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IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) OR My Rotten Gut!

TALKING ABOUT IT.

The best way to talk about this subject is to share my own experiences. And theres only one language to use when talking about this subject. And that is in simple, basic, hard (or in my case, soft :D) terms. I was lucky enough to work for 2 doctors in one of my early Nanny jobs in Australia and when caring for a newly born baby & a toddler, you talk about poos & wees, and penises & vaginas, and urine & faeces, and everything in between. All of you with children, will no doubt be quite comfortable when talking about bodily functions, especially that of the eliminative organs.

I remember little of my childhood & certainly nothing about bladder or bowel function or dis-function. It wasnt discussed that I can remember. One didnt talk about that kind of thing, much less comment on personal toilet habits it seems to be a taboo subject then, as it is today, just like breast cancer was 30years or so ago. I vaguely remember that one didnt talk about sex either (in our household).

ALLERGIES or FOOD SENSITIVITIES

Somewhere around 1989, I seem to remember being aware of problems digesting dairy foods. I had a couple of lots of Vega testing which indicated a high degree of allergy or sensitivity to dairy (although yogurt didnt record as high a reading as butter, cheese & milk). I was not really keen on the taste of milk anyway, so I gave dairy the "heave ho" and started taking a calcium supplement. I also started reading about nutrition to try & ensure I was eating the best calcium rich diet (minus the dairy products). Vega testing was quite big in the 80s as a natural & rather unorthodox way of testing allergies. I also had some conventional allergy testing at a later date, but it was the Vega testing which set me on my path to changing my diet. There was a lot of controversy around this testing & the orthodox medical establishment scoffed at the whole process as having no scientific basis whatsoever.

But the reduction or deletion of foods which registered an adverse reaction on the Vega machine, certainly improved my well being. Interestingly enough, my younger brother had projectile vomiting as a baby when weaned & introduced to cows milk, so as a child, my parents made weekly trips to get fresh goats milk from a farm which was within a short car journey. My younger brothers daughter (who is now 12) was started on a dairy alternative due to this connection, & my older brothers son was found to be dairy intolerant also. My Mother (who grew up on a dairy farm), must have found this idea rather bewildering at the time, especially as a daily glass of milk was considered essential for growing bones. But never the less, goat milk was the alternative as being the closest to human milk around 45 years ago.

Vega testing also revealed a high intolerance to tomatoes (amongst other foods) a vegetable which I had been eating 3 times a day for most of my early life as a vegetable growing in our garden, it was a staple to our family diet. I reintroduced tomatoes (after a 3 year absence following the Vega testing), but try to eat them raw & in the early part of the day. Cooked tomatoes are extremely acidic (bad for chronic inflammatory conditions like mine) & strangely enough, they keep me awake at night (similar to a caffiene effect) to this day.

A BONE DENSITY TEST is reassuring

After a bone density test around mid 2002 came back with a bone density of 94% (excellent for a middle aged Caucasian female), I put any worries aside & eat minimal dairy to this day. From time to time I have introduced organic butter or cheese for a few months, but usually have to discontinue it when my symptoms of sore throats, excess mucus & general unwellness indicate that dairy food intolerance is building up again.
In an ideal world, I shouldnt eat dairy at all, but feel that its better to eat very small amounts occasionally, to keep up some sort of tolerance, otherwise an unavoidable heavy dairy meal would have even more severe consequences. I remember once, a friend cooking a meal of pumpkin soup (with cream), quiche (with cream & cheese), baked potato (with a dollop of sour cream & chives), green vegetables & a dairy based desert. I dutifully ate the meal (not wanting to offend my very dear friend), but went home feeling rather nauseous. I awoke at around 1.00am in the morning & vomited up every last morsel of that meal. And the smell of all that dairy overload seemed to permeate my whole body. I cannot tolerate a cup of tea with cows milk as the smell reminds me of that night.

In July 2001, I had my gall bladder removed after 9 years of gall bladder inflammation & gall stones (originally shown as grains of sand) had grown to the size of small marbles. 13 gall stones were so firmly packed into my inflamed & enlarged gall bladder that in the last few days of excruciating pain, I could neither eat nor even sip the smallest amount of water. I still have those 13 gall stones as testament to what could have been a ruptured gall bladder & my premature demise.

