Content Warning: frank writing about Irritable Bowel Syndrome and symptoms
I’ve been neglecting my symptom tracker. I tried to keep up with it when I was at a conference a couple weeks ago, but I didn’t do a very good job and then I just stopped. No reason, really. I just got tired of it. And I’ll be doing one more backpacking trip so I won’t be keeping close track then either. I still haven’t been having pain free days, but I think, overall, there’s been less pain since the conference, and I think I know why.
I noticed that I was having fairly good and regular bowel movements at the conference, despite not staying nearly hydrated enough. And the biggest thing that I was doing differently when it came to eating was consuming milk products. I typically try to avoid dairy because I’ve got a history of issues with it. I never liked drinking milk as a child, and eating large amounts of cheese or ice cream tended to send me to the bathroom in pain, so I called it lactose intolerance and started avoiding, though I never really eliminated it. I like ice cream too much for that.
But now I’m consciously trying to consume dairy on a daily basis. The theory is that IBS makes me constipated and dairy makes me go – therefore consuming dairy should combat the constipation and allow me to be somewhat regular.
Of course, ideally, the daily pain would also become not so daily. That hasn’t happened yet, but I want to give this experiment some time to work. And I have experienced less pain overall. In fact, the most encouraging thing I’m experiencing is that there is a noticeable change.
So many things that I’ve tried to manage my IBS have had absolutely no effect that I could determine. The same pains continued as they pleased and I had no sense of being able to control my body’s responses. That lead to a sense of helpless frustration, along with the depressing certainty that no pain I had in my abdomen would ever be taken seriously now that I have this IBS diagnosis.
But adding more milk to my diet has changed things, and for the better. I’m not feeling completely pain free, but the pain is different and I feel an agency with that difference.
I’ll be giving the milk experiment a few more weeks and then reassessing where I want to go from there.