Expect the Unexpected

Very often, when reading the posts on the site about everyone’s experience with IBS, is that this is not an illness that stays the same. There are several examples and types of phenomena. There might be weeks, months, years of absolute Hell for one person, followed by a long period ("long" can look different for different people) of relative calm. One person may struggle day in and day out, praying for answers, understanding and just a little bit of peace. Another feels like they are on a rollercoaster ride, not knowing if they are doing well managing their illness, or are a complete failure. One day good, one day fair, another day; a disaster. This is one of the many very difficult challenges associated with IBS.

My IBS has been a cyclical journey

As I look at all of these types of experiences, I realize that I have been each of these people throughout my journey with IBS. I used to think that I had it really bad, with no reprieve in the beginning, after my diagnosis, but through trial and error and a lot of hard work, I was able to get it under control. This is true, to a point, but that is not really the whole story if I’m being honest with myself. If I’m being honest, it is a bit more cyclical, depending, I think, on what is going on in my life. The important thing I’ve learned is not to expect or assume anything about this illness. This leads to frustration at very least and hopelessness in our more desperate hours.

Expect the unexpected

You are never doing a "bad job" managing the illness. You may have things going on where perhaps you are not as attentive as you should be, though. The diet may suffer a little, because you are busy. The exercise might drop off because you don’t feel good or are simply too tired. We may have more stress, more work, or other people to care for. We cannot expect to be able to spend 100 percent of our waking hours doing combat with IBS, even though I think when things are really bad, we wished we had. It really isn’t that simple and I think what I’ve realized is that I can only do so well with what I have.

Live in the moment

If you are doing really well, enjoy it and try your best to notice the changes that you have made that have brought you to that place. Relish the time in the sun and the chance to feel "normal" for a while. I am also not suggesting that it will come back as bad as it has in the past. It hasn’t for me for some time. Just realize that because things are great, that you might not be done. Remember:

  • Be vigilant, be aware and be watchful
  • Listen to your body

If you feel as though you are taking on too much and can’t tend to yourself the way you would like, prioritize the things that are most important in your life. Your well-being should be near the top of that list. If you are anything like me, this is easier said than done. Just do the best you can for yourself, enjoy the moments and prepare for the next time the storm MAY arise. It makes it all just a little more tolerable. Thank you for listening.

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