Friday, 20 April 2018

What It's Really Like To Live With IBS

what it's like to live with ibs
(Image Credit - Pinterest)

Earlier in the year I spoke about potentially getting more personal on here regarding my daily health struggles, what it's like to be a forever alone twenty-something, etc. and today I'm going to be talking about the health issue that has had the biggest impact on my day to day life; IBS.

I specifically wanted to share this post this month to celebrate the fact that it's IBS Awareness Month. Even though I wouldn't wish IBS on my worst enemy, it's weirdly comforting and nice to know that I'm not going through this struggle on my own. If you or someone you know suffers from IBS or other digestive issues, I would definitely recommend checking out the #IBSAwarenessMonth hashtag on Twitter and across social media to engage with a community of others suffering from the same horrible condition.

But here's what it's really like to live with IBS and the impact that it has on all aspects of my life;

Forever the flaky friend

Cancelling plans, having to rearrange at the very last minute and opting to stay home instead going out to eat and socialise with friends and family, feel like a never ending cycle for me. It's meant that I've lived a pretty lonely existence as a result.

Friends from school, from Uni and even from blogging have all drifted away since I first started experiencing symptoms. There's only so many times that you can stand someone up or cancel at the last minute before they inevitably no longer check in or suggest meeting up again. To be honest, if I didn't still live at home, I don't know how many people I could count on for everyday physical interaction which is really pretty sad. I often think about all of the memories and special moments that I've missed out on from Uni nights out to holidays and even just simple catch ups with friends, all because of my IBS. It's led to me having more acquaintances than true friends and besties as over the years I've grown apart from so many people.

I need a lie down

Everyday I have to take a myriad of medications for my IBS and even then they don't work half of the time. From soluble laxatives (oh yeah, we're really getting to know one another now) to antispasmodic and antidepressant tablets (for my out of control gut), to diarrhea treatment tablets, I still end up doubled over in pain or glued to the toilet seat for hours at least once a week.

One of the symptoms that I deal with on a daily basis is trapped wind. Sometimes it's just a bit of a sore niggle in my side or stomach, other times it gets trapped under my rib cage, mimicking the pain of a heart attack or in my flank where it's so unbearable that I struggle to breathe.

One of the only things that does help to alleviate some of the terrible trapped wind and in turn allow for movement to actually happen, is to lie down on my side and to take a few Senocalm tablets (honestly the best tablets that I've found for helping me to alleviate trapped wind!), basically in the foetal position. Sometimes the trapped wind will pop internally in as little as 30 minutes, other times I spend hours writhing about in pain trying to find the sweet spot that releases it.

Desperately needing to lie down whenever and wherever a bad bought strikes means that I have to abandon whatever I'm doing whether that's work, blogging, shopping or just generally being out and about. I honestly never thought that I would ever see myself draped over a bench in a shopping centre or lying down on the pavement at Universal Studios (yup, both have happened to me at the worst of times) but that's just how painful it is.

Working from home

For as long as I can remember I've been working towards that dream job or dream career. I studied hard in my last year of school to get into the University of my choice at the age of 17, spent four years at said University aiming for a 2:1, which I got, only for my health to throw a real spanner in the works.

I'm not going to lie, I struggled with undiagnosed gallstones when in my final year of school and in the first 2 years of my degree, eventually having to have surgery to remove my gallbladder in the Summer between my second and third year but it wasn't all encompassing and something that affected my life every day like IBS does.

I eventually had to give up the job that I had had when I was at Uni when the symptoms got really bad and found myself feeling totally lost as to what to do next. It was about that time that I started this very blog, solely to give me something to do during the day when I was in on my own whilst everyone else was at work. As the years went on I started making the odd amount from my blog and ever since realising that I could really make something of my blog, even if I wasn't the next Zoella, I've thrown myself into treating what I do on the internet from my blog to my freelance work as a 'proper' job, even though it's not what I had initially planned career-wise.

It upsets me from time to time that I don't have a traditional 9-5 job but then I take a second to appreciate the fact that I get to do something that I absolutely love from the comfort of my home. There are days when I wish that I had a steady, reliable income coming in every month and the security of 'proper' job. If I didn't have IBS I would have most likely moved out of the family home and be stepping out on my own. My dream job even came up at the end of last month and it broke my heart that I certainly wasn't in the position to be able to work 35 hours in an office. Maybe one day my health will even out a bit and I'll be able to pursue that dream but until then, I work on my own from home which certainly has it's pluses and minuses.

Getting nowhere medically

Despite having every test and scan under the sun done (I'm talking MRIs, colonoscopies, endoscopies, stool samples and blood tests), all they can tell me is that I've got IBS, which is honestly one of the most frustrating things about the condition. After they've ruled everything else out what you're left with is IBS and unlike other conditions which have specific treatment plans and medication, you're just kind of left in the dark when it comes to it.

Even if you follow everything recommended to you such as a low FODMAP diet, regular exercise and avoiding stress or triggers, it's no guarantee that you'll be symptom free, as I can regularly attest to. I just wish that there was more that could be done medically or that there were medication that really did cure me of all the horrible symptoms of IBS but I won't be holding my breath anytime soon.

It was good to get some of this off my chest and to air my frustrations to someone other than my family and GP and I hope that by me talking openly about my struggle with IBS that it will inspire others to feel comfortable enough to share their IBS or other health struggle stories.

Sadly IBS is just one of the chronic illnesses that I've been unlucky to develop in my lifetime.

Do you know anyone with IBS? Are you a fan of more personal blog posts? And would you like to see my share more of my health journey and struggles on here?


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