View Full Version : Hoping it's just IBS ...

11-13-2017, 12:20 PM
I was diagnosed with IBS about 25 years ago, when I was in my early 30s, and have also always had issues with anxiety and depression. The last 10 years have been pretty good for me, but then I became caregiver for my elderly father (very stressful), who died suddenly of a heart attack in June of this year. The grief has been horrible, and there have been a couple other major life changes happening at the same time. I was running on adrenaline until about the middle of September, when all of sudden I just crashed with upset digestion, abdominal pains and bloating, followed by severe anxiety and depression.

I ignored my symptoms for a month or so, because I was too scared to go to the doctor, but I finally went. I had a pelvic and abdominal ultrasound done, along with blood tests and urine test and all came back clear. I am scheduled for an abdominal CT scan this Friday, and have also been put on a stronger anti-depressant and anti-anxiety meds (I have been on a low dose anti-depressant for over ten years, since my mother died).

All I can think is that I have some kind of cancer, especially given my age (56), and that's making my anxiety ten times worse. I am praying that it will just turn out to be an attack of IBS triggered by Dad's death and other issues, that has been worsened by the subsequent anxiety and depression. It's a vicious circle -- anxiety makes the IBS symptoms more noticeable, and the more noticeable the symptoms become, the more anxious I get, and on and on it goes. I can't seem to break out of it, and every day is a terrible struggle to function. I feel like I am at the end of my tether.

I always seem to have a niggling pain in my lower right abdomen, and sometimes it feels like it migrates into my bladder or up towards my right kidney, especially when I am stressed or have to sit for long periods of time (I have a desk job). I can't wear half my jeans anymore because the pressure is just too uncomfortable and I feel bloated. I was at first worried about ovarian cancer, but the ultrasound didn't show anything wrong with my ovaries or other pelvic organs. My bowel movements are mostly normal, but sometimes my stools are looser than they should be.

The discomfort fades away at night when I go to bed and can lie down and relax -- in fact, my bed has become my safe haven, and with my depression, I am spending about 16 hours a day in it, watching TV, reading and sleeping. I had to scale back to part-time work because I can't get up in the mornings before 11 or 11:30.

I am not sure why I am writing this, as I know there's nothing anyone can do, but it feels good to vent and hopefully, someone will be able to provide me with some reassurance, or share their own experiences with similar symptoms.

11-13-2017, 12:29 PM
Hi... deepest condolences on the death of your father.

I would suggest you have a colonoscopy with biopsies done. It's visual, and will give you a baseline for future screening.

How is your diet in general?
Many foods can cause gas and bloating. Are you on probiotics?

Do you drink alcohol, consume artificial sweeteners, etc?


11-13-2017, 12:44 PM
Thanks Quincy. The doc may recommend a colonoscopy depending on what, if anything, the CT scan shows, which I pray is nothing. Having a colonoscopy scares the daylights out of me! There was a change in my diet before these symptoms appeared -- because I couldn't face cooking for one after Dad died, I ate dinner out for almost six weeks, and I know a lot of these meals were not healthy. I've fallen back into that habit the last week or two, because I just don't have the motivation to cook for myself in my depression, and I know I have to eat something. Anxiety and depression always takes my appetite away, and having a meal prepared for me makes it so much easier. The only family I have left is a sister who lives an hour away, so I don't have much support except from friends, who have their own lives and problems.

I don't drink, and I won't keep alcohol in the house, because I am afraid I might start.

My mother was diagnosed with diverticulitis when she was about my age, after months of diarrhea that never cleared up. Her symptoms aren't the same as mine, but I find myself wondering if that's what it could be. I'd be happy to accept anything except cancer.

11-13-2017, 12:46 PM
P.S. I just started on probiotics, prescribed by my naturopath (my regular doc has no interest in alternative therapies), and I never eat artificial sweeteners.

11-13-2017, 03:55 PM
Amberlight, its your stress levels. You definitely have a good reason to be anxious and stressed out and right now, you need to remember that and be good to yourself.

It's not an excuse, but you need to start preparing yourself easy, healthy meals to keep on hand when you don;t feel like cooking. Try taking a Sunday and making some small dinners which you can keep in the fridge or freezer and defrost/ heat up when you are hungry. You already know that eating the way you have been isnt helping. Tonight, I made a huge crock pot of vegetarian chili- it was SO easy. I started it before work and came home to a delicious meal. I have enough to take with me for lunch tomorrow and enough to freeze for two more meals.

There is zero reason to be thinking cancer. In fact I highly recommend that you get the colonoscopy done (ive had 12 of them since Colon Cancer is so prevalent in my family, I started at age 20). They are a piece of cake and the good news is that Colon Cancer is the slowest growing cancer and if caught in time, completely removable. The only time you should be scared is if you DONT go get the test done. Thats asking for trouble.

Give the new meds a chance to kick in...try getting some exercise instead of laying in bed until late in the morning..force yourself to get up and go for a walk OR go to a gym and walk on the treadmill. Exercising helps digestive issues and mental issues- relieves anxiety and helps you sleep better. Its a win- win for you.

Hang in there. I know you are going through a really rough time, but the pain does get easier to deal with. (I lost my dad almost 2 years ago and I was his primary caregiver). I know that its hard..but I also know it gets better.

Hugs. And remember to be good to yourself.

11-13-2017, 06:12 PM
Thanks MSNik. I did make myself dinner at home tonight -- a chicken breast, mashed potatoes and baked squash. Didn't feel like eating it, but I forced it down. Yes, it has been the most stressful 4-5 months of my entire life, so I guess it's not really surprising I feel the way I do.

It's the prep for the colonoscopy that scares me. All that laxative, and a day spent on the toilet sounds pretty awful and painful!

