Another morning seen in with the dawn chorus can only mean one thing. I dared to have a few glasses of wine last night and my stomach didn’t like it.
It’s not glamorous but my life has been blighted with IBS and acid reflux for at least 15-17 years.
The first time I remember getting heartburn was after a very indulgent two weeks house sitting for my late Aunt Wendy in Brighton in 1999. Not only did I pig out on chips and doughnuts, but she lived very close to an ASDA with a late night off licence and on site bakery.
My weight was probably an issue at the time too, I think I was nudging 14 stone, but otherwise a pretty healthy 28 year old.
The first time I realised I might have IBS was on holiday in Canada six years later. It had been a stressful few months for one reason and another and I started to notice that every time I ate breakfast, which I didn’t always do at home, I needed to run to the loo.
It wasn’t a MAJOR problem until I got divorced in 2008. My insides went into stress fuelled overdrive and when I could eat, after my appetite came back, I was in the loo straight afterwards. I remember a particularly horrible bus journey on holiday in Australia with my brother… I’ve never run so fast and prayed so hard the public loo was bearable!
I go through stages with IBS. Stress makes it unbearable and I live off Immodium for it. Another habit I’ve developed is adding codeine to the medication, so when it’s bad I’ll be on Solpadine and Immodium to keep it at bay. It’s a bitch of a condition, I never know when it’s going to be bad and I can get the telltale cramp that means I have to go NOW at any time.
I told you this wasn’t glamorous.
With the reflux, it started getting worse in about 2012. I’d struggle to work out (I was going to the gym regularly then) because as soon as I got moving the acid would gurgle up. If I was really unlucky I’d have an IBS attack too and have to cut the treadmill session short. You think I’m making it up? Oh, I wish.
The doctor gave me medication for it which I’m still on. I would love to come off it, but the rebound is painful. I don’t dare do it unless my system is calm… And it’s not at the moment.
The stress of the last few years left me constantly medicating the problems. The reflux isn’t so bad unless I really overdo crap food and alcohol as the meds keep it at bay. The IBS is massively unpredictable and painful. The fact it’s IBS-D (work it out) also means it’s likely I’m not absorbing all the nutrients I should, which probably accounts for why I feel so bloody knackered half of the time. PPI meds for reflux also interfere with absorption of some vitamins.
I’ve been doing some reading and apparently IBS and reflux are also linked to joint aches and pains (tick) headaches (tick) and lethargy (tick)
It’s got to the point where I want my life back. I’m sick of knowing that if I indulge in a nice meal and wine, I’ll have a restless night, stomach pains and have to either dose up on Immodium or spend the next day in close proximity to the toilet.
My plan, difficult as it’s going to be, is to soothe my insides with a combination of diet, exercise, stress relief and… Intermittent fasting!
The first steps are the hardest. Two weeks with zero wheat, dairy, caffeine (no coffee????) or alcohol. Just to see what happens to my symptoms. At the same time, two days on 500 calories a day or thereabouts, to give my digestive system a rest.
I could really do with some cheerleading; it’s not a diet and it’s not about weight loss but it’s going to be restrictive which is a red flag for me. Still, it’s just two weeks to see if it makes a difference. If it does, I’ll probably want to carry on just for the relief!
Sorry if this one’s been TMI. It’s 4.27 am, I probably should try and sleep. Just need to get to the bathroom…