I like to think that IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) stands for “I’m Back, Sucka!” Talk about being kicked in the gut when you’re down. This week has been fraught with familial trials and tribulations, ex-dating stress, and plain old bad eating habits. I think I’ve lost about seven pounds because nothing I eat seems to agree with me. (And during IBS Awareness Month, no less!) This is the polite way of saying that I have something more like the alimentary canal of an earthworm as opposed to a human intestinal tract. This is not a good way to lose weight; along with the pounds go nutrients and muscle mass. (And I ain’t got much of the latter to sacrifice.)
Back in the days when I was flush with green from my miserable federal job, I used to go to a polarity therapist who really, really balanced my energies. At my first session, she “read” my body and told me about all the things that bothered me. And she was dead on. For a skeptic like me, it was quite unnerving. But she truly helped me cope with the symptoms of IBS, cleared out a lot of negative energy (turns out, my solar plexus chakra was full of it!), and helped me learn to r-e-l-a-x. Apparently, having a pierced navel (guilty) doesn’t jive well with your solar plexus or navel chakra, which rules your digestive system. I’ve had said ring taken out before, guess when: Incarceration? Tonsillectomy? Both? I’ll never tell. What I’m trying to say is that during the days it was out, I really didn’t notice any difference in my five-foot friend, a.k.a. the large intestine.
Speaking of learning to relax, let’s talk about the dirty c-word – cortisol. It’s that hormone released by the adrenal glands, and, at normal levels, regulates many functions in the body. But at abnormal levels, released notoriously through stress and Cushing Syndrome, it does a number on your body worse than Sammy The Bull Gravano: Thinning of the bones (which leads to rib and spine fractures), upper-body obesity, thin arms and legs, and excess hair growth on the face, neck, chest, abdomen, and thighs to name a few. The reason I bring this up is because my cortisol levels were through the roof. The doctor actually thought I had Cushing Syndrome. I was hoping this meant that I was going to get some inheritance from Peter Cushing’s estate or at least end up in some really great cheesy Hammer films. After tests run by the Mayo Clinic, it turned out that I did not in fact have Cushing Syndrome. My problem was due to the birth control pill.
After reading up on the pill, I found numerous studies supporting evidence that it actually can exacerbate and worsen IBS. In general, hormonal imbalances can do a number on your tummy, but why knowingly add to that? So I’d get some adult-onset acne, so what? I wasn’t on the pill for birth control anymore anyway; it was more to tame cramps and bleeding. That trade-off was worth it, but still, it didn’t slay the IBS beast.
I got a lot of great advice from readers in my first Blisstree post about IBS, and I’m very grateful for the support. I’m currently seeing a very relaxed and centered vegan fellow who’s probably the healthiest person I know (someone’s excited about Earth Day!), so I hope I’ll slowly pick up on some of his positive eating and lifestyle habits. Right now I can’t bring myself to give up my leather bag fetish. (Sorry, but hey, if reading The Jungle couldn’t make me do it, I’m not sure Mr. Dreamy Vegan can. We’ll see.) In the meantime, I’m going to go meditate and focus on my damned chakras. Or maybe just lie down and watch repeats of The Office (original Ricky Gervais U.K. version), because after all, laughter may just be best medicine for this chronic IBS sufferer, for now.