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 rely¬ing on doctors for solutions that never seemed to come. One doc¬tor 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 doc¬tor 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.
As we were about to begin the phase of removing wheat from my diet, I applied to become a contestant on the reality show Survivor: The Australian Outback. Throughout the selection process, I hid my symptoms from the producers, saying nothing about the stomach pain that I was experiencing. As I went through extensive physical exams, I was amazed that no one could tell that the inside of my body was a complete disaster. I held back tears during one exam, which entailed the doctor pressing on my stomach. I held my breath as the doctor told me I was "good to go" . . . secretly counting the seconds until I could race to the bathroom.
Early the next morning, miraculously enough, I was picked as a contestant on Survivor, and so off I went, pain and all, into the Outback.