It’s gettin’ hot in herrrre

Sorry, I had to…

Let’s talk about temperature, and the way your body responds to it, including the IBS symptoms it provokes.

I worked out last week for the first time after my orange belt test, and I must say, my body temperature got pretty darn hot. I had to pee, and can I tell you that I thought it was boiling, it was so hot. Turns out my body temperature had the same effect on my poo, and I ended up having one of those exploding poops, but this time at the temperature of hot volcano magma.

Image Credit & Copyright: Martin Rietze

Image Credit & Copyright: Martin Rietze

Now, basically this entire week it’s been 90-100 degrees every day in Los Angeles (worse if you live in the valley, but I’m not that dumb). As you can imagine, it’s been a week of volcanic eruptions out my bottom. Will it return to “normal” after the temperatures go down? I hope so, and it might prove my new theory that increased temperature exacerbates IBS diarrhea symptoms.

The other thing I want to touch on is what you put in your  body, or more specifically, the temperature at which you put things in your body. When you put ice on a sore muscle, there’s that instant where you’re like “AAAAAAAAAAGH THAT’S F*ING COLD!” Guess what? The same thing happens when you drink a cold beverage.

Don't try this at home!

Don’t try this at home!

I don’t usually make ice anymore because I try not to use it. Yes, I will drink cold-ish water, but I definitely don’t make it colder with ice. Room-temperature-ish water is best, especially when you’re in the midst of IBS hell. If you’ve ever chugged cold water, you can feel the iciness just travel down your esophagus to your stomach, and I can’t say it’s a pleasant feeling. Well, your tum tum doesn’t like it!

To a lesser extent, drinking or eating super hot foods isn’t good for your belly either. I’m not sure  if the reaction is as violent as the drinking cold water thing, but a good medium temperature is just a better idea all around.

Have some soup? Blow on it. But I won’t be eating soup until it gets cooler outside. Cut it out, Santa Ana winds. My bowels beg you.

Photo: Notably Neurotic

Photo: Notably Neurotic

Dried fruits, anyone?

With IBS, you learn something new all the time (Read: There’s always something you didn’t know would destroy your bowels).

So I read this other blog post about people who are active and sweat a lot might be deficient in magnesium. I train in Krav Maga almost every day, so yeah, I sweat. A lot. And I’ve been more concerned lately about my diet and making sure I’m getting the nutrients I need. I felt I might have an iron deficiency, so I’m adding more red meat. Instead of once a month, I’m trying for once a week.

When I read I might also be deficient in magnesium, I researched some foods that could get me a little extra magnesium in my day. After all, I did have a few of the symptoms the nutritionist listed, including brain fog, poor sleep quality, and fatigue, or the flipside, being unable to calm down. Not fun symptoms to experience.

So I thought pumpkin seeds and dried apricots were a good idea.

Delicious, or devils in disguise?

Delicious, or devils in disguise?

THEY WEREN’T.  Apparently, dried apricots are on the top of the list for encouraging bowel movements. I have saucy poops daily, I DON’T NEED ANY EXTRA HELP (most of the time).

The dried apricots were delicious. I kind of want to eat one right now. But if I eat a few of them, they will unleash their merciless terror and rip my bowels through my asshole. Forget about the fear of pooping in a public restroom, because when apricot war begins, you have a matter of seconds to make it to the toilet.

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You might end up with the exploding poop akin to a nuclear bomb going off. In my case, I felt I had done my business and was through with it, only to feel the urge five minutes later. Repeat this cycle for a few hours. To top it off, while training, the instructor made us drop 20 pound medicine balls on each other’s abdomen, followed with a sit up — TWENTY TIMES. MY INNARDS ARE NOT IMPRESSED.

At least now I have another tool for those times I need to expedite the poop from my body. Yay.

IBS Diet Plan: My Most Common Meal

So now that I’ve talked a bit about common triggers, I figured it was time to tell you what you CAN eat. Eating for IBS doesn’t mean you have to have a bland diet. That being said, I do eat a lot of the same foods.

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When you have IBS, you have to change the WAY you eat. In general, I find it easier to eat smaller portions throughout the day rather than focus on three large meals. Eating more protein helps me feel full, so I don’t overeat. I have a protein shake or bar in the morning, followed by a snack 2-3 hours later, then lunch, then a snack, then dinner. Those snacks can be live-saving — when I skip them, I tend to eat too much at meal times.

