As told to the AlliApp team by an active AlliApp tracker
I can’t pinpoint exactly when I got IBS symptoms and stomach pain, but I have flare ups that can last days, weeks, even months. I’m a man in my thirties now, though as a kid I always had a ‘sicky’ tummy, with gurgling sounds, and my belly swelled up a lot. I now know it can run in families – maybe that’s why they call it the runs!
IBS and stomach pain has changed my life
My dad used to, frankly, lie around farting a lot and complaining about his belly ache. I feel guilty because when I was a heartless teenager, I remember thinking he was a smelly loafer, and now I realise I must seem the same way. When my IBS and stomach pain is really bad I swing between diarrhoea – constantly wanting to go, in fact sometimes just not being able to stop myself and needing to get to a loo quick! – and constipation, where I can’t go at all, even though I desperately feel I need to.
Holidays and IBS
The expression ‘shit happens’ must surely have been made up by an IBS sufferer. When everyone else is having a great time, eating nice food, having a drink and letting their hair down, that’s when I tend to feel worse. Oh and I always seem to get it on holiday. I don’t know if this is because of the change of food, change of water, the climate, or because of the stress of being away from home…though tbh, who knows? IBS is one of life’s great mysteries.
Diarrhoea and constipation too!
I first went to the doctor because, apart from the bloating and toilet problems I was constantly aware of a weird sort of smell, around the times I was feeling ill. My constant burping smells like bad eggs so honestly, I feel embarrassed at both ends. Because the smell seems overwhelming to me I’ve no idea if other people can tell too. This condition is really a joy killer, or should I say party pooper? Poo (or a stronger word!) is all I seem to think about – there’s either too much of it or it doesn’t come at all.
Antidepressants, supplements and self-help
It can be scary too – you have to have other conditions ruled out, like bowel cancer or Crohn’s Disease, so it’s really vital that you see a doctor to get checked out. When I was first diagnosed with IBS I looked it up on the NHS site. When I read that it’s likely to be a lifelong condition with no cure and no definite cause, I got really depressed and felt helpless and hopeless. If you’re really in a bad way you can have prescribed antidepressants, which is pretty much the only medication offered by GPs. But I’ve chosen not to. Everyone is different with this condition, and for some people they can be a good help.
We need to find what fits each of us best
I want to be proactive and to sort myself out and I do sometimes find that taking vitamins and probiotics can make me feel perkier. When I’m constipated, flaxseed also seems to help the passage of food along my, well, passage. That’s just me though, it doesn’t work for everyone and we all have to find what fits for us best. This is a lifelong condition so I need to do this for life and, for me anyway, medication would be the last resort.
I’m a food and stool detective!
So now I’m a food (and stool!) detective. I keep note of what I eat, what I do, where I go. You’re in pain already, and it can be an even bigger pain having to keep track of everything you eat and do, with a notepad and pen. Who has the time or energy to keep copious notes – of food, your mood, your surroundings, your symptoms? And then you can lose all the info scribbled on paper, unless you’re really methodical and keep it together, and that isn’t always easy when you’re in pain, or on the toilet!
A health and food diary on my phone
A food diary on your phone can really be a life (and time) saver. I’ve found that AlliApp is the best one for tracking all my food and symptoms, along with extra things like moods, the weather, pollution, medication. I found the app link on an article I checked out about GORD, as I wondered if that was another of my problems. With AlliApp you can even input whatever you personally suspect is making you ill. For me, food is probably the main trigger (like wheat, dairy, too much fruit), but I think stress, my moods and even a heavy, damp day can all make me feel worse.
I’m doing something, not just feeling in pain, depressed and in the dark
I’ve decided that trying to find all the causes of my stomach pain and IBS, and sharing it with my doctor, is the best way for me to feel better about myself. I’ve signed up to the IBS Network, who are a tremendous support. I’m doing something, not just feeling in pain, depressed and in the dark.
AlliApp Health and Food Diary comes along for the ride
Having my AlliApp app along for the journey means I can record what I do, and how it makes me feel, in a really simple way. Waiting for the app to turn up my likely triggers is actually quite exciting, like solving a ‘Whodunnit’, while feeling I’m on the way to being less ill. I’m determined that once I get to the bottom (pun intended!) of this condition, I’ll make positive and useful changes that will keep all future flare-ups to an absolute minimum. IBS and constant stomach pain is no picnic, but I find having a sense of humour helps!
(The author asked us to keep his name anonymous but he hopes this story can help fellow sufferers feel less isolated).