Natalie's IBS Journey
Life With ibs
If you're looking for the show notes for episode 2 of Natalie's Podcast, My IBS Story, you're in the right place!
This is an open and honest account of what it was like for me to live with IBS, it may be too much information for some, but I've chosen to be open about this stigmatised and taboo condition, so let’s talk all thing IBS! Poo, pain, the low FODMAP diet, dealing with the symptoms, anal fissures and more!
The purpose of this episode is to share my story of:
✔️getting diagnosed with IBS
✔️dealing with“no known cure” for IBS
✔️what I tried to help alleviate the IBS symptoms
If you want to skip ahead:
Natalie's IBS Diagnosis Journey
Dealing with "no known cure"
I didn’t cope with the idea that IBS was a lifelong condition, or that there was "no cure". The thought of having no escape from the pain was unbearable. The thought of having a life of low FODMAPs, daily laxatives and chronic anal fissures made me miserable.
I felt very low, being told you’re living with such pain for life did not affect me positively. Despite the psychological struggle my determination did not dwindle, I kept going and tried other things to help me cope with the IBS and its symptoms, so I could live in a bit less pain so I could enjoy life a little bit more.
I am living proof that IBS is NOT lifelong, I have been pain-free and symptom-free now since 2018 (it's 2021 when I'm writing/recording this podcast, My IBS Story).
Things Natalie tried to alleviate the IBS symptoms
It took around 7 years to officially get diagnosed with IBS.
Initially (age 16) GPs tried to ease the constipation symptoms with prescriptions. After years of chronic constipation I started bleeding out of my bottom, aka anal fissures (age 22).
The bleeding from my bottom freaked a GP out, he thought I might have cancer (age 23). This was the day I was diagnosed with IBS, because I went back to the GP to get a second opinion.
During this journey I had:
🗸 Abdominal checks
🗸 Rectal examinations, yep, that's a visual inspection of your bum hole and a finger up there!
🗸 Been told I needed to go on the urgent cancer pathway
Please note: These are the things I tried to help alleviate IBS-C symptoms (constipation sub-type)
Note: low FODMAP diet is NOT meant to be forever!
The low FODMAP diet should be for 4-6 weeks, identifying if the IBS symptoms improve. Then start reintroducing the avoided foods to identify which particular groups of FODMAPs triggers the IBS symptoms. Working out what you the trigger foods are helps increase your food choices. Reference: The low FODMAP diet sheet
Abdominal massage, essential that you get the direction correct to help move things along!
Colonic irrigation, I thought it might help my intestines remember how to work (it didn't!)
Probiotics to help my gut microbiome, I didn't get any relief from using this Optibac Probiotic so stopped after 4 weeks
Due to the mental health issues I was struggling with at the time my dear friend told me about the amazing Yoga With Adriene and I started to practice yoga every day
Yoga and all things digestion related!
I started meditation and mindfulness
I had counselling to help deal with the stress, anxiety and depressive feelings I was experiencing
I was prescribed glyceryl trinitrate, an ointment for the anal fissures
Stress less workshop: Self-referral NHS psychological therapies service (IAPT) to help deal with the anxiety and stress, I went the workshop which didn't help me very much as I was already doing most of the things they suggested to lower the stress level
There are a range of NHS mental health resources that you may find helpful for the majority of mental health issues.
I started writing in a gratitude journal everyday, thinking about the things I could be grateful for
I realised I had developed social anxiety, I became very nervous about seeing others and being judged by others, I found a pdf series on the internet to work through at my own pace, here's a helpful resource if you're suffering with social anxiety
I had a referral to a colorectal specialist
- I had a camera up my butt, flexi-sigmoidoscopy, everything was healthy
- I had an operation for the chronic anal fissures as they would not heal: Botulinum toxin injection, aka Botox in the bum hole
Reference: Digestive Care Physicians
Left: This is how I had the hot water and lemon every day, best if the lemon is organic & unwaxed
Right: This is how I had the hot water and ginger
I did ALL of the above to help alleviate the IBS symptoms as well as the internal suffering and misery within...still no real changes with the symptoms or the chronic anal fissure :(
But...there was a turning point for me in 2018! And I will be talking about how that came about in the next episode of My IBS Story.
The Next Episode
In the next episode of My IBS Story, episode 3, I will be interviewing to the lady that changed my life with IBS.
Spoiler alert: I AM IBS-FREE AS A RESULT! I AM PAIN-FREE, SYMPTOM-FREE AND HAVE BEEN SINCE 2018.
Support for Thoughts of Suicide
UK: When life is difficult, Samaritans are available day or night, 365 days a year. You can call them for free on 116 123, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit samaritans.org to find your nearest branch.
United States: Help is available through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can call them for free 24/7 on 1-800-273-8255.