The one meal I eat perhaps more often than anything is chicken breast and vegetables. Chicken is a lean meat, so you’re not getting tons of fat like you might with beef. I like to basically do a stir-fry of chicken with green peppers and onions. Some people have issues with those veggies, so you might have to come up with other options if that’s you.

I cook the chicken in coconut oil. I’ve heard that olive oil, which I used to cook more with, tends to give off more free radicals as it is heated. I don’t know if that’s true or what the dangers of free radicals are exactly, but more and more people are loving coconut oil, and I’m one of them. For your sake, don’t ever cook anything in butter ever again. I cook the chicken in a pan on top of the stove, and I add some spices or herbs to it to give it some flavor. Now, don’t add too many spices, as that will definitely send your gut into overdrive. Also don’t use spices with MSG because those will rip you up from the inside out.

Once the chicken is cooked, I add the vegetables and cook a bit longer. I prefer my veggies a little al dente, but you MUST CHEW THEM. Otherwise your tummy will say, “screw you, I ain’t digesting this shit.” Pain will follow. I realized pretty soon I didn’t want to eat all my veggies in liquid or baby-food-like form, so I just make sure I do a great deal of digesting in the mouth before I send it to my stomach.

You might notice it’s just chicken and veggies. I’ll pair it with a side of fresh fruit, an avocado or maybe some crackers and hummus. I’m avoiding eating too many starchy carbs like potatoes or rice.

I also usually end up making enough that I get to have leftovers a couple more times that week. And every time I eat it, I know I’m eating safe foods that won’t lead me to an evening spent with my toilet.

angry-toilet

The Hard Truth About IBS

A reader posted that he hopes I’m feeling better, since I haven’t posted in a while. I must first apologize for being so negligent with this blog, and I’d like to recommit to my goal of writing at least one weekly post.

Second, let’s face the hard truth about IBS. Once you have it, you have it for the rest of your life. There’s no real “cure” for IBS, no magic pill you can take that will let you eat whatever you want, at least not in my experience. Even the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (that’s a mouthful) says IBS does not have a cure.

When I was in the process of getting my diagnosis, I was in so much pain I didn’t feel comfortable leaving the house. When my symptoms first started, I was in the middle of an internship I had to give up because my advisor said she “couldn’t have an intern that was getting sick all the time.” This, coming from a woman who barely showed up to work three days a week, but that’s besides the point. So I moved back home and went through over six months of tests to see if there were other problems — Crohn’s disease, cancer, whatever — causing my symptoms, but it all came back negative. I had one doctor prescribe anti-spasmodic pills, but they honestly didn’t do much for me. Another doctor prescribed pills to ease bloating, which also just didn’t really do anything. I realized fairly quickly that IBS wasn’t something I could mask with a pill.

I read Heather Van Vorous’ book “Eating for IBS” and discovered that radically changing my diet was the only way to get relief from IBS symptoms. I have found that some of her advice doesn’t work for me, just proving the fact that IBS is different for every person. And I’m still discovering foods that I simply can’t eat, or else I’ll suffer the wrath of an angry colon. I’ve also accepted that diarrhea is my norm and probably will be forever.

I’ll never be “all better.” Phew. I think part of dealing with IBS is accepting those hard truths. And now that I accept it, I can be proactive about making life easier.

The “cure” for IBS is modifying your diet. And I’m hoping here I can pass on what I’ve learned to make it easier for you, too. Stay tuned.

IBS Trigger Foods #4: Mushrooms and Truffle Oil

So I was peer-pressured into eating mushrooms the other night.  …Not the psychedelic kind, but the normal ones you can buy at any grocery store.

Does this image disturb you like it does me?

Photo: 21 Food

Photo: 21 Food

While I have yet to describe the various types of diarrhea to expect with IBS (yes, the SEVERAL, various types), I think there’s a special one that happens with mushrooms and truffle oil.

Hokay, so… When I eat mushrooms or truffles, it starts like almost any IBS attack where first I get the rumblies in my belly and sometimes the sudden urge to get on my toilet and stay there a while.  Well, I was at a party so I held it in (which, by the way, you really shouldn’t do).

Then 1:30 a.m. rolls around and it feels like I’m going to puke out of my mouth and butthole at the same time.  (yes, that’s happened before).

