HealthBoards (
-   Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) (
-   -   Has IBS ever RUINED your life like it has mine? please read =( (

BroadwayJunkie 11-08-2011 02:28 PM

Has IBS ever RUINED your life like it has mine? please read =(
I guess you could say it's not really a question but I'd like to hear how IBS affects your life as it does mine. It affects my life in all the ways I never wanted it to.

I'm big into musical theater and hoped to make a career of it one day. I was diagnosed with it when I was 12 years old and continued to live with it. I was an active member at several community theaters and trying to get my name out in the open. I've had IBS attacks during dance classes, voice classes, acting classes, piano lessons, etc. All my teachers understood completely and were very accepting that I would have to use the bathroom during class. I try my best not to get up in the middle of a lesson but as my career progressed, directors were not so understanding of it. Directors are the types of people where, "Either you're a stage person or you're not" and I've been told by at least 7 directors that because of my condition, I'm NOT stage material and it crushed me. Stress is what sets off my IBS symptoms the most and theater is EXTREMELY stressful, more than most people could ever understand unless you actively participate in theater. Because of my IBS attacks coming at the worst of times, I've had to give up my dreams and goals of musical theater. There should REALLY be a cure for this. This condition is becoming absolutely ridiculous. I know there's treatment but it doesn't always work for everyone. Musical theater was my entire world, it was my life. My family always said that IBS isn't the end of the world but they didn't understand is that it was the end of MY world. Stage is all I've ever known and the only thing I loved and because of this, I've had to give it up. I'm still devastated about it and I feel as though nobody understands. I've gone as far as wearing adult diapers to auditions (which I'm glad I did a few times) I can hide the abdominal pains really well but I'm not wearing an adult diaper, it's kind of difficult to hide that you have to use the bathroom. I've even worn diapers on stage during a performance just to be on the safe side. Surprisingly I've never had an IBS attack during a performance. I feel that because my world is coming to an end, I feel I have nothing else to live for. It feels as though my life is ruined because of this. I don't know how to do anything else except musical theater.

Is there anyone who can relate to this? Has IBS interfered with your life to the point where you feel like your own world is coming to an end while others live their life perfectly content? It's hard not to feel jealous or envious of others around me who deal with IBS but doesn't have it ruin their lives. I just wish there was SOMEONE out there who can really relate to my feelings. It's not just a small interference like having to run to the bathroom during class or a work meeting. In my case, it's so much worse. I'm performing in front of thousands of people. I can't just get up and walk off-stage. It would be unprofessional. "The show must go on" regardless of anything else. I've performed in shows after hearing a great friend passed away in a severe car accident, during the WORST menstrual cramps possible, while having strep throat, it SUCKS during those times but I've never had something actually prevent me from doing what I love the most. During rehearsals, my friends would have to literally drag me out of the theater around midnight because I didn't want to leave. I just feel like I'm alone in this, when it comes to the "ruining my life" part at least. I know others deal with it and believe me, I feel for you. It sucks. But has it ever ruined your life as it has mine?

losingxhope 11-12-2011 08:17 PM

Re: Has IBS ever RUINED your life like it has mine? please read =(
Hi BroadwayJunkie,

I am so sorry for what you're going through. I know how it feels when you have the urge to go to the bathroom frequently because I also suffer from IBS and it has put a damper on my life too. I had to stop doing to school/work because of it. I see that you're also new to healthboards so I believe that we will get lots of help on IBS.

OhCrapNotAgain 11-28-2011 01:23 PM

Re: Has IBS ever RUINED your life like it has mine? please read =(

I suffer like you...if not more. I use a wheelchair too so finding an accessible restroom in an emergency just compounds my problem.

Have you tried Imodium and also librax? You need a prescription for Librax but is helps calm and slow your tummy down. I take one of each every morning and more as needed during the day.

I'm curious how this would help you.

Also, could you consider being a producer? Then you could have more control and call a break anytime you needed one?

Look forward to hearing backfrom you...

