Living with Irritable Bowel Syndrome
I am 41 years old and I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome when I was 27 years old. The diagnosis was accompanied by significant abdominal pain. At first, I was completely despondent and unable to leave the house even when I wasn’t feeling terrible. Over the course of a year, I lost a significant amount of weight and muscle mass. My diet was erratic and my appetite didn’t help. When I finally got tired of being sick and tired I found it difficult to participate in any prolonged physical activity. Most simple activities were uncomfortable at best and at their worst were simply too much to be undertaken.
One thing I found that really helped me out was gardening. I could start as slow as I wanted and there was never any rush. If I didn’t feel well I was close to home and I could sit and enjoy the garden even at times that I wasn’t able to physically interact with space around me. Growing vegetables and flowers showed me that I was still capable of producing things even if my pace wasn’t as fast as it had been before I was diagnosed.
How physical activity helps
From that physical activity, I was able to gain more self-confidence and more stamina. From there I was able to participate in more activities and became more comfortable with spending extended time periods away from home. In many ways having a garden was the most positively transformative experience in my healing. I would not have guessed that gardening could be a true therapy for Irritable Bowel Syndrome, but the evidence was in front of me. Since I was producing vegetables, but my system still had difficulty digesting them, I bought a juicer and started making all kinds of concoctions from my daily harvests.
Kale leaves, tomatoes, spinach, broccoli and usually a lemon and an apple to make things sweet, I would make juices that finally let me feel alive again and did not irritate my system. To be able to have these nutritious juices from the vegetables that I had grown myself made me feel prouder than anything else I had accomplished so far. To this day I drink fresh juice 3-4 times daily and still always feel so much more alive when I drink the juice from leafy green vegetables. It also seems to calm my intestines and settle any rumbling that may be happening. I’m awfully glad I was able to find these avenues of dealing with my illness.
It’s a journey
Without some positive outcomes, it would have been such an immense emotional burden that I think I would have been disabled. Far from being disabled though, I was able to land a well paying and flexible job that I’ve held on to for the last 12 years. I have succeeded in many areas that I thought would be closed off to me and recently ended up taking up archery and spending extended periods outdoors. I thought those kinds of activities were closed to me after my diagnosis but it turns out that with practice and the right attitude, Irritable Bowel Syndrome doesn’t have to sequester you in your home or keep you from doing the things you want to do. Sure, there may be times it gets in the way of you fully enjoying yourself but just because it gets in the way one afternoon doesn’t mean that you have to let it get in the way of your activities every afternoon.
Exercise is key
Get some exercise. Get some new thoughts in your head. Practice going outside and practice enjoying things and thinking of something besides your illness. Acting healthy is one of the biggest pieces of being healthy and if you can get yourself to do more healthy things every day that you are going to be more healthy every day. That’s just the way things work and you have to just go do what you can when you can. You won’t always be able to, but don’t let that get you down. There’s always tomorrow and you just have to keep getting up and trying again. You will succeed and just as with all things all you really need to do is practice and let yourself succeed at the goals you set for yourself.