Case Study – IBS: Catherine

disclaimer: results may vary

When I first met Catherine, she was dealing with a dreadful situation every day.  Every day, she was afraid to leave home even to take the children to school, because many times each day, she only had a few minutes to find a bathroom.  Even taking anti-diarrhoea medication didn’t make any difference.  Catherine was beyond all that.  A few months earlier, she had given up her job because she simply couldn’t carry on.

While she was working, Catherine took a number of 40 minutes bathroom breaks, every day.  It was embarrassing, and Catherine felt they she was being unfair to her colleagues and employers.  She hoped that if she quit her job she would reduce stress in her life, and this might alleviate the problem.  But leaving work didn’t make any difference.

Normal everyday life was traumatic for Catherine.  She could be in the supermarket when ‘that pain’ came to tell her to find a loo quickly.  In a typical shopping trip, Catherine might visit the loo six or seven times.  It was awkward with two small children in tow.

Holidays abroad were out of the question – there were queues at the airport, and many other times when a visit to the loo would be impossible.  Every time Catherine planned to go anywhere, she would begin to feel panic – just thinking about what could happen if things went wrong.

Sometimes the panic seemed worse than the IBS, and sometimes she wondered if it was actually causing her IBS.  Catherine felt the first sign of trouble, a pain in a certain place, just below her stomach.  And then it disappeared for a while, and Catherine wondered if it had gone away.  And then it came back, much stronger than before, and she had to dash to the loo.

Catherine tried many different changes to her diet, but it didn’t improve the situation.

One thing that Catherine did notice was that she was particularly bad at certain times.  One of these ‘trigger’ events was when there was a change of plan.  It might be as simple as having to change the time that she was going out.  When this happened, she felt ‘butterflies’ in her stomach, but much, much stronger.  She wondered if she was suffering panic attacks, but she was not really sure of what panic attacks were.

Catherine’s IBS attacks involved other symptoms.  She could feel so desperately ill, so nauseous and often a sudden, searing headache would strike so violently, she thought she was having a stroke.

Catherine came to see me to see if I could help her with her.  On hearing all about her problems, I realised that Catherine’s problem was Neurological Wave Syndrome.  In the beginning, Catherine had to work diligently on her Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms, and most importantly, on the way she felt.  She received regular telephone coaching sessions to guide her through.

Catherine began to recognise when she felt anxious, either thinking about a change of plan or making arrangements for family occasions. And she worked on them with the Resolution Programme for unwanted feelings.

All the while, she worked directly on her symptoms, and gradually, as she kept her chart, she could see changes taking place.  Just two months after beginning her therapy, Catherine had the confidence to book a holiday abroad with the children, and as the programme continued, one by one, her symptoms disappeared.

These days, Catherine has a very normal life once again.  Most remarkably, day by day, Catherine doesn’t even think about IBS.