I have struggled with symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) for 45+ years. For most of that time, I was told it was irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and related to stress. A few dietary changes were recommended from time to time, and I was prescribed dicyclomine. Other than that, I took OTC loperamide and suffered with the symptoms.

Finally, a diagnosis

I felt trapped in my home. When I did venture out, I had to plan ahead to make certain I had enough loperamide, and most importantly, that a bathroom would be available. Many times, I starved myself prior to going out so that I would not have a sudden attack of explosive diarrhea.

For all those years, I had repeated colonoscopies, which were always negative. That changed about seven years ago, when a routine colonoscopy resulted in a diagnosis of microscopic colitis. I had never heard of it before, and was told it was a new finding in the gastroenterology world.

The medication failed me

I was offered budesonide. My first trial succeeded in controlling my symptoms, but I relapsed as soon as the drug ended. Additionally, I did not like the side effects. All that was offered by my GE was another trial on budesonide.

This time I did have a short remission of symptoms, but when severe symptoms recurred, budesonide was all that I was offered.

Taking control of my condition

I decided to go rogue and take on my own disease, my own way. I did extensive research and decided to try a diet that eliminated the foods that are most commonly irritants to the bowel. I researched as if I had Crohn's, UC, and celiac disease.

My elimination diet, which took several months, revealed that most dairy (with the exception of some hard cheeses), gluten, artificial sweeteners, cruciform vegetables, nuts, beans, legumes, leafy green vegetables (except for spinach), and spicy foods were my triggers. By eliminating these from my diet, which has not been easy, I have remained almost symptom-free for over a year.

The exception has been periods of extreme stress or extreme fatigue. My diet restrictions have limited my take-out and eating-out choices, but it has been worth it to be free of bowel anxiety, which monopolized my life for years.

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