This is a book I never intended to write. After all, why would I? Why write anything about Irritable Bowel Syndrome when for the first twenty years I suffered from the disorder I never once met someone else with the same problem? IBS wasn't something I even talked about with friends, let alone a topic I envisioned myself becoming some sort of "expert" on. Just the thought conjured up awful visions along the lines of introducing myself with, "Hi, my name's Heather. And my colon." Not exactly a glamorous path to fame and fortune. Embarrassment and isolation were more like it.

I honestly believe that, to this day, I still wouldn't have met another IBS sufferer had it not been for my first book, Eating for IBS. That book was as unexpected an event in my life as this one. It evolved from a two page email letter I sent to people on IBS internet boards into a full-fledged website, and only from there, in quite a roundabout manner, did it eventually end up as an actual published book.

Over the long course of writing Eating for IBS, and since its publication, I have been overwhelmed with letters from other IBS sufferers desperate for help, answers, a sympathetic ear, and a little understanding from someone who could truly relate first-hand to the sheer misery they were enduring.

As the letters piled up into the thousands (literally), the questio These letters raised issues outside the dietary aspects of IBS that begged to be addressed. People both newly diagnosed and long-time sufferers were asking the same questions. What is IBS? Why did I develop it? What are all the triggers, and why do attacks sometimes strike so unpredictably? Why doesn't anyone seem to take this problem seriously? Am I supposed to just live with IBS forever, and if so HOW?

As the letters piled up into the thousands (literally), the questions they asked began to weigh heavily on me. I started to consider writing a book that dealt with IBS in-depth and addressed the full spectrum of ways to manage it. Having heard from so many people whose lives were transformed by the IBS dietary information alone, I realized that a broader book could surely accomplish even more. People were telling me that they were now able to drive, take vacations, hold a job, and socialize for the first time in years simply as a result of adapting the IBS diet. How much more dramatically could their lives be improved by comprehensive information about all IBS management strategies?

My own life offered a happy answer to this question, as the various elements required for successfully dealing with IBS on a daily basis have long been habitual for me, and are now ingrained to such an extent that I usually feel confident taking my good health and the freedom it allows for granted. To a great degree this is simply the end result of having had to deal with the disorder since I was nine years old. At that time I suffered my first attack, which struck out of the blue while I was playing in a neighbor's garden. The pain was so severe it quite literally took my breath away. I was unable to move or speak, and I eventually blacked out.

When I recovered and made my way home, my parents took me to my pediatrician, who announced without running a single diagnostic test that my symptoms didn't fit any disorder she'd ever heard of. She refused to refer me to a gastroenterologist and told me to "quit whining". For years she dismissed my symptoms, ignored the fact that the attacks were so severe they sometimes woke me from a sound sleep in the middle of the night, and didn't even believe me when I told her I actually lost consciousness from the pain. It was seven long years later before I finally saw a doctor who was able to diagnose me, and by that time I had come to realize that while the attacks probably weren't going to kill me (though the pain did make me want to die), they were also not going to simply disappear (no matter how fervently I hoped and prayed).

I desperately needed some help. Unfortunately, while my diagnosis did at long last give me a name for my problem, it didn't come with much information about what was physically wrong with me, and beyond a recommendation to use Metamucil I wasn't offered any advice at all about how to prevent or stop attacks.

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