KEEPING RECORDS

Unfortunately, I didnt keep a diary or records prior to about 7-8 years ago, so apart from the gall stone symptoms, dont remember much until early 2002 when I recorded severe pelvic pain, lower belly pain, nausea & insomnia. I have recorded severe chest, stomach/bowel/pelvic, wind/gas etc from about this time onwards. I started keeping a health diary as my memory is rather unreliable & every time I went to a new doctor, specialist or went into hospital, Ive had to write down my past health history & surgeries.

And then my diary became my solace when I was awake most of the night in severe pain. I couldnt understand what was wrong with me. For some reason, I never really told my GP the whole story, as I didnt want to be labelled a hypochondriac. And even when I photocopied the early half of my diary for my new GP (in later years), I still had underlying feelings of embarrassment & inadequacy. I recorded in my diary my feelings of regret at sharing my symptoms with my GP. I felt guilty & ashamed of my ill health, especially my gut symptoms. I was still influenced by my Parents (particularly my Mother) lack of sympathy when unwell. Was it all in my mind, I wondered? But when my new GP read this diary (which was quite detailed in the depth of my emotional distress & physical symptoms), he at last had some picture of where I was coming from.

THE FRUSTRATION (every single one of us "Chronics" has probably faced at one time or another)


And the trouble was (or is to this day), that when I have any severe symptoms, they are resolved or absent when I finally get to a doctor, or the emergency department of our local hospital. So what do you say? Im fine now, but last nightor Im fine now, but 4 hours ago I.?

THE START OF MY RECORDS (not my symptoms they go back further than 2003)

March 2003, I had a x-ray re possible appendicitis or bowel obstruction (negative) and later a referral to a gynaecologist who diagnosed uterine polyps (after a saline vaginal ultrasound) & then a hysteroscopy. My GP at this time was a rather severe woman who actually scared me a little. I darent complain too much, as she seemed to snap back at me as though I was some sort of imbecile who was turning into a hypochondriac.
Easter of 2003, I was very ill indeed with severe reflux, chest pain, stomach pain, bowel pain & pelvic pain. My GP suspected an ulcer & prescribed the appropriate drug (to no avail). I continued to have severe left hip & pelvic pain. The chiropractic treatment I had been receiving since 1980 after a severe 2 week bout of back pain that almost crippled me, was extended to my hips, pelvis & lower belly. Chiropractic worked well for all my aches & pains, even symptoms not related to my spine at that time.

While Chiropractic is well known in the US as an alternative, it was not so well known or used in Australia around that time.

To this day, many GPs in Australia (General practitioners or Medical Practitioners) frown upon this therapy. While physiotherapy has always been the preferred treatment for aches/pains & soft tissue injuries, Chiropractic & Osteopathy has its place too.

By April/May of that year, I had putrid smelling stools, food reflux, & pain around the liver/gall bladder area.

May 2003 continued with severe bowel pain & intermittent, then chronic diarrhoea. My GP (at the time) ordered a faeces test which revealed a parasitic infection called Blastocystis Hominus, but 2 antibiotics taken together had no effect. These parasites (usually contracted from food consumed in Asian countries) are more prevalent than most people are aware off. Apparently, many people living in close knit communities such as army barracks & boarding schools have these parasites with minimal or no symptoms at all. They are quite common, so at least I felt reassured that it wasnt bad habits or hygiene that had led to this infection.

The antibiotics left me shaky & trembling, with nausea, even worse diarrhoea, pelvic pain, bad skin, body odour, sore throat & a host of other symptoms. For the most part, I react to antibiotics in this way to the present day & avoid them like the plague.

There is a saying amongst alternative therapists that "antibiotics cure you in 14 days & no antibiotics cure you in a fortnight."

My blocked nose, sore throat & severe stomach pain combined with hip & lower back pain (apart from the hysteroscopy in June 2003) were not investigated that I have any record of. The other symptoms were never followed up any further by my old GP.

This was probably the start of one of the most painful & debilitating periods of my life. And the chronic diarrhoea made my working life a misery. The only consolation was that at that time, my office was about 5 feet away from the office restroom door, so I managed to keep going to work & getting through the work day. The diarrhoea was debilitating, but so was the wind/gas, which made working life rather embarrassing too. And the smell of the air when I expelled all this gas & wind was disgusting to say the least. Rotting cabbage would be a polite way of describing it.

My chiropractors kinesiology testing indicated an inflamed colon (although her referral for x-rays revealed no muscular skeletal problems) at that time.

OTHER SYMPTOMS (did I have CFS at one time?)

