When the proctologist diagnosed me with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), I immediately started laughing. The acronym made me think of Ben Stiller’s character in Along Came Polly. I apologized for laughing and explained. The doctor was about my age and had seen the movie. We shared a laugh. I told him it was crappy news. He didn’t laugh. Probably heard that one before. I didn’t crack anymore butt jokes.
After a quick audit of my diet and physical activity, Dr. Bowels made the following IBS treatment recommendations:
More Fiber. This seemed counter-intuitive. Doesn’t fiber loosen you up? Yes, but it also binds waste together. The specialist used the term “clumping” which I still find highly amusing. He said I could take Metamucil or any other fiber therapy supplement if I was having difficulty getting enough fiber. When I take my Metamucil I make old guy jokes about myself.
Limit Alcohol. This was no problem. I only have two or three beers a week. Too much alcohol makes the bowels less effective, weaker.
Reduce Caffeine. This was difficult. I was drinking up to 5 large cups of coffee per day. I have managed to get it down to 2 mugs of half-caffeinated: one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Large doses of caffeine cause the bowels to become overstimulated and spastic. Not good.
Eliminate Processed Food. I wasn’t able to eliminate processed food but I did drastically reduce my intake to once per week. Our family goes out to eat once a week. Each week a different family member gets to choose where we go. I’m a McDonald’s addict. I need my fix. I will say the only day my IBS acts up is the day after McDonald’s. Still, I continue to eat there. Addicted. Processed foods both overstimulate and weaken bowels. I guess salty, sugary, fatty carbs aren’t good for us after all. Who knew?
Lose 20lbs and Keep Them Off. I was about 2olbs overweight. Losing the first 10 was easy. The second were not. I will say I feel better than I have in years. Being overweight puts a lot of stress on our bodies and for someone with IBS, it puts stress and pressure on our bowels making it harder for them to to their job effectively.
After only 6 weeks of following the recommendations, I had almost no IBS issues. When I returned for my 3 month follow-up, I reported this to the proctologist. He told me that in 10 years of practice no person had ever followed his recommendations. Instead, they came back with excuses, looking for a prescription. I thought he was going to start crying. I don’t like awkward moments so I changed the subject and asked if he’d heard about the space probe that crashed into Uranus. They’re calling it the Wreck of the Edmund Shitzgerald.