Tag Archives: IBS

IBS with Benefits

I have IBS-D. I specified the D because there are two types of IBS.  People with IBS-C have chronic constipation, whereas IBS-D sufferers beg Santa Claus for constipation every year.  Seriously.  Constipation would be a fucking gift to someone who goes five times a day on average.  Having IBS-D is like constantly reliving that one time you ate something from the roadside stand in Tijuana.

IBS is a bipolar bowel disease. There are highs and lows and it is nearly impossible to predict an attack.  I have tried just about everything. I eliminated gluten from my diet like everyone else in suburbia. I took probiotics daily; they made me feel WORSE.  I have cut down on caffeine and alcohol. I rarely eat fried foods. You know what? I still get the volcanic shits OUT OF NOWHERE and usually when I’m far away from my comfy, PRIVATE toilet.

[Note: if you are reading this while eating, now is the time to step away from the food.]

I’ve had IBS my whole life, so I’ve learned to cope with it. Even though shitting yourself silly can suck, there are some benefits to having IBS.  Here are just a few:

Super Sphincter – I could kill someone with my anus.  I’m not talking about the smell; I’m talking about the strength.  The muscle tone from years of holding in diarrhea attacks while searching for a restroom has given me a super strong butt hole.  I could probably squeeze someone to death with it.  Maybe Marvel or DC could make a superhero like this.  I’m imagining a brown cape and, oh never mind.  I’m taking this too far.

Never Obese – It’s like having bulimia, but they won’t put you on Intervention for it. I’m only mild to moderately overweight, not scooter level obese according to my doctor.  Just kidding. Doctors don’t talk to patients that way.  What I’m trying to say is I’m a little heavy around the haunches, but I’m nowhere near being on a Discovery Channel show or having Richard Simmons cry at my bedside during a Deal a Meal commercial. I eat enough to be bigger, but I just shit it out constantly.

Purse Pharmacy – I’ve got a multitude of pills in my purse for all stomach occasions.  You got gas? I’ve got Gas-X.  You got the runs? I’ve got prescription and non-prescription relief for that.  Have you crapped yourself silly and now you just have cramps? I’ve got that covered, too.  Hang out with me and you won’t need to bring your own pharmaceuticals.

Bathroom Map – I’m like an app for locating bathrooms. I know where they all are.  I know where the best places to poop are, aside from home.  Ladies, I will tell you that the restroom in Von Maur is a little slice of heaven.  If you don’t have a Von Maur near you, and you are in need of a restroom, find the fanciest department store in the mall.  It will be safe.

Candle Collection – My husband buys so many delicious smelling candles and he usually seems to light one when I have just had an attack. This doesn’t bother me because having the bathroom smell like pumpkin cupcakes and shit is better than having it smell like just shit. The candles come in handy during the rare times when other humans visit our home and use our bathroom.  Everyone knows that other people’s crap is way nastier than your own.

Yes, IBS, D or C, can be frustrating, especially for those of us who are control freaks. I mean, if you can’t control your bowels what CAN you control?  AMIRIGHT? That is why I choose to look on the bright side and focus on these benefits to constant buttocks eruptions. What about you? Do you have IBS or some other embarrassing condition? Share your story in the comments section.

Hey Gluten Detectives, are you in the bathroom with me at 3:00 AM?

Gluten free cookies -- they look "normal."
Gluten free cookies — they look “normal.” No kittens were harmed in the course of eating them.

I’m seeing all kinds of posts on social media about gluten intolerance being a fad. I’m being told by all kinds of well-meaning people (see here for more thoughts on well-meaning people) that I should feel like some kind of dumbass for wanting gluten free products. I’m not a scientist, or medical professional. I can only go by how I feel. I have some very real pain from eating gluten. So, I don’t care about the scientific studies. Really, I don’t get why other people have decided it is their duty to be against those of us who are not eating gluten. Does a kitten die every time I eat a gluten-free cookie? Are you in my uterus, and are we sharing nutrients?

There are lots of lifestyle choices out there that are deemed to be fads. One of my Paleo loving friends recently posted this. The Paleo diet, and its father the Atkins Diet, is thought of as a fad, too. So, I find it amusing when pro Paleo people try to give me dietary direction. The Paleo IS a gluten free diet, by the way. I did some research on the diet before writing this. I even considered following it, but then I realized I couldn’t eat most of the things I like.

One of my Facebook friends sent me this via the messaging tool. There was no note or anything, just a link. It felt like some sort of “Stop being silly, and just eat like a normal ‘Murican” virtual intervention. As you can imagine, I took this very seriously and immediately rethought my eating habits. [Insert sarcasm font.]

