Sweet, Sweet 18: Having IBS As A Teenager (Hint - It Is Not Fun)

Imagine you are on a stage. It is your last year of high school and the last year of performances for you. When all of a sudden you are hit with a wave of nausea not like anything else you have ever had before. And it now happens every single performance you have for the rest of the year. What is better, is that you will not find out until the next winter of your freshman year of college.

Being a teenager with IBS & fibromyalgia

I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in December of 2018, so pretty recently. But at that time, I was 18, and it felt like I had been given answers and a death sentence on my life all at once. I was told why I was nauseous, in pain all the time, and why my joints felt arthritic without having arthritis. But that answer meant that there was no cure and that I would only get worse as I age. And even knowing this, I still decided to continue dancing, but instead of on a stage, I was on the field and in the stands with my college marching band.

Because of this decision, I live with my fair share of frustrations: being outside in the cold makes the pain worse, I have to limit what kinds of dance I do to not hurt myself, and being called out for carrying ginger ale with me everywhere due to nausea and bloating.

I know if I did not do this activity, I would not do any activity. Knowing the fact that I love to sleep, I would probably just lay in bed on a heating pad and a can of ginger ale. I do have bad pain days or bad nausea days and I stay home from class and do just that because that is all that my body could handle at the time. But I try not to make excuses for myself. I am afraid of people saying that what I am going through is fake because they cannot see it.

Your frustration is valid

I want you to know that your frustration is valid. Almost every morning I wake up nauseous or have digestive issues throughout the day. Being nauseous when you eat something, getting nauseous when you do not eat at the right time. Feeling gassy throughout the day when you are embarrassed that someone will know or smell it on you. And this is an invisible illness, so people may not understand.

Since it has been 3 years with IBS and it has not gotten better for me, I have concluded that I need to try an elimination diet. Trust me, I would not do this unless I have tried anything else. I have tried drinking almond milk, taking probiotics, drinking ginger ale, and only eating at certain times of the day to try and control the bloating and nausea. Unfortunately, nothing has worked so far.

I am done with being bloated and nauseous after I eat. I am a girl who loves to eat, especially carbs and dairy. Giving those up means that I am letting go of how my body used to function and starting the new adventure of understanding my body. I might not find any answers, but I won’t know until I try.

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