Snippets of my Life: Chronic Pain

Snippets of my Life: Chronic Pain

I have never been amazingly keen on going to the doctors so unless it is not something resolved by painkillers I don’t go. This is also why a few months ago, I spent 3 weeks with damaged tendons in my left foot before having to go to A&E after not being able to walk, but that is a completely different story for a different day. I basically have a high pain tolerance so unless it’s really killing me I won’t bother seeing anyone.

But recently I have discovered a reason to hate my doctors even more.

I have spent about 3 and a half years suffering from chronic abdominal pains and bloating. I was first experiencing these pains during GCSE’s and A-Levels and so the doctors put it down to stress. After about 3 separate visits they eventually diagnosed me with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and said I was experiencing pain and bloating due to the fact I was stressed. Which was understandable at the time. The doctors gave me the relevant medication and told me once I had finished education the pain will go.

At first, the medication actually worked, whether that was due to a placebo effect I will never know. But after a few months, the medication lost its effect; I increased the dosage and the cramps still didn’t go. So off to the doctors I went.

I was still doing my A Levels at this point, so they had suggested that nothing had changed in terms of my diagnosis and still believed I had IBS and that my pain was down to stress. The doctors gave me stronger medication and left it at that.

And the same thing happened; after a few months, the medication stopped working. Again, could potentially have been a placebo effect. At this point, I was almost finished with my A-Level exams and so knew that my pain should be gone soon anyway as I won’t be as stressed.

Well months went by I started working full time and I stopped any education or exams. But I was still in pain. I tried everything under the sun; taking the medication, not taking the medication, cutting out the rubbish from my diet, going to the gym…nothing worked.

A few months ago I had completely had enough of being in pain and not knowing what it was. I hated the unpredictability of it all; some days I’d be great and others not. I hated having to cancel plans on people last minute because I felt too shit. My physical health was starting to affect my mental health and some days I was in so much pain I didn’t want to leave the house.

I went back to the doctors and asked that I wanted to see an IBS specialist, I wanted to see someone with slightly more knowledge on the illness. The doctor there denied my request. She said whilst what I was describing sounded like IBS she wanted to do a couple of tests to make sure it was definitely IBS I had.

Angry was an understatement. If tests had to be done to confirm I had IBS why weren’t they done 3 years ago when I was originally diagnosed. She didn’t particularly have an answer for that. She suggested that what I was describing could also be just a food allergy. Whilst I was still relatively angry I decided to take on her advice of doing a food diary and working out what was making my stomach pain worse.

I was noticing a couple of food groups that seemed to give me stomach cramps but to confirm any theories I had I went to see a Nutritional Therapist and paid her to give me a food allergy test.

To cut a long story short I am actually allergic to milk and wheat which means I have to live a dairy-free and gluten-free diet. It sounds like a lot of effort and it is a lot of effort but being able to go about my day no longer in pain is the best feeling in the world. I also think if anyone is experiencing unexplained abdominal pain to see if it’s a food allergy as they seem to be the most common thing to explain that kind of pain.

I am annoyed that I couldn’t have worked out this allergy sooner. And I’m more annoyed that the doctors placed a diagnosis on my forehead just because I was a little stressed. I’m not doubting that I wasn’t stressed I just knew I wasn’t stressed enough to be causing my body that many problems.

I wanted to share this story because 1. I’m British and I love to complain and 2. To let everyone know that doctors aren’t necessarily always going to be right. Whilst they may study for 8 or 9 years each individual person is different. So maybe my symptoms were IBS in another patient, but they weren’t in me.

Gracie x

My Book: “Letters to my Past”


Twitter: @gracievhemphill

Instagram: @graciehemphill