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Where do I start? Is there hope?

Hi all,
I hope this post finds you well.
Today, I was diagnosed officially with IBS. It’s been a constant battle trying to understand why my stomach hates me. I’ve been through CBT therapy and that helped a lot which is great. Unfortunately, no cure though.

I’m at university studying paramedic science, with this said I have to spend a lot of time on the road attending 999 calls with often very little time to use the toilet. The (what I now know is IBS) problem has been getting considerably worse, so my life needs a drastic change.

I see nothing wrong with tablets but because I’m 25 years old, I feel like there’s enough time to change my life around so I’ve opted out of taking any anti anxiety medication for now.

I have just over a year left (out of a 3 year degree) until I qualify as a paramedic and at the moment, I just want to give up because I feel like that with this IBS issues I’m going to get caught very short and embarrass myself.

I’ve been looking online at loads of different things and I’m overwhelmed at where to start.. I know my diet needs a massive overhaul!! Any recommendations on where first to look will be great. Any advice is also welcome!

  1. - Thanks so much for sharing more about yourself. I can't imagine how difficult it is to manage your symptoms at the same time as your education. The foods that trigger symptoms can be so different for each person, but we do have an article here that goes over some of the common foods to avoid: I hope this helps give you a starting point! - Chris, Team

    1. Whoa, don't give up! It comes and goes. Just make sure of what you eat. try to make a journal and how you feel with foods. For me 2 weeks ago, I couldn't tolerate lettuce. This week I found that butter lettuce is no so bad providing I use a bit of lemon, mixed with water and salt with garlic. I was ok with it. But had to eat little. try to eat little and at spaced times. I also have diverticulosis. S I need to b xtra careful. Don't give up your career. But forget about fastfood place. I'm not interacting with a lot of ppl now because I can't go to the places they go. Like AppleBee, and other types of restaurantes. Good luck!

      1. - I have had IBS for 20+ years and have been in a similar situation in the past. I worked full time while working through my entire undergraduate and graduate degrees, most of which took place on campus or at hospitals/outpatient centers for physical therapy. I worked in some higher stress situations with odd hours, little time for preparation, and constantly changing environments. I completely understand what it's like to feel overwhelmed and have no idea where to start to make changes. As the other commenters have mentioned, diet is usually the first place to look to make changes. Keeping a food journal is one of the easiest ways to figure out what your "trigger" foods are and when you need to avoid them. I kept a food journal for over two years, and now I generally know what foods are considered safe for me to eat, and which will provide me with an unimaginable amount of gas, bloating, and ultimately untimely diarrhea. When you do figure out what your trigger foods are, plan out your meals accordingly. When I was officially diagnosed with IBS, I quickly realized that it was going to be in my best interest to become a master planner. If you have a generally set schedule, plan out your meals around your schedule. Those of us suffering from IBS don't have the luxury to be able to eat whatever we want whenever we want without worrying about the negative digestive effects afterwards. So plan out your meals based on your daily activities, not the other way around. This will also likely mean giving up some of your favorite foods, in exchange for piece of mind that you are less likely to s#!t your pants when on a stressful call as a paramedic.

        Being in the healthcare industry, and more specifically in an emergency response role provides it's own set of challenges, even without taking into consideration living with IBS. Stress is generally a huge trigger for many that suffer from IBS. When you are in a higher stress field, you will need to focus more on managing your stress levels and providing your body and mind a good balance that is capable of handling any stressful situations that arise. For stress and anxiety, I think practicing meditation is extremely beneficial. Meditation can help you become more aware of your body's reaction to different situations, and over time you can learn to adjust the way you view those situations, and ultimately lessen the negative effects of your IBS that are caused by stress.

        Lastly, I would work on creating a "go bag" for when you are on the go. Anyone I personally know that suffers from IBS always has their "go bag" on them whenever they leave their home. This includes the essentials such as toilet paper, underwear and an extra pair of shorts (no explanation needed). You will never have full control over when and where you might find yourself in an unflattering situation, but it is always a little more comforting to know that you have a back up plan anywhere you go, just in case you need it. Living with IBS is not easy by any means, but with a few adjustments to your current lifestyle, you can achieve anything you set your mind to accomplish, including finishing your training as a Paramedic. Don't give up now, the world needs more unselfish people like yourself! Just remember that sometimes you need to focus on yourself first before you can put all your attention and effort into helping others.

        1. Thank you so much for being willing to share the beginning of your story. It can be really embarrassing opening up and accepting that you have IBS, so I think you're pretyty dang great for that. As a 24 year old actor, who spends a lot of time struggling with anxiety and limited bathroom availability, there are a couple of things that I've found helpful. Mind you, not everything works for everyone and hell, not everything works for me, so ultimately your Gastro or dietician is the best voice in your ear. Just know you're not alone in this!

          That being said, I've found that a healthy balance of meds and food intake has been my best friend. Understand what foods are my triggers and when my worst poop times are important. I usually stick to the basics if I am on call and can't rely on a comfortable and convenient toilet time. Granola bars, crackers, and water are my bread and butter. Simple foods that don't make my stomach go buck-wild with digestion issues. Cliff bars keep me going too if I'm having a really good day. It will fill me up and keep me satisfied. I've been trying out Imodium and a daily probiotic to help me overall. But, I haven't seen change as of yet, though it's too early to say! Hopefully, my gut will be able to digest and absorb foods more easily with a little R&D.

          Every time I eat I take dicyclomine. It's an antispasmodic prescription that helps calm my guts and keep me from those awfully painful cramps. It has been a game changer and helps me eat foods that I usually can't muster through. Getting diagnosed with IBS was so reassuring to me, in that now I know that what I felt wasn't normal! You're among a great number of members here so I know you'll be in good hands. Thank you again for being willing to open up about an awkward topic for most. Here's to hoping you'll have more peaceful poops going forward! ~ Sawyer ( team)

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