I seemed to be always falling, or staggering around, bumping into office furniture like a drunk or slurring my words (which I put down to food or wheat sensitivities - in fact white sliced supermarket bread not only makes me lethargic, it actually sends me to sleep. This effect seems to last about 4 hours, then I slowly come back to some degree of normal wakefulness). I would often waddle home from work like a duck, uncoordinated & unable to walk properly, let alone in a straight line. I had trouble understanding simple instructions at work & my ability "to think straight" was intermittent. I was constantly thinking one thing (like photocopying a page) and physically doing something totally unconnected with the thought (ie taking the page to the office kitchen & putting the kettle on - page still in hand).

I was increasingly exhausted and not sleeping very well. In fact, I had been a very light sleeper since my first live-in Nanny job in England in the late1970s. So I just assumed that this sleep problem was associated with my habit of sleeping lightly in order to get up (if the babies or children in my care were distressed or restless at night). And my bedclothes/linen was always in a state of disarray so did I (or do I to this day) has RLS (Restless Legs Syndrome)?

I never realised I had a sleep disorder.

Growing up in a fairly conservative & strict household meant that when you hurt yourself, you just shut up & got on with it. I dont remember receiving any sympathy when sick as a child - maybe my Parents could confirm or deny this. My Mother never received sympathy as a child when hurt on the family farm, so she carried on that tradition with her children.

ANOTHER WEIRD INCIDENT (actually a stone in the salivary gland)

One night around August 2003, I woke up with a weird feeling in my jaw & got out of bed & went to the bathroom to investigate. I stood there in shock. Despite my extreme short sightedness, my whole jaw was swollen like an elephants trunk. I had never seen anything like it. It was enormous. The next morning I called the medical clinic in a panic & wrapped my neck & lower face up to hide the "deformity". The GP diagnosed a stone in the salivary gland & called in the other GP (on that day), to look. He had only seen this once before in all his years as a GP. He prescribed antibiotics (with the usual resulting severe diarrhoea & symptoms) which I stopped after 24 hours. Fortunately, the swelling went down without the need for further scans or treatment apparently the stone had passed of its own accord.

This was only one of many incidents or episodes of ill health over the last 14 years or so. If you include my ongoing 29 years of back, shoulder, neck pain & headaches, as well as annual coughs, colds, viruses & tummy bugs (that many people get), I suppose you could say Ive been in pain or sick for close to 30 years.

GUILT (or fear of ridicule)

I just assumed I was weak & feeble (& a wimp). I darent tell many people & certainly not my family, as I didnt want to be labelled a hypochondriac. I knew that I seemed to be forever sick & in pain, but I just didnt want to be labelled & ridiculed (as I was by my work colleagues after my 1998 nervous breakdown at work). So did the 1998 breakdown cause my Fibromyalgia OR did my Fibromyalgia which I may have had for years cause the breakdown (when I was no longer able to cope with pain & fatigue?). I do know that my workload had doubled & I was spending most nights working back struggling to get through the ever mounting pile of accounts & paperwork.

August 2003 was a write off, with a bout of viral bronchitis which never seemed to end, but actually only lasted a little over 4 weeks (although I did cough at work for a further 2 weeks on top of the initial 4 weeks). My throat & chest were so sore from coughing that a trip to the chiropractor resulted in a diagnosis of pulled chest muscles. October/November continued with severe bowel/pelvic & left hip pain nearly every day. And the chronic diarrhoea was not only debilitating, but downright embarrassing. My life ceased to exist outside my feeble efforts at work. By the end of December 2003, vomiting, headaches, dizziness, stomach & bowel pain was making my life a misery. And that was only the gut related symptoms.

The list of other symptoms & ill health is too long to mention.

The continual fatigue & overwhelming severe pain over all my body just got worse & worse. But I had to keep going as I lived from month to month & couldnt pay rent (let alone my other living expenses which included numerous trips to the Doctor which didnt have any appreciable results or action, let alone diagnosis)
.
A visit to a new GP (near where I worked, as I had now sold my car & couldnt get to my old GP in another suburb) was the start of a relationship with a kind, thoughtful, caring, considerate GP which continues to the present day. He ordered another faeces test which revealed the parasite still lurking in my bowels & after taking a full history, referred me to a Gastroenterologist who was extremely thorough in his history taking of food sensitivities & stomach/bowel problems. As we have a family history of bowel cancer, this Gastroenterologist referred me for a gastroscopy & colonoscopy to check for celiac disease (I seemed to have a problem with most grains especially wheat), Crohns disease, ulcerative colitis, & off course, Cancer.

