IBS is a Bitch

I have suffered with IBS for some time and during 2008 it was in full swing with a vengeance.  I am not sure if it was coincidence or whether the hormones during pregnancy added to the problem, but I was really not in the best place with awful bloating and serious cramping.

I could not take Buscopan (there is a big warning on the pack related to pregnant and lactating woman, that scared the bejesus in to you, so you tend to rather just lie in the fetal position and weep)  or anything else and was feeling quite awful.  Kennith suggested I try our chiropractor guy.

I was somewhat apprehensive as I could not see the correlation between IBS and how re-aligning my spine was going to work out my problem for me.

Listen, I am so the skeptic, so trust me if I toddle along to something and it works, then you must realize that it is just short of a miracle, because there is no way it worked because I have good karma or believed in any way!!

I explained my situation to the long suffering Dr. Mark.  He did not actually say that he would be able to “cure” the IBS – which I appreciated – but he seemed confident that he may help with the symptoms.  Sometimes I need to have people who have an optimistic outlook to negate my very pessimistic frame of mind.

I can’t quite explain how sore I was.  If you have not suffered from IBS I realize it is difficult to gauge how uncomfortable it is.  You probably think it is a bad tummy ache.  But generally the symptoms – for me –  are severe bloating – I can add 2 – 3 sizes on my clothes for swelling. I have cramping, often a dull cramp, but combined with sharp persistent cramping.  I usually feel a bit sweaty, like I am in real distress. I start to feel very tired, as my body just want to lie down and rest.  Sitting is sore, standing is sore, everything is sore, and nothing seems to relieve it.  Having this constant pain starts putting me into a very bad mood and my temper gets shorter and shorter.

By the time I got to Dr Mark I was unable to sit in the chair in the waiting room – I had to stand, pace a bit, lean over a chair a bit – take shallow breathes, it really was all a bit sad and pathetic.

I lay on the narrow chiro bed and he applied some pressure to pressure points on my neck, my lower back and behind my knees – no spine popping or anything.  After a bit he said he was all done and I could go and I should come back.  Initially I felt a small bit disappointed that there was not a “halleluja” moment where the heavens opened up, but anyway, clearly I was expecting too much out of this.

I left feeling sore but realized that though I was sore, I was not in excruciating pain.  I was immediately suspicious that I had been duped, but went back for the second appointment about three days later.

Well, bugger believing!!  I am not sure what he did,  but my IBS went away – and it was brilliant. Once the results of the cramping had relaxed and I could start to stand straight and take a proper breath, I definitely felt better.

Bearing in mind that I had not had a symptom free day in more than 4 months, so damn it was like a modern day miracle.  (I am nearly 11 months down the line when I write this and I am still symptom free, so do not poo-poo a chiropractor as a possible solution.)

I think because I knew this would be my last pregnancy I tried to be much more aware and present the whole way through.  So it was wonderful to be able to sit back and start enjoying all the changes going on in my body, rather than being curled up in a ball in the corner sobbing!!

Getting pregnant – maybe not so easy.

I had been off birth control for about a year, and though we were not exactly trying hell-bent-for-leather, much to Kennith’s continual disappointment.  I figured if a sixteen year old girl could fall pregnant at her matric dance with one sexual encounter, then what the hell was wrong with me!?

Those who know me, and attest to love me, know that I have an inability to sit and watch something happen or not happen, especially if I have a vested interest in the results.  I tend to start running around trying to find a way to control the situation.  It just makes my Type-A personality feel a bit better when I can draft a list and have something to tick off.  Some people say a prayer and light a candle, me – I start throwing money at the problem.  The only exclusion to this personality trait is when I see anything from the SARS.  I get paralysed into a state of absolute immobility and tend to stare into space with a look of fear about me.

Back to this story.  I recalled years ago that I had seen an Ovulation kit in the back of a magazine.  I started to google to see where one would get an Ovulation kit – as I had no idea where or what it was.  To be honest, I was not sure I really understood what ovulation was either.

