I’ve had IBS for probably 66 years. I don’t remember not having it. You develop a unique relationship with bathrooms. My mother thought I was sitting on cold sidewalks. They called it ‘spastic bowel’ back in the 60’s. I thought God was mad at me, and I promised I would be nicer to my brother, if he’d take away the pain. I went through all kinds of tests, but nothing came of it. I can go weeks without it, but then have it daily for a week. It is NOT related to food. It is related to stress, and it’s usually the stress of the day before. The pain severity changes, with the worst episodes having me pale, sweating, and having to hold onto a hamper to not fall off the toilet. I usually spit my saliva into a tissue so I don’t throw up. People in my life have been pretty sympathetic, but still see me as a basket case. It’s very painful, and I can’t imagine having had a life without it. The hardest part has been being in places where I really need to find a private bathroom, so the smell doesn’t affect others. Or finding any bathroom! The oddest thing is that afterwards, I am fine. I can go out, work, socialize, afterwards. I have many of the personality and psychological traits common to IBS-D, including depression, anxiety, negative thoughts, etc. In a large family, I was an oddity. My mother had an emergency C section, and I was born prematurely. Afterwards, she had a mental breakdown and had to be committed to a hospital for months. The first photo I have of myself is one where I’m wearing shoes. It’s been a long haul, and I worry about being a senior and others having to help me with this burden.

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