Nikki has had stomach issues for awhile now. We’ve been to the doctor twice about it, done some exclusionary analysis, monitored diet etc. And we’re just settling in on what the doctor said originally that I refused to accept: Irritable Bowel Syndrome. (Not the same thing as INFLAMMATORY bowel syndrome.) The reason why I was so resistant to the diagnosis is because – in layman’s terms – it simply means, “She gets upset and her tummy hurts.”
It’s the cycle of diarrhea and constipation that – basically – she’ll just have to deal with her whole life and the only thing you can do is treat the symptoms. Treat the diarrhea, treat the constipation. Both of which are severe in their own ways. And not always in the ways that you would think, so treating is not always easy.
I had modern medicine with every ounce of my soul. While I think it’s brought us many great things, I also think that we often over-diagnose. We over-prescribe tests, surgeries, antibiotics. Everyone goes to the doctor with every fever, ache, and pain because no one wants to live with any discomfort without some sort of diagnosis, and that’s because the doctors always give us a diagnosis.
And I hate all of it.
But now? I wanted something real. I wanted an allergy to milk. I wanted Celiac disease. I wanted ulcers. I wanted something that we could actually treat. Not that this isn’t a real diagnosis – it is. But I wanted something we could fix.
The kicker? It’s triggered by stress. And my daughter? Has pulled every “stress” gene from every ancestral family member she could have and claimed them all her own. She gets stressed super-easily, she’s beyond dramatic, she cries at the drop of a hat and she berates herself for mistakes.
So, yeah. Not only is this a lifetime diagnosis but she’s also going to have a lifetime of coping with anxiety, which will inflame the irritable bowel syndrome.
And I hate all of this for her.
SO! This is what we do. Come up with good plans to treat diarrhea (with her the stomach cramps associated with the loose stools are what really impair her) and the constipation (pedia-lax doesn’t seem to be working) and look for the early signs of both so that we can, hopefully, treat them before they get too bad.
But we also have to start teaching her how to cope with anxiety and stress, and how to cope with her self-destructive behavior.
That’s where I come to you. Do you have a highly emotional child? We’ve been working on breathing techniques her whole life, and if we’re there to actually coach her? They calm her down. But she doesn’t do them on her own. I’d really like to talk to her about the feeling of anxiety and how to cope with that, but how do you teach that to a child? How do you bring it down to their level when they just classify everything as “happy” and “sad”?
Do you have a child with stress-induced stomach problems? How do you counsel them? I would love to teach her coping techniques because – as her doctor told us, most adults with irritable bowels go on anxiety medication to help prevent the stomach problems. And I’d love to help her build her own arsenal to deal with anxiety and stress, to help with that.
(And we all know – my only way to cope with anxiety is to eat. I’m trying to avoid teacher her THAT lovely trick.)
Any tips? And tricks?