About 6 years ago, I developed abdominal pain. I thought it was uterine cramps because initially, that is what it felt like, but my gyno did an exam and said he didn’t notice anything.
Knowing how often women have gastrointestinal problems, and having seem my symptoms before, he referred me to a gastroenterologist and prescribed Bentyl. Unfortunately, I couldn’t tolerate the drug, and so have been unable to have any pharmaceutical relief from the pain.
The gastro did a colonoscopy and endoscopy, and didn’t find anything to explain my symptoms.
It was chalked up to IBS. I wasn’t surprised to hear it – my digestive system hadn’t worked “right” since I started solid foods as a baby. I had been hoping he would have found something fixable, not something that was a life-long curse. I’m spending this weekend prepping for those same texts on Monday.
The Painful Present
The good news is that it went away after awhile, or away enough that it didn’t effect my daily life. I thought it was all behind me. That changed in late June of this year. Most days now, my pain level is around a 6, but if I’ve had to walk or drive very far, it will spike up to an 8 or 9. Sometimes I can “think it” down to a 5 or 6, and get what I need to get done, but that comes with a price: I hit a wall where I just can’t move anymore. If I spend a Saturday running errands, cleaning, doing yardwork, or skating with my daughter, Sunday is guaranteed to be a day spent on the couch.
It’s life changing. I can no longer spend time in the kitchen to make dinner like I use to; quick and easy is all I can handle after working all day. I can’t exercise. I can’t spend more than a couple hours shopping. Yard work or dog walking is out of the question. A lot of the remodeling that I started on my house in July that I was excited to share on this blog has stalled because I can’t do it. I’m hoping to get better before next year and the time to sell comes so that I can put the house on the market already remodeled instead of lowering the price to reflect walls that have no paint, or the need (serious need) for new carpet. I’m still debating with myself on whether or not I want to hire someone to finish up. I suppose it all evens out – either I lower the asking price of the house, or I pay the several thousand it’ll take to have the painter, woodworker, and carpet layer come out and finish it all.
Selfishly, I want to live in the house a bit after it’s all fixed up. I’d really like to see my plans followed through. I want that sense of accomplishment.
But… I have to learn to live with my limitations. I have to accept that there may never be a time when I am able to live a “normal” life again. The amount of guilt and shame that comes with knowing you have limitations is hard to live with. It’s hard to be upbeat and positive when you’re in pain all the time, when it wakes you at night, when you have to tell your daughter you can’t go bike riding with her. And because this is pain that is invisible to the outside world, there’s the fear that people won’t believe you. I look healthy, so surely I must be healthy.
Not All Pain is Created Equal
Most people associate IBS with diarrhea and constipation. You hardly ever hear about the pain associated with it, or if you do, it’s the pain associated with bowel movements themselves. For me, the pain and “the go” are separate things. One does not accompany the other. I’ve been told that the nerves along my large intestine are hypersensitive, and the pain is not colon cramps, but rather intestinal spasms caused by those nerves. Whatever the cause actually is, doesn’t change the fact that it feels like I’ve been punched, stabbed, and crushed. Every single day. Priobiotics and dietary changes have made no difference. It seems that what works for everyone else, simply doesn’t work for me. I’m just… defective. Too bad we don’t come with a parts replacement warranty!
Here’s some links on IBS. They aren’t particularly helpful for me since I have to go and be all different (eyeroll), but putting the info out for everyone else is still important.
And to counter this with something happy and yay, here’s me getting a hug from the newest addition to our furry family: