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My IBS Story: Getting It, Dealing With It, Getting Rid of It

Updated on March 3, 2016

My very quick disclaimer

I'd just like to start with saying that this is simply a description of my personal experience with IBS. I'm not suggesting that you do anything that I've done or that your experiences will be similar to mine. I hope to just share what I've gone through, and some of the things that I've done that have helped me.

Hopefully, those who read this who also are dealing with IBS or a similar digestive issue can get something out of this hub... even if its as simple as knowing someone else out there is dealing with the same thing as they are.

I also hope to start a dialogue whereby others share and comment on their own personal experiences. I'd like to learn what has worked for others out there...

I've heard that IBS cannot be cured... but I refuse to believe it. Before IBS hit, I had 25 years of pain free eating and I know I can achieve that once again. This is the story of my "cure IBS" journey.

P.S. I try not to be too graphic when talking about IBS symptoms but IBS in general is not a "pretty" thing... if you have a weak stomach (pun intended)... caution when reading ahead.

CAUTION: Description of IBS Symptoms May Induce Queasiness

The beginning of my IBS troubles

How It All Started- Sudden Onset IBS

This part actually boggles my mind. As a child and through to early adulthood, I had the strongest stomach in the world. I mean, I could eat anything and never feel any pain. Now, I've cut out almost everything that could potentially cause a reaction and still I deal with daily bloating, queasiness, and constipation. This is the part of the story where I believe everything began.

I took a volunteer trip to Guatemala. I didn't drink the water and I didn't eat anything from the street vendors. That's what I was supposed to do, right? And for the most part, I think that strategy worked. I had a great time and didn't get sick. Until the last day, that is.

In line for the ticket counter at the airport, I had this sudden intensely overwhelming urge to use the bathroom. I mean, a stronger urge than I'd ever felt. It was so intense, that I took off running in search of the restroom, leaving all of my bags unattended. That's right, I had to go so badly, I left all of my stuff sitting by itself in the middle of the airport, in Guatemala!

So without going into too much detail about what happened in that bathroom, I can say that it wasn't pretty or comfortable.

You might think that I'd say that after that day everything has gone downhill. But I don't quite remember it that way. I went to my doctor when I got home, and explained what happened, frantically as a matter of fact because I was so afraid that I'd gotten worms, LOL. The doctor took a stool sample, said everything was normal and sent me on my way.

Can you pinpoint the thing that caused your IBS?

Was your IBS of the "sudden onset" variety?

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I mean, what did I do wrong?!??! Maybe I ingested some water at some point, or there was some super strong airborne bug that I breathed in and some how got to my intestines and now it won't go away!!!

I can't be sure. But I think this event may have been the thing that started it all. The end of my Guatemalan adventure was just the beginning of my IBS nightmare.

Don't Eat The Street Meat!!!

The Aftermath & IBS Diagnosis

It could just be coincidence but after my Guatemalan trip, things just haven't been the same. I continue to deal with constipation, or at least the feeling of constipation on a weekly basis. I'm now of the opinion that what I feel isn't actually constipation but gas.

In the weeks following the trip, I was dealing with real constipation though. I would go days without passing any stools. As someone who was used to going to the bathroom after every single meal, this was quite alarming.

I also had the feeling of the urge to go but I just couldn't get anything out. I had pain of the left side of my stomach, and pelvis. Some times it was a burning sensation, sometimes it was dull and achey, other times it was sharp.

I would go to the doctors many times only to be assured that "nothing was wrong". I've even had a colonoscopy; before the age of 25 at that!!! Eventually, I had a doctor diagnose me with IBS. He said it used to be called a "spastic colon" and it was just something that I would have to learn to deal with. I was told to take fiber and then sent on my way.

What Now?

I can't explain the amount of sadness that I felt hearing that I would just have to "deal with it". I didn't (and don't) want to deal with it. I want to get rid of it... I was this thing, IBS, gone. For good.

So what did I do? What any other person who wants answers does... I asked the all knowing Google, "What now"?

What I found was amazing. There were tons and tons of other people dealing with the same sort of digestive issues as I was. No story was exactly the same but they were similar enough... and oddly enough, I was comforted by this. Of course I'm not happy that others are going through similar issue, just happy to know that it wasn't just me and maybe that meant someone out there had the answer.

And that's what I started to do next. Look for the answer.

