Editor’s Note: Once again our intrepid teenage Contributor, Jordan Faith, has brought us a very intimate, first-person experience of living with IBS-C, what happens when she has an IBS attack, and how she get’s back on track. This is a very raw, brave, emotional sharing of what it is like when things go wrong and we are sharing it with all of you because we want to make sure that you know that you are not alone.
IBS Attacks & How To Reset Your Gut
IBS is not a stop along your journey through life. It’s something you carry with you throughout your trip. To carry something this heavy, something that consumes your body and your mind, is exhausting. You shouldn’t worry, then, when you fall off the low FODMAP wagon. It’s a bumpy road!
I recently fell off the wagon, triggering a truly horrible IBS attack, when I took a three-day trip to Chicago with my best friend. We got up at 4 am to run out the door for an 8 am flight so I was immediately knocked off my routine. As someone with IBS-C, I live for routine. Wake up around 8, drink a coffee, relax, go to the bathroom and then I tackle the day.
Wanting to make the best out of our trip, it was early to rise, non-stop touristing, shower, and then bed. I wasn’t able to have my coveted routine for three days.
My friend Charlotte is more than familiar with my issues and can even relate to them on a certain level. I talked to her about how not being able to go to the bathroom was affecting me. But talking only goes so far in helping your IBS. By the third day I was feeling sick to my stomach from constipation and bloating.
We tried to stay hydrated, eat healthy, and make time for bathroom breaks, but my problem was that I was stressed and hyped up from traveling and being in a new city (and way off my schedule, which my body needs to function properly). I wanted to make the best out of the three days we had so it was go, go, go, everywhere except in the bathroom.
Here Comes The IBS Attack
After three whirlwind days, we flew back home. I crawled into my bed around 1 in the morning. By this time I felt terribly sick. I was so constipated and exhausted that I crashed until I woke up at 6 a.m. feeling miserable. I had three days of backup in my stomach and a horrible nauseous feeling.
I got up, grabbed an enema (always a last resort), hoping to open the flood gates, only to have barely anything come out. I’m not going to lie, this freaked me out. So, after pleading with my mom to let me try again, I gave myself another enema. The same thing happened (meaning, not much) and by this time I had to start getting ready for work – luckily for just one day, as it was Friday.
I’m a receptionist so thankfully my workload is minimal, but those were the slowest eight hours of my life. I didn’t want to eat but I knew I had to in order to keep things moving and get back to my beloved routine. I drank twice the amount of water I normally drink in hopes of getting things moving again. Then, of course, I felt bloated.
Man was I glad that I purposefully didn’t plan anything for the weekend because I needed that recovery time. It wasn’t until two days later that I felt 100% again. (See below for how I get back into my routine.)
This isn’t going to be my last time with an episode like this, which is why I try to remember these things:
You Aren’t Alone
It happens to the best of us. You fall off the wagon. And let’s be real, the hardest part is working up the courage to get back on. It’s frustrating. Sometimes when we manage to get back on the wagon, it only lasts for a little while. A bite of garlic bread is hard to resist! Just remember that you aren’t the only one who struggles with this.
A few things that have pushed me off the wagon: traveling, nights out with friends, eating out and not speaking up, and my period (sorry guys!). I don’t let my bad days stop me from going out or traveling, although if I could stop PMSing, I would! So how do I pick myself up when I do fall off the wagon?
Here are my tips for How to Reset Your Gut:
- Take a day off to recover (if possible). No plans, I stay home and cook my meals
- If I do I have to go out, I pack food ahead of time
- Communicate with my friends
- Relax, maybe try crafting, painting your nails or coloring
- Drink water and eat chia seeds for fiber
- Talk to my support team, whether it’s family, friends, or a significant other
- Reflect and think about how far I have come
- Take it as a learning experience. Perspective is everything!
- Plan how I will handle it differently next time
- Consider going back to the Elimination diet, if need be
Personally, what I love about my IBS journey is that I am constantly learning more about myself, both physically and mentally. When it comes to IBS, you need to be strong in both areas so when you feel yourself going backwards you have the tools to work your way forward again. Notice I said work. It’s not easy. The wagon doesn’t stop.
The only thing you can control is you, the choices you make, and how you react to them. Don’t take this journey for granted. Make the best of it and keep pushing forward!
- How The Low FODMAP Diet Changed My Life
- How to Make the Low FODMAP Diet Work for You – a Teen’s Perspective
- Using Social Media to Navigate the Low FODMAP Diet
- How To Help Friends & Family Understand Your Low FODMAP Diet