Have you ever tried anything new, and were just a teeny bit terrified in taking those first few steps? Hello!
I am a 45ish year old woman who is just starting to adjust to my new life with IBS and suddenly acquired food intolerances. I hope to share what’s working for me and tell you my story about living with IBS in this blog.
Up until about 5 or 6 years ago I was enjoying life and all the various foods that came with it. I was all about the flavour!! And then the earth moved under my feet. It started out as a stomach flu that wouldn’t go away, and then got progressively worse over the next few 3 years. I was really, REALLY miserable. The diarrhea was the gift of the devil, but the bloating, cramps, headaches and intense fatigue were no picnic either. I needed to learn about living with IBS. Quickly.
I’d like to say that the medical system was a saviour to me, but that wasn’t really the case. While they were (sometimes) helpful, it was pretty clear that I was on my own to figure this nasty business out.
I’ve done lots of reading, talked to lots of people and am now able to mostly rejoin society. I still have some big hurdles though.
If you’re reading this, you may be struggling with IBS and food intolerances as well. I figure if we all share what we know, the quality of life for all of us will get a hell of a lot better. So I decided to teach an old dog (me) some new tricks and start blogging. Forgive me if my learning curve is pretty obvious to you – I know that many of you are experienced and talented bloggers.
I hope to share what has worked well for me to get to the point where I am now – as long as I am eating out of my own kitchen, my stomach, bowels and I get along pretty nicely. If you are new or struggling with IBS, my hope is that maybe something that has worked for me will work for you too. Believe me, I reached the point where ‘I have tried everything’ a few times.
My bigger challenge (a million times bigger than figuring out how to start a blog!) is to figure out the tools and tricks or rejoining the larger world. How I would love to go out for dinner without it being an incredibly stressful experience!! And I dare to dream of actually enjoying travelling again. Right now, I’m pretty terrified of the whole experience. Visiting my own mother is something that I dread. Planes, trains and automobiles…. welcome to hell for an IBS sufferer!
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what my IBS health related goals are. my whole world was turned upside down when I developed an intolerance to dairy, eggs and beef, and then it was completely thrown out the widow when I discovered I also had intolerances to FODMAPs. I had to rethink everything…. and the only way I could manage was to break it into smaller pieces. Here’s my
Living with IBS Manifesto:
I will be:
- Prepared for the Future
Let’s break those down a bit:
1. I will be Sane.
This disease will drive you crazy. Am I getting better? Worse? Why is my body acting differently today than it did yesterday? Why isn’t anything working? Why am I trapped? Making sure that my physical health doesn’t mess too much with my mental health is a lot of work. My first step is to make sure I’m safe at home: I’ll learn how to do the cooking/meal planning/grocery shopping thing. It won’t always be separate meals for me. I’ll learn how to make safe treats for me because excessive denial doesn’t make me happy. I’ll learn how to calm myself. I’ll ask for help when I need it. I’ll learn how to participate in life. I’ll laugh and hope. Most importantly, I will be kind to myself. Bad days, even really bad days, happen to everyone.
2. I will be Loved.
IBS can be embarrassing, but that won’t mess with my relationships. My family, extended family, co-workers and friends won’t see me for my disease, but for who I am. I may need different strategies for explaining my needs, limitations, and goals to The Husband, The Son, The Mother and Father, The In-Laws and Best Friends, but I will figure that out.
3. I will be Free.
Once I’m feeling better from my home base, it will be time to branch out. I aim to travel, dine out and enjoy work, volunteering and adventures. Some of my expectations will have to change, but learning to relax and be a part of the larger world is a requirement for me. Somehow I will master planes, trains, autos and boats, in the company of loved ones, and on my own as well.
4. I will be Healthy.
Well, as healthy as I can be with food intolerances. I assert that I am my own primary health care giver, and everyone else (physicians, naturopaths, family, books, internet) is a consultant to me. Knowledge will be power, so I’ll read and learn. While meal preparation can be tricky, I will make sure that I will explore diversity and experimentation for nutrition and interest.
5. I will be prepared for the Future.
As I lose direct self-management as I grow older, how do I influence and manage health care providers? Stays in hospitals and nursing homes are unsettling in part because of the loss of control you experience in your own life. I know how much work I will put into taking care of myself, and I’m not confident that I could hand that care over to someone else, with good results. This issue is a tricky one, probably the hardest to deal with, but I hopefully have lots of time to work on it….
So, these are my goals – I am determined to take back my life. Maybe together, we all can.