Hi everyone, I'm new to this board and was hoping I could get some perspectives from those who have been through this before. I wanted to share my story and see what comes back.
First, I want to say that I was diagnosed with IBS in 1998 and took anti-spasmotics for a few months before I was able to go off of them and, since then, I have managed with 2 Fibercon tablets every day. My IBS symptoms went away completely in 2000 and I have not had any significant flare ups since then.
In early May this year, I think I had a bad stomach flu; I was sick for a couple of days, but started feeling better. It did take me almost 2 weeks to completely feel better. I never went to see the doctor then, but had never experienced anything like it, but then again, stomach bugs seemed to be the thing this year in my area.
In mid-July, I suddenly started having stomach pains, like a knot in my stomach right in between (and a little to the left) of the V of my ribcage. I dealt with 4 days of constant pain before I called to see my GI doc (the one that diagnosed me with IBS). I won't be able to see him until September 4, but I made the appointment back in July anyway. The nurse at my GI doc's office suggested I call my PCP, so I did.
I saw my PCP on July 19 and he put me on AcipHex (30 min before breakfast each day), saying it sounded like I might have heartburn (although I didn't feel a burning sensation in the middle of my chest or experience acid coming back up) and asked to see me 2 weeks later. The AcipHex seemed to work for a couple of days, but then I had another episode (this time, not constant, but sporatic). I completely changed my diet and went off the coffee, tea, soda, no chocolate, no spicy foods, no fatty foods, no citrus, no tomato based stuff.
I saw my PCP for follow up on August 6. I told him the AcipHex was sort of helping, but I still had to take tums from time to time. So, he put me on Zantac 150 two times a day in addition to the AcipHex and ordered an endoscopy from my GI doc. He said he would see me in 3 months. So, I continued on my way and added Zantac to my meds. Again, I felt somewhat better, but would still have episodes. My symptoms are sometimes worse at night and either I can't fall asleep or I wake up with pain in the same spot.
I called my GI doc to make sure my PCP's paperwork made it over to them and talked to the nurse several times. She kept telling me the doc needed to see me since it had been 2.5 years since I'd seen him last (had a colonoscopy done where he found a polyp that needed to be removed). The nurse got my paperwork, but she wasn't able to get me in to see him any sooner than September 4. (I really like my GI doc - he's excellent, so seeing someone else isn't really an option I want to consider.)
On August 19/20, I had such an episode and didn't sleep all night so I called in sick in the morning and called my GI doc to see if I could get in earlier to see him. I spoke with the nurse and as I was telling her what was going on, I started crying - didn't realize how frustrated I'd been just waiting to see the GI doc. She sympathized and told me to call my PCP since he had been treating me, so I did. I spoke with the nurse and my PCP put me on Carafate suspension - 2 teaspoons, 3 times a day in addition to the other two meds.
Being on the Carafate suspension now for 1 week, I have noticed a difference. I generally feel normal with the exception of periods when I feel an episode coming on, but it's not nearly as bad as it had been. I read up on Carafate suspension and know that it's used to treat ulcers, which makes me wonder if I have one (only endoscopy will know for sure), but having read some older posts here, it sounds like it may be used for any type of sore in the upper digestive tract that may need protection from stomach acid (maybe that's the definition of an ulcer, but I am new to this, so I don't know).
I need to travel for work (going on a business trip for 4 days starting tomorrow) and was worried about being away from home with these stomach issues, eating out, etc, but the Carafate seems to be helping, so I guess I'll go with it for now.
So, if you've read this far, I thank you for reading about my story and I hope that you can share with me a few things, since I haven't seen my GI doc yet.
1) What is the definition of an ulcer? Is it any kind of thing in your digestive system that is sensitive to acid?
2) I've heard that since I'm on AcipHex, I might have to take something for the rest of my life (like the Fibercon); has that been most folks' experience?
3) I know I need to get the endoscopy to know for sure what's going on in there, but, typically, how long does it take to fix something like this? I can't imagine being on all 3 meds forever and such a restricted diet.
Since I first started experiencing pain in my stomach, and since I've been on the 3 meds, I still experience burning sensations in that same spot in my stomach. I haven't thrown up, but I have felt nauseous from time to time. I also have green stools periodically (sorry to be gross) but my bowel movements seem to have become more regular after the carafate.
Any advice or comments are welcome and I appreciate your taking the time to read this whole post. Looking forward to hearing from you!