A Personal Story with IBS

Two colorful floral arrangements in tin pails, with cut roses nearby. Original public domain image from Wikimedia Commons

I began to have problems with my stomach about a year ago. I had been diagnosed with IBS for about 4 years but suddenly my symptoms became different and more severe. For about a month I had bleeding when I went to the toilet and began to get diarrhoea and acid reflux every time I ate a meal. I also had an awful gnawing pain in my left side that would wake me throughout the night. The combination of these symptoms made my life extremely difficult as I was constantly worried about what I could ‘safely’ eat and was nervous about going out and doing things since I did not want these symptoms in public. As time went on, I began to get panic attacks when I was out because I was scared of having diarrhoea in a public place. I was increasingly reliant on Imodium and couldn’t even make small journeys without taking some.  As I had a busy university schedule and lots of exams I was feeling completely hopeless as just doing ordinary things felt like a massive ordeal. This panic and anxiety consequently made my symptoms worse and I was in a viscous cycle which I didn’t know how to break.

I was referred to a gastroenterologist who was extremely thorough and arranged an endoscopy and sigmoidoscopy. Both of these tests showed that everything was completely normal. Although this was a relief, it was also quite confusing as I was still suffering symptoms every day and was in quite a lot of pain. For me, the most frustrating thing was being told that there was nothing wrong with me and that it was purely down to stress and was ‘all in my head’. At this point I was referred to another gastroenterologist, Dr Singh, who suggested I would benefit from attending his Wellbeing course which was specifically tailored to people with similar problems as my own. However, as this course wasn’t due to begin for several months and I was becoming increasingly anxious about leaving the house, he recommended that I began a course of acupuncture.

I started the course shortly before Christmas with a bit of trepidation as I didn’t really know that much about it or what it really involved. Dr Lee made me feel completely at ease and explained the whole process and what to expect from the acupuncture. What I really appreciated was that the sessions were a mixture of discussion about what I was experiencing, followed by the acupuncture and massage, then we discussed nutrition and diet. This holistic approach meant that all areas of the problem, both physical and mental were addressed. I honestly believe that without the sessions I had with Dr Lee, I would have become increasingly fearful about leaving the house and I would not have been able to continue with my life as well as I now have.

After about 4-5 sessions I began feeling a real difference in both my symptoms and attitude. I am now on my 12th session and the time that I feel better between sessions gets longer and longer. I now get pain only rarely and although the anxiety has not gone away I feel I am better equipped to deal with it. The acupuncture helped me to feel like my usual self and I can’t express enough how grateful I am for that.I have now begun the mindfulness course and feel that that really compliments the acupuncture. I am very hopeful that with time I will become symptom free and be able to return to my normal self before the issues began.

Note: For reasons of confidentiality the client names has been excluded.  

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