I have IBS.  It’s the central theme of my life and my depression.  Irritable Bowel Syndrome has taken my life and I don’t even remember what it’s like to want to do things most people consider fun.

Here’s the low-down on this syndrome.  (They call it a syndrome because it’s a collection of symptoms with no obvious cause.)  My bowels don’t work like most people’s.  I have alternating bouts of constipation and diarrhea accompanied with mind-blowing pain.  I never know from one moment to the next how I am going to feel.  I could be fine one minute and the next I could be doubled over in excruciating pain and heading for the restroom where I will spend up to 4 hours wishing I was dead so the pain will stop.  Once I finally am able to "go" the pain subsides until the next time.  Could be tomorrow, could be next month.

Now for the kicker.  lol  If this isn’t proof of God’s twisted sense of humor, I don’t know what is.  There’s nothing wrong with me.  That’s what every doctor I’ve ever been to tells me.  That’s why those of us who have IBS share the inside joke that it actually stands for "I’m Basically Stumped" instead of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.  They (the doctors) have poked, prodded, scoped and re-scoped me from every conceivable entry point on my body and have come up with nothing.  Nada.  Zilch.  There is simply no physical evidence of my condition.  That’s what makes it impossible for doctors to treat effectively.  They are forced to treat symptoms only, as they have no idea what the causes are.  The only treatments they have tried that even helped a little (most only worsened the symptoms) is taking fiber and Amitryptaline.

So I find myself faced with the rest of my life as a prisoner to this syndrome.  I can’t eat most foods because they trigger episodes.  I can’t travel because I need to be near a restroom all the time.  If I get into a car for a road trip, my guts start cramping as soon as we’re far enough away from a restroom.  Forget about airplanes.  It makes my stomach gurgle just thinking about a 4 hour flight somewhere.  I’m stuck.

I often feel that this life would be bearable if only I could find someone to share it with.  But let’s be serious; who’s going to want to date a person like me?  I can’t ask a woman out to dinner.  I don’t eat out for fear of having an episode and taking up the restroom in the restaurant for a couple hours or more.  Plus that’s not a great first date: sitting at an otherwise empty table waiting for the freak to come out of the restroom.  What’s he doing in there, dying?  I knew I should have met him here instead of letting him pick me up.

I have alot to offer.  I am an intelligent, caring, multi-talented person.  I can play guitar and sing very well.  I can write (and have written) songs that would melt most women.  I’m great with kids.  I love the outdoors, camping, hiking.  I just can’t do those things with any regularity or predictability.  I am a normal everyday guy who’s trapped in this gastroenterological prison.

Lately it’s all getting to be too much for me.  I was so close to asking this woman at work out.  I know she was interested and would have said yes.  She as much as told me so herself.  But I didn’t act on it because I can’t bear the thought of loosing another girlfriend to IBS.  The last woman I dated left me because I couldn’t be spontaneous or outdoorsy with her.  Every time I had to cancel something or turn her down on a round of disc golf or whatever, she thought it was me trying to blow her off.  She never got that it’s the way my life is.  It’s nothing personal.  In fact I would much rather be out doing those things than sitting here waiting to be ill.  So then I would obsess and worry about hurting her feelings to the point of making myself even more ill.  Stress is a killer for me.  It will turn me into a permanent toilet fixture faster than anything else.  And this syndrome breeds stress in every aspect of my life.  It’s a vicious cycle.  I’m well past my wit’s end…

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