After my diagnosis, I began working with a nutritionist.
I started noticing symptoms in the spring of 2014, my second year of teaching middle school special education. I frequently had stomach pain, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation.
At first, I thought that it was a bug I had picked up from my students, but the symptoms continued through the summer and into the fall.
Over the summer, I traveled to Croatia with my family. While driving from Plitvice Lakes National Park to Zagreb, we had to stop twice on the highway for me to get out of the car and vomit.
Once the school year started again, things got worse. I had to leave my co-teacher alone in our classroom a few times a week to go to the bathroom and throw up.
One day, I started crying next to the microwave as I heated up my lunch. I dreaded eating because digestion was so painful but with a job as active as teaching, eating is necessary to have enough energy.
At this point, I became concerned and began seeking out doctors. I visited a gastroenterologist, who expressed that something was surely wrong and that she would help me find a solution. She had me get a colonoscopy and endoscopy.
When she didn’t find anything, she told me I was fine and should just stop drinking coffee. This response was devastating, as digestive issues were taking over my life. I tried cutting out coffee, but I continued to experience gastrointestinal distress on a daily basis.
I felt a bit jaded after my experience with the gastroenterologist, but eventually, I found the right doctor. He was able to diagnose me with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and make some suggestions that allowed me to live more comfortably.
After my diagnosis, I began working with a nutritionist.
After my diagnosis, I began working with a nutritionist. She guided me so that I could take in enough calories while cutting out gluten, lactose and soy.
I started to learn the nuances of my diet, which helped me eliminate some foods while keeping others so that I could still eat as much as possible. Three years later, I maintain a diet that is similar to the one my nutritionist first developed.
I also limit sugar and alcohol, as I’ve learned how the two significantly impact the digestive system. But I’ve been able to add in more grains with sourdough, as fermented grains are easier for me to digest.
I’m a big fan of fermented foods and drinks. I homebrew kombucha and love coming up with different flavor combinations to bottle. I now devote much more time to self-care and stress management.
In addition to IBS, I struggle with anxiety, which can make my digestive system worse. I incorporate self-care into every morning and evening, and I get far more sleep than I did in my first few years of teaching.
I also prioritize daily exercise. While I used to run a few times a week, I now incorporate yoga, HIIT workouts and daily walks. I’ve found that moving every day keeps things flowing in my digestive system, and it positively impacts my anxiety.
About a year ago, I started a blog focused on holistic health, Scout & Wiles. It has been an amazing way to connect with others who are on their own health journeys and to continue to learn how I can become the healthiest version of myself.
I'm excited to keep learning through this platform. I love the community that has been built on Scout & Wiles and through social media. I couldn't be more grateful to see what others are doing to manage IBS in their own lives.
Be patient with yourself. Some days with IBS will feel great, while other days will feel terrible, and it’s not always clear why. Take the time to listen to your body during the hard days so that you can learn what it needs to have more good days.
It can be nerve-racking to share about IBS with others, but I encourage you to do so! I have met so many other people who are living with this condition through being open. It usually starts with an inquiry about why I’m avoiding certain foods.
When I share that it’s because I have IBS, more often than not, they either also have IBS or have a close friend or family member who does. It has been helpful to me to make these connections and feel less alone in this condition.
My boyfriend has been an amazing support system throughout my health journey. We had just started dating when I began seeking medical help.
IBS has involved many uncomfortable and embarrassing moments for me, and it would have been easy to want to hide my digestive issues from him. But he has been endlessly supportive and has never made me feel like I need to feel embarrassed for feeling bloated or needing to use the bathroom frequently.
When we cook together, he’s happy to work with my dietary restrictions, and he’s always willing to fill up my hot water bottle when my digestive system needs a little heat therapy.
My friends and family have also been incredibly supportive. Most of the restaurants we visit have changed to meet my dietary restrictions. They are quick to make sure that a dining spot will work for me before choosing one.
I'm excited to keep learning.
Emmi Scott is a full-time middle school special educator in Denver, Colorado. She is also a freelance writer and blogs about food, holistic health, and living self-sufficiently.
Emmi earned her B.A. in English and Spanish from Concordia University Nebraska and her M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Colorado Denver. She prioritizes her own health and is learning how to live day-by-day comfortably with IBS. It gives her great joy to share what she has learned about IBS with others.
Emmi spends her time running, reading, and hanging with her cats, Myla and Finch.
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