It starts so slowly. A dangerous little rumble in the tummy. A gradual tightening of the intestines.
Blood immediately rushes to my cheeks and I start looking for the nearest bathroom, mentally trying to calculate exactly how long I have before there’s going to be a very messy accident.
Welcome to the world of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. An embarrassing, unstable, hideous world where every food item has the potential to cause major distress. A world full of unexplained bloating and stomach pains and very unpleasant bowel movements.
It all started at the beginning of last year, with a stroke of extreme bad luck. I got the kind of parasite that’s so rare that my doctor had to pull out a textbook to try and remember what it was, and how to treat it. The Department of Health investigated me and asked me things like, “what kind of pools have you swum in for the last year?”
My answer: “Uh… wet, blue ones?”
The parasite cleared out the good bacteria from my gut and made it a very unhappy place. Following that, my doctor misdiagnosed me with another ailment and put me on some unnecessary antibiotics that absolutely ruined me.
Another diagnosis was made, and it was IBS. Which is essentially an umbrella term for all the gut-related mishaps that can’t really be explained and can’t really be healed unless you find something that really, really works for you.
So far, I’ve tried:
– Going lactose-free. (This made no difference, although I did become addicted to lactose-free Parmesan.)
– Going gluten-free. (Also no difference, although my wallet felt the pain – GF stuff is expensive.)
– Trying the FODMAP diet. (No help.)
– Drinking shiteloads of water every day. (Had to pee all the time. Otherwise, no difference.)
– Keeping a food diary. (Showed me nothing. Stomach upsets have been caused by everything from sushi to plain pasta.)
– Taking lots of probiotics. (I’m sure they help a little, although they’re definitely not a miracle cure.)
– Starting every day with a glass of lemon water. (Of anything, this has helped more with my immunity than my digestion.)
– Cutting out alcohol and all artificial sweeteners. (A life without any wine or cider is the actual worst.)
– Eating more fruit. (Gave me lots of bloating.)
– Eating less fruit. (No noticable differences.)
I was about to book myself into a colonic when I decided to download a few books onto my Kindle that might help (I refuse to read anything related to IBS in a format where other people might see what I’m reading). Trust Your Gut, by Dr. Gregory Plotnikoff and clinical health psychologist Dr. Mark Weisberg, was one of the first books I downloaded and started reading immediately.
And you know what? The tiniest little trick from the book changed my life – and, so far, has healed my IBS almost completely.