Everything you Need to Know About Managing IBS

ibs, treating, managing, solving,

My little pandas, I have been one busy researcher who’s been battling IBS (irritable bowel Syndrome) like a ninja with one leg since May. Hence me neglecting my blog, for which I’m sorry for!

When this chaos first hit me, I thought it came out of the blue, but a whole lot of analysis later, I realised that I should have seen the signs. Then again, how can one see the signs if you don’t know what you’re looking for? Either way, this problem came into my life like a tsunami and it hasn’t gone anywhere 8 months later. After the NHS (the free health service here in the UK) failed me severely (for the second time might I add) I decided to take matters into my own hands. But my journey was not an easy one. In fact I was at breaking point on many occasions. This has tested me mentally, physically and emotionally.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, for those who haven’t had the pleasure, affects your intestines. It’s when bad bacteria runs rampant and causes mayhem in your gut. A lot of factors deplete good bacteria. Antibiotics is a major one along with any food intolerances you might have. You will be hit with stomach pains and/or/both cramps, constipation, diarrhea, excessive wind, bloating, urgent need to constantly go to the bathroom, lack of energy, back pain, and feeling sick.

IBS symptoms

Can you imagine feeling all of that? For me it was so often that I developed a phobia of not wanting to leave my house. The thought of commuting to work every day on the underground literally made me have panic attacks and anxiety. My greatest fear was that I would shit my pants, and that fear was debilitating. Every time I would leave the house I had to plan exit strategies that were closest to the nearest  bathroom. Even going around the corner to the supermarket was an extremely difficult task to complete. The constant feeling of going to the bathroom is horrendous. For me, this severe IBS took away my life. I had to cancel outings with friends, my weekends consisted of me staying cooped up at home, yet the most scariest was that I thought I was going to lose my job. Not to mention taking Ubers to and from work because I just couldn’t walk the whole commute. I’m broke now by the way.

When I would try and explain it to my close friends I was met with the typical response of ‘oh that’s terrible’ but I didn’t get any real support. Because they just didn’t get it. But if I’m honest, I expected more from them. A lot more! My mom on the other hand suggested that I should just buy adult diapers and be done with it. I know, what a humorous woman. Ha…. ha…. ha…..

The NHS doesn’t see IBS as a life-altering issue and therefore don’t do anything. One doctor told me this might last for a year, another said 6 months, AND they didn’t refer me to a Gastroenterologist until 3 weeks ago for which I am still waiting for an appointment. They also threw two pieces of paper at me that were supposed to be a helpful description of what a Low- FODMAP diet is but it was very vague. However, the icing on the cake was that they didn’t even suggest that I take probiotics! Woooosssaaahhh!

I was lost, with no real support. I was so depressed that I signed myself up to see a therapist (which was also free) but now 5 sessions in I’m convinced the whole system here is just churning out patients without really taking the time to care for them. If anything, I want my doctors to be empathetic and tell me with military precision, ‘You need to take this, this and this!’ They should have said ‘Well, you’ve taken a lot of antibiotics throughout the last year and a half ( which was due to a kidney infection that they failed to see, resulting in me running to A&E and staying in the hospital for 2 days thinking I was going to die) and that strips away all the good bacteria in your gut.’ Instead, I was left with no real answers. When the symptoms came back in full force about 3 weeks ago after eating a couple of gluten free croissants (I should have read the shitty label) I decided that this fucking IBS was not going to win! I would take control. If the doctors wouldn’t help me, then I would help myself.

So without further ado, here’s everything you need to know: (I think I’ve done enough complaining for one post don’t you think?!  🙃)

1. You should know that IBS can be triggered from food intolerances that you didn’t even know you had. These are not like full blown allergies, so don’t worry! If they were, you would definitely know it! Before this hit me, I used to eat everything. And I never even thought I could have a specific food intolerance to something. But low and behold, I did. I would have never even thought about this if it hadn’t been for a discussion that I had at a friend’s house. They referred me to Allergy test London which is where I found out that I should steer clear of beef, lamb, anything cow and sheep related, apples, corn (maize), whey, wheat, beer, lager, eggs (strangely, I can have the whites and the yolks separate) MSG, wasabi, tea, and something else but for the life of me I can’t remember.