A mid January visit to my chiropractor came back with the usual diagnosis that all pain was stomach/colon related, in fact she suggested that my colon was severely inflamed & swollen which was pressing on my pelvis area & causing the left hip pain. (She did not believe there was any muscular/skeletal problem).

By late January 2004, I had been unable to eat for 9 days due to the severe pain & diarrhoea. A trip to my GP revealed a high temperature & very high blood pressure.

Severe episodes of pain & stress appear to trigger & exacerbate my blood pressure to the present day.

SEVERE REACTION TO MORPHINE

Then disaster struck. On 12/2/04 a rush to the Emergency department of the local hospital with excruciating abdominal & pelvic pain resulted in x rays & a diagnosis of a large amount of gas, some sort of chronic, unidentifiable, inflammatory condition & a high dose of morphine to try & quell the pain. This morphine caused a sort of explosion inside my head & rather erratic behaviour. I felt terrible. The emergency department kept me for an additional hour & then sent me home in a taxi, deeming me "well enough".

A strange sort of disorientation overcame me as I stumbled inside my flat & started swaying & next thing, my whole body starting jerking in some kind of seizure. I staggered about with my arms & torso shaking and jerking uncontrollably. Somehow I managed to get to the bathroom & get my contact lenses out of my eyes. I started towards the bedroom & then passed out on the floor, luckily not hitting my head on the wall. The strange part about this whole episode was that I knew I was having a seizure & knew exactly what was happening. Then all was still & silent. I regained consciousness about 4 hours later. I managed to crawl to the bed & pull myself up & lay down with the doona pulled up, but could do nothing else except lay there, all alone & helpless & quite unable to think straight, or call for any help. I was very lucky it could have been worse.
Next morning I woke up around 7.00am perfectly normal & not a pain or symptom in sight. So what was the point in going to the doctor?

To cut a long story short, mid February 2004, brought my gastroscopy/colonoscopy forward as I not only couldnt eat any food, but was starting to get dehydrated, from being unable to keep even a sip of water from going straight down the toilet bowl as liquid diarrhoea. Strange really, as I had not eaten for so many days. How could I have diarrhoea? But I did I wrote about this distressing fortnight in great detail in my diary.

This was now getting serious.

The drink I had to consume on the day before the colonoscopy to clean out my whole digestive tract & bowels, gave me 23 trips to the toilet before I finally decided to sit glued to the toilet seat with a good book for a few hours. At that stage I was having liquid diarrhoea every 7 minutes or so. By 9.00pm I decided not to finish the bland, rather tasteless liquid I was supposed to drink, otherwise I would never have got any sleep. The gastroscopy/colonoscopy revealed no villi damage (the usual sign associated with cealiac disease) & no sign of any other serious abdominal/bowel problem.

It also revealed no lingering sign of the Blastocystis Hominus parasite the "clean out" of the day before having eradicated any trace. And so ended my 2 years of chronic daily diarrhoea (and often through the night).

Feb & March continued as before with severe bowel pain, hip pain, colon pain, stomach pain etc. A CT scan on the 4<SUP>th</SUP> March, Barium x-ray on 26<SUP>th</SUP> March completed the Gastroenterologists testing with a feeble diagnosis of "slow metabolism".

The final diagnosis of IBS was left up to my new GP some weeks later (when he read the Gastroenterologists final report).

In the last couple of years, Ive had only about 7-8 days of severe IBS symptoms per year, & most of these can be connected to an overdose of dried fruit (which I love) or consuming a dairy laden pizza (rarely) or some other food connection. I am a little more mindful of diet these days also. I seem to have less symptoms if I eat mainly cooked food (instead of the "healthy" raw foods I used to eat most of the summer all those years ago).

I only seem to have had 2-3 episodes per year which are completely unexplainable.

So I still have IBS, but the symptoms are very rare these days & I can deal with them myself after all, whats a doctor going to do, give me more antibiotics (or other drugs) resulting in more diarrhoea?:eek:
.
Victoria:)
Likes: MeSci

Comments

Unbelievable that you are still here, still intact and you sound so matter of fact. Not complaining the way people do. You are a strong woman Vicki. I am so sorry you went through this. It's amazing to me that you could work at all.
 

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