Why Mary Allen is #Gutsy: on Fibromyalgia and IBS

SKH Note: I hope you all enjoy Mary’s story today. This is her story about never giving up and the continuous fight with Fibromyalgia and IBS.

p.s. I’m looking for more SUPERWOMEN to tell your own gutsy stories. You don’t have to have IBS/IBD to be gutsy. Women are gutsy for so many reasons. Please contact me if you would like to be featured.

I had been suffering from all over pain, muscle stiffness, muscle spasms, intense and frequent headaches, chronic fatigue, tingling, numbness, inflammation and an inability to think clearly, remember things, or get the right words out.

I was put in the hospital during the summer of 2010. It was there that I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. One of the common symptoms of Fibromyalgia is IBS. I had been lucky so far not to experience any IBS symptoms.

That all changed last winter. In December of 2011, my overall pain increased and I had intense stomach pain, cramping, burning and constant diarrhea. I could not eat. I could not function at all. I thought I was dying. I was bedridden from December, 2011 – March, 2012, with the exception of going to the emergency room and attending doctor visits.

They performed every test possible on me, but could not find anything wrong. It got to the point where the hospital would give me a Valium and send me home. They thought I was crazy. They could not find a reason for my abdominal symptoms and extreme stomach pain. I thought I was going through a major Fibromyalgia flare and that it might never end.

Luckily I had a doctor who believed me and did not give up on me. In March, 2012 she suggested that I go on a Gluten-Free diet. I immediately had 50% relief in my IBS symptoms. My stomach pain was less, but I was still having diarrhea and cramping. I was afraid to go anywhere because I never knew when I would need a bathroom. However, I was finally able to get out of bed and have slowly been getting better ever since.

In October, 2012, I still had some stomach pain and cramping and a lot more gastrointestinal problems. I was going back & forth between diarrhea & constipation. I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t getting better on the gluten free diet. My doctor told me that IBS is a symptom of Fibromyalgia and there was nothing I could do about it except control the symptoms with medication. I was so disappointed. My IBS was interfering in my life in a major way.

I decided to start researching IBS and gluten on my own. I learned that many people with Fibromyalgia & IBS have inflammation and that in some cases, the inflammation was blamed on consuming gluten. That was true. Before I went gluten free, blood tests always came back showing high levels of inflammation with no known cause. I also had inflammation in my hands and feet.

I decided to go on a gluten-free, anti-inflammatory, non processed food diet. I eat apples, bananas  gluten-free yogurt, pomegranates, strawberries, grapes, oranges, all kinds of beans & vegetables and almonds. I gave up caffeine. I eat unprocessed chicken, pork & fish. I eat a salad everyday. I now take a multi-vitamin, calcium, fiber, zinc & cranberry supplements. The effect of this new diet was felt immediately. My IBS is gone! No more see-sawing between diarrhea and constipation. No stomach pain or cramping. I have regular, normal bowel movements and I am not afraid to venture out anymore.

I miss pizza the most, but I found that if I had 1 slice every once in a while it is okay, as long as I stuck to my diet for all other meals that day. I also learned that I had to start moving again. My doctor diagnosed me with Severe Muscle Disuse Syndrome from being bedridden and not exercising. I was afraid to exercise because I knew my Fibromyalgia pain would get worse. I also felt I needed support. Luckily I found a physical therapy office close by that had a wonderful, hot pool. I began water therapy and have gradually gotten to where I now workout 5 days a week in the “gym” part of the physical therapy office.

I definitely feel that my exercising has also had a positive effect on ridding symptoms of IBS. My Fibromyalgia does not like the exercising, my muscles scream at me, but I don’t care. I know it’s the right course to be on and hopefully, eventually, the exercising will have a positive effect on my Fibromyalgia pain as well.

I am happy to report that as of my last blood test, it no longer shows any inflammation and I no longer have swelling in my hands & feet.

Love your guts,
SKH

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