Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Celebrating the Everyday with IBS

Celebrating the everyday has become something I’m passionate about.  Not that it’s really a new concept in my life; I’ve always been one to notice and relish small details.  But for the last few months it had taken on added meaning in my life.  I want to remember to celebrate the everyday especially now…now that it’s harder.  

I was recently diagnosed with IBS…and that’s after struggling for months without knowing for sure what the problem was.  You can read about the specific symptoms at WebMD, but let’s just say that every single aspect of my life has been effected by this diagnosis…mostly because of the pain.  That’s the hardest part for me.  Most days it feels like someone is stabbing me with a fork and twisting my gut like spaghetti.  And that results in an uncontrollable and inconsistent digestive system.  I have dubbed myself the “porcelain prisoner.”  


Most of the information that I’ve read about IBS is clear that there is an emotional connection to the physical symptoms, and my doctor suggested that I look at what was going on in my life around the time when the pain started.  It was in October, now that I think back and really try to pinpoint things.  Chris was in a car accident.  He was not seriously injured, but the stress that came from that day is something we’re still dealing with.  And then in November my grandmother died, with much emotional turmoil during that time.  And then I was sick.  Like so sick I thought I had dysentery.  I lived in the bathroom… only ate rice and bananas and drank Pepto Bismol like it was my lifeblood.  And then things got worse.  I couldn’t ride in the car anymore…the motion of the vehicle was too much for me pain wise and caused extreme nausea.  I can’t really describe it, but I feel it in my lower back...a deep, dark twist of my system, a vertigo of sorts.  And so I spent lots of time in bed or on the couch.  I worked when I could and tried a few special diets to try and get a handle on my symptoms.  

Pictures from my 365 project
And finally decided that I needed to bite the bullet, sign up and pay for medical insurance so I could go see a doctor.  IBS is a diagnosis of exclusion, which means that they must first make sure that there is nothing else wrong that could be causing your symptoms.  So I had lots of tests done…lots of blood drawn…a CT scan, an ultrasound, and pretty much any other test they could think of.  And along with discovering I have a form of liver disease and extremely high cholesterol, they gave me a confirmed diagnosis of IBS.  


The thing about IBS is that each case is different…each patient exhibits different types of symptoms and deals with the pain differently.  It is so hard to get a handle on exactly what my triggers are, and what types of food I should and shouldn't eat.  I struggle with eating the right foods to lower my cholesterol but that hurt my gut so bad.  It is hard to find a balance.  

So with this diagnosis looming over me, the stress of everything piling up the last few months, and the depression I'm dealing with, celebrating the everyday does not come easy.  It is something that I must constantly decide to do every single day.  I have learned a lot through this trial…that I am stronger than I ever knew, but also that there is humility in recognizing and accepting my limitations.  So maybe right now I am not able to be in the full time ministry work, but I can give my all in the hour a week that I am able to be out and ride in the car.  I might not be able to do the things I used to do, with the people I used to do them with, in the places that I used to go, but there is still a lot to be grateful for.  I have the most supportive, caring, giving husband who has stuck by my side and cared for me through all of this.  And I have been able to keep working at my job, which I am so glad to have still.  It’s hard to explain to people (and embarrassing too, if I’m being honest) the things I struggle with. But I don’t want to dwell on the negative, and the pain and the depression.  I want to find something every day that is worth celebrating, even if it’s just life itself.  And I want to share the joys I find.  That is why this blog is so important to me.  It’s keeping my mind healthy, even though my body is not really cooperating.  


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13 comments:

  1. Hey Shaina, I am new to your blog (Through from I Might Just Explode) so i wanted to say hi and thank you for your awesome blog, but also to give a virtual hug as I also have IBS and have had it for years, and to reassure you that it DOES get better from those early horrible days, as you work out just what triggers certain behaviour off. For example in the end I worked out that wheat is my biggest issue and as soon as I cut that out life got about 3000% better (although not easy to get lunch when i am out now!) So good luck, and wishing you all best wishes, and thanks for writing such a positive and inspirational blog despite all you're going through xxx Jules

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    1. Hi Jules, I'm so glad you stopped by and I'm so glad you took the time to comment. I appreciate your kind words, encouragement and suggestions. Its so good to know I'm not alone. <3

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  2. Hi Shaina. I was diagnosed with IBS 40 years ago and in the early days the pain was bad. I was in my first year as a trained teacher and on one day I thought I was going to pass out in front of the class of 5 year old children!! Once I knew what it was a lot of the stress disappeared thankfully. And now I only get the occasional flare up. One of the things that would set it off was cooked cheeses, but now I can eat it and nothing happen and then on the odd time I will be in pain. The booklet I got given said it was as common as the common cold. A long hot bath can help. Also having a fizzy drink when the pain is bad as this seems to help dispel the internal gas in your digestive system.

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    1. It sure does help knowing for sure what is wrong, and that there is something really wrong, its not just in my head. I am finding more and more people have it, now that I've got it and I'm talking about it. Its too bad there isn't more known about it... Thanks for the tips about the bath and the fuzzy drinks. I'll give that a try. :) I'm so glad you commented. Thank you.

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  3. Oh my dear, I had no idea any of this was going on! (except chris and your grandma, I remember those events) I was initially diagnosed with IBS before my gluten intolerance was discovered, as well as my other food intolerances. Do make sure you're also looking into possible allergies/intolerances as well, because those are more and more common nowadays and make IBS much worse!
    I remember being so balled up in pain every single day for so long. It was awful.

    It will take time but you will get this figured out and get on the road to a much healthier, happier way of life. Once you get your triggers figured out, are able to better navigate eating, and are working through the stress, slowly but surely, you'll feel better and better. It takes time. That was the hard part for me, the learning and the reading and the patience!

    Be gentle to yourself ok??

    Love you!

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    1. Thank you sweet friend. I will be sure to check into allergies/intolerance... I'm planning an elimination diet soon, to see if I can really pinpoint what causes me pain. Thank you for your kind heart and words. I am struggling with the patience part...but I will take your advise and try to be gentle to myself. <3

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  4. I'm so sorry you're having to deal with that! I know how embarrassing and frustrating digestive issues can be - I've had acid reflux for years and also had my gal bladder removed, so eating the wrong thing can make me miserable. I'm sure IBS is 10x worse. (((HUGS))) to you!! Looking forward to a time when we don't have to deal with stuff like that!!

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    1. Definitely looking forward to the time when sicknesses and illnesses will be a thing of the past. Our promised future feels more real to me know that I am dealing with this. Even the hope is such a comforting gift. Thanks for the virtual hug. I hope one day we'll get to hug for real. :)

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  5. Whew...I had no idea you were going through so much!!! I'm so happy you have a diagnosis...is it GI Joe that says "knowing is half the battle!" (see...too much time with little boys! :-)) I love how Dani said, "be gentle with yourself" Such amazing words, beautifully perfect for your situation! XOXO

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    1. GI Joe got it right! ;) Thanks for your comment and encouragement. I'm doing my best... :)

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  6. Hey Shaina

    I'm new to your blog, just come across this post via BBN and have since added myself to your followers.

    I sympathise with your plight in the annnoyance of digestive disorders; I have suffered with Crohn's Colitis for the past 11 years and I know how painful and trying these type of conditions can be.

    Have you ever tried juicing?? It has been suggested to me recently to give this a try and apparently I will be amazed by the results!! There are various recipes available that are specific to conditions including IBS so it may be worth an experiment.

    Hope you get your condition under control and start to see and improvement soon.

    Love Claire xx
    http://www.fashionrhetoric.com/

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    1. I have actually been thinking about trying juicing...cuz I really just can't handle raw vegetables right now, like at all. I'm going to do some more research. Thanks for the tip and for commiserating with me. It helps so much to know I'm not alone. :)

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  7. I'm sorry to hear about all you're going through! Best wishes!!!

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