IBS "Runs" in the family (pun intended)

Last updated: January 2023

Family of 6, one bathroom, two parents with IBS...

I am familiar with some of the symptoms which IBS can present... Early on I had the loose and very urgent stools similar to my father. Mom suffered with cramping and pain which I, so far, have not had. When I was requiring pain medication to control RA pain, the IBS seemed more constipation. Now I am back to the urgent, total evacuation style IBS.

Managing chronic illness with IBS

One of my current problems is that delivering a very big baby in the 80's did a number on my pelvic floor and, and years later, a previously undetected sphincter tear has resurfaced as an added problem to the very urgent, very total colonic emptying, which is IBS for me. No sphincter control complicates leaving the house. Each time I plan to leave the house I need to figure: is it done?; should I wear disposable underwear or is a pad sufficient?, will I have to eat while out? Will I need a change of clothes? You know the drill.

I have other challenges like Rheumatoid Arthritis that has decreased my strength and mobility significantly. My hand and wrist movement is impaired even more so after surgeries on them. A short leg and scoliosis have led to severe degenerative arthritis in my spine and led to multiple disc ruptures, surgery and scarring.

I think that I have widespread smooth muscle/neurological impairment- I have swallowing problems, reflux, a history of peptic ulcer disease, and IBS. Hypertension (4 drugs to control it), ADDM Type 2, high cholesterol, a history of polycystic ovarian disease and a few of their complications round out the picture.

Managing all of my medical problems is now my full time job. Years of treatment with ENBREL lead to a chest full of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in 2009, this last summer I was diagnosed with DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ) stage zero.

IBS is a struggle

Even with all of that, I still regard IBS and incontinence as having the most impactful on my daily living. I am struggling to find a way to coexist with it. A major trigger seems to be any rich or fatty meal, so I avoid those. Still I have episodes of IBS unpredictably and I can see it is changing the way I interact socially. I buy Lomotil in bottles of 200 and keep it in the car, in my purse, and at home. I have extra pads, plastic bags, spare underwear-disposable and regular, all stashed in the car, my purse, etc.

I am looking for ways to manage the sphincter but I am told there is no reliable surgical fix, so I turn to the IBS community for ideas. Disposable underwear is truly designed for urinary incontinence and works well for that, but isn't designed for fecal incontinence.

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