Photo: Quickfasting

Photo: Quickfasting

So in between the time I ate the mushrooms and when I finally sat on the toilet, the truffles worked their stupid fairy magic on my stool and liquefied it into an acidic pulp.  What happens next is a combination between the “constipated diarrhea” and the half-liquid, half-soft stool — Muggle diarrhea, if you will — complete with farts you are convinced will push out vast amount of smelly shit but only contribute to the corrosiveness of the angry, truffle-infused waste.

So I lit a candle and had periods of pooping and periods where nothing happened, except the feeling of being kicked repeatedly in the abdomen, which is a common thread through this whole thing.  Then I felt I was completely done, and said, “ok, belly, you’re done now, going to sleep now.”  Five minutes later the urge happened again and I went through it all again, and again convinced I was done said, “okay, belly, that’s it.”  Luckily that truly was it, until 8 a.m., so at least I got a few hours of sleep in there.  And my butthole regenerated to handle the next acidic poop assault that’s sure to happen again.

Mushrooms and truffle oil were some of the most recent items I’ve put on the “DO NOT EAT” list.  I always try things multiple times, and I make sure there aren’t any other known triggers present in the food so I can properly “test” them.  Mushrooms and truffle oil ALWAYS lead to the above reaction.  I found out later that perhaps the reason why I have such a strong reaction to truffle oil is because it’s a laxative.  I already have diarrhea most of the time, so I don’t need any help in that area.

Photo: Bored Panda

Photo: Bored Panda

Hmm…turns out truffle oil is made from a petroleum product rather than actual truffles.  Whatever, let’s still lump mushrooms and truffle oil in the same boat.  They do the same thing to my intestines, so they both go on the naughty list!

Which is okay because mushrooms are gross.

IBS Trigger Foods #3: Too Much Salt

Last night for dinner, I had a low sodium lentil soup.  And it was THE SADDEST THING EVER.

Photo: SodaHead

Photo: SodaHead

I was like, man this soup really needs something.  It needed salt, my dear friends…it needed salt.

Do you have IBS?  Stop eating so much bacon.  Don’t touch that salt shaker and flick your wrist until you see those white crystals fall onto your food like unique and beautiful snowflakes.  And don’t hope some of that salt will fall onto the plate or table, forcing you to lick your finger, stick it in the salt, and lick your salty finger.

I discovered over time that having food with too much salt caused one IBS symptom every time — blood in the stool.  And I’m sure most doctors and, hell, let’s say it — ALL PEOPLE — agree blood in your poop is a bad thing.

For me and my body, I find that excess salt made my stool harder, so I would venture to say the blood was from anal fissures because not only was the poo bloody, but also it hurt.  WebMD compares fissures to a paper cut in your butt.  Thanksssssss, guys.

No more bloody poop, I BEG YOU!

No more bloody poop, I BEG YOU!

So what diet changes did I have to make in order to prevent my toilet from going on strike?  I insanely reduced the amount of food I ordered from fast food restaurants, and even restaurants that serve things like teriyaki.  I opted for soup and things that boasted “LOW SODIUM” on the label. I stopped buying frozen dinners completely (HAVE YOU SEEN HOW MUCH SODIUM IS IN THOSE THINGS?!).  Now these two lifestyle changes you might say made for a healthier me.  Of course, but also long gone were the days of a five-minute prep time for dinner.

I also don’t add salt to anything.  I made a lovely salad for my parents, and I told my mom what I was going to put on it, and sadly, she added, “And salt and pepper?”  Little did my mother know I do not even own salt and pepper shakers, and the Morton salt canister is hidden somewhere in my spice cabinet.  I keep that salt so I can make my steam vaporizer work.

No salt? You've depressed the deer.  Photo:  Hey! Homewrecker

No salt? You’ve depressed the deer. Photo: Hey! Homewrecker

Food can still be delicious without salt.  I’m talking seriously here now.  I added fresh avocado to that lentil soup and it helped A LOT.  I also add things like onion or garlic powder (not onion or garlic salt, you cheaters) as flavor for soups and things.  Trigger foods mean you have to make sacrifices, and it definitely takes time to find those tricks so you’re not eating loads of white bread because it’s all your tummy can handle.  Lower your sodium intake and see what it can do for you.

IBS Trigger Foods…ermm…Smells #1: Bad Body Odor

If you needed proof that your stomach is wired to your senses, put a person with IBS in a room full of sweaty, stinky people and see what happens.

