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Long-term consequences of IBS on life
      #289051 - 11/05/06 08:37 AM
vmars4eva

Reged: 11/05/06
Posts: 12
Loc: Illinois

Hello, all. My name is Tom, I'm a 20 year-old college student who has been living with IBS with D since age 14.

I've been reading this message board on and off for a few years now. You guys wouldn't believe how much of a relief it is to see other people dealing with the same issues I deal with alone in my everyday life. You're all a great inspiration to me. With Lexapro and an IBS-friendly diet, I've been able to keep my symptoms relatively under control for about a year and a half now, though the occassional sense of urgency and occassional symptom are still pretty strong.

For the last several months, I've been haunted by my IBS in regards to the way it shapes and affects my personality and my progress as a human being. Because I have IBS with D, I'm constantly fearful of any kind of travelling or doing anything that would involve being in an "unkown" place. I am always turning down social invitations, chances to be with friends and family away from home or school and recently, I've been having to turn down invitations to seminars relating to my major throughout the state because I would have to travel to them in a van full of six other people.

What I'm getting at is, I'm fearful that my anxiety related to IBS with D is preventing me from doing things that ultimately affect my ability to grow and develop as a person.

I have so many questions for you guys, and so much to learn.

I'm really curious to know if anyone else here feels that they too have had difficulties developing as a person due to their IBS.

There's a couple of other issues that have been bothering me in regards to my future.

What kind of careers are out of the questions because of IBS? I'm pursuing a career in print journalism as a writer, but I feel that being a reporter is pretty much out of the question because of the amount of travelling a reporter must do. Do I sacrifice my dream for the sake of being realistic and realizing that I wouldn't be able to perform as a reporter?

Thanks guys.

-Tom

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Re: Long-term consequences of IBS on life new
      #289057 - 11/05/06 09:50 AM
Miso

Reged: 04/20/06
Posts: 559
Loc: Calgary, Alberta, Canada

you say you are mostly under control with diet and lexapro which is great, i would suggest just taking immodium with you wherever you go on trips. you can take it preventitively or on an as needed basis, but whatever you do don't let the fear rule your life, i imagine the lexapro helps with calmiing some of the anxiety about attacks while out, but do not let the fear get to you now as you have your whole life ahead of you. Immodium and lots of safe snacks brought on your trips will help, munch on crackers, pretzles etc all day long while you travel to soothe your tummy. If you take a SFS then great bring that with you. The other good news is and this may sound funny, but it is more accepted that a guy have gas and use the bathroom and possibly smell it up than it is for a women, so you have that in your favour. Basically for me i just tell people i am with that i have ibs and that i do all i can to keep it under control but if i have an attack i have an attack and thats it, i deal with it. I always have my little med chest with me, anti nauseant like crystalized ginger, homeopathic antinauseant, tea packets, rice cakes, pepto bismol, etc, just in case anything happens, not just an ibs attack, plus my vitamin case for all my enzymes and probiotics.
When i was off my AD's for a year trying all natural alternatives fro my anxiety and ocd i turned into a hermit and life was terrible, i vowed never to be in that place again, however i am urning down the opportunity to do a term in barcelona next year, butthat it partly for my stomach reasons and partly for it not being all that necessary for my degree. However we have the opportunity to go for one week as well, and i will be doing the one week course, 3 month sis just too long for me.
Hope some of this helps.Good luck

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Re: Long-term consequences of IBS on life new
      #289063 - 11/05/06 12:03 PM
Aly

Reged: 08/16/04
Posts: 669
Loc: Columbus, Ohio

HI Tom,
I can really relate to everything you wrote about. First off, I am 23 and from Ohio, but am currently studying in England for the year for an MA degree. I've had IBS since I was probably 14 or so, and I'm an IBS A, but it only got bad within the past 2 years. I went from attacks 2-3 times a year to at least 2-3 a week. At my worst, I was miserable every day for about 6 months. I still cannot believe I graduated college during all of that, but somehow I made it. I remember taking a trip to Vienna with my now fiance and a grounp of 20 for a class...I was miserable. Unable to eat, always in pain...I cried for hours and thought my life was over. How can I do anything like this? So, Later that year I got on Lexapro and was able to start leaving the house more and getting to work more often. (Calling off work was a bit too easy for me, and I ended up calling in way too much).
Anyway, the long story summed up is this. I had to choose if I wanted to get my MA. I decided maybe school would be easier than working 5 days of week. Then my fiance and I had to find a place for both of us...and it ended up being England. I cannot tell you how scared I was that I would be sick here. Something in me clicked when we got here. This is MY life. I AMin control of it,(even though when the stomach pains hit I certainly don't believe it!) and I am NOT giving up all of my dreams of traveling and such for a stupid belly. Now, it's true that I still have some really bad days (like today even...booo) but I have to believe that I can do anything. And so far, through preventative immodium that I ALWAYS have with me, I've only had to cancel plans with friends once in 2 months.
As for careers to avoid, I think the best advice I can give you is to never give up a career just out of fear.(How much Lexapro are you on...? I was on a really small amount, but you can always increase and see if it helps..talk to your doc) Almost anything can be adapted. There are a lot of teachers on this website that have said they have support with nearby teachers who can pop in and take over in an emergency.
I am choosing to stick with Educational Theatre mainly because it's what I love. It could involve a lot of traveling, and a lot of stress, but I have always felt that if I don't do it I'm letting my belly win.
I don't know if this helps, but just know I, along with many people on this site, really understand and feel for you.
Take care and good luck. We would all LOVE to see you become a reporter and embrace that dream!

