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 about 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

3 thoughts on “Snippets of my Life: Chronic Pain

  1. So glad you were able to figure it out. You will start to feel so much better now that they will be out of your diet……….no thanks to the MDs. I have found many of them completely useless through my years of chronic illness.


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