My Inner IBS Ninja Strikes Again

It’s been less than a year since I was diagnosed with IBS-C and I’m still learning about this blasted thing. I could easily make excuses for that. I have multiple sclerosis, too, and it has dominated my awareness for almost 20 years.

Multiple sclerosis is on the books as being a possible direct cause of digestive dysfunction, too. But that doesn’t exactly help matters. I’m still going to manage IBS the same way any non-MS person with IBS would do it. It’s like getting diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis after having MS for years, knowing full well that having one autoimmune disease can mean you’ll develop a second one—and possibly a third and fourth one, too. Knowing the possibilities doesn’t necessarily position us to better manage a second and third co-morbidity. While being well-informed has its upside, knowledge doesn’t always lead to empowerment. Sometimes it feels like I know too much for my own good.

All quiet on the western front

That aside, IBS is downright squirrelly. Last summer, its most dastardly symptoms of gut-tearing gas pains and uncontrollable flatulence disappeared as suddenly as they had presented. This despite eating some high-fiber veggies from time to time that would normally touch off a cascade of rumblings and pain. All was quiet on the western front, eastern, southern, and northern fronts, satellite views, Hubble telescope captures, and astrological charting. The thing just went sleepy-bye. Until a couple of weeks ago.

I’d been sticking to a low-fiber diet, a wise move given my history. But I made a change. I had to! Over the past year I’d gained ten pounds. I blame quitting smoking and rightly so. My appetite went haywire afterwards, likely to fill a huge gap left by ceasing to shove a cigarette in my mouth every time I had a nicotine craving. I was a two-pack-a-day smoker to give you an idea as to how many times I shoved said cigarette into my pie hole. So, to compensate for the loss, I shoved food into my pie hole instead.

Naturally I gained weight. The only surprising part of it is that I only gained ten pounds! Anxiety must be a calorie-burner because I’m pretty darned sedentary. But it has to go away and I know how to make it go: by putting myself on a 1200-calorie eating regimen comprised of few to no starches--even gluten-free versions--with a focus on lean meats and other protein sources, veggies, fruit, and healthy fats such as nuts and avocados. The veggies partly consisted of a small amount of broccoli and yellow pepper. Other than that, I continued to follow a low-FODMAP, low fiber diet as much as possible. I thought I could get away with eating a small amount of gassy veggies. After all, I’m supposed to eat more fiber as one part of a healthy diet. Aren’t we advised to ease into gassy high-fiber veggies with small amounts at first? Maybe this way I could build up a tolerance. Boy was I wrong.

System overload

It’s amazing how a little pepper and broccoli can double you over with pain an hour after eating them. And it didn’t stop there. It was followed by explosive diarrhea, a symptom that is rare for me, being plagued by constipation. Something had upset the balance of water in the bowel. The culprits must have been the pepper and broccoli. I stopped eating them immediately. The diarrhea stopped right away—but then it was immediately followed by days of constipation. Despite taking Miralax three days in a row, nothing’s happening down there yet.

My inner IBS ninja still lurks. I’m struggling to remain patient while Miralax does its thing. It’s a lot slower kind of weapon than throwing stars and nunchucks, but there’s no training necessary.  Having returned to a low-fiber healthy regimen, I don’t expect the gas and diarrhea to return. Now it’s a matter of hurry up and wait. I’m good at it. No training necessary for that, either.

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