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Jeffrey Roberts

Jeffrey Roberts - My diary starts at the age of 16

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Jeffrey Roberts

I was first diagnosed with IBS at age 16. I was shuffled through a series of doctors to pinpoint the cause of my pain. My general symptoms were abdominal pain, diarrhea, and constipation. I didn’t really understand the symptoms. I began the first wave of tests, including a gastrointestinal series, barium enema, lactose intolerance test, and a consultation with my family physician and a gastroenterologist. I went through the lactose test twice, due to inconclusive results. At the time, checking for lactose intolerance consisted of drinking a lactose solution and having blood drawn every 30 minutes. Today, it is much easier; because you just do a breath test after drinking a beverage containing lactose.

In school, I had to leave class to go to the bathroom all the time. I was also not able to partake in social activities.

In addition to medical tests, I experienced mixed messages why a 16-year-old boy would be in so much pain. My family physician believed I had a nervous, sensitive stomach. He then sent me to a gastroenterologist, who also believed that the symptoms were related to stress. The gastroenterologist suggested that I needed to relax because it was in my head. Immediately, I thought, Wow! I was just a nervous guy who was bringing all this pain on himself. I thought I could deal with it myself.

I ended meeting with multiple gastroenterologists in my early 20s. As a young adult, I was finally able to accept IBS and I began to take charge of my own life. That is when I began to roll with the punches and appreciate that I was going to have good and bad days. Now, my symptoms may last for one day, two days, a week, or even a month; however, I eventually feel better. For me, the treasure at the end of the rainbow is that I will feel better, so I roll with it, don’t get so worked up about it, and try to deal.

At 55, IBS still impacts many aspects of my personal life. It affects my entire family because I am often unable to participate in family functions either as a result of severe pain or fear of leaving the house. I am never certain of how I am going to feel; however, I do live life, I travel and I continue to roll with the punches of IBS.

Artistic representation of my journey at https://www.picturemyibs.org

Picturemyibs.org - Jeff - 800x600.png

Art by Courtney Einhorn

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