"Stress" was just not cutting it as the explanation for my pain. I was twenty-three and supposedly healthy, but I wasn't. Was I simply doomed to spend the rest of my life in digestive agony? Such a bleak conclusion was not acceptable. My gut instinct (pun intended) told me there was more to learn.
I began to search for answers in earnest, but all my doctors' appointments stuck to the same script. An identical examination, followed by an identical diagnosis:
"Irritable bowel syndrome."
"IBS...It's becoming quite common."
Over and over again, that's what I was told. But the only accurate part of the term "IBS," in my opinion, was the "BS." Possibly, this diagnosis was "quite common"—because the doctors were quite commonly missing the cause. No mention of a food allergy ever came up, despite my repeated indications that I felt the worst immediately after eating. The doctors refused to see the connection between what I was eating and how I was feeling.
After more fruitless examinations than I care to remember, I was completely fed up. I was also in unbelievable pain around the clock. At that point, I was willing to try absolutely anything to get answers. After undergoing a "recommended" sigmoidoscopy—a minimally invasive intestinal procedure that yielded no clear diagnosis—I began to feel even worse. None of the medication I was prescribed for my stomach seemed to help, and I was tired of relying on doctors for solutions that never seemed to come. One doctor actually put me on an antianxiety pill. The reason? One of the medication's side effects was that it numbed the stomach lining. The doctor had completely missed the mark.
That day set me, fuming, on a more determined search. There had to be a more direct means of treating whatever was going on with me. I refused to spend the rest of my life bouncing from doctor to doctor—or taking serious prescription drugs hoping for their side effects to kick in. If my own physicians were not helping me, I was going to get to the bottom of this mystery on my own.
From that day forward, I dove into research. I met with a holistic doctor in a neighboring state, who put me on a dairy-free, lactose-free, yeast-free program. Under his care, I went on a whole regimen of supplements and vitamins, and I lived off these special bars, which I was allowed to eat three times a day. I ate apricot seeds every day, as he told me they would help. The seeds were the most vile-tasting things I had ever tasted, but I kept on eating them in the hopes of feeling better. Even though they seemed to burn my tongue, I was willing to give them a shot. To my dismay, not even these extreme measures brought about any significant changes in my condition. Still, I resolved to do whatever it took. If that guy had told me to stand on my head for ten minutes every hour, I would gladly have done it for eleven.