Things I've Tried, Am Trying, Or Would Like To Try

 
Pros
Cons
Final Review
Food grade diatomaceous earth
All natural
Constipating, Irritating, Difficult to get
It didn't help me. I'm not sure if I tried it long enough but I had to stop taking it because it was so de-hydrating.
Probiotics
Widely known, effective, easy to buy
Results very dependent on the quality of the probiotic
I continue to take them and they are helpful
Gluten-free diet
Easy to do, research shows eliminating gluten important for those with gluten sensitivity and allergies
Takes effort, gluten is everywhere, hard to prove you have a gluten allergy
I've cut out gluten and I feel better for doing it but I don't think this was my "whole" problem as I still have stomach issues
Parasite cleanse
All natural, Lots of people swear by it
Hard to say that this is what caused my stomach issues, don't know if you are doing something that will actually help, hard to find locally
I never passed anything that looked like worms, I got no improvement in symptoms after doing this
Juice fast
All natural, very healthy, Weight loss
Hunger, weight loss
I haven't tried this yet but am really thinking about doing this
Colon hydrotherapy / Colonic
Get rid of waste, Easy to find
Can be expensive, May not provide long term results
I felt great after my colonic but I still continue to deal with IBS. Certainly not a cure.
Oregano oil antibacterial protocol
All natural gut cleansing antibacterial/antifungal, inexpensive, easy to find
Not proven
I haven't tried it yet
Proper food combining
Many people swear by it, free, all natural
Not proven, requires a new lifestyle
I haven't tried it yet
Squatty potty
All natural, easy to use, inexpensive, makes bowel movements easier
May improve bowel movements but can't cure the cause of my IBS
I haven't tried it yet
Phazyme
Easy to find
Not a real cure, limited in how many you can take safely
This is the best anti-gas medicine I've tried. When I need relief fast, I take 2 of these.
Activated Charcoal
All natural, Easy to find, Inexpensive
Dehydrating, not a long term cure
It helps when I feel queasy but I like phazyme better for gas.
Gas-X
Easy to find, inexpensive
Didn't work as well as activated charcoal or phazyme
I no longer use it as I've found a better anti-gas medicine in phazyme.

Still No Cure for Me... Yet!!!

Here's What I'm Trying Next

It's been a couple of years and while my symptoms are better, I still deal with uncomfortable gas, occasional constipation, and queasiness. I have a new resolve to finally kick this IBS once and for all.

I've been doing a bit of research and thinking and I think I want to start the oregano oil protocol & taking grapefruit seed extract. Here's why:

There's been a lot of talk in the medical field lately about IBS being caused by a small intestine bacterial overgrowth. Many doctors are now starting IBS treatment with a strong prescription antibiotic and antifungal. I'd prefer to try to do the "natural" route before I go for a prescription.

Research shows that both oregano oil and grapefruit seed extract are strong antimicrobials.

Take a look at what these two doctors have to say below.

Diatomaceous earth for detoxing and cleansing

Dr. Mark Hyman talks about curing IBS

Dr. Weinstock on IBS

Please follow my IBS journey!

Thank you for taking the time to read. Please comment and let me know what has worked for you and let me know what your experience has been.

I'll also be writing more hubs on IBS and current research. Be sure to check those out!


Please share your thoughts.

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    • Donna Palmer profile image
      Author

      Donna Palmer 4 years ago

      Re: Pizza... so funny because I'm the same way. I actually live in Naples, Italy right now and it is VERY hard to turn down the amazing pizza here. Well, it's hard in general to stay away from grains but I try my best. Thanks for your comments and insight!

    • Wacky Mummy profile image

      Wacky Mummy 4 years ago from UK

      I'm more primal than paleo, I like my dairy, and it doesn't affect things much so I've kept it as I didn't have all that much dairy to begin with anyway. I do treat myself to gluten free treats sometimes, but there are lots of tasty paleo/primal recipes out there for cakes etc which are really tasty! The main thing for me has been Pizza, I love it and haven't found a good primal substitute (and there aren't many places that do nice gluten free versions either in the UK), so when I do have a craving for it, I usually share one and then put up with the consequences for the next few days... Not the best way to handle it admittedly, and I'm still experimenting to see if I can find a nice pizza recipe!

    • Donna Palmer profile image
      Author

      Donna Palmer 4 years ago

      @Wacky Mummy thanks for your comment! I agree that paleo/primal makes a difference. What about dairy for you? I go back and forth because I love milk... even whole milk; but I think I feel better without it.

    • Wacky Mummy profile image

      Wacky Mummy 4 years ago from UK

      Great hub - I found cutting out gluten completely and things such as pasta etc (even the GF type) has helped massively, I certainly notice the difference if I have a pizza or anything. I loosely follow a paleo/primal diet and it has helped my symptoms massively, I still get them but not as bad as they were x

    • Donna Palmer profile image
      Author

      Donna Palmer 4 years ago

      DJ,

      I'm so sorry to hear how much you are suffering from IBS. Interesting that diet has no effect either way for you. It seems to be making a difference for me to remove grains.

