Main » October 2004
October 17, 2004
Because of my unique, restrictive diet and my frequency of "getting sick", most of those around me recognize that I live differently than others. And while my friends are too polite to pry, I will often get questions from acquaintances that make me very uncomfortable.
This is especially true in a work situation. What do you do when a boss asks about your condition? In the back of my mind, alarms go off due to the complicated issues of insurance as well as employee reliability. While in reality, I do not abuse my given sick days and days off, I am nonetheless concerned, as a young working girl, about the image I have to the company. If I reveal too much to coworkers and superiors, I worry that they will take that information to restrict my growth or, in worse case scenario, give them another reason to let me go if budget cuts come about. Being indispensable to your work/company is a difficult issue to face with IBS looming.
Recently, a coworker asked about my dietary preferences. When I brushed it off and said offhandedly that I was allergic to cheese, she kept asking over and over again if I had been tested, if I really was allergic or if I was lactose intolerant. How do you sidestep these questions without revealing something that you would rather not mention? I was so flustered by her line of questioning that I quickly backed out of the room.
October 9, 2004
IBS sufferers hate tours, carpooling, or any sort of trip that takes the control over destination out of our hands*. So this week, of course, I volunteered to drive myself to an annual conference directly from the office, leaving at a later time than the other attendees.
I wake up in the morning with less than 6hours sleep, which immediately throws my stomach into knots. My morning strategy is to have a calming time to drink a glass of cool water (usually acts as a mild stimulant)and try to have a bowl of oatmeal later on at work (works as a major stimulant - hence my wait to be settled).
My morning commute is 1/2 hour so I have to make sure that I won't have an attack during that time. Of course, this particular morning, I was running late. I skipped the water and ran out the door in my pinstripe suit. When I arrived at work, stomach cramping a bit, my boss shows up at my office and announces that I shall be traveling with her (thankyouverymuch). At this point I'm stuck. Do I eat my oatmeal and run the chance of getting an attack (a "good" attack) during my commute to the conference with my boss (frightening!)? I decided no and went with the "let's stay hungry because its better than getting sick" approach.
Thank goodness the trip there was quick and painless. They had plenty of lifesaving sourdough bread (great way to calm your insides). And NEVER ask for the vegetarian option at lunch - it almost always means some sort of past stuffed with ricotta cheese.
The day continued rather eventless and I quickly returned to work, my "home base" for the rest of the afternoon.
*Personally I find it difficult enough to maintain control in Los Angeles so I am really baffled at how IBS sufferers handle it in more public transport cities. I hyperventilated the last time I was stuck on a bus in Hong Kong.
October 7, 2004
Three Piece Suit
Savvy: I'm smart. Ok, so I can't even seperate whites from darks in my laundry but I accredit that to plain laziness, not smarts. I'm well educated. After a M.A. in Communications I STILL cannot figure out how to get a guy to listen to me.
Career: I'm a career juggler. I have multiple careers as a marketing manager, a pr rep, an editor/publisher. I work 24/7 and don't feel complete unless I have a project to finish. My goal in kindergarten was to be lucky enough to wear a three piece power suit to work --- everyday.
Girl: I'm 26. Sure, that's still a girl. I don't have kids, I'm not married, and I spend the exact amount that I make. Sometimes I still party like I'm 21 and other times I can still pass for 16, so I act it.
I'm a vivacious, busy, career oriented gal that is full of life and knows how to live it. The only problem is IBS and its not fair! With all the challenges that savvy career girls have in today's cutthroat business world, the restriction of IBS is a frustration that becomes a daily battle.
So this diary is for us. The younger women who believe in themselves and want to rule the world, yet, everyday, we deal with an confining prison called IBS.
