Comorbidity of IBS

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

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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