Pain Management: Update on Life with IBS and adenomyosis

I haven’t written about what it’s like living with IBS and adenomyosis for quite sometime. It’s been awhile so I thought I might just write about my journey now that I’m 24 and quite a bit has changed.

Firstly, I have been seeing a dietician off and on ever since I was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in late 2018/early 2019. I’ve had a few colonoscopies, approximately 3 that I can remember, although it could be 4. I’ve had 2 MRIs for my bowel involving the use of contrast, which was a somewhat inconclusive test costing me $600 out-of-pocket for each MRI. It’s honestly been a challenging journey. Since I was diagnosed, I’ve gained a significant amount of weight which has been difficult to shed given the lockdowns in 2020 and 2021. The lockdowns also meant I developed poor eating habits and became much more comfortable using food delivery services like UberEats which only worsened my weight gain. Having IBS has meant I rely on products like benefiber to help regulate my gut and made it difficult to try different foods without being riddled with anxiety. Navigating my 20s with IBS has been challenging both in a social sense, as well as in my career. It’s impacted my relationships with family members and significant others because it’s been a factor which contributes to my anxiety. In recent years I have relaxed a lot more and tried to experiment with my diet, however it’s still been a struggle. Additionally, I had iron deficiency issues which meant in late 2021-early 2022, I had to take iron tablets for 6 months which negatively impacted my gut. This also meant I tried to increase my dietary intake of foods containing iron, leading me to eat foods like sardines, chickpeas and beef. I have a few sessions a year to see a dietician which is free (apart from the first consult) covered in a care plan provided by my general practitioner. However, some of these sessions have been diverted to a podiatrist after I learnt I had developed a bunion!

I can’t say a bunion is an ongoing chronic illness, but it does cause severe pain in waves and can be quite debilitating if you have them on both feet. At present, I’m seeing a podiatrist to explore all conservative measures before considering surgery. This has meant investing into orthotic shoes, toe separators and inner soles. All of which aren’t really attractive or cheap.

My adenomyosis has worsened significantly in the past few years. I’ve noticed my periods are much more heavier and the pain has intensified dramatically. It’s been a much more mentally and physically painful ordeal managing my adenomyosis in the last few years then my IBS in many ways. Although my IBS pain is constant, there are countermeasures I can take to reduce my pain (such as exercise). In contrast, the pain management methods to assist with my adenomyosis only feels like a band-aid solution. Since being diagnosed, and now I have heavier periods, I’ve tried switching to reusable pads which has financially helped in some ways. I have considered exploring other pain management methods instead of just using the pill, however, I’m still re-evaluating what I should do next to minimise the pain. I’m noticing my levels of fatigue increase, even if I exercise. I believe it’s probably just the compounding effects of having both IBS and adenomyosis. There have been further updates regarding my adenomyosis but I’m not ready to write about it just yet.

Journal Entry 15: testing positive

After evading COVID-19 for over 2 and a half years, I’ve finally tested COVID positive. I took an RAT on Tuesday which came back negative and then another today which came back positive. Moral of the story is, if you have symptoms listen to government rules and regulations, stay home and either get a PCR test or do multiple RATs.

I changed Masters courses and ultimately decided to defer for a semester to get experience and understand what it’s like living in the real adult world. I love university and I also love studying however, sometimes being at University makes me feel like I’m removed from society. The theoretical concepts can at times be hard to apply to the real world, hence why I ultimately decided to change my masters program and defer. After deferring, I do feel much more confident in the degree I am choosing to pursue next semester.

I prefer to take my time instead of rushing into something I don’t enjoy or can’t fully commit to. After graduating a 3.5 year degree I genuinely thought changing into a different sector was what I wanted. In actuality, I think gaining volunteer experience has only solidified my stance and love for the humanitarian sector. I’ve learnt a lot over the past few months. I’ve learnt a lot about myself, about others and their experiences, but also about the world around me.

I love working and volunteering. Although both can be emotionally exhausting and challenging, especially when managing angry customers, it’s also rewarding and exciting. I really do love this new chapter in my life and the elements of freedom that come along with it. I do feel like I’m appreciated and valued for my volunteer work which is really important to me.

I haven’t been able to see my personal therapist for awhile due to scheduling issues but I’ll be back in therapy next week which I’m excited for. I feel like I haven’t really invested much into myself and therapy is a personal investment into my own mental health.

I’m actually relieved my COVID RAT turned out positive for COVID because my initial test was negative and I considered trying to muster up the energy for work. I thought I had the flu but after my sister discovered she was a close contact, we both decided to take RATs. I feel relieved in the sense that I didn’t leave the house so I didn’t have the opportunity to potentially spread it to the community but I am by no means happy about having COVID. It’s pretty horrible to have COVID and it’s not an enjoyable experience at all! At the same time, I am relieved I found out I had COVID instead of assuming I had the flu because of one negative RAT. It’s really important for individuals with symptoms to keep testing so they don’t spread COVID through the community.

It’s strange because I feel like a different person outside of university. University is almost like an insulated bubble. I love studying and learning, however, I do strongly believe that learning can take place outside of the classroom. Although in many ways I am happier, I do also feel incomplete. I question if my friendships and relationships would’ve turned out better if I had actually not been stuck in this insulated bubble of academia. Although studying is a productive activity, so is working and volunteering. However, I associate studying with immaturity and a discovery phase, especially considering my undergraduate degree was really marked by those two key features.

Recently I’ve been reflecting on what I genuinely want out of life. Sometimes I think altruistic pursuits conflict with an individuals own personal desires. At what point do we decide to put ourselves first?

Can we fulfil our own needs and desires whilst simultaneously being altruistic? This is to say it is a direct contradiction to the word altruistic.

Although I’m rambling, for the first time in ages I do feel like I know what I want and I feel okay with my choices. I feel finally free in saying this. No more doubts in what I want to do with myself. No more indecision. Just trying to enjoy life taking one step at a time to heal myself and move forward.