October 4, 2004
Young'n in the Waiting Room: A Colonoscopy
Any person, young or old, that suspects IBS or has been diagnosed with IBS should always go through a Colonoscopy to completely rule out any other possible gastro concerns and complications. I've heard it's also a way to actually diagnose IBS, though that doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense to me. IBS is about the functionality of the GI tract, not about the possible irritations and risks caused by polyps. (Can anyone clarify this for me?) Of course, in your twenties, a Colonoscopy is not on the top of your priority list. So to take a little edge off of your decision, I thought it might be nice to give you a rundown of my experience.
When I first arrived for my consultation with my doctor, I was the only one in a completely filled waiting room that was not yet eligible for social security benefits. The tart receptionist asked if I was waiting for a patient. Nope, I replied. The main thing you have to know about a Colonoscopy is that it is a minor 'operation' where a doctor sticks a tube up your anus, through your rectum and takes a peek at all of your intestines. While it's not fool proof (you can still miss polyps in some places), it did make me feel a whole lot better to know what I was able to rule out.
Getting ready for the operation. I will be honest; I would not wish the prep work on my worst enemy. Between drinking bottles of fleet and giving myself enemas, I threw up more than five times during the prep. I made the mistake of being home alone and could barely make it to the bathroom. At one point I almost fainted. Find a wonderful caring (and sensitive) relative or friend to help you through this time. Stay clear of boy toys, new boyfriends, or (in my experience) boys in general. It's an ugly ugly time.
I arrived the next morning to the hospital and received a briefing from the nurses. My father, who was kind enough to be the designated driver, paced in the waiting room. After being drugged up, I was wheeled into the operating room and moved over to the stark operating table. While the technician told me that I would probably be awake for the procedure and feel gentle probing, I fell asleep before the doctor arrived. The only distressing part was seeing the instruments before nodding off. I woke up in a daze awhile later in the recovery room along side several other patients. The room spun around as my father and the nurse came up to the side of my bed. The nurse said that I had to 'pass gas' before I could safely leave.
Consider yourself completely out of commission for at least 24 hours and sleep to your hearts content. I could hardly even stand up on my own. The great thing is that you know that you will not experience any IBS symptoms for a good week (since you are totally cleaned out). I took this time to feed my year long craving for raw oysters. Albeit it was not the most responsible course of action, it was nonetheless delicious.
October 2, 2004
Ever been to a day-after-Thanksgiving sale? You either hate it and avoid it like the plague or revel in its beauty. This morning, as I recovered from skating, I woke up with a horrible cramp. You know the feeling -- the cramp that tells you today will be an IBS flare up day. You don't want to leave the house but you know that if you don't move about, you won't get relief. So I've dragged myself (my inner voice kicking and screaming) to the Staples grand opening sale. It is incredibly surreal to watch hundreds of grown adults grab, shove and yell just to track down that wireless router on sale. So don't you know, inside this mad mess, my insides start cramping up. This is about the time the gentleman next to me grabbed the same DVD burner I had my sights on. Should I head home quickly or take advantage of the sale items? At this point I had my hand full with on-sale paper, router, CD burner, etc. Thank god for being a female! A new checkstand opened and, me looking rather unsteady with goods piled up high past my chin, I gingerly scooted by the other customers my father's age and got rung up. The trip home left me driving slightly doubled over, but I made it! and with sales items in hand!
October 1, 2004
Friday Night Skating
Friday evening, with my friends trotting around the usual Hollywood scene, I decided to opt for a more athletic fare... Friday Night Skate. This incredibly fit group of individuals from all walks of life completes a 12 mile skate through the streets of Los Angeles. Ever watched the movie Hackers? Sort of like that. Hoodlum-esque skating style. It took me two whole weeks to finally build up the courage to go. 12 miles is LONG. What happens if I get sick? Could I leave the group? How far will I be from my car? Are there any bathroom breaks? I closely examined the route and realized that it ran in a loop. At any point and time, even if I had to leave the group, I would only be 3 miles from my car. Turns out the evening was a FABULOUS affair that left me wanting more. I felt slight anxiety only once and calmed myself down by calling a friend during a break.