2. The Low-Fodmap diet is a must I’m afraid. I don’t care what you read, it is the shittest diet known to man. It basically eliminates all the foods that could possibly exacerbate your IBS condition even more. After months of dreading to eat, (and I loooovvvveeeee food) I am now at a place where this diet is tolerable. I’ve accepted it through gritted teeth.

IBS, Low Fodmap, diet

This list isn’t an exact science, so beware. Even though it says that these foods/beverages should be ok it really depends on your body. You will have to eliminate everything and go from there. For me, my diet was at a bare minimum yet I was still drinking a decaf cappuccino with almond milk every day. I was still feeling ill, and so I decided to cut out the decaf coffee all together. And what do you know, I started to feel better. I also limit fruit to bananas and some strawberries. The reason being is that sugar ferments in your IBS ridden intestines and gives birth to new bad bacteria. In the beginning I was craving sweets. Which I thought was odd because I am not a sweet person. And this is because of IBS, you get cravings for sweets, so try and resist it!

3. PROBIOTICS IS A MUST!!!!!!!! I can’t stress this enough. It is so important. The three that I have tried are…

Symprove

Symprove, IBS,

I started off with Symprove for 3 weeks back in July. It helped in the beginning but then I never got any better.

Optibac – Extra Strength and Saccharomyces Boulardii

For me these two helped tremendously. My personal opinion is that you should take these two together. And before you ask, ‘Can you overdose on probiotics?’ the answer is, NO! We have trillions of bacteria in our gut. So you can never go wrong with taking enough probiotics.

Before I continue down the list here is a photo of everything that I take…

ibs-solutions

Plus…

IBS, L-glutamine, Vitamin A

4. Out of all the research that I did I came across one reoccurring note, that L-Glutamine is the mother of all holy grails for IBS suffers. Now, I can’t give the full stamp of approval, however, after 3 days of taking this I almost feel somewhat normal. Just to put this into perspective for you… it is now 3:36pm here in London and I haven’t had to go number 2! For all you IBS suffers out there I know you know how thrilling that sounds!

Here are some benefits of L-Glutamine…

IBS, L-glutamine

 

5. Invest in Digestive Enzymes. They help break down your food in order to help your body absorb the nutrients more efficiently. Therefore when your gut is out of whack it is a good idea to aid it with these.

6. I have also been taking Olive Leaf Extract as well as Turmeric. Both aid your system immensely. Here are some of the benefits for both…

7. Vitamin A also supports your Immune system. Here are some of the benefits of this Vitamin…

vitamin-a

Now, Why am I telling you that you have to keep boosting your immune system while battling IBS? Well, did you know that over 70% of your immune system is located in your gut? No, neither did I. And since my gut was battling for it’s life I figured my immune system could do with a boost.

8. Kefir is also very good for your gut, because it’s a probiotic. I wasn’t too sure about cow or sheep kefir since my body is pooh poohing both of those things so I found two alternatives…

Kefir, coconut, goat

Coconut and Goat Kefir

I am not a fan of the taste, but at this point I would drink piss if they told me that it would help my gut.

9. Now this one is a interesting one. Apparently they are now saying that IBS can be caused due to a Vitamin D deficiency! And because of this I have also started taking a vitamin D pill. It’s not a high dosage because I also take a multi-vitamin every day.

