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Update - IBS pain isn't a beast anymore

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by fern, Sep 2, 2018.

  1. fern

    fern Well known member

    I thought I'd post an update after being MIA for a while. For now just a victory, and I'll share some challenges in another post. It's always so good to remember this site and come back!

    So, a small victory (or a series of small victories that add up to a big one). I'd say at least 3/4 of the time these days, maybe more, when I feel an attack of IBS pain coming on, I am able to relax into it and let it go. This has been such a remarkable and welcome development. I don't think my flare ups are any less frequent than they ever were, but most of the time these days, they don't develop into anything more than a passing wave of mild discomfort that leaves as quickly as it came. That almost never used to happen. Sometimes I still have a full flare, the kind that has me in bed for hours, doubled over and despairing. But those are so rare now. It feels like a victory!

    One mental shift I've made is to stop thinking of the pain as originating in my colon. I've suspected ever since I did pelvic floor PT that the pain actually originates in my abdominal muscles and the intercostal muscles that wrap around to the front, and THEN fires off the nearby smooth muscle in my intestines. (Of course, "originates" isn't the right word, since we're talking about psychogenic pain, but I'm referring here to where the pain is *felt.*) When I think of it as a skeletal muscle spasm, I'm so much more able to relax about it, breathe into it, not fear it, and not let it take over my brain. I did it today, in fact! That spasm ended up just being a blip in my day instead of a day-ruining, debilitating, lying in bed ordeal.

    I have some other issues that I'll post another time, but the reduction in IBS symptoms has been the major breakthrough, and life-giving. I hope to be around more often again so I can share this journey with you all, in all its ups and downs!
  2. westb

    westb Well known member

    Thank you @fern. IBS is my principal symptom as well and it's very good to read this. It really does all come back to fear, and the obsession about the symptoms. I too am working on the "breathing into" the pain and spasm when they flare, and the emotions of fear and despair that often accompany them, and it does help, it really does. In effect, it's mindfulness work and acceptance. I've found Tara Brach's book "Radical Acceptance" very helpful here.

    The other thing, linked with the whole IBS business, is the fear of making commitments in advance to meet with friends or whatever, in case I have an IBS attack on that day and have to stay near a bathroom and am in such a state that I can't focus on the friend or on whatever we planned to do. I hate breaking plans once I've made them (TMS perfectionism again methinks) so rather than having to do that I simply don't make these kind of arrangements, and so remain much more isolated than I want to be and stuck within my own four walls. I'm still a work in progress on this aspect of recovery.

    But again, it's very good to hear your news and your progress. I have always enjoyed your posts and have wondered how you've been getting along.
    TrustIt likes this.
  3. Jules

    Jules Well known member

    This is great news, Fern! I too have seen my IBS come way down, and have felt the exact same pain in the same locations you describe. I just breathe into it, instead of fearing the spasm, and continue doing whatever I was doing. In the past, I would quickly grab a heating pad, ice pack, icy/hot, or meds, because the spasms would make it so I couldn’t breathe deeply. That pain is by far the worst of my TMS and what I feared the most, hence why it honed in on that area, go figure.
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