Don’t Give Up on Yourself
I would like to start this post by saying that every IBS journey is a trying journey, so please never give up on yourself, or your health.
Why was I having “stomach issues”?
When I first began dealing with “stomach issues”, such as nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea, it was because I had contracted a bacterial infection called Helicobacter Pylori or (H. Pylori). I am not 100% sure how I got the infection, and I guess it didn’t matter, but my gastroenterologist at the time prescribed an antibiotic to get rid of it. So, I completed the series of taking the pills, three times a day, for a couple of weeks. I hoped that after completing the antibiotics my symptoms would eventually fade, but to my surprise I continued to deal with the same stomach issues. I went back to my specialist, but he couldn’t find any trace of the bacterial infection anymore, so the antibiotics must have worked. However, it didn’t get rid of the painful symptoms I was constantly experiencing, like diarrhea, stomach pain, and nausea. In fact, none of the doctors or specialists I visited could figure out what was wrong with me for a very long time.
Long and difficult journey to an IBS diagnosis
Over the course of five years, I went through two colonoscopies, two endoscopies, a clinical trial, several stool tests, blood tests, a CT scan, an ultrasound, x-rays, and took many prescribed medications that were supposed to help me cope with the symptoms that my “stomach issues” were causing me. After all those tests, the doctors still couldn’t find anything, and none of the prescribed medication helped me whatsoever. By the 5th year, I got finally fed up with not getting any answers from these tests and not getting any relief from any of the prescribed medication. I decided to turn to another source for answers, and it was the internet. I researched so many different ailments that described what I was feeling daily, and the one that stood out to me the most was irritable bowel syndrome.
I had a long, serious conversation with one of my doctors about irritable bowel syndrome, and how it sounds a lot like what I’ve been going through for the past five years. (We had already ruled out the possibility of Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, and inflammatory bowel disease.) My doctor couldn’t help but to finally agree and diagnose me with IBS-Diarrhea. Basically, it took me 5 long trying years of working with medical professionals and doing my own research to finally get diagnosed with a condition. Can you imagine suffering from an illness that you can’t even put a name to, and then trying to get your family and friends to take you and your pain serious? Can you imagine the difficulty of trying to explain to any of your bosses what you’re going through and why you constantly keep calling out of work? Can you imagine losing those jobs because of your lack of attendance due to your illness that you have no name to (yet)? Even when I finally had a name to call my condition, at the time few people had ever even heard of irritable bowel syndrome, or how it affected people. Luckily, over the past few years more awareness has been raised on this issue because surprisingly, it affects millions of people across the world to different degrees. Every year new treatments are being developed, which gives me hope that living with this condition can become easier. In fact, just knowing what I have and how it affects me physically and emotionally has helped me drastically. I now know what to expect (most times) and what my limitations are.
Never give up
I say all of that to say that no matter the struggle, please stay strong and never give up on yourself. Do your very best to be patient with yourself until you figure things out. Remember to trust your instincts, if something doesn’t feel right, then speak up about it to your doctor until you get the answers you need. Sometimes it takes hitting rock bottom, or finally getting fed up, to do something drastically different that allows you to gain a totally different perspective about your situation.