The first few times "it happened," Cedar Burnett blamed herself. Over time, however, things only got worse. When she finally visited a doctor, Burnett discovered she suffered from ulcerative colitis -- an autoimmune disorder. Burnett's story details how she came to terms with the disease. Our favorite response comes from neostar, who recounts her own struggle with IBS:
I appreciated this article as I've been through this. I started experiencing this at age 35. Like you, it took me almost a year and a plea from my father to go to the doctor. I was finally diagnosed with IBS and set on a path to recovery.
The worst was driving to work. At the peak of my symptoms, I would have to stop 3 or 4 times during my 15 mile commute to work. I knew every gas station and public restroom on that route. My worst fear was a traffic accident on the freeway that would make it so that I couldn't pull in somewhere to use the bathroom.
I saw an ad for an IBS clinical trial that has a picture with a huge sign in front of a gas station. The huge sign says "We have public restrooms" while the name of gas station was in tiny letters. The ad reads "If you see the world like this, you might have IBS." Hell yes, that is how I saw the world.
Not only did I live in that constant fear of an accident (which happened twice to me in public), but, like the author, I lost tons of weight, could barely eat, and had strained relationships with just about everyone. All the things I used to do - distance running, long walks with my husband, dinners out with friends - because almost impossible.
After a year, I finally saw a gastroenterologist who said it was IBS. He put me on Elavil and it worked. I also changed my diet and started doing yoga daily.
I can't stress how important the yoga has been. It didn't cure my physical symptom; the medication did that. It did help manage the stress of living with this, though. For me, I would get so nervous about perhaps having an accident that it would make my GI tract go nuts. It was like the IBS started the cycle, but the anxiety perpetuated it. It wasn't until I combined all the therapies - medication, diet, and yoga - that I started feeling better.
While some have said that this is over-sharing, this is a real thing that many people face! While I was going through this, IBS message boards really helped me feel less embarrassed and alone. While it's not a very pleasant topic, it is very real for many of us. So, thanks for writing it, Cedar!
To read the rest of the letters, click here.