Eww. WTF is that smell?

I first realized something was “wrong” with me when I would get sick after attending a weekly meeting. There was one person in this group that had THE WORST body odor ever.  And I don’t think it was like normal “I-just-went-to-the-gym” odor. I honestly can’t compare the smell to anything else, but I can say it was fetid, repugnant, mephitic, whatever big word you can use to say revolting and offensive, make-your-lunch-come-back-up nauseating.

So after being besieged by this smell, I would start to feel all rumbly in my belly. I’d get hot like someone turned on a furnace in the middle of my chest. And after a few meetings, I knew what would come next — the most excruciating pain, mostly in my left side, but sometimes I felt it all over. I’ve never been stabbed, but this pain is how I imagine being stabbed would feel like.

Dam+you+found+out+my+hidden+pun+now+u+must+_adc314bf72ca16c13f36ee5ecbdab1e8

The time after these meetings would be spent on the floor in the fetal position. I found that passing gas would temporarily alleviate some of the pain, but I had so much trouble passing gas that the times of relief were few and far between. And it would be like this for HOURS. How could a smell possibly create such pain and need for flatulence? Where does the gas come from?

Why, when I Google “bad smells and IBS,” the only results are about foul-smelling farts and stools.  Guys, it’s waste, of course it smells like ass. Further delving into the topic produces the ever-so-helpful, “yeah, sometimes smells trigger IBS attacks.” Thanks, fellow IBS sufferers, I figured that one out already. The hard way.

The closest thing I can get to an answer is that it’s caused by problems with brain-gut signals.  So I guess now I can point the finger and blame, but I still don’t have a clear answer for how to deal with such an IBS attack when it happens.  Just pray to the toilet gods for that one, ahh-relieeeeeeef! fart?

angel

My advice?  Stop going to meetings with people who smell bad.  Wear lots of deodorant at the gym and hope everyone else does, too.  Realize that dating someone with bad B.O. has to go because, let’s face it, smelling bad is a deal-breaker.

Comorbidity of IBS

I’ve had a rough few weeks.  And I think a lot of it has to do with my anxiety disorder.

girl-with-hands-to-face

There, I said it.  I have an anxiety disorder.   And I decided I wanted to be free of the daily medications that help calm the nerves (but also contributes to a fat ass), but then the anxiety I think has intensified some of my IBS symptoms.

Comorbidity is the presence of more than one disorder in one person. Lots of cool reports show findings like the relationship between serotonin and gastrointestinal function, and still others like this 2009 study showed GAD was five times more common in people with IBS than people without IBS.  A UNC School of Medicine study states “at least half of IBS patients who have consulted doctors have been diagnosed with an affective (emotional) disorder.” Guys, I’m not a scientist, but I am convinced the stomach is hardwired to the brain.  Does anyone have an alternate explanation for  the reason why I’ve been at odds with my toilet while I’ve maintained my diet but had increasing anxiety?

Yelling_851b0d_544502

I had a really rough physical test this past week, and not only did it push the limits of what I can do with my body physically, it broke me mentally.  I felt like I failed the test.  It brought up lots of negative emotions about how I feel about my body, my weight and my level of fitness.  I worked really hard to pass the test, but all week I couldn’t shake the feelings that I hadn’t passed.

What happened in regards to my poop schedule is that I felt like I had five pounds of junk just dying to get out, and it wouldn’t go. Even when I used my favorite “expeditors,” if you will — coffee and lots of protein — I still couldn’t quite push it out. What little bits did come provided some relief, but I spent lots of time curled in the fetal position, trying to relax that stabbing pain in my side. I’m usually a fart machine and I’m telling you, nothing was happening as I’m used to. As you might have read before, I don’t usually evacuate my bowels if I really have to work for it.

I also spent most of my week feeling nauseated, but I’m not sure if I can put that in the IBS category or the anxiety disorder one. I suppose if they truly are comorbid disorders, then I get a check mark for both.

Today I found out I passed the test.  I drank a cup of coffee after class and promptly pooped what was probably a few day’s worth of excrement. For someone who typically goes daily, that’s a lot of poop.

