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I am a 22 year old female who was recently (and reluctantly) diagnosed with IBS. Compared with most of you, I've only been suffering with symptoms for a short while (approximately 5 months or so), however, the impact this illness has had on my life in such a short amount of time has been devastating. For the first several months (from mid-March through the beginning of June), I'll be honest, I didn't exactly realize anything was wrong. When I first began noticing symptoms that I now associate with IBS, I dismissed them as food poisoning/stress related and ignored them. Up until that point, I'd never before been constipated in my entire life, and the possibility of that being the root of my discomfort had never even crossed my mind... During this time, I was also regularly smoking cannabis (of the Indica variety). My usage became heavier and heavier as I soon realized that my symptoms went away completely whenever I was high. I self-regulated with cannabis for months, until my symptoms became so bad that the cannabis no longer had any effect. Still not realizing I was constipated, I attributed my pain, loss of appetite and inability to sleep for more than 2-4 hours at a time to a possible case of Marijuana Withdrawal.After that theory was discounted by some lengthy trial and error, by the end of June I was finally ready to accept that there was definitely something seriously wrong with me, and that I needed to see a doctor. Unfortunately, I do not have health insurance, and I simply did not have the money to go... So I began saving. As time went on and things progressed, my symptoms became UNBEARABLE. By the end of July I wasn't eating at all. I subsisted on a liquid-diet of Peppermint Tea and obscene amounts of water, and I lost over 12 pounds. I was taking upwards of 5 searing-hot baths a day. I invested in an electric heating pad to help ease the pain enough for me to get a little sleep, and I never turned the damn thing off. On August 2nd (ironically, the very same day I was to make an appointment with my physician), I was admitted to the ER for heart palpitations and chest pains, numbness of my arms and legs that radiated inward, and extreme dizziness and light-headedness to the point where I felt like I was going to black out. After my ECG came back normal and the possibility of a heart attack was dismissed, I refused any further tests and got out of there ASAP (again, because I have no health insurance). Before leaving, however, I mentioned to the doctor that I had been having terrible digestive issues, and she suggested that I could be anemic from lack of eating, and that my electrolytes were probably very, very low. She said that both of these things alone could have contributed to the scary episode I experienced, and she recommended that I supplement my diet with pediatric electrolytes until I could see my primary care physician, and that I should do so as soon as possible.On August 3rd, I dragged myself to my clinic and had blood and stool samples taken, as well as an abdominal x-ray. My blood tests confirmed my iron/potassium-deficiency anemia and the low electrolytes, but the rest of the tests came back normal. My x-ray apparently showed very slight constipation, and LOTS of gas build-up. She prescribed the use of an OTC laxative, MiraLax/Dulcolax, and said to see how I feel after a week. Although the laxatives DID seem to marginally improve my condition, it didn't resolve the problem and it certainly didn't stop the pain. My appetite returned, and I began eating solid food again. After a week of the laxatives, BMs became more regular, and my doctor then suggested that I supplement my diet with Metamucil. This has also provided some slight relief, in that my stools are much easier to pass, however, I still get horrible gas pains regardless of what or when I eat, or whether I eat at all. I've recently began experimenting with Enteric-Coated Peppermint Oil and Activated Charcoal capsules. I take the peppermint oil before eating, and I take the charcoal afterwards. Once again, I've noticed an improvement, but it's just not enough... Some of my friends have been really supportive and understanding, while my family and several other friends regularly make me feel like a burden or an inconvenience, and I suspect that they probably feel like I'm making a big deal out of nothing (i.e. "your tests all came back fine, so you must be faking it!"). It's as if they think I'm ENJOYING being unable to live my life, let alone get out of bed... Not being able to keep plans or predict how I'm going to feel from one day to another is really difficult to deal with, especially in the context of my relationship. It's my 4 year anniversary with my boyfriend this weekend, and we had to cancel our vacation as a result of all this IBS BS... I'm horribly depressed, and I feel so very alone... I try to stay optimistic, but it's really hard not to feel discouraged when remission/relapses can happen within hours of each other. It feels like my body is playing tricks on me. I'm especially frustrated by the feeling that food has betrayed me. I know everyone always says it, but I've always tried to eat right - LOTS of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, water by the gallon and lean proteins from poultries and soy products... To think that these HEALTHY foods could be CONTRIBUTING DIRECTLY to my pain and discomfort is just infuriating. Anyway, if you've made it this far, I appreciate your taking the time to read through this jumbled mess of thoughts and feelings. I know I'm all over the place, and that there isn't a whole lot any of you can do without my asking specific questions, so... With that in mind:How do you guys cope with family and friends that just don't get it? How do you explain what's going on with your body without having to go into detail about your bathroom habits? Thanks for reading, and best of luck to all of you in finding the relief we're all looking for...
 
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