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A Journey From Illness to Health With Post-Infectious IBS

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From Pretending to Truly Being OK: A Journey From Illness to Health With Postinfection Irritable Bowel Syndrome: The Patient’s Perspective

Rome Foundation, Raleigh, North Carolina

Pain is something we all experience. Growing up the oldest in a conservative, protestant, middle class family you had to tolerate pain and learn to deal with it. Getting sick was not an excuse for sympathy or a day off from school. It was almost a badge of honor because you were tough, not weak like others. Maybe that’s why, at the age of 13, when it finally came out that I was sexually abused for 4 years by my cousin, I held back communicating my deepest thoughts and feelings about the experience. Rather, I felt the need to express to my mother that I was okay, even though I wasn’t. I was a “good girl,” but was dying on the inside, and I still had to show I was okay.

So, I stuffed down the emotional pain and moved on to college. I married a great guy, had 2 kids, and with great passion I started a career in health and social justice nonprofits. Although I could help vulnerable, oppressed, and ill people in similar situations, I could not reverse the trauma in my own life. I also managed through more than a dozen surgeries, the care of my son with congenital health issues, and saw family members through attempted suicides, cancer diagnosis, and death. Through it all, I had to be OK.

Full story: https://www.gastrojournal.org/article/S0016-5085(18)35212-0/fulltext


© 2018 by the AGA Institute

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Jeffrey Roberts

Dr. Douglas Drossman's commentary:

Dr. Drossman is with the Center for Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders, University of North Carolina, and, Center for Education and Practice of Biopsychosocial Care and, Drossman Gastroenterology, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Johannah’s remarkable story reflects a transition from illness to health, and from helplessness to self-efficacy. It began with postinfection irritable bowel syndrome, the product of an acute infection along with stress-mediated central nervous system dysregulation: a gut–brain disorder.1, 2 Because the impact on Johannah was so profound, we must consider what contributed to her physical and emotional decline and then what led to recovery. The lessons learned can help patients, clinicians, and our very health care process.

Full commentary: https://www.gastrojournal.org/article/S0016-5085(18)35211-9/fulltext

© 2018 by the AGA Institute

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