BroadwayJunkie 11-28-2011 01:58 PM

Re: Has IBS ever RUINED your life like it has mine? please read =(
Thank you losingxhope and OhCrapNotAgain, I've tried prescription medications, Imodium, etc. Being in a wheelchair must be really tough and I'm so so sorry to hear that it's rough. I can only imagine what that must be like. I'm here for anyone who wants to talk and I'm glad that you guys took the time to read my post. I wasn't really looking for an answer to a problem, I was just looking to see if others had experienced the same thing I'm still experiencing. I don't know how to do anything else except for musical theater. I tried getting a job as a secretary but I just kept getting things lost and messing everything up. I tried getting a job as a cashier (something more low-key) and the customers were rude, I broke the register by accident and my manager made me cry on my 2nd day. I feel like I can only do one thing right and one thing only but that one thing, I can't even do anymore. I'd rather be a hermit right now :(

OhCrapNotAgain 11-28-2011 02:04 PM

Re: Has IBS ever RUINED your life like it has mine? please read =(
It's funny that on the good days you feel like you can do anything but the bad days make you want to crawl in a hole and never come out.

I use several layers of the nice soft white paper towels some office buildings use in my the rare case I can't make it in time. Sounds ridiculous but it beats not having that extra easily disposable layer of protection.

Joland 11-28-2011 10:19 PM

Re: Has IBS ever RUINED your life like it has mine? please read =(
Hi BroadwayJunkie,

I'm very sorry to hear about your situation. I can certainly say that IBS has "ruined" my life, whether it was limiting events I went to (or simply making them less enjoyable), limiting where I would travel to, my activities of daily life, etc. I was 13 when I would have incredible pain for 2-3 hours or so every other week in my stomach. Since then I've been able to eliminate the pain by taking metamucil capsules and colace at every meal with a full glass of water, but the IBS itself remains.

The career path I chose required me to do things that tended to trigger my IBS, things like public speaking, teaching, seeing patients, etc. Although I was on track to become accomplished in my field, keeping IBS at bay simply became too much to stay on that track and I took a job where I would be doing less of the things that trigger my IBS, although you can't avoid stress forever.

Five years later in the same job, I am finding myself moving back to my original track and I would recommend the same for you. The trick is being creative with how you do what you want to do. You mentioned you never had an episode while performing, but it was more the auditions and practices that triggered your symptoms. You can always find a theater company with a more collaborative atmosphere, or perform in a smaller group. I took my profession online and formed an internet business doing what I love to do in a way that no one else has thought to do it. IBS feels like a curse most of the time, so you need to find a silver lining.

If you see IBS as ruining your life, it will. If you see it as presenting a challenge that you can creatively solve, you will approach it more effectively. Believe me, I know this is easier said then done, and almost no one will appreciate and understand how you feel. Its really up to you to pat yourself on the back when you get through little challenges that may seem like nothing to others but take your full strength and willpower to get through.

Regarding treatment, I've tended to stay away from the prescription meds and immodium. The never did much for me but delay the inevitable or make it worse. As I mentioned earlier, I do take metamucil capules and colace with meals which as been helpful in restricting IBS episodes to only those triggered by stress. If you're not on this regimen, you should try it for at least 6-8 weeks and see how you feel. I also carry around GasX which is a bit less disruptive than Imodium but can have a similar calming effect. I haven't taken GasX in quite a while though.

Anxiety about having an IBS attack often causes the attack itself so if you can reduce the anxiety or work through it you're halfway there. You can reduce anxiety by doing the things that make you anxious and getting through them successfully. The more you expose yourself to these situations and successfully stay in them until the anxiety ceases, the less anxiety you'll have next time. Another trick to reducing anxiety is exercise. Getting your heart rate up by exercising most days reduces the level of excess adrenaline in your system, so there is less available to trigger panic when you feel sensations in your stomach. As an additional part of your exercise, try doing situps/crunches and other activities that work your lower abdomen. Not only do strong abs help, but feeling those cramping sensations when you're not having an attack will desensitize you to them over time, and you'll be less likely to panic when feeling stomach sensations. Without the panic and stress, the likelihood of an episode is lower.

Preparation always helps me too. Even if I don't need all of the extra protection or props that I may bring "just in case," having them there reduces my anxiety. Knowing where the bathrooms are also help, but that's probably advice no one with IBS needs. :) Finally, some form of relaxation/distraction exercise is good to learn. Deep breathing while counting down helps me. The counting makes me feel that as each second goes by I'm closer to being out of the situation that is triggering this attack. Works well for me on airplanes anyway!

Another technique that is helpful is bowel retraining, which essentially is choosing a time to go to the bathroom for 15 minutes per day. In addition to helping move things along, there is a component to it that could reduce anxiety by pairing bathroom activity with a more neutral setting then the more panic-driven states it sometimes produces.

Hope this helps. There is a very large community that faces similar challenges as you, so you're definitely not alone.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 05:54 PM.