I’ve been wanting to post this for a while, but I honestly don’t know where to start. You gotta start somewhere, right? This might be TMI for some people, but I really think my story can bring awareness to people, and it might really open your eyes. You never know what someone is going through.
I’ve had pretty bad health over the past 2 and a half years now. Before this time, I was perfectly healthy. I’ve always been one of those people that could eat anything I wanted, and just stay a stick figure. I never had to worry about my weight, and I was really happy about that. I pretty much grew up on junk food and soft drink. I had veggies and salad too, of course, as I was still living at home and Mum did all the meals. It slowly got to the stage where my metabolism started getting a bit slower, so I completely changed my ways with eating, and I started going to the gym and walking 10,000 steps everyday. I then got to the point where I was underweight, even though I ate 3 meals a day with a snack.
When I lost my first full-time job, that’s when I started going down hill. I would get severely bloated for a week at a time, to the point where I couldn’t stand up straight or walk, and for that week I was severely constipated, which made the pain even worse. I began to think it was alcohol, which I only had once a week, so I stopped drinking. Even when I stopped drinking, I still got it, so that didn’t really make a difference. Also at this time I started taking the pill, so I thought it could have just been my body adjusting to it. I was wrong.
After a few months of being unemployed, I finally got a job, the same organisation that I still work at today. It was around this time that I slowly started struggling with travel. I got really anxious about travelling and that my stomach would start playing up and that I would need to stop to go to the toilet somewhere, but I was always scared this would happen when I wasn’t near any toilets. I still have issues with this to this day. At this time it was either I went a heap, or not at all. It was at this time that I was diagnosed with IBS (Irritable bowl syndrome). The main symptoms of IBS are:
- Abdominal pain or cramping
- Alternating diarrhoea and constipation
- A sensation that bowels are never fully empty
- Abdominal bloating
At this time, I was seeing a few different doctors, I had had blood tests, x-rays, ultrasounds and tried different medications. The tests came back showing nothing, and the medication didn’t help me. Doctors were pretty stumped, so they sent me to a specialist, and a dietitian.
My dietitian put me on the ‘FODMAP’ diet. If you don’t know what diet this is, it is a diet to help and reduce IBS symptoms. You can find a list of foods you can eat/can’t eat here, and you can find more about the diet as a whole here. You have to be on this diet for a couple of months to notice improvements/changes, I was on it for about 3 months, until I started getting bloated again, so I gave up.
My specialist said that I’ve tried all the main things to help with my symptoms, so the nest step was to have a colonoscopy and gastroscopy. I was terrified as I had never had these done before. The prep is definitely the worst part of it, as you have to drink an excessive amount of fluid, but once that’s over it is the hard part done. And it is actually easy to fast for this as you’re drinking so much liquid you don’t feel like eating. The procedure is an absolute breeze, and you get a great, deep sleep. They found literally nothing out of the ordinary. My bowels/stomach were completely healthy and fine, although they found multiple polyps, which are little growths that appear on the lining of your bowel/stomach/colon. I had all of these removed as if they are left, there is a large chance that they will turn cancerous. Because of this, I now have to have a colonoscopy every 2 years. This is also a very common thing among a lot of people.
After all this I was still having the same IBS symptoms, so I decided to try out the FODMAP diet again, and surprise, surprise, no improvement. I ditched this again and decided I would try out a naturopath. Just to warn you, seeing a naturopath is VERY expensive. I saw my naturopath for about 6 months, in this time it costed me a couple thousand dollars, with my appointments, testing and also all the different supplements I was put on. They helped for a bit, but they just covered up my symptoms and didn’t get to the bottom of them and fix them.
One day she got me to do a food test, which I begged her to do just so I could rule out any certain foods. The test came back that I was highly and moderately intolerant to:
- Dairy – milk, cheese, yogurt etc.
- Egg and egg whites
I was over the moon to find out about this. I could just cut out these things and everything would go back to normal and I would finally be ok again! I was wrong. Cutting out these helped for a bit, but again I just went back to being bloated and having all the other IBS symptoms. Couldn’t travel for long distances. Couldn’t do what I wanted to do. All I could do was go to work and stay home. This is when the depression and anxiety really took over me. I was crying most days, struggling at work and didn’t know what else to do. I gave up seeing my naturopath, and things at this time were not looking good. I had been on anti-depressants for a year at this stage, and they were not doing want they were supposed to do – help reduce my anxiety, depression, and help settle my stomach.
It ended up at the point that I was in hospital, in so much pain from bloating from being constipated for a week and a half. It started when I had another doctors appointment and she told me to go straight to the emergency room. Now, I have an extreme fear of hospitals – they cause me really bad anxiety, which upsets my stomach. Just from the anxiety from being at a hospital, I went to the toilet about 20 times, and was feeling a lot better, but still weak. And still not getting to the bottom of my issues. Doctors did many different tests while I was in there, and they found, yet again, nothing. No bloody clue. I have to say, the hospital I was in was fabulous. I had my own room, own bathroom, it was carpeted and also quiet. All the nurses were super caring, same with the food staff. It was very nice for a hospital room. I stayed overnight. The next day my specialist came and saw me, as he works at the hospital, and prescribed me some painkillers, and also some stuff to help with my constipation called ‘Normacol’. This is good stuff, it helps you become regular, but doesn’t give you diarrhea which is perfect. If any of you have similar issues to me, I’d give this a shot. It helps with bloating as it sucks up excess gas. After being in hospital I took a week off work to recover.
I decided to try out another new doctor, and she put me on new anti-depressants, a type that is her favourite and that she gives out to a lot of her patients, as she has had lots of good feedback on them, as my current ones were not working. She did not warn me of the symptoms I would have starting new tablets, and my body adjusting to them. Terrible nausea, which caused me anxiety, and it was just a bad 2-3 weeks. My body is still getting used to them to this day, but they do help me a lot with my anxiety, and my depression, I no longer want to die.
To this day I still have issues with travelling long distances, and I always have to map out where toilets are just in case I need to go (thank god for McDonalds). I have also found some triggering foods for me, which are:
- Potato (fresh is ok – but not microwaved)
Since cutting out these, I haven’t had bloating pain at all, and have lost weight! My stomach was so bloated all the time it constantly felt like I was pregnant. I’m not a big fan of fruit, and I hate wine so those are easy to cut out – rice is probably the hardest to cut out as it is in more things than you think.
I am a lot better off now than I was about 1 year ago, and I really hope that I am almost at the end of all of this. It has been the worst time in my life, but I couldn’t have done anything without my amazing other half. Without him, I probably would be dead.
I am now happily engaged and we are living in our own place, that we saved up for on our own. I am in an ok place now with my mental health, and I have a great job.
I have definitely forgotten things in this, but this is pretty much all of the main stuff.
If you are having similar issues to me physically – keep looking for help, it gets better.
If you are having similar issues to me mentally – keep looking for help, it gets better.