Benefits of Vitamin D

10. Stress is another factor that causes havoc to your system. This one though is tough because if any of you know what it’s like to battle with severe IBS you know that stress will sky-rocket. You are stressed to leave the house, you are stressed finding a bathroom, you are stressed from the morning you wake up till the moment you close your eyes. So I have tried meditation. I take 10 minutes out of my day to just relax. I have tried the Headspace, Digipill and calm apps. All of which are good, however I don’t really feel like giving them around £10 ($12)  a month. I was also thinking about taking up yoga.

11. SLEEP!!! Sometimes this is easier said than done. Especially when you’re not feeling well. But try and get as much sleep as possible. I am trying these Sleep patch-it things that you adhere to the bottom of your feet. And I don’t know if it’s acting like a placebo or actually really calming me but I have noticed that I have been sleeping more soundly. And when I wake up I’m more refreshed. Again, I’m not too sure about this one. But, like I said, I will try anything!

sleep, patch-it

12. Omega 3’s are another source of help for your IBS. I haven’t taken any as of yet but will let you know if I do.

Other tidbits:

  • If you are on antibiotics you must, must, must take probiotics.  Optibac have a good one that’s called ‘For those on antibiotics.’  A couple of years ago I suffered from a kidney infection which the doctors failed to see. They chucked me out and said it was probably a flu bug that was going around. But when I couldn’t even keep water down, I knew I had to rush to the A&E who told me that I had to stay for two days in the hospital. Because of that they started me on antibiotics. And throughout the 2 years that would follow antibiotics were coming and going through my system. The last dose I took was this February and I got hit with this whole IBS thing in May.
  • Eat healthy foods. Stay away from sugars and complex carbs.
  • Stop with all the alcohol.
  • Stop caffeine.
  • Listen to your body, because you know it the best! If the doctors are insisting that it’s a bug, be adamant that it’s not. You know how your body feels when you have the flu and tummy bugs. Insist that the doctors run blood and stool tests to eliminate things like Celiac and Crohn’s disease, Inflammatory bowels, Parasite or any other anomalies.

Phew! This was a long post wasn’t it! I was desperate to write this because I know that there are others out there pulling out their hair in despair dealing with IBS. It isn’t a fun thing to go through and I just wanted to let you know that you aren’t alone.

These herbal supplements won’t fix IBS overnight. You will have to be patient and strict. I know that I have probably another 6 months of all this stuff. But if I’m feeling better even in this short amount of time then I at least have hope for the future. And that is a big thing to have, for which I’m truly grateful for.

Here are some links that I was looking at through my researching frenzy.

Dr. Hyman

Dr. Axe

Help for IBS

How to treat IBS naturally – Super Naturally Healthy blog

At last a home remedy for IBS that gives proven results

Lastly, please consult a specialist on which herbal pills you should take along with the dosages. If I had to choose just 3 things to help my IBS, it would be the probiotics, L-Glutamine and Olive leaf extract, along with the Low-FODMAP diet.

Let me know if any of you are finding luck with any of these or if you’ve found something else that might be helpful.

❤ ❤ ❤

On a slightly different tangent, I just wanted to give a shout-out to my local  pharmacy Panacea Health & Beauty, because if it wasn’t for those lovely ladies I don’t know where I’d be right now. One of the ladies, started me on symprove probiotics and I thought she was an angel sent down from heaven just for me. I later went back and wrote down everything that I was going to take and another lady told me what else I should get because she too also suffered from IBS and was able to cure it through these natural remedies. I can’t stress this enough, that pharmacy and especially the ladies who were so wonderful and extremely knowledgeable helped me tremendously.

Best pharmacy ever

 

Weekend Photo Journal: Everything Velvet

everything velvet

Let’s talk VELVET!!! It’s delicious isn’t it? It reminds me of decadence, regalness and opulence. It’s a sensual material that elevates any setting; whether it be your attire or home decor. It’s that of kings and queens and when done right brings out even the elegance in simplicity. I really do love velvet, as I’m sure you can already tell!

