Today, I am sharing another IBS and SIBO story as part of the #IBelieveinyourStory campaign.
Here is Lauren’s story:
Since the time I was little, I always enjoyed being active. I was constantly running around and playing various sports. My stomach never bothered me; I could eat a whole cupcake and go for a run shortly after. That all changed when I was about 20 years old and studying abroad. All of a sudden it seemed, I was extremely and continuously constipated. I was also experiencing strange pain, bloating, and spasms in my belly. The anxiety over this was all encompassing and it was difficult for me to truly enjoy my time abroad. I started seeing doctors upon my return, and other than assuring me that I was not dying (a legitimate concern of mine at points), I did not receive much help. I was prescribed fiber for the constipation and advised to find some probiotics to take.
Time went by and I was not feeling much better, although I tried hard to convince myself things were not that “abnormal”. I decided to take a stab at eliminating gluten from my diet, which was not an easy task considering bread and pasta were basically my favorite foods. I immediately felt less bloated and less constipated, although still not normal by any means. Those gains were enough to get me through another year or two.
Then, I began having some difficulty breathing during my runs and workouts. I thought my asthma was worsening and tried changing inhalers but that did not help. A friend suggested it was digestive related, so back to a GI specialist I went. This time they ran a number of tests, including an endoscopy and ultrasound, but did not find anything out of the ordinary except for some acid reflux. I was prescribed PPI’s but that did nothing for my breathing problem and the air bubbles that were constantly trapped in my stomach and throat. The doctor did not know what else to tell me except to try limiting things in my diet and taking over the counter gas pills.
I decided to try the low FODMAP diet under the direction of a dietician. When my symptoms did not improve even after two months on the elimination diet, the dietician basically gave up as well. I experimented eliminating all sorts of things from my diet, to no avail. I was also stuffing myself full of probiotics, hoping that all the “good bacteria” would somehow force my gut to function normally again.
At the end of last summer I came to the conclusion on my own that I likely had SIBO [small intestinal bacterial overgrowth], along with IBS-C. The doctors had long told me I had IBS but had offered little to no sympathy, explanation, or help as to how to really deal with it. I felt that no one understood my symptoms and did not care enough to try. That changed when I started seeing Toni at Kate’s clinic last fall. Finally someone seemed INTERESTED in what I had to say and was truly SUPPORTIVE. Through her I got in contact with a doctor in Boston that has since systematically gone through a number of other tests with me. We are currently trying to treat the SIBO and motility issues.
I cannot overstate how important it is to find a support system and people that will listen to you and help you. They are out there! I have found numerous friends and strangers alike that have shared their digestive woes with me after I’ve told them mine. So many people are suffering in silence or do not know who to turn to. I have had to alter my lifestyle significantly due to my symptoms but in turn have focused on other activities that bring joy to my life such as rock climbing, yoga, and experimenting with unique low FODMAP foods! Some days are really rough and frustrating but miraculously, I start each morning with renewed hope that eventually, I will be back to running my heart out. Until then, I take what I can get and am thankful for it.
Good luck in your journey!
Thank you so much Lauren for sharing your story! I know it will resonate with so many others out there! 🙂