Why I Didn’t Believe I Had IBS and What I Plan to Do About It

Why I Didn’t Believe I Had IBS and What I Plan to Do About It

I simply didn’t believe I had IBS. I didn’t even really understand what it was or what it does. But I did, I mean I do, and here’s how it all came down…

“Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale,
a tale of a bad ordeal, 
that started on a Wednesday night, 
with one amazing meal…”

Does anyone else hear the theme to Gilligan’s Island? No? Just me?

I enjoyed a seriously decadent meal the other evening. Ravioli smothered in chicken, peas, and an alfredo-type sauce. The ravioli were stuffed with cheese and chicken. It tasted amazing and I was soooooo happy eating it. It made me smile, it made my tongue happy, it was the whole ball of wax with a cherry on top.

I ate about 3/4 of that meal. Suddenly realized, I didn’t feel good. It hit fast. Headache, tummy not quite right, sweating. Oops. I paid my bill and went home to take some Tums.

Why I Didn't Believe I Had IBS and What I Plan to Do About It, the attack

The Attack…

I went to bed that evening with my tummy feeling very heavy. Sure enough, I woke about 3:30 AM with a familiar pain. (I’ve had this pain three times before, and the doctor never really said what it is, but it hurts.)

The pain radiates down around my diaphragm, where my rib cage comes together. It becomes hard, and it hurts. I mean H U R T S. The pain radiates all around that area and all the way down to my lower tummy. When it hits, there is no comfortable position to settle into.

The History

The first time it happened I’d had a huge slice of cheesecake. The second time, I had refried beans and a lot of cheese. The third incident was after another dairy-heavy meal. This is the fourth time it’s happened. It always wakes me between 2:00 AM and 5:00 AM, I never recognize it right away, and it takes hours to find relief.

Just say no to dairy

The first time it happened I insisted on seeing the doctor first thing the next morning. You know, to make sure I wasn’t dying or having a heart attack that lasted six hours. My very patient doctor asked me some questions, poked my abdomen, and gave me three things to take for it when it hits. A muscle relaxant, something to aid an IBS attack, and some kind of gas-killing med.

I confess that over the last couple of years, I’ve self-medicated a little. Taking a tummy pill after indulging in things I shouldn’t, a muscle relaxer when my neck or back are really bad. You know what I mean, right?

That night I opted for the IBS med, as it was far too late to take the muscle relaxant. Thankfully, the attack passed a few hours later and I was able to start my day. I even got a little more sleep before I had to get up.

What’s the lesson I need to learn?

Limit the damn dairy, girl! Better yet, avoid it completely!

Two Nights Later…

Friday was a very busy day. We ordered Chinese food at work. I got Hunan Beef over fried rice. I’d never had Hunan Beef before and thought it sounded good. It was DELISH! It was also pretty hot and spicy, in a good way. My nose ran a little and I ate the entire order. I joked that I wouldn’t need dinner that night. 

On the way home, I drove past Popeye’s. Darn, that’s really hard to avoid because I love their chicken. I was a little hungry, so I drove through to indulge in some spicy, boneless wings.

I got home, ate them, and went to bed (yes, I ate late again.) At 3:00 AM I woke with the pain again. This time it was more intense. I reached for the magic pill…and the bottle was empty.

The next four and a half hours in misery with a huge, early workday ahead of me. I had a 10:00 AM and a 1:00 PM presentation to give, and I could barely walk or breath without groaning.

Urgent Care or Bust

It was actually an easy decision that I couldn’t go in like that. I showered and raced to Urgent Care so I would be there when they opened. The doctor gave me the once over and a prescription for the meds I was out of. I am so, so grateful she listened to me and didn’t send me to the ER. I didn’t have time for that!

Then came the thing that surprised me…she diagnosed me as having an IBS attack.

Wait, what? No, I just take the medicine now and then, I don’t actually have IBS. My doctor would have told me. Nope, I don’t believe it.

Ummmm, apparently I do. I was presenting with most of the symptoms, and I’ve had a lot of them for years. I was officially given an IBS diagnosis. 

Well, crap, I don’t want that! I consulted Doctor Google to get the lowdown and learn more about this thing I was apparently in denial of for a very long time.

10 Foods to Avoid if You Have IBS

Why I Didn't Believe I Had IBS and What I Plan to Do About It foods to give up
  • Gluten (damn!)
  • Processed foods (heavy sigh)
  • Alcohol (bummer)
  • Insoluble Fiber ( the tough matter found in whole grains, nuts, and fruits and veggies, specifically in the stalks, skins, and seeds, that doesn’t dissolve in water) 
  • Fried Foods (ok)
  • Cauliflower and Broccoli (I can live without cauliflower)
  • Caffeine (rarely have it)
  • Dairy (mostly avoid it, except when I don’t)
  • Artificial Sweeteners (gave those up years ago)
  • Chocolate (meh, I can take or leave it)

source: 10FAQ Health

Of this list, Cauliflower and artificial sweeteners are the two I rarely have. I have caffeine about once a week or two, and chocolate now and then. The rest? UG. Kinda brutal.


Of course, I went to work once I’d gotten myself pulled together and could handle driving (the pain, BAD.) I was ONLY four hours late. I made it in time for the second presentation. Thank goodness a co-worker was able to fill in for me that morning. I asked him to do it again that afternoon, with me sitting on the sideline in case he needed help. Pretty good for a control freak, huh?

I was pretty miserable. As the day progressed, the pain eased. I was terrified to eat that day, so I had three crackers, a handful of Goldfish, water, and mint tea. By dinnertime, I was very hungry. I decided on a bowl of chicken soup. Chicken soup is what you eat when you’re sick, right? I did pretty well with it. I took the meds when I got home and slept for ten hours. 

The next day was better, and the day after that better. Not back to normal, but better.

Now What?

I had already decided to begin another 30 Days to Healthy Living challenge after Labor Day. Now I’m determined. Doing so will help me avoid most of the above list, and will help put my tummy back into shape. 

This time around, it’s different. I now realize I’ve had symptoms for years, but didn’t realize it. This sucks! Can I return it somewhere? I need to heal my gut, get my act together, and give this nasty IBS a tough environment to thrive in. I’m hoping that a healthy gut will drive it out. 

I can do anything for 30 days. Can you? Would you like to follow along and choose your own 30 day challenge to change some aspect of your day-to-day? Doing things like this is always better with friends! Check out this post. We will begin on September 3, 2019.

Penny, blogger at www.flipflopsandsensibleshoes.com, signature

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