When I was little I had this emerald green velvet dress with black bows on either side of my short sleeves that I paired with black patent-leather mary janes. It was my church dress (Sunday best attire) and special occasions dress. Every time I wore it felt like a little princess emerged from a sleeping cocoon.  I would pretend that I was waiting for my royal family to come and get me. Sorry mom and dad for my elaborate imagination. I love you nonetheless. To be quite honest, it would seem that I loved Sleeping Beauty a little too much.

Anyway, velvet made me feel just a little more special. The softness would sooth me and the deep expansiveness of colour reeled me in to be a lover of velvet for life. Luckily for me, Velvet has finally made a comeback. Therefore, you will see velvet everywhere this fall/winter. I’m literally jumping for joy right now!

So without further ado….. may I present my favourite weekend photo journal to date…. VELVET!!!

❤ ❤ ❤

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekend Photo Journal: Everything Copper

Copper

My oh my! Copper is fabulous isn’t it?! I’m obsessed with it! If I had all the money in the world (ok enough to make me comfortable) then I would buy lots of copper! Copper for my home, copper for nail polish, copper for make-up, copper for food…. too much? Well, you get the idea. Accented copper decor in the home can really make any room pop.

I won’t keep you waiting. Here’s everything you could dream of for copper inspiration…

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By the way if you want all the info on each photo then scroll down to the bottom and click on the link that will connect you to my Pinterest board on Copper.

Pinterest Board: Copper Inspiration

Weekend Photo Journal: Marbleous

IMG_5328

 

Ok pandas, it’s that time again! This week I decided to start stepping away from summer. Sad as it is, it’s almost the end of August! Ahhh…how I’ll miss it so. Anyway this weekend’s photo journal is everything on MARBLE! I’m not going to lie I’m slightly obsessed. Well, with that and copper, which will be next weekend’s photo journal.

So…. without further ado, may I present everything marble!

 

For all the details of each photo, see my Pinterest Board: Marvellous marble.

When Monday Motivational Quotes Don’t Do The Trick… (battling with depression, anxiety and panic attacks)

al bundy giphy

So my little pandas, I’m going to try and talk about depression, panic/anxiety attacks in the lightest way possible. Key word being… try, because quite frankly I don’t want to get myself worked up again to the point where funny gifs won’t be able to do their job anymore.

Lately I have been suffering from a load of shit. Some of it literal and others being more metaphorical. Long story short I was having major tummy issues (see my previous post). It has been reoccurring since end of May. Right after my stomach went all Mt. Vesuvius I was also about to start a new job. Let me tell you, having to juggle the mental acrobatics of trying to coax yourself out of distress in fear of shitting your pants in public and learning the ropes of a new job really took a toll. I started to crumble. There were days where I would only eat like 2 bananas and some strawberries in fear that I would loose the battle with my bowel. I figured the less I had to eat the less times I would have to be in the bathroom. Throughout this time I lost my appetite completely. Now, I would like to inform you all that I’m a gal that loves food. So for that simple pleasure to be ripped away from me didn’t help me mentally. On top of all this I was also worried about money, the quality of my life here in London, being a hermit, not having any friends around, not having someone to come home to, not starting a family and my parents.  You see, because I was at such a low point I brought all these other things into my head. I started collecting all my failures one by one and lined them up solemnly.

I swear the brain is a blessing and a curse. Sometimes circuits get re-wired, re-programming takes effect and for a short while you turn into a person that is just not you. You are floating in the distance looking down at this destructive blob that has taken over your body and you can’t do anything about it. You just watch, saying ‘Hey, that’s not me! I don’t think things are so bad!’ But it can’t hear you, for the Pandora’s box of negativity has opened and it’s nothing but a downward spiral from here on out.  There are bouts of sanity however, that may filter through. Where thoughts pop into your head like “I know this is nothing. People are going through much worse things. What you’re going through will pass. Stop being so negative.” But then, your brain switches and you are back into the deepest abyss. It’s a sense that you will never get through this. A sense of despair. As if you were drowning. Or sinking into quicksand.

