My Personal IBS Journey… So Far

Like many people out there, I have struggled for years with the pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation and other issues that come with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). The hardest part for me is maintaining my happiness due to the pain and restrictions. This is a daily struggle and I mention in detail in my bio.

Heather's Personal IBS Journey

My IBS symptoms started slowly and at first, I would just chalk it up to being hungry. At that time, I was in diet mode trying to lose weight for my upcoming wedding, so my body was not used to the constant workouts or the light diet. However, after the wedding, I eased up on the dieting efforts and the pain, gas and bloating did not ease up with it. I tried some crazy dietary changes, none of which worked, and in the meantime I found that I was popping Imodium on a regular basis to manage the constant diarrhea.

Finally, I eliminated gluten from my diet on a whim and immediately felt better. I once said years ago that “I would die if I ever had to give up bread and pasta” which is now comical, because I feel like I would have died if I continued to eat it. It was a radical lifestyle change, and I had my share of meltdowns. Being in social situations and learning how to eat in restaurants was difficult. However, after about 8 months, which included every major holiday, I no longer craved bread or baked goods. I learned to cook things from scratch, handle social situations with ease and knew all the places in town where I could happily eat. I had a great regiment down and I felt very healthy and happy again.

A few months later, the pain started back up again. Knowing the issues people have with lactose, I immediately eliminated the large glass of milk I drank for breakfast and replaced it with a calcium pill. This solution was ideal and made me feel great again.

About one year later, the gas, bloating, abdominal pain and unpredictable diarrhea reared it’s ugly head with a vengeance. I finally took the steps to see a specialist about my issues. After the cat scan, endoscopy and colonoscopy, I was hopeful that I would finally get the answers I was looking for. Once the pain medication wore off, I heard my doctor declare that there was nothing wrong with me. While its great that I didn’t have a life threatening illness, this did not bring me any comfort. During a follow up appointment, he said I most likely have irritable bowel syndrome, which is unable to be detected through tests.

Since that “diagnosis,” I have tried a variety of medicines and treatments with little to no relief. I finally went to a Dietician, and she had me try the low FODMAP diet. It was overwhelming at first and I had a rough few days trying to change everything I knew about food. My love affair with garlic hit a rough patch. I feared that I would not be able to travel or eat out with the new restrictions. I scoured the internet for help and solutions. I spent 3 hours in my local grocery store reading every label possible (and found that garlic or onion is in everything). I tried (and failed) at modifying many recipes. Going gluten-free felt like a breeze compared to this!

After a few months, I am finally feeling like my happy self again. I have discovered what causes my IBS symptoms and learned to cook meals that are safe for me and delicious, as well. Garlic and I are taking our relationship to the next level. While I’m still early in my journey, I feel my experience is important to share because I want to help others that are experiencing the challenges that I faced. We’re in this together and we’ll get through it together!