A woman hunches over with a pained expression as a multitude of textures and color create chaos inside her body.

The Worst Pain Ever: IBS Flare-Ups

This is the memory that I have from my most recent flare-up. I have no memory of recovering, no memory of how it happened. Only pain, that I remember quite clearly.

A month or so ago, I waded through a bad case of constipation. For roughly a week, I endured searing agony in my gut. It was something akin to what I can only imagine childbirth feels like – but a little higher up the abdomen, and a little less bloody.

Every time I moved, I literally gasped in pain – something I am not known to do as I deal with fibromyalgia; pain is a normal part of life. This was different, it was torture.

All pain, no gain

Put it this way, if I wasn't diagnosed with IBS, I probably would have ended up in the hospital fearing the worst. I can just picture it: me, bending over at the hip, hugging my stomach tightly as if to hold in my non-existent blood and guts, crying out in pain every time I moved, breathed, or took a step forward as if an invisible knife is stabbing me over and over and over. "Help!" I'd scream, "An invisible ghost is trying to kill me!"

If only they knew

That's how it feels sometimes – like our illness is an invisible ghost that haunts us throughout our lives. I've mentioned this before, and it's still relevant. I know that you've felt this pain and that I'm not alone, but I also know that there are many who don't. There are millions of people in this world that will never know, people that would have gone to the hospital if they'd experienced similar pain. These people would go to the ER thinking they were dying, sure that something had burst, torn, or ruptured. But, they'd be wrong.

That old song and dance

We're all aware how this story goes: you sit in the ER for hours, agonizing over the pain, wondering why this time it felt so much worse, only to hear to three haunting words: "It's just gas."

Those words linger in my head every time I feel a flare-up coming on. Because I fear to hear this phrase I rarely get the help I need. I think to myself, what if it's nothing. So, I do nothing. I just... move on.

We soldier on

So, that's how it goes. We deal with pain and nothing ever really happens. We endure a flare-up so bad that it can only be compared to that of the cruciatus curse (Millennials will get it) and just forget about it. Basically, we buck up, pull up our bootstraps, turn that frown upside down, and every other cliche possible.

So, what's the point?

By now, you must be yelling at the screen asking, what's the point? How do I beat it? Can we win the fight?

Well, the point is that we endure. We find ways to cope and get past some of the worse flare-ups that no one could imagine. Because we have to. And, eventually, we move past it. We no longer wonder, "why me?" We stop comparing our pain to others' fortune. Soon, we realize, that's the life we live. That's how we win.

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