Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting a helpful dietitian. I mean this with no disrespect to the rest of the medical profession. However, when you have been passed from person to person with no signs of moving forward its difficult to be optimistic. I am also sure I am not alone in saying that some medical professionals are rude, dismissive and a waste of time.
On a more positive note here is what happened!
My appointment was arranged by referral from my GP. She did not want to send me for further tests until we had a clearer picture of the possible triggers for my symptoms. I agreed to see the dietitian to follow the process my GP has to adhere to.
The dietitian I met was helpful, polite and attentive She asked many questions regarding my history from childhood, my teenage years and adult symptoms, listening carefully and taking notes on my extensive answers. Unlike other appointments because she was asking good questions and listening I felt like I had given a clear picture and been able to express all my concerns. We chatted through some possible causes and were able to rule out some of the more unlikely ones. I handed her my food diary which she will run through the computer to check for any deficiencies or markers. I routinely had my height and weight monitored and we did cover the (no longer embarrassing) topic of poo!
If you have never seen the Bristol Stool Chart you really should look it up! It does give you a guide as to what the medical profession look for in your bowel movements, it is particularly good for babies and new parents. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bristol_stool_scale.
The dietitian commented that I knew a lot about my symptoms and diet. She also asked what I expected to get out of the appointment. I admitted I was only there to humour my GP, but ultimately I want to find out why I am having these symptoms and if there is a cause that can be treated/diagnosed. She did explain, gently, that I may not find out and to concentrate on what made me feel better rather than why it was happening. If you know me by now then you will have predicted that I noted this and will carry on trying while their are still avenues to investigate. After all this isn't just about me it affects my little boy too!
The agreed plan of action is for me to conduct a lactose trial to see if I still suffer after having removed gluten and wheat since January. After this I will try a lactose free, dairy free and gluten free probiotic to see if we can improve the health of my gut. I will then return to the dietitian for another appointment to agree a method of reintroducing dairy to my diet either lactose free dairy (if needed) or normal dairy (if lactose is no longer a problem). The long term picture is to reintroduce gluten and wheat separately to see what effect it has.
I hope that after that long process we will have a clear picture of which dietary triggers affect me most. From there I hope to be able to make a more informed decision on what may be the cause. I still believe IBS is a term for a collection of symptoms that the medical profession use when they don't know the cause or don't have the resources to find out!