Both of the anti-gluten free blogs above point out that the FODMAP diet actually works for IBS, but a gluten free diet does not. That actually makes no sense. I have had stomach issues since FIRST GRADE, and I have done some research. I was not merely waiting around for people to post links on Facebook. Shocking, I know. I have done a lot of reading about the low FODMAP diet. I have even followed the FODMAP diet, and it does help a lot.

The FODMAP diet is wheat free and MOSTLY gluten free. If you click the link you will also notice there are a host of other foods on the bad list. Could it be that someone who was eating gluten free was eating the other “bad” foods (like peppers and onions etc.) because they don’t contain gluten? In doing so, this could have skewed the results in the official “gluten free is a fad” scientific studies.

If you have any doubts about gluten causing me extreme stomach issues, please feel free to join me in the bathroom at 3:00 AM after I have eaten pasta, bread, or had gluten slipped to me in some sort of sauce. If I go to a restaurant and ask for a gluten-free menu, and they actually have one, don’t make me feel like an asshole for ordering from it. There is one person who can offer me dietary advice, my gastroenterologist. She knows me inside and out, literally, and she has a little thing called an M.D. after her name.



Claustrophobic Cheesecake Factory Nostalgia

My husband and I had a gift card for Cheesecake Factory so we decided we should go out for lunch, by lunch we meant martinis and cheesecake.  When we got there, I knew we were in trouble because it was SOOOO crowded.  If you read this blog ever, you know I LOVE to be smooshed in a crowd of people. (That was sarcasm.)  Being five foot nothing, I usually can’t see anything but torsos in this situation. There was a 20-minute wait for a table and the hostess did not have a microphone or any of those vibrating “your table is ready” things.  So, we had to stand (no place to sit) and wait for the hostess to yell for us.  By yell I mean whisper, or at least that is how it sounded to me.

I had to pee, and I was thinking about going to the bathroom, but I didn’t because I HATE public bathrooms, I didn’t have to go that bad, and my husband ended up ducking out to take a phone call.  This left me and only me to stand there and wait for the hostess to whisper our name.  So, I just held it.

Finally, the happy moment arrived.  I was standing right next to the hostess stand, as I have the hearing of an 85 year-old, and she whispered something that sounded like “Chris, party of two.”  So, I asked her, “Did you say Chris, party of two?”  She nodded and smiled.  Score! I waved at my husband to come back in.  He followed us to our table, still on the phone.  It was a business call, so I will forgive him.  I was so relieved to get out of the crowd.

The tables were not hermit-friendly.
The tables were not hermit-friendly.

The hostess led us to a tiny table that was about four inches from the table next to it.  I am exaggerating; it was a foot from the next table, but it really felt like I was going to have to sit on the lady’s lap at the next table.  I barely had room to set my purse and coat next to me.  I scooted as far over to the left as I could, without going through the wooden partition.  It was one of those tables where you basically share the booth seat with strangers.  Hermits don’t like sitting with strangers.  So, I did the only thing one can do in this situation; I ordered a drink.

Our waiter came to the table soon after we sat, and he looked really familiar.  There was something about that dark hair, and prominent brow. It hit me. He looked like a younger, less Cro Magnon Brett.  Brett was someone I used to do stand-up comedy with back in the late 90’s.  Now, he is out in LA, doing stand-up and scoring some tiny roles on TV shows.  For example, he was a Eastern European thug on Weeds a few years ago.  I always found Brett to be funny, but sort of arrogant, especially after he gave me a mini speech on how I should have chosen my marriage to my first husband over stand-up comedy.  I’m holding my fingers in W formation on my forehead and facing west. Whatever, Brett!  I was kind of hoping that Hollywood had spit him out to wait tables at the Cheesecake Factory in Columbus, Ohio. Yes, I fully understand that this is very non-Buddhist of me.

So, back to that much needed drink. I ordered a Cosmo, my usual poison.  I’m just not that adventurous.  My husband pointed to a dirty martini on the menu, and tried to get off the phone.  Once his call was over, we ordered appetizers, too, because by this time, we wanted more than cheesecake and drinks.  The food was delicious.  We were long overdue for some greasy, salty food. Fried zucchini and mini burritos go great together and they are full of fat and gluten. Plus, we got cheesecake.

As you may know, my husband had his throat melon-balled on December 17.  So, we haven’t been eating fried bar food at home.  We’ve been sticking to things that don’t irritate the husband’s throat.  Without giving you too much TMI, I will tell you that my husband had to dash off to the bathroom shortly after polishing off his cheesecake. My apologies go out to the other gentlemen in the men’s room on Saturday.