Vegetarian chili sounds good! I don't have a crock pot, but perhaps I will invest in one. Making some small dinners and freezing them sounds like a good idea. You have also given me the idea to try some new recipes instead of making the same stuff I've always made.

I know that exercise is important, and try to get in a 40-minute walk every day, plus I do Tai chi on Wednesday nights. Today, exercise didn't happen, but that will give me incentive to make sure I get my walk in tomorrow.

To be honest, I have never been a morning person, so even at the best of times I find it hard to get going when the alarm rings. I am a night owl, and my best time comes late in the evening when I should be settling in for sleep. That is one reason why I sleep so late, because I am watching TV and reading till 1AM or later. Right now, late evening is the only time I actually feel good.

Thanks again for your tips!

11-14-2017, 03:56 AM
The prep is NOT all day. You take it after 5 the night before, by 8 pm you'll be empty...yes, those 3 hours are pretty horrible. Plan on stocking up on a good book, a magazine, netflix- whatever and buy some extra soft toilet paper....the next morning, go get your colonoscopy. Someone will have to drive you and try to make it for first thing in the morning as you will be hungry and cranky! But, the test does not hurt at all....its over in under 20 minutes.

Please believe me, its the best thing you can do for yourself! The one guaranteed way to eliminate colon cancer! And, really, the prep is a few hours.

I am glad to hear you cooked last night and I helped give you some ideas. Thats great....keep up the smart choices!

11-14-2017, 09:40 AM
Thanks for the info, MSNik. Maybe things have changed since I last talked to someone who had a colonoscopy. They told me the whole day was horrible. I'll see what the doc says after I have my CT scan on Friday, and if he thinks a colonoscopy would be a good idea. I'll probably spend the whole weekend in a state of heightened anxiety, worrying about the results, but will try to remember to breathe! Thank you again for your reassurances.

11-14-2017, 11:24 AM
For c-scopes...I've had a lot.....I only use the gallon PEG preps. Eat lightly the day before and you can have a light breakfast and lunch. The prep starts around 4 30 or 5 00. I use GoLytely which has no flavouring.

There are many preps, and some doctors are very fussy. I refuse to starve myself or do liquid diet for the day before or during because when I did, I felt sick from them. I've never felt sick from the gallon preps.

All you have to do is watch what you eat according to the suggestions, but you won't be purging all day....just all evening. You can work the day of the prep.


11-14-2017, 11:28 AM
Thanks Quincy. Still sounds yucky, but if I have to do it, I have to do it. :-/

11-15-2017, 10:48 AM
It's really the only way to know what's going on in there.....and we can give you suggestions for during the prep. Keep us updated!


12-05-2017, 01:41 PM
Just a quick update. I won't be seeing the GI doctor until January 22 -- that was the soonest they could get me in, which means the colonoscopy probably won't be happening until February. In the meantime, I'm taking probiotics, drinking peppermint tea, and have had my blood tested for possible food sensitivities (I get those results tomorrow). It doesn't feel as uncomfortable as it did a month or two ago -- I've been a lot more mindful of addressing my stress and anxiety issues, and I think the supplements help a bit -- but I still get isolated episodes of diarrhea every ten days or so, and am still kind of bloated with some mild pains that come and go. I am looking forward to see what, if any, food sensitivities I might have, so that I can try making some changes to my diet. I also find myself wondering if I might have a parasitic infection of some kind. My GP hasn't checked for that yet, although the GI doc might.

12-06-2017, 07:19 AM
Hi....yay, good to hear a GI appointment is already made. Ask your GP to give you a stool sample kit to check for invaders of any kind....and the results will be at the ready for the GI. Might as well do something with the waiting time... lol.

You could try an antispasmodic....in the US, I believe Buscopan is sold otc. That might help during the diarrhea episodes if they are caused by gut spasming hissy-fits. Your issue could also be caused hormonally. Some people I know use Ginger tea for calming the gut.

Thanks for the update! Looking forwarding to hearing the results of your recent tests. I suggest you get a copy of all that are done for your records and research. Also easier to have on have rather than remembering what result is what.

12-06-2017, 10:03 AM
Thanks Quincy! I will be very glad when my problem has a definite diagnosis -- this has been dragging on for months now, and I'm fed up with it.

I don't think my problems are hormonal, as I am 56 and several years past menopause. I do know for sure that stress is a big factor. Even a small amount of stress can throw everything out of whack right now.

I'll take a look for that anti-spasmodic, although I live in Canada so I'm not sure it's available here.

12-07-2017, 11:37 AM
If it's not available here, ask your GP to prescribe you Bentylol..low dosage 10 mg.

You could start Metamucil fibre capsules.....one with breakfast for a few days, then add one to supper for a few and so on. It will help even peristalsis, etc.

You can also try a good probiotic....after stool sample testing. Please push for that...

Keep us updated how you are doing.


12-07-2017, 12:07 PM
Thanks Quincy! I found out yesterday that I have several food intolerances -- gluten, egg whites, dairy, peas, mushrooms and cashews, of all things. I rarely eat mushrooms or cashews, so those won't be a problem to eliminate. Peas I don't really care about. The gluten, eggs and dairy will be an issue, as I eat a LOT of pasta, eggs and cheese. But I am willing to change up my diet to see if it makes a difference. Luckily, I can still eat all meats and fish, potatoes and rice, corn and quinoa, all veggies (except peas) and fruits. Went shopping last night and found some corn/rice/quinoa based pasta - not sure what it's going to be like but hopefully it'll be edible. Also bought some veggies and corn starch (for gravies) and a package of quinoa.

Hopefully, I'll see some improvement by eating differently.

I am also already taking a high quality probiotic. It does help a bit but I still have flare-ups, although they're usually triggered by stress more than anything else.

12-07-2017, 12:29 PM
What kind of blood test shows intolerances?