My stomach caused me to have more anxiety. I would be anxious to leave the house. I was in constant fear that I would have an accident in public. Anxiety turned into panic attacks where I would self-destruct. I hated everything that I was. Everything that I achieved was meaningless because I was convinced I was a failure at life. I called up my mom, who is from an era that never really talked about mental health, even though her sister was a social worker. The compassion, understanding gene of mental health must have skipped my mom. However, I don’t blame her really. She just never was around it. Therefore, everything that she was saying made me revert into an even worse place. So I was screwed with no outlet to vent. I thought of going to see a psychologist but then became even more depressed when I realised I couldn’t afford it.

It’s a very hard thing to explain to someone who doesn’t get panic/anxiety attacks or depression. You eventually end up sugar-coating it. You don’t want to say to people that you don’t see the point in living anymore. That maybe you should just throw in the towel and call it a day. Because sometimes dark thoughts manifest so much so that you can’t control it. Fortunately for me, mine are just thoughts. Because I know that with each battle won, I’m strong enough to face another episode if/when it happens. But at the time it’s all I would think of. That I am a failure and everything in my life has been a consistent pile of shit that magically increases in the amount of shit with every year that goes by.

Yet, somehow the storm passes and I continue to chug along. I continue to stay afloat. Sometimes in that moment you feel like you are the only one in that black hole and once you escape you can’t help but rejoice fighting off your arch-nemesis.

This wasn’t a post about me complaining about what I’m going through. The message of this post was to simply say… you are not alone. And besides, it’s better to get it out than to hold it in.

Here are somethings that can help: (I am no expert, but these are some things that have helped me) 

  1. Make sure to surround yourself with people who understand. In this instance, people who are prone to dishing out tough love are not the kind of people you should be around at the moment.
  2. Look at old photos (or any photos) that show some happier times. For me, my brain starts recalling those memories in detail and for a time it forgets what sadness you might be going through. It lessen the load.
  3. Write down everything you’re feeling in a journal. Here is where you can be the most candid. So let it all out.
  4. Go for walks and take in as much fresh air as possible.
  5. Get a lot of sleep. For me, when I stress my brain doesn’t turn off, even when I sleep. I even have extremely vivid dreams of me constantly battling something, getting killed, you know the usual! So it’s important to try and get as much sleep as possible. That way when your sleep becomes interrupted you can add in a couple more hours in there.
  6. Soak in a bath. Unfortunately my tiny studio doesn’t permit a normal bath (it’s just a shower) so the next best thing is for me to sit on my couch and soak my feet. Improvisation is key people!!
  7. Eat as healthy as possible. I know booooooo to this! But sugars don’t help panic/anxiety. I know they say it’s part of comfort food but it does more damage in the long run.
  8. Ok this one is something that I do…. I put on some music and dance and sing until I get tired. I feel sorry for my neighbours.
  9. When things get really bad, it’s ok to curl up in bed and do nothing. You are allowed!
  10. Watch youtube videos of fluffy baby pandas. This one never does me wrong! It always makes me smile!

❤ ❤ ❤

Wishing you all the happiness, health love and laughter in the world…

PS- I know, this wasn’t such a light post… Sorry! ❤ D

Weekend Photo Journal: Mmm, Minty Green

Minty Green

There’s something about certain colours isn’t there? For me… mint green is one of those colours. Just like royal blue and emerald green. They are delicious. I chose mint this weekend because it’s still summer, in most countries. It’s supposed to be summer in the UK but I don’t think bouts of sun here and there counts as summer.

Anyway, without further ado….Here’s some mint green inspiration.

For all the details/credits please see my pinterest board Minty Green.