I stayed at the table until Brett Jr. brought the check over.  I signed, tipped generously, and gingerly squeezed out of my seat, trying not to knock over the drinks on the table next to me. Two Cosmos and a full bladder later, I decided to check out the bathroom.  Surprise.  It was really crowded and stinky.  It seems that if a bunch of people eat a bunch of cheesecake, odds are that someone is going to have a lactose intolerant attack in the bathroom.  Oddly enough, this person was not me this time. I just had to pee REALLY BAD, but I didn’t.  The smell was overwhelming, so I opted to wait until we got home.  When we walked out to the car, the crowd in the waiting area had tripled.  We had gotten out just in time.  I think next time we will just get a cheesecake to go.



Biggest Bachelor Failure Ever

Every year when I watch The Bachelor, I list the reasons why I would be TERRIBLE on the show. First of all, I have a fear of heights and water, which would interfere with 95% of the dates.  Also, I’ve got this whole hermit thing going on, so that would make it tough to live with all of the drunken drama AKA the other bachelorettes.  There are SO MANY reasons I would fail to find “true love” on The Bachelor, but I think the top reason, other than the fact that I am married, would be my IBS.  It’s hard to be sexy and adventurous when you are always looking for a bathroom. IBS is not something you can really hide, for long, and since I am the queen of TMI, I would probably lead with the whole poop issue. After watching the premier, I started to imagine what I would do and say when I got out of the limo.  Here’s a possible scenario.

I would be the last to arrive, of course.  I would follow all of the tall, lovely young women in their jewel-toned gowns.  I would shove my short, size 8/10 middle-aged body into a brown dress.  I would wear pantyhose with my dress because I’m not a fan of the whole bare leg look, especially with my Dublin stubs.  As soon as Juan Pablo saw my short, stubby legs, with clunky flat shoes (I hate heals) exit the limo, he would sense that I was special.

When I walked up to him, I would say, “Hi, I’m Lisa.  I’m wearing brown because poop is brown.”  Juan Pablo would look frightened, and maybe do a nervous laugh. I would keep going though.  This is me.  Since a lot of the girls hand the bachelor small gifts when they first meet him, I would hand him a box of Gas-X strips. He would look at the box in his hand, and look down at me (because I am five foot nothing, not because I have issues) and ask me, “Is this for Camila?” in his adorable accent. The strips do look like children’s medicine.

I would chuckle, roll my eyes, and say, “No. If I eat gluten, dairy, anything fried, foreign food, or too many cruciferous vegetables, and I look like I’m in pain, like this (I would clutch my stomach and make my best lemon-sucking face), put one of these on my tongue.”

Juan Pablo would look at the box, and look around, for help, and nod his head slowly at me.  I would go on, “I should be fine. I have IBS, you know irritable bowel.  So, just don’t make me eat strange, foreign food, nothing with curry, for sure.  And I’m so not eating a bug or any weird seafood.  Don’t take me to places without indoor plumbing.  I’m not a port-a-potty girl, and I can’t really hold it.  Also, I refuse to share a bathroom with anyone,  especially one of those drunk tramps from the limo.  I will NEVER ride in a helicopter or rappel down a building.  I could get the stress poops, and who wants to see that on TV.”

“What? The stress poops?” Juan Pablo takes a step back and nearly trips over a plant.

I nod, and step forward so I can hear him better.  His accent makes it tough.  “Yep.  When I get nervous, I get sick to my stomach. Don’t worry. I took pills before coming here.  Also, I’m only 42, I mean 28, but I have the hearing of an 80 year-old.  So, lose the accent and talk louder.”

After that, Chris Harrison would walk out of the mansion, stand next to Juan Pablo, and say, “Juan Pablo, Lisa, that was the final limo this evening.  It’s time to come inside for the cocktail party.”  Chris holds his hand out, in the direction of the mansion.

I nod and walk past Chris and Juan Pablo, towards the mansion, without wobbling as I had the good sense to wear flats.  Chris and Juan Pablo follow behind me, probably checking me out. I’d probably get the first impression rose.

A Hermit Goes to College

Graduating from FIU in 1994
Graduating from FIU in 1994, with mom

Introverts tend to have a few close friends rather than gobs of acquaintances.  Unfortunately, in high school, one of the people closest to me was nuts. I had a crazy boyfriend during my senior year in high school.  Not only did he verbally abuse me, but he told me that he worked undercover for a certain federal agency.  He was only 16, but that didn’t stop me from believing him.  After all, we were still in the cold war.  Anything espionage could happen, right?  And, being raised in a Democratic home, I believed that Reagan was evil and totally would authorize using a teen as a spy.   Crazy boyfriend’s spy stories would make for a good blog, or maybe novel, but I’m getting off track.  Basically, long story short, Mom wanted me away from him.  (Can you blame her?)  She also DID NOT want me going to community college, which I desperately wanted to do so I could stay home and continue to date spy boy. Even my best friend, who was going to community college, told me I was “too smart to go to BCC.”  Hugs to you, T.