20110303-toilet-clogged-rage

So I guess now that I’ve bitched about my week, what can I resolve to do about it?  Obviously the release of anxiety was the answer to my IBS problems this week, so it’s back to the good ol’ self-regulation skills and calming exercises to help ease those feelings (and my bowels…)

Other disorders like fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, joint disorder, and pelvic pain also seem to be comorbid with IBS. These overlaps could be due to a common physical cause, a physical expression of emotional discomfort, neurological problems or some other explanation — I think it’s important to investigate the source of your symptoms and address it whenever possible to avoid weeks of toileting hell.

Too much information or not enough?

Hi, so I realize what I’m saying might be too much information for some people. It’s true I haven’t shared it with my friends because I want them to still love me.

TMI-Parent-Moments-on-FB

I’ve visited sites about IBS and they all give the same basic information that doesn’t really tell you what it’s like.  I even questioned having IBS before my diagnosis because I was like, hmmm…not sure that’s me.  And until I have the time to properly SEO and market and advertise this blog so it pops up on Google searches, I’m hoping slowly but surely people will find these posts and find some comfort, answers, tips for eating, and other solutions that might help ease the day to day living with IBS.

Oh, and also hoping one day I might be known to someone as the girl who talks about poop a lot.  And in my maturity I’d respond:

3p4exh

I ate cheese this weekend and didn’t suffer any awful consequences (yet).  I sometimes eat cheese when I know I need to “clean stuff out,” if you will, but I’ve had fewer bowel movements than expected.  That either means the apocalypse is upon me or I managed to escape the wrath of my intestines scott free.

Last weekend I ate at a restaurant and had delicious Jamaican jerk chicken and fries and plantains, which as I’m sure you realize, tasted delicious.  However, later that night, I suffered the pukes all food-poisoning style.  I used to tell people I had food poisoning rather than IBS because it was a much easier way to explain “I was puking all night.”  I wonder if I said it was IBS people would just say “go poop” and tell me to get back to work.  I spent a few nauseated days curled into a fetal position every chance I got and eating the tummy-taming carbs like bread and pasta (with my daily doses of protein, of course).  It had been a while since I had such a violent attack, so it was a not-so-gentle reminder to watch what I put in my mouth.  None of the other sites about IBS will tell you that.

The lesson?  Know what you’re eating or realize you’re risking a few days of pain and tasting your own bile.

TMI__Too_much_Information_by_nerdcandy4u

http://nerdcandy4u.deviantart.com/art/TMI-Too-much-Information-168863633

A Month of Bowel Movements

So, it’s been a while, but I’ve been dealing with shit.  Literally.

I think if I was to chronicle during my absence here, it would sound something like this:

Sept 1.

Dear Diary,

It has been three days since my last bowel movement.  Something is sure to come out today, but if not, I will have no option but to resort to more coffee drinking.  Excrement, I humbly await your arrival.

 

Sept 3.

Dear Diary,

I had my first morning poop after my coffee in several days.  Too bad it had to happen during my downward facing dog.  My powers of closing my sphincter are all too strong, so I luckily made it to the toilet.  I just feel bad for the poor bastard who had to use the bathroom after me.

 

Sept 9.

Dear Diary,

It has again been three days since I had my morning after-coffee poo.  What kind of hell is this?

 

Sept 13.

Dear Diary,

I once again proceeded to eat my weight in marinated and Greek olives.  I find when I don’t take the time to chew them enough, I get little bits of olive skins in my feces.  At least they don’t remain whole as in, oh, say, corn or peas.  I gave those bastards up years ago.

 

Sept 14.

Dear Diary,

Had the loveliest dinner and CHEESE was all around and the CHEESE topping the meat, atop the CHEESY pasta, and everyone else is having CHEESE with their wine saying isn’t this the most lovely CHEESE and let me drown my sorrows and obvious inability to make a coherent (CHEESE) sentence in this cocktail, by which I mean straight up bourbon.

 

Sept 19.

Dear Diary,

Am I on my period or did I have too much salt, because there’s blood in the toilet…

 

Sept 23.

Dear Diary,

In awe because my poop actually had some structure, so I felt it coming out.  Should have taken a picture to show you.

 

Sept 30

Dear Diary,

I give in.  I ate cheese, truffle oil, ice cream and creme fraiche all in one night.  Oh, and a bottle of wine.  Take that, stomach lining. How you like me now, bitch?

 

Sept 31.

Dear Diary,

So it turns out my splurge last night ended in some slight gassyness and a successful morning poo with minimal pain.  IBS, you are a fickle bitch.