I Tried to Avoid Stress to Treat My IBS, But It Found Me

I Tried to Avoid Stress to Treat My IBS, But It Found Me
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My irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) had been under control for the past few months. However, my symptoms began to return gradually. My gastroenterologist reminded me of the connection between stress and digestive issues, so I made a conscious effort to eliminate stress from my life.

For example, I’ve avoided situations that are common culprits for me such as watching the nightly news and struggling to learn new technology. I began watching reruns of a sitcom I find laugh-out-loud funny. I’ve added a walking program to my daily routine and stuck to it even on days when pain and fatigue were running rampant. I stocked up on books at the library – all of the novels I’ve wanted to read but put off because I thought I lacked the time. Reading is therapeutic for me. It’s meditative and calming; I was sure it would reduce my stress even further.

But despite my best efforts, stress found me, even while I was reading, or walking, or laughing, or doing nothing in particular.

It began early this week. My very old cellphone became obsolete. I hadn’t imagined using it for anything other than making and receiving phone calls. But I was wrong. In the past few years, I’d come to rely on my phone for many valuable functions. It contains my photos, address book, driving directions, calendar, voice memos, and at least 25 “Words with Friends” games in progress with friends and relatives all over the country (another form of therapy for me). My phone was slowing down, and it occasionally refused to perform some functions altogether. It was way past time to replace it.

Following much research and deliberation, I finally decided on which replacement phone I would purchase. It arrived in the mail on Monday. Because I’m a nontechnical person and because the prospect of losing any of the information so vital to my life was hugely stressful to me, I hired someone to do the transfer of data from my old phone to my new one. The process took nearly four hours — by someone who does this for a living! To say it did not go smoothly would be an understatement. Even now, four days later, I’m still struggling to make my new phone user-friendly. That was stress No. 1.

Yesterday I started my car, put it in reverse, and pressed the gas pedal … nothing happened. There appeared to be an issue with the emergency brake. I put the car back in park and put the emergency brake on and off a few more times. The car still would not move. I finally gave up and pressed the power button to turn off the engine. Unfortunately, the vehicle remained running. No matter what I did, I could not switch it off. I panicked and ran in search of my husband. After several minutes of fiddling with the controls, he managed to get my car in gear.

The car is now at the local repair shop. I’m awaiting a call to tell me how much it will cost to fix it. Any money I might have had for such an expense has just gone to purchase my new cellphone. Hello, stress No. 2.

I think you can see where I’m going here. Stress is inevitable. You don’t need to search it out or even leave your home. It will find you. My doctor’s suggestion to reduce the stress in my life seems laughable at the moment. It’s time to find a new alternative for IBS management.

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Note: Fibromyalgia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Fibromyalgia News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to fibromyalgia.

Diagnosed in 1990, Christine has experienced fibromyalgia (FM) symptoms since childhood. After a career in aerospace finance she was trained as an FM support group leader by the Arthritis Foundation and participated in groups on both the east and west coasts. Designated a Leader Against Pain by the National Fibromyalgia Association (NFA) she advocated for increased funding and awareness for FM. She is the author of “More Than Tender Points: A Fibromyalgia Memoir,” available on Amazon. An Upstate New York transplant now living in Southern California, she credits the sunshine for improving her symptoms.
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Diagnosed in 1990, Christine has experienced fibromyalgia (FM) symptoms since childhood. After a career in aerospace finance she was trained as an FM support group leader by the Arthritis Foundation and participated in groups on both the east and west coasts. Designated a Leader Against Pain by the National Fibromyalgia Association (NFA) she advocated for increased funding and awareness for FM. She is the author of “More Than Tender Points: A Fibromyalgia Memoir,” available on Amazon. An Upstate New York transplant now living in Southern California, she credits the sunshine for improving her symptoms.
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