. There are some foods it doesn’t know how to digest. So, it sends it back.
What happens if you eat something you shouldn’t?
I get a migraine for three days and vomit for 24 hours. Sometimes, I get flares even if I steer clear of trigger foods. It might be my estrogen levels, too much sugar might irritate the lining of my stomach, I might be tired, sometimes I don’t even know why.
What can you not eat?
Basically, I can only eat meats, leafy greens, fruits and some sweets. (I have to avoid breads, rices, potatoes, beans, broccoli, and grains) I have to watch how much sugar I take in since too much sugar will irritate my stomach. Also, I have decided to become Vegetarian, recently. Because eating wasn’t already a challenge. 😉
I thought IBS was just bloating.
It varies, depending on the person. Some people get bloated if they eat trigger foods and experience cramping, maybe sweating. Others have diarrhea or constipation. Sometimes this happens to me. A lot of people also have GERD or Gastroenteritis. I have both, in addition to my IBS.
You look fine.
Sure, my test results look normal, and I look normal. But, you don’t see the nausea, headaches or the pain. There is also fatigue. Sometimes I might have severe heartburn or acid reflux. Someone might look fine, because they are good at hiding the pain. And you can’t see a wound, so you think everything is ok. I can’t tell you how many times I have been weak while recovering from a flare and gotten all kinds of stares because I might walk funny or use an electric cart.
How can I be supportive?
It’s different for everyone. Some people just want someone to talk to. I hate the feeling that I am alone, that I am the only one suffering like this. And while I might be used to my dietary limitations, every now and then I get frustrated. I get upset that I am always sick and probably will be for the rest of my life. It’s nice to have someone who cares about how I feel and that I don’t feel alone. Also, don’t diminish their pain. People tend to think that IBS isn’t real or that the pain can’t be that much. But, I can tell you that it’s enough to make me wish I was dead some days.
Have you tried ______?
Yes, I have tried all kinds of acupuncture, meditation, exercise, milks, probiotics, prescription medicines and home remedies. While it is nice that people want to help, it infuriates some IBS sufferers to hear someone tell them that something will cure them. As if all they needed was a fermented food to cure all their ales. And in some cases, some of these things can make it worse. I know that I have gotten sick from exercising. Because of my dietary limitations, my body only makes enough energy to sustain. Too much exertion will literally make me sick. Most of us have tried everything we can. There is no cure.
Is that like Crohn’s?
It’s not too far off. Crohn’s is an IBD, which is an Irritable Bowel Disease, like Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s. These are a little easier to find in testing. Also, the consequences and triggers are usually different. Mine is a problem of function, my stomach doesn’t know how to function properly. An IBD is something a little more physical in the problem.
Why do you say “My IBS”?
People who suffer from IBS have different trigger foods, different symptoms…it’s pretty much a different experience from one person to the next. Some people get bloating and cramps. I get migraines and vomit profusely.
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