      Of course, because of your surgery, you're in a much different position than I.

      All I can say is that I hope that you find something that will help "bind" your stools better; something that doesn't give you gas. I'll do some research and comment again if I find anything that might help a little.

      Maybe someone will come along with some suggestions. That is my biggest hope for this hub.

      Thank you so much for sharing your story.

    • profile image

      DJ Anderson 4 years ago

      I had IBS long before there were words to abbreviate. Suffered from

      painful bloating and gas and had to deal with constipation as a young adult. I found a natural fiber and took it without fail. Still had queasy,

      sick feelings while eliminating. At times, felt I would pass out.

      Six years ago went in for a colonoscopy. They found cancer and removed the first third of my colon. That is the part that comes off the small intestine. My IBS has progressively gotten worse, but now I had unpredictable diarrhea. I had my follow-up colonoscopy and all was normal. This past winter I found a reputable Digestive Health physician to try to get to the root of my IBS. He started with the obvious to eliminate basic causes of IBS. Stool samples were sent off for testing and diagnostics. Everything came back healthy. Next, went through high powered antibiotics to rid my intestinal tract of any possible parasites,

      which were possibly missed by the extensive lab work up. Next were prescription strength Probiotics, Diagnostic x-rays and a slew of different medications to take to bind me.

      However, during the course of discussions with the doctor, he asked if anyone had told me that the first third of the colon re-absorbs fluid,

      and because I am missing that portion of my colon, the rush of fluids

      have nowhere to go except down the remaining colon and out.

      I can take three or four pills and feel marginally safe for a couple of hours. The problem is that when the medications wear off, I might

      spend the next few hours either on the toilet or very near the toilet.

      The medication to help bind me give me unbelievable gas. So, I don't

      just have regular diarrhea; I refer to it as ballistic diarrhea. And, when the solids are finished the stomach acids follow closely, which can set

      the neither regions on fire!

      I have found no relation to foods that might cause IBS. A sip of water on an empty stomach can set me off.

      My husband retired and we had hopes of traveling. I feel like I am chained to the toilet and missing out on what could be a fun time in

      my life.

    • Donna Palmer profile image
      Author

      Donna Palmer 4 years ago

      Thank you thank you! So many remedies but no definite cure... I'm experimenting with a grain free diet and I have to say that this month I've felt a lot better. I don't know if it will work long term but I hope so! Update coming soon.

    • wordscribe43 profile image

      Elsie Nelson 4 years ago from Pacific Northwest, USA

      Excellent hub... Whoda thunk there would be so many possible remedies. Anyway, this article was worth my vote in the Rising Star contest.

    • Angie Martin profile image

      Angie Martin 4 years ago from Frazier Park, California

      I suffer from IBS-A, so I can relate to both C and D. Unfortunately, there's no "the grass is greener" with any type of IBS! :( I never know how I'm going to feel on any given day, and at any time of the day it can sporadically change. It's been hard to pinpoint what sets me off. Once I think I've eliminated everything from my diet, I find something new.

      It would be nice to create a large discussion about it! It is one of those things that people that have it don't want to talk about, and those that don't have it, don't understand (nor do they want to!).

    • Donna Palmer profile image
      Author

      Donna Palmer 4 years ago

      Angie... sorry to hear that you are dealing with IBS as well. I suffer more from IBS-C which I'm not sure is better or worse than the opposite kind. On one hand, I know I won't have any "accidents" if I go out ... on the other, life can be very uncomfortable.

      Hopefully, we can create a large enough discussion around the topic to get some helpful suggestions for all of us.

    • Angie Martin profile image

      Angie Martin 4 years ago from Frazier Park, California

      Thank you so much for sharing on this delicate topic! It's always hard to explain to others why I need to stay home instead of going through with previous plans, or why my stomach is bloated to the point I look like I'm five months pregnant! It's a tough topic, and I'm glad you braved it for all of us! I will definitely try out some of these tips in the future!

    • Donna Palmer profile image
      Author

      Donna Palmer 4 years ago

      @wish-list-gifts Yes! Thanks for reminding me... I'll have to do a hub on it. I've heard of it and have thought about trying it... but as a last resort. I'd want my hubby to be my donor. I swear no matter what he eats, he goes regularly, and his stomach never aches. I'm dealing with a bit of an achy stomach and bloating as a type this. :-(

    • wish-list-gifts profile image

      Clara Myers 4 years ago from USA

      One thing you didn't have on your list is a fecal transplant. Don't know if you ever considered it, but from what I've read it seems to be the final answer for people with chronic intestinal problems. Thanks for sharing your story and loved the layout.