After a bit of searching, I stumbled on a site called www.fertilitree.comwhich is a run from offices in Johannesburg by two lovely women, Candice and Linda (I only know them by email and phone and they seem lovely through these mediums).  They have products and all sorts of aids and advice for people battling with infertility.  Much of their product range and advise comes from their own experiences with infertility, so these women know their stuff and are so lovely and empathetic.

Now I realized that I was not infertile and do not for a moment wish to say I know how it feels to battle with this particular demon.

I was frustrated that things were not happening, and I felt could hear a distant biological clock ticking – it was making that loud donging sound that grandfather clocks make on the hour which was becoming more and more alarming.  I did not feel I wanted to wait much longer.  I was already 35 and the 35-cut-off was always an issue for me, so this was really playing Russian roulette and I wanted to just do what I could do maybe stack the cards in my favour if only slightly.

They did have an ovulation kit – yippee for me.  But they had lots of other stuff and the thing that really caught my eye was an OvaCueR Fertility Monitor.  Basically it is an electronic “lick a stick” that you do every morning.

Without getting too technical – you start on day 1 of your cycle (first day of your period) and put it on your tongue first thing in the morning before you have eaten or drunk anything.  The unit takes a reading and saves the data.  You hold it against your tongue for probably a second or so, so it is not like you are sitting there for 45 minutes with a strange metallic object adhered to your tongue while you wait to have a wee in the morning.  The key is that you do it every morning.  The system is meant to calculate the “most fertile day” or in lay-persons terms the day you are most likely to fall pregnant if you have a boink/shtoink or what ever the funky chicken word is for this season.

The data meant nothing to me – probably because I am loathe to read the manual, and just want to get it, take it out the box and start using it.  I could understand “Most Fertile – Day 13.”

By day 3 the little OvaCue decided that Day 13 was my day.  I was a bit suspicious as I thought it was awfully specific, when it really only had 3 days of data and really did not know me, but who am I to argue.

I continue to “lick a stick” each day so that it can store the data, as the more days it has the more data it has and the more accurate the reading is. On Day 13 it told me “MOST FERTILE DAY.”  I am fairly sure they were in uppercase as well.  It did not exactly instruct me to go out and procreate, but the underlying message was clear.

I obeyed the little mechanical device, as one does.  And on Day 14 it showed that my fertility was dropping.  Listen, I had only had this little machine for about three weeks and you can only start using it on your first day of your period.  I really had nothing to go on in terms of believing the read out, but I felt I had been wrong for the last year or so, I was willing to give this little machine a chance.

I had calculated my “most fertile period” based on all those lovely charts you find all over the web.  I am a 28-day person, so have the benefit of stability.  I was told day 11 – 13 were my days by every chart on-line, and had followed the rule more or less correctly for  some time, but not getting the results.  So here was this machine giving me new information, I was happy to just follow along (for now).

Because I was tracking my days I knew when my period was due and on the morning it was due.  I knew I should leave it a few days because ……. well that’s what they tell you to do.  But I figured that all I was going to do was get myself stressed and stare at the ticking hands of the clock all day.  So I left work early – got home and I pee’d on a stick by midday and it showed it was positive.  I am sure I yelped!!

I popped down to Clicks and bought 3 more tests.  I am sure it made a lovely picture, me with the trolley, my two snotty kids on either side of me (neither of which look like each other), no wedding ring, purchasing a half dozen pregnancy tests.  I could all but hear the sales assistant tut-tutting under her breath.  When I got home later in the day pee’d on another one and “whoop” there it was.

I was so very very thrilled – both with the results and also with my little machine whose instructions were so on the money.

Initially I thought I was going to leave it and keep it a secret, but the next day Kennith and I were going with a group of friends to Sabi for a week, and I knew there was no way I could maintain any kind of silence.  My friends are awfully bright, and if I was not polishing off a bottle of lovely Chenin Blanc by 10am they would be on to me in no time.

There is a rare thrill that one experiences when one finds out one is pregnant after trying  I think there is a moment of fear and trepidation, where you think “what have I done!” following by a few moments of feeling faint.  But then one things “Hey, look what I have done – whoop whoop!!” and you get all warm and glowy in side.  It is such an awesome feeling – really a hallmark moment in my life.