Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Pain in the Ass

irritable bowel syndrome

This month (April) is Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness Month. Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS is indeed a pain in the ass, often figuratively and literally. I thought I’d share a little about my IBS journey so far because awareness is all about hearing people’s experiences as well as facts and figures. For a more official breakdown of what IBS is, visit the NHS Irritable Bowel Syndrome info page here.

My Irritable Bowel Syndrome Journey

Years ago I visited my GP, rather concerned because I had been having symptoms, not very pleasant symptoms. At one point I was worried something sinister was going on as no-one should be spending that much time on the loo, surely? My GP talked things through with me and suggested an elimination diet. To cut a long and hungry story short, taking dairy out made a huge difference. Putting dairy back in was…. explosive. The general consensus was that I was lactose intolerant. 

Removing the dairy from my diet did indeed make a big difference and for a while things were manageable. Over time I found myself less able to tolerate other foods. Bread, beetroot, red onion, dairy and more all became no-go menu options. I went back and queried the lactose intolerant diagnosis. This time blood tests were done and it turns out, I’m not lactose intolerant.  By this time I had an inkling that my problems may be due to IBS however it was another year before this was confirmed and put onto my medical records.

I have since then spoken to an NHS dietician (I’m also diabetic so had the opportunity to discuss all the ways my body hates me to enjoy the food I love), have done some research and have managed to finally find my groove. I still have bouts, flare-ups and some fairly crappy times, however, generally speaking, touch wood and avoid food, I’m doing ok. 

What IBS Can or Has Meant For Me

  • Fierce and sudden diarrhoea.
  • Having to call my childminder and ask her to keep my youngest as I couldn’t get off the loo to collect him (this happened).
  • Calling my other half to pick the eldest up because I couldn’t get off the loo to collect him (yes, this too).
  • Looking 7 months pregnant with bloatedness and feeling very uncomfortable.
  • Spasms that feel like contractions.
  • Fierce constipation.
  • A very limited diet (eating out can be a pain).
  • Having reading materials in the bathroom because I’ve been known to spend a lot of time in there.
  • Gas, horribly painful gas.
  • Having to identify where the bathrooms are asap if you go out.
  • Having to cancel going out.
  • Stress may also trigger IBS symptoms, so that’s fun.
  • Haemorrhoids 
  • A unique perspective on which toilet roll brands really do put their all into customer satisfaction.

IBS is more than a mild annoyance; it can have a significant effect on your health and wellbeing. If you have any concerns speak to your GP, speak to a dietician and don’t be put off. Awareness is key to managing IBS and a little understanding from others goes a long way too.

If you have any top tips to share about keeping on top of your IBS please share.