I have been debating since starting this blog to mention a particular health problem of mine, but there you go, I’ve stuck it straight in the header! It’s currently 1.20am in the morning and I’m at the tail end (hopefully) of a particularly bad attack and I know I won’t be able to sleep (so not look forward to the sleep deprived mummying tomorrow then) so I might as well blog about it, it’ll probably do me some good to talk.
It started properly the summer after I graduated college, I had a very bad case of stomach flu or food poisoning and I just didn’t seem to recover properly, although in hindsight I was showing some mild signs prior to this. Anyway that summer and the year after when I was at grad school training to be a teacher, the ibs was pretty bad, peaking at it’s worse the summer after grad school and then I went to work, as a teacher and it changed. My teaching job was incredibly stressful, honestly I’d be sitting at the tube station to get my tube to work and sometimes I wouldn’t get on the tube, I’d just delay the inevitable that little bit longer and wait until the next one, on particularly bad days I’d actually wish that the tube train would crash, which is an awful thing to wish for but not a totally uncommon response from what I’ve read about stressed out teachers, I’ve read about teachers wishing the car they were travelling into work would crash etc. Anyway I’m digressing slightly but this is just to emphasise it was an extremely stressful job and my ibs at this point? It disappeared. I know a lot of people say ibs is stress related, but with me, at least when I’m under extreme stress it goes away. Now I’ve thought a lot about why this happened with me and came up with two potential explanations.
- My ibs is largely in my head. My job took up virtually 100% of all my thoughts, I therefore didn’t have the capacity to worry about my gut. When my ibs is bad I tend to feel quite anxious to, I still don’t know if the anxiety causes the ibs or the ibs causes the anxiety.
- My ibs is hormonally linked and the extreme stress blitzed my hormones and hence no ibs.
But whatever the reason, 3 weeks after quitting my job (I lasted two terms) the ibs came back, not quite as bad as it had originally been but still not good.
About a year later, still suffering I began to think maybe it was food related so I went for one of those ‘allergy tests’ you get in health food stores, back then I lapped it all up because I wanted to believe something would help, so despite the fact that I’m a trained scientist, I took as gospel the words of a woman who claimed to test for allergies by sticking two probes on your finger. The results of this test were bad, I appeared to be allergic to pretty much everything, she claimed possibly because I had one or two major allergies and those were making my gut sensitive to everything else. So I went on an exclusion diet, excluded the long list of foods she’d given me, for three months and then introduced them back one at the time. Most foods when reintroduced were absolutely fine but I thought I found problems with banana, mushrooms (including Quorn), coconut and onions, onions was the biggy and also the most inconvienent as onions are pretty much in everything. Around this time as well I switched from a diet of convienence foods (with my exclusion diet I had no choice) to cooking my own food and that I believe did genuinely help me, I look at the stuff on some of those labels now and I think “I was putting that in my body?”. Anyway back to the four excluded foods, mushrooms I was never really a big fan of but Quorn I did like but I knew without even the aid of a health food store test that Quorn was a problem for me, as it produced very distinct symptoms for me and I haven’t to this day touched it since. Banana, well I wasn’t too keen on bananas anyway but I like them in banana bread which I do make occasionally and eat, whether it disagrees with me, I honestly don’t know as I now seem to have at least an almost constant plateau of symptoms. Ditto for coconut, I just use it in baking sometimes. Now onion, I excluded this for a very long time but did end up eating it again but after tonight’s attack I may very well stop. I made onion soup for tea tonight, onion soup is a very very rarely consumed dish for me and I’ve spent the last hour or so regretting it as well what I ate earlier on tonight has been ah hem coming out the other end pretty much smelling like it did when I ate it . So I’m sitting here wondering whether my more ‘mature’ poo pooing (sorry for the pun) of my 20 something food exclusion diets actual had something in them and I was right about the onion. Tonights onion soup has to be the heftiest dose of onions I’ve eaten in a long time, hence the extreme symptoms but on a normal day I’m still eating onions as a constituent of a lot of dishes, maybe I need to at least cut back again.
My 30 something explanation for my ibs patterns has centred on my hormonal cycle, there is definitely a link, as my ibs symptoms drastically decreased through most of both my pregnancies (except at the ends) and when I was breastfeeding. I breastfed for a long time with both my kids, so when my hormonal cycle started again, the first month when the ibs really whacked in at days 5 – 7, it was so bad I thought I was actually ill. And since I’ve stopped the breastfeeding the ibs has been getting progressively worse again as has my pms, which I think is related. I read somewhere (and in the case of all ‘read somewheres’ I can’t guarentee you this is accurate) but pms and ibs are all related to a lack of omega oils. Now omega oils were something I knew I was depleting at the time of my pregnancies and whilst breastfeeding and this what with breastfeeding Girl Lacer for a long time and then falling pregnant with Boy Lacer almost straight away after that means that my body didn’t really have a chance to recover. I’d already recognised symptoms of depletion in me with the development after Girl Lacer was born of extremely bad eczema on my hands and later on my face to a lesser degree. I’ve recently started taking evening primose oil in an attempt to rememdy the problem but I’m terrible at remembering to take it.
Having kids just seems to mean you spend less time taking care of you (which to a certain extent is how it should be) but I’ve let my ibs run away with me again when I know full well, food intolerances or hormonal problems, certain foods do aggrevate it and yet I keep on stuffing them down my gullet, partially because they’re my fuel that keep me going, coca cola, chocolate, anything sweet basically, spicy sausage, too much fibre, you name it I do it. And the things I should be doing, things I know from experience work for me, like making sure I drink enough water and making sure my protein intake is high enough (it never is, but when it is it really helps), I never do.
So as a consequence of all this it’s now 2am and chances are my kids will be up at 6am, it’s going to be a fun day tomorrow, not! I can’t let this keep on, I find the good thing about this blog is that if I write down I’m going to do something then I tend to at least try to do it. So here it is, I’m cutting down on the sugar, the spice, the fibre (brown bread and oaty biscuits are a weakness and I know they fill me full of gas) and the onion (at least for the moment) and I’m increasing my water and protein. Here’s to getting back on track and no more midnight anxiety attacks in the bathroom!