--------------------
IBS-A

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Re: Long-term consequences of IBS on life new
      #289067 - 11/05/06 12:15 PM
Gracie

Reged: 11/25/05
Posts: 1967


Hi Tom,

Have you thought of the IBS Hypnothery cd's? A lot of people have said it helps with their anxiety.


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Re: Long-term consequences of IBS on life new
      #289072 - 11/05/06 01:16 PM
vmars4eva

Reged: 11/05/06
Posts: 12
Loc: Illinois

It's inspiring to find IBS sufferers who are able to travel! Traveling to a far away place, for me, is about the most terrifying thing I can imagine - not knowing where every bathroom is at every point in time would drive me nuts.

Now though I certainly don't want to see my belly "win," it often feels like I don't have much choice. One of the most difficult couple years of my life were my years spent on my high school marching band. At the time I was going through some of my most frequently occurring IBS with D symptoms, and I wasn't on Lexapro yet and I hadn't yet discovered the joy of Immodium (my doctors had me on Citracel, which I think made things worse for me). Being forced to travel to away games and being forced to perform... It was excruciating. I would not eat for a day before every away game I had to go to. The anxiety was so unbearable, I would shake while out on the football field. I would cry myself to sleep on nights before a performance. I was pretty miserable.

I ended up cancelling at the last minute a lot for a while, and then I eventually just had to call it quits.

I think it was experiences such as this, as well as a generally difficult high school with IBS experience (we were penalized for having to use the bathroom during class, seriously) that forced me into a cycle of anxiety, fearing days or even weeks in advance any time where I would have to be removed from my "comfort zone."

Luckily I eventually got put on Lexapro. That was a huge relief. But I still carry with me the cycle of anxiety and the cycle of fear, even when my symptoms are on hiatus.

I've actually been thinking a lot as of late as giving hypnotheraphy a shot. I should look into it a bit. Do you think it would be very helpful in my situation?

I also might look into increasing my Lexapro dosage. I was actually on 20 mg for a while last year, but I went down to 10 mg because I felt the 20 mg was making me overly fatigued. But perhaps the 20 mg is the only way I'm going to be able to get past my anxiety and fear.

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Re: Long-term consequences of IBS on life new
      #289073 - 11/05/06 01:21 PM
jen1013

Reged: 05/06/05
Posts: 1322
Loc: the wabe

Hi Tom -- welcome to the boards.

I personally feel that you need to be realistic without being pessimistic. There are some careers that are probably pretty much impossible if you have IBS, particularly IBS-D -- like being a pilot, for instance. I would not plan your life around the assumption that you will be sick and attack-prone forever -- but I would also not plan your life around the assumption that you'll have gotten all better by the time you've graduated and started working. IBS is a chronic condition with no cure. Could be that you'll manage to keep it in check, but even still you will probably have bad days and you'll need to take that into account. In this respect, what's usually more important is how understanding your employer is rather than the actual job.

And take a good hard look at your "dream". What is it that makes it your dream? We are not necessarily defined by the job we work -- if someone's dream is to become a pilot, he can still take flying lessons and do it for fun even if his IBS won't let him do it full-time as a job. What is it about being a reporter that attracts you? Can you reinterpret your desires into another career or hobby?

Also, depending on what type of reporting you want to do, you may not have to do much travel at all. Sure, if you want to be an international news journalist reporting on the Middle East I would probably tend to shy away from that (I always wonder how anyone can handle having an IBS attack on a squat toilet) -- but if you end up with a job where the travel is more local/regional, that would probably be very do-able for someone with IBS if you're fairly stable.

Anyway, I guess I wouldn't necessarily go, "Yeah, pursue your dream, screw the IBS!" because I don't think that's very sensible. IBS is a medical condition, even if it's one that people tend to dismiss or ignore, and you certainly wouldn't tell someone in a wheelchair that he should go ahead and pursue his dream of becoming a forest ranger. At the same time, you definitely shouldn't let your anxiety rule your life. IBS is usually worsened by anxiety -- so if you focus on getting the anxiety under control, you just may find that your IBS becomes manageable as a consequence.

There are lots of ways to manage anxiety and stress. Lots of people here have done really great with the IBS hypnotherapy sold on this website. Medication is also an option if you don't mind that route -- you can always try increasing your Lexapro if you can't manage your anxiety by other routes.

Good luck, and please do keep posting now that you've "de-lurked".

--------------------
jen

"It's one of the most serious things that can possibly happen to one in a battle -- to get one's head cut off." -- LC

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Re: Long-term consequences of IBS on life new
      #289148 - 11/06/06 12:46 PM
cailin

Reged: 08/12/04
Posts: 3563
Loc: Dublin, Ireland

Hi Tom, Welcome!

The whole thing is to get your IBS in control so that you have the confidence to do things. If you worry about it then your anxiety will make you more likely to have an attack so it's a double edged sword.

Build your confidence up one step at a time. Take up a social invitation and for starters control it (like if it's going out for a meal check out the menu in advance or eat before you go etc) Then gradually you will be able for more and more.

You asked about careers, I'm a lawyer. Its high stress which does contribute to attacks etc but I'm a fighter and refuse to let this condition rule my life, I insist on controlling IT rather than letting it control me.

When I was first diagnosed (aged 28, 2 yrs ago) I let it affect me a lot but once I got it under control I tested my boundaries and found ways to regain my old social life with modifications, so that I didn't feel like I was losing out.


I strongly believe that you should follow your dream. If you don't try how do you know that it wouldn't have worked out? Don't wonder your life away, go for it, the experience will be great.

My brother is a journalist and has a desk job so there are lots of different ways to be involved in print media without travelling long distances.

You can do it !

--------------------
S.

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Re: Long-term consequences of IBS on life new
      #289150 - 11/06/06 12:47 PM
cailin

Reged: 08/12/04
Posts: 3563
Loc: Dublin, Ireland

I just read Aly's post- I should have just written WHAT SHE SAID, you hit the nail on the head!

--------------------
S.

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Re: Long-term consequences of IBS on life new
      #289192 - 11/06/06 09:14 PM
vmars4eva

Reged: 11/05/06
Posts: 12
Loc: Illinois

I feel torn... I'm pulled both ways between wanting to fight this IBS and do what I want to do with my life and being sensible for the sake of protecting myself.

I'm always worried that if I do take a job at a newspaper, they'll start me off as a reporter and I won't be able to do my job and I'll have an embarrassing IBS moment in the middle of an interview or an important press conference. Then I'll be fired. And what would happen, then, to my health insurance? How will I afford rent? What would happen to me?

I can't stop playing all these worst-situation disaster stories in my head. It's tearing me apart. This last week it's been really bad, partly because I have to select my classes for next semester. I'm set to graduate next semester with a journalism degree, but I just don't feel ready yet to graduate! I always figured that I'd have this IBS thing figured out by now, but I got so wrapped up in studying journalism and working for my college's newspaper that I forgot to take care of my health. There's also the issue of I skipped a year of high school because I couldn't deal with the IBS situation so I'm a year ahead of myself... I'll be a 20 year-old college graduate.

The hardest thing for me to deal with right now is, I don't feel like I've developed myself as a person yet because I avoid life experiences because of my IBS. Also, I haven't figured out how to deal with my IBS yet. I've wrapped myself up in so much work and school.

And, irony of all ironies, I had a bad IBS day yesterday, probably because of all this stress.

Has anyone here who's graduated from college gone through a similar crisis when they neared their graduation? I think I need to talk to an academic counselor, but the one's here at Northern Illinois University aren't terribly effective and it would be too streneous to explain my whole IBS situation. I've also talked to a real live professional journalist and explained my situation, and he was empathetic but I don't think he realizes just how catastrophic the idea of being thrown out of my comfort zone is to me.



Am I not strong enough to face adulthood? Where did I go wrong to not be fully prepared for this? How is anyone prepared for adulthood, let alone people dealing with a sometimes debilitating syndrome?

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Re: Long-term consequences of IBS on life new
      #289197 - 11/07/06 04:39 AM
Mary_V

Reged: 05/09/06
Posts: 544
Loc: Grandville, MI

Have you tried any type of therapy? I see a psychologist, and it is a huge help. They can help you deal with the stress/anxiety...and stop you from always thinking about the worst possible scenario. I think that stress/anxiety is one of the biggest contributors to IBS. MANY people on here deal with it. I would try both hypnotherapy (the CDs are very good) and real therapy. It will really help you put things in perspective.

One thing to try (that works well for me) is to write down the things that are causing your anxiety. Write the situation, what things you can control, what is out of your control, what is the worst thing that could happen, and how you would deal with that. Basically think through the situation logically, not emotionally and irrationally. It really helps to write it down and have something concrete to think about instead of just random thoughts floating around in your head making you more anxious. And when you see the things that are out of your control, then you can let them go. No sense worrying about them if you have no control over them anyway...logical, but still hard for us to do.

Therapy has been the biggest help for me. It sounds like you would benefit from it. And you might also want to try medication. I did for a while, and it definitely made a difference. I have other reasons for not taking it right now, but I would like to again someday. HTH.

--------------------
~Mary
Had surgery for rectal prolapse in Sept. '06 and feeling good now! Loving life with our IVF miracle #1.



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