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I am 27 years old. I was diagnosed with IBS after my second child was born 7 years ago. At the time I had severe constipation. I was clammy, stressed, and on occasion passing out. I went through several tests, including a colonoscopy. I was lucky to be assigned one of the leading doctors in the United States that lived in Oregon, Doctor Clarke in Gastonology through Kaiser Permanente. He was one of few back then that knew much about IBS. At that time I was placed on a no wheat/gluten/dairy diet, with the understanding that this diet change could last up to 3-5 years. I was determined to beat this. I started the diet, started seeing a psychologist, started attending a women's group, started keeping a diary and went to a biofeedback specialist. Within 8 months I was able to start reintroducing food again.I was able to go back to as close to a "normal" life as it was prior to this diagnosis after the 8 months. I have been, overall, symptom free for the last 6 years.Then, 2 months ago I had a flare up with diarreah. It was pretty much at least once a day for 2 weeks. I thought I just got a bug. I saw a doctor and they ran the usual tests but it looked like it was just a virus. They were a little curious since I had my appendix removed in September of last year, but nothing came back. Within another week I was in the emergency room with severe diarreah (4 bouts within that morning) and weight loss. The emergency doctor ran a stool test looking for parasites but again nothing surfaced. They gave me a bag of i.v. fluid and sent me home on a bland liquid diet until a return appointment with my primary doctor could be made.Within another week (1 month since the onset of symptoms) I was in my primary care doctors office. He also ran some more tests checking to see if I was anemic, etc. but noted that this could be an IBS flare up since my body is prone to internalizing stress. It was the first time in years that I started to wonder if this could be in fact my IBS surfacing again. I was feeling like I was sitting on a fence. Happy to have some type of a dianosis but dissapointed it was IBS. Something I knew I couldn't resolve with a quick course of antibiotics or something short term. I had to face the reality that this is a life long diagnosis.My doctor tested me for Celiac to see if I would need to be on the no wheat/gluten. Fortunately, this time around I was told it was negative. I was, however, told to stay clear of dairy and start taking metamucil or similar fiber supplements. Then, the doctor basically just let me go. He acted like there was nothing more he could do for me.I was mad, sad and frustrated and decided this time I was going to be pro-active about my own health. I got on the phone and asked to see a new primary care doctor that would give my physical symptoms the attention I deserved. I also asked for a referal to a dietician and a psychologist.I started my new diet almost 4 weeks ago to the day. I eliminated all dairy (although I do tolerate soy well), all alcohol, caffeine, chocolate (in whole form- although I do cook with cocoa powder), egg yolks (although egg whites have been fine and I found egg beaters to be a good alternitive), all fatty foods (especially deep fried) and all MSF/soy sauces. I have started each morning with alternating between a bowl of slow cooked oatmeal or cream of rice with 2 spoons brown sugar and 1/2 cup soymilk and 1/2 sliced banana. I also take my daily dose of 20mg prozac.I usually have a tuna sandwich on sourdough bread made with 1 can tuna packed in water, drained, with Nayonnaise and 2 chopped dill pickles. I usually have a slice of homemade applesauce, banana or zucchini bread too.I then have a scoop of Citrucel powder with 8oz water 1 hour prior to dinner. I have been able to tolerate potatoes, rice, and pasta very well as a start to any meal. I have tolerated chicken and fish. I have minimilized any red meat intake to no more than 5 bites. I always have fruits and vegetables, including green salads at the end of a meal.It took 3 weeks of this diet change before I started feeling normal again. It took the full 3 weeks before I had what I can consider a "normal" bowel movement. But I have hope now! I am still seeing a psychologist once a week, taking a daily dose of 20mg prozac, meeting with a dietician for the first time on the 27th and looking into hypnotherapy. I hope to be back to eating any type of food, within reason and limited, within the next 5 months.I am starting at the Western Culinary Institute in the Fall. Food was and is my life, even before I got the IBS diagnosis. I believe that there can still be good food when your diet is restricted. I hope to follow in Heather V. steps in creating a cookbook that is IBS friendly, but to also give others the hope I have found withing myself.I believe IBS is half mental and half physical. I believe that one has to accept this formula and treat both symptoms with care. Be willing to treat the stress and anxiety that comes after attacks with foods and be willing to try the diet changes. They aren't always fun or inexpensive but you are still capable of being in charge of you! There is hope. There is a life within IBS. I believe. I am a survivor.My new primary care doctor spent a full 30 minutes with me and ran some additional tests including a thyroid check, which came back positive for hyperthyroidism. I also started researching the relation in menstrual cycles to an IBS flare and realized there is quite a relation for those women out there. The Hormone Connection book was very insiteful. 70% of IBS sufferers are women. I believe that is in part due to the fact that we do have a menstrual cycle that can cause quite a bit of stress for a lot of us, but that I also started having more problems with my body after child bearing. I also believe that women, in this day and age, have a lot more on their plate with family, jobs and the overall stress that comes with juggling all of this. This is not to say that I don't believe men have IBS, because I know this is not limited to a gender. I simply put the connection out there so women can look into possible triggers beyond diet.I have also researched and found a connection with IBS sufferers and those who have been physically or sexually abused. Although, its hard to tap into the past on an issue like this I believe it might be neccessary for a full recovery on those individuals with IBS and this connnection.Of course all of my comments are simply food for thought! I am only one of many IBS sufferers and just hope that my story can help others. I feel for anyone that is inflicted with this prognosis but believe it could be worse. To all, keep your chin up and know you are not alone.Sincerely- rthomas of Oregon
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