So, 9 hours away to Florida State, I went.  I hated it instantly.  Honestly, I hated it before I got there. If there were online school, that would have been great.  Heck, if there had been online anything in 1989, I would have been thrilled.  I had to go stand in line to register for classes.  In line. With people. There were people EVERYWHERE.

First of all, I lived in a dorm with COMMUNAL bathrooms. This had to be some kind of torture method. I had IBS then, but didn’t know it yet.  I just thought I got sick a lot.  At home, I had my own room, my own bathroom, and a shocking lack of drunk people laughing in the hallway.  I got really sick to my stomach while I was at FSU.  So sick, that some of my dorm mates took me to the ER.  The Nurse asked me if I was out at bars eating raw oysters. Um, no. I was in my room reading, writing, listening to U2 on my Sony Discman and drawing pictures on the wall over my bed with oil pastels. My roommate hated that.

My roommate and I were good friends in high school. When we moved in together, we realized that I was (and still am) an introverted neat freak, and she, sadly, was not.  I only see her every 10 years at reunions, so I can’t say what her current state of neatness is.  I just know that we argued a lot over her damp sink-washed laundry, which hung over chairs and doorknobs.  As you can imagine, this made my temples throb.

On the bright side, I ended up breaking up with the crazy boyfriend about 3 weeks into my stay in Tallahassee.  I credit the lack of texting, Facebook, and Skype for this. I had been talking on the phone to a really nice guy, E, that I knew from working at Woolworth.  Remember that place? He was not a spy, and he was a much nicer person.  He actually sent me packages every Wednesday that he called “Happy Wednesday” gifts.  They contained things like huge jars of peanut butter, silk jammies, and other much needed dorm items, like toilet paper.  Since he was so nice, and I was a young idiot, I dated him for two years and then stomped on his heart.  Ah, youth.

Because it was one of those things “normal college students” did, I bought season tickets to the football games.  I ended up selling most of them, or just giving them away.  The couple of games I did go to were crazy boring for me, and loud, and crowded.  Usually, I sat with a group of high school friends long enough to watch Chief Osceola charge on to the field on his horse, with FSU cheerleaders running after him, and launch his flaming arrow.  Soon after the arrow was extinguished, I began my game ritual of walking around behind the stands, eating a pretzel and drinking a Sprite.  I would go back to where my friends were during half time, and again at the end of the fourth quarter.  I don’t think I ever really watched a game.

This may shock you, but I did not stay at FSU for all 4 years.  I transferred to FIU in Miami, and lived at home.  It was much more my speed, and I had my own bathroom.

Traveling Hermit — Part One

I'm not a big fan of heights.
I’m not a big fan of heights.

Unlike my one time close family friend George Clooney, I do not like traveling. While not all introverts can be called hermits, I am a proud member of this club.  You know that cliché about home being where the heart is?  Well, to my people home is where the safety net is.  Force us to travel and we get a tad bit nervous.  And since I am traveling tomorrow, I’m even more nervous than I have been for the past month, since I booked my flight.

Other than not liking to chitchat with strangers or use public facilities, there are a few other reasons that I am dreading this particular trip.  Here’s my handy-dandy list:

  1. TMI ALERT!  I have IBS.  If you don’t know that is, you are lucky.  I won’t go in to great detail, but, basically, this is my life.  As you can imagine, travel makes my condition worse due to my anxiety about travel and eating different food.  Really the whole IBS and travel thing is a chicken or egg argument.  Does traveling make my IBS worse, or does IBS make travelling more difficult?  The world may never know.  And no, natural foods people, probiotics do not do diddly.  In fact, they make me feel worse.
  2. I’m traveling for work at a time of the year when my family cannot go with me.  I’m going to a great city to attend and present at an interesting conference.  If my husband and my son could go with me, I would be three kinds of jazzed about this.  Anyone who has ever watched Greys’ Anatomy knows that most people have their person.  Well, my husband and son are my people.  I don’t like being away from my people.
  3. Flying frightens the bejesus out of me.  When it comes time to fly anywhere, I become Rain Man.  It just doesn’t seem safe to put people in metal tube and send them a bazillion miles up in the air.  Who invented this torture anyway?  YES, I KNOW who invented flying.  I live in Ohio.  (Shakes fist at the Wright brothers)

Well, I’d better go try to pack all of the comforts of home in a duffel bag and a computer bag.  I’m carrying on so I can get the heck out of the airport faster.  There will be a part two to this when I get back.  Enjoy your homes, everyone.