Today is the beginning of the end. That’s it. It is over. Final. But, don’t worry… it isn’t as ominous as it sounds. In fact, it is cause for celebration! Marking the beginning of a new era and all that jazz… Today I am ending the tale of the tortured tummy. MY tortured tummy. So where to begin? Let us start with the end… the rear end that is!
For the last 12 or so years I have been suffering with what every doctor and specialist can only label as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). And I can tell you right now, that after 12 years my bowel isn’t the only one irritated by it! In late high school I began obsessing over food and my body, I definitely remember feeling like I was fat, but it was more than that. I would go to bed at night so bloated that I would sleep on my stomach with my hands pushing in to my swollen belly to try and deflate it. When all my girlfriends were wearing tight dresses and skimpy tops, I found myself adopting more forgiving styles – high waists, floaty feminine skirts, or some fashionable variation on a potato sack. My already fragile teenage self-esteem was beginning to crack… But there was still more. On top of the horrendous bloating and pain that accompanied it, I suddenly found myself not being able to go to the toilet for days and days on end. GREAT! So now… not only was I hugely bloated, and in immense pain and discomfort, I felt different from my peers, and saddened by my severely distended belly, PLUS I couldn’t poo so was feeling heavy, tired and confused by the signals from my body – the best way I can describe it is that I was ravenously hungry high up in my stomach, but felt like I couldn’t eat for days lower down. Not exactly the teenage dream… but sadly it is an ever-increasing reality.
Fast-forward 12 years and not much has changed. I still suffer with incredible bloating (so much so that I have been congratulated on my pregnancy a few times when I most definitely have not been pregnant), constant pain and discomfort, alternating bowel habits (tending mostly towards no habit at all) and random food intolerances that I can’t seem to pinpoint.
I feel as though I have tried everything – gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, vegetarian, vegan, raw, cooked, paleo, Ayurveda, courses of probiotics, digestive enzymes, herbal tinctures, juice fasts, enemas, meditation, kinesiology… and the list goes on. I have had every test possible and nothing at all shows up. In fact, judging by my outstanding results, I should pretty much be able to walk outside, pick up a fistful of gravel, deep fry it, eat it and feel FABULOUS! But in reality I feel quite the opposite.
So this is where it ends, and I am thankful for what is about to unfold. I know I am not alone in this scenario, many friends and clients suffer with similar problems and similar frustrations with treatment and management. As such, over the coming days, weeks, months, years… however long it takes… I am on a mission to rid myself of IBS, end the tale of my tortured tummy, and empower you to do the same! As a health professional, I aim to interpret the research, the tests, the treatments and the confusion, so that we can all start writing a new tale (and maybe wear those tight dresses without fear of blowing up half way through the night!).
What is IBS?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a “functional gastrointestinal disorder” – which basically means it is a group of symptoms that causes impaired function of the gut, without any identifiable physical cause. In short, once doctors have ruled out the possibility of any “real” condition such as coeliac disease, Chron’s disease, diverticulitis, polyps, ulcers etc. and still don’t know why a patient is experiencing symptoms, it is labelled IBS. But don’t get me wrong, this condition is as real as they come.
Symptoms can vary from person to person, but commonly includes things such as bloating, cramping, constipation, diarrhoea (or both!), nausea, reflux, faecal incontinence and excessive wind. You may also experience issues in other body systems such as excessive or urgent urination, generalised muscle aches and pains, or fatigue and lethargy
The cause of IBS is largely unknown, and again can vary from person to person. Suggested causes include genetics, exposure to antibiotics, medications or vaccinations, stress and other emotional factors, food intolerance, infection (parasitic, bacterial or viral), overgrowth of intestinal bacteria or dysbiosis of gut flora. But for the most part, we are in the dark. All we know for sure is that many people experience IBS, the number of sufferers is growing, and we need to find a solution.
So welcome to my journey. I look forward to having you along side me for the ride, and invite you to take this opportunity to travel inwards to the core of your health as well. Stay tuned for more detailed information about IBS over the coming days.
Sending lots of love and well-being,