As part of the #IBelieveinyourStory campaign, I am sharing Eleanor’s story. Eleanor sent her message to be via my email and you can too! If you want to provide inspiration or hope to others suffering from IBS and/or SIBO or simply want to share your story with me, write: firstname.lastname@example.org
“I wanted to share my story for IBS Awareness Month because I’ve just completed the elimination portion of the FODMAP diet and feel so amazing that I want people to know that there is hope.
I’m Eleanor, and I’ve been a nurse for over 20 years. In that time, I’ve seen a lot of bums and a lot of poop; and heard many stories about other people’s gut issues.
Despite this I’ve spent at least a decade, maybe two, too embarrassed to tell my family doctor about my daily battle with gas, bloating, bouts of constipation but leaning more to diarrhea, a bum so sore from pooping and farting that it would often bleed; and abdominal cramping and nausea.
Two decades of symptoms! 20+ years in the health profession, yet too embarrassed to say anything.
What’s more, I thought it was normal, or at the very least unavoidable. Because the one time that I did mention to a family doctor my problems with gas, I was told “everyone has gas, and some medications can exacerbate it”. So that was that.
Fast forward several years, and I’m now working as a nurse in Canada in a Gastro-Intestinal Clinic, and I have a new family doctor. All day long my colleagues and the gastroenterologists we work in tandem with talk to patients about their bowel preps, GI symptoms, bowel habits and the results of their colonoscopies and gastroscopies. I found myself talking to patients about their constipation, diarrhoea, fibre and fluid intake, hemorrhoids, polyps and general bowel health; such conversation gradually became normalized for me and I began to realize that maybe my symptoms weren’t so “normal” or inevitable after all.
Eventually I found the courage to share with my family doctor some of what I had been going through. After listening intently, and asking a few questions, she said that it sounded like I might be suffering from IBS and would I be interested in a referral to a dietitian that specializes in gut problems. 4 weeks later I’m sitting in the dietician’s office learning about FODMAPs and the highly successful program that has been developed by my alma mater Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.
I have just finished the elimination portion of the “diet”, and I feel so amazing. I’d already switched to lactose-free dairy products, and I actually found the rest to be relatively easy. Yes, it took some prior planning and preparation; grocery store visits took twice as long and there was frustration in discovering just how many packaged and processed foods contained onion and garlic! But I asked loads of questions of my dietician (she refers to me as her Frequent Correspondent), gained lots of great recipe ideas from various blogs and discovered the Montreal-based FODY Food Company that deliver anywhere in North America.
My symptoms are so much better – I still have gas, but not so much so that I could power a hot air balloon. Instead of cramping and pooping 3-4 times a day, it’s 1-2 with minimal cramps… my a*s hardly ever hurts now! The nausea that regularly plagued me has pretty much gone. My belly feels light and happy, if such a thing were possible.
I am both anxious and excited to take the next step in the FODMAP diet – the challenge phase. I don’t want to feel unwell again, but to be able to identify my trigger foods will empower me in what I choose to put into my mouth. It will also be nice to add some variety to my diet as we come into the warmer weather and summer harvest.
If my story can give anyone hope or provide the impetus to have that conversation with a family doctor, then it was worth sharing. Don’t accept the status quo without question; death and taxes might be inevitable, but a happy and healthy gut is possible!”
Thanks again, Eleanor for sharing your story. We need to share all of our symptoms with our doctor to get the help we need. And of course, work with a doctor that listens and takes you seriously.
There is no need to suffer in silence.
To learn more about the IBS Awareness campaign, #IBelieveinyourStory click here.
I share my story too (via video and text), click here.