 

 

 

 

Why Mom Was Right About Not Writing Things Down…


My mom wasn’t the most open about many a things when I was growing up. Most things were learnt from friends and my grandma (maternal side who I called Baba). Baba would teach me invaluable things like ‘Washing dishes makes your hands and nails beautiful’ and ‘Don’t sit with your legs up and spread apart while wearing a skirt so everyone can see your underwear’. Of course I can’t forget the one about ‘I must learn to cook because how else will I become a good housewife’. Afterall the key to a man’s heart is through his stomach right? Well, I later found out that washing dishes by hand ruins your nails, and if I wore shorts under my skirt I avoided people seeing my underwear, and I learnt to cook for myself and not because I was going to get married. Anyway, besides all that, being an only child didn’t help my situation either. So growing up wasn’t an easy task to conquer. With my mom’s limited hands-on, in depth talks and my friends telling me wrong things I was a hopeless case. However with that being said my momma did instill one tidbit of information that has stuck with me throughout my  life…And that is to never write anything down that you don’t want others to see. Because if it happened to fall into the wrong hands, it would ruin you.

At the time my momma instilled these words of wisdom to me, I was in the 7th grade and still living in New York. One day I came home from school and my Ma was waiting for me in the living room. I always knew when she was in crouching tiger mode ready to pounce into a lecture with how she said my full name…. “Alexandra….” Which was also said in a stern tone. Oh lord, here we go. “What Ma?!” I was an annoying, impatient kid to her. Now that I’m older I do appreciate the patience she must have had. “I found this note in your room” (she went snooping). “Maaaaaa, why are you going through my STUFF!!!!” Her face showed that she wasn’t having my attitude that day. “I wasn’t snooping, I found it on the floor.” She unfolded the wrinkled note. “I’m going to tell you something Alexandra and do with it what you may. What if this note fell into the wrong hands?” I just looked at her. Inside my brain was working out the damage that it would have actually caused had it really fallen into the wrong hands. And the outcome? Was not a favourable one. “Alexandra, what if your friend kept this and decided after to share it with people?” She starred into my face to see if she was getting through. “What I’m trying to say is, never write anything down that could compromise you as a person. You never want people to not respect you  or to take your words and use them against you.” This made sense to me. I mean it really made sense. But all I said was “Gaaaaaaaaawwwdddd, maaaaaaaaaa, FINE!” And I stormed out the room.

Ever since that day, I never wrote anything that could put me in jeopardy. Nowadays I internally become so thankful that I did not follow those unfortunate folks who had not gotten this piece of advice. The one’s who’s naked photos fall into the hands of jealous ex’s. The one’s that decide to become amateur porn stars and then their significant other leaks the video. The one’s that write mean text messages about others only to have the receiver take a screen shot and post it around. I’m glad I’m not in this group. And I might have been, had my momma never actually said anything.

Now, I’m not trying to preach or act like I’ve never done anything that could compromise me as a person, because I have!  I’ll have you know that I have done a couple of sex videos and taken photos in my underwear. But my boyfriends at the time, were never allowed to keep the videos. I was the only one who had access to them. And as a double precaution, they were kept in password protected files on my computer, or locked away in a drawer. The photos that I would send were never of my face or things that could identify me, like my tattoos for example. They were snippets of skin,lace, straps. I would also never send a full body image of myself. When it came to notes or texts, I wouldn’t write anything important in them. In actuality, the only time to be vigilant about writing everything down is when it comes to business.  That’s when you make sure you get agreements down on paper. A good old hand shaking while verbally agreeing to something does not make for a good idea.

Anyway, the reason I decided to actually listen to my momma was because I found out that people can be mean, vindictive and down right nasty, even in the 7th grade and even despite how nice you were to them. So if they don’t have anything on you, you’re smooth sailing from here on out.

Despite my Ma not being the best at communicating when it came to boys, sex, girl things (like periods) and other vital pieces of information, she was at least forthcoming on one thing. So kudos to you momma for sharing that with me. I have appreciated it every since!

💜💜💜