Blogger Lyndin Kane of Running From the Runs returns this week with a post for her fellow Canadians with IBS, which was written especially for IBS Impact. Readers from all over the world, also see her popular guest post from April 8, 2013 for IBS Awareness Month, which was reposted from her own blog with her kind permission. We thank her once again for contributing her work and knowledge to this blog and to the cause of IBS awareness, support and services in Canada and beyond.
According to the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation, as many as 5 million Canadians now suffer from IBS, whether or not they have officially received a diagnosis from their doctor. Similar to the United States and the United Kingdom, irritable bowel syndrome is a growing problem in society that affects not only the sufferers, but their family, their friends and even their place of employment. As a Canadian who has been officially diagnosed with IBS for over 10 years, I have made my way through the maze of the Canadian health care system, specifically in Nova Scotia. When I first came forward with my concerns, my doctor was very dismissive and it was not until my mother attended an appointment with me that my GP took me seriously. Following this, I underwent the usual stool tests, blood work, barium enemas (first day of university!) and colonoscopies before receiving the IBS verdict. At the time, there was not much offered to me in the way of support, a few books, a diet high in fibre and seeking psychological help were all strongly encouraged.
Luckily, things seem to be changing for the better. More progress needs to be made; however, more and more resources are becoming available to Canadians. Upon completing research as to what types of resources are offered in Canada, I have identified a few key options that go beyond the traditional fact sheet:
Canadian Digestive Health Foundation (CDHF): This organization offers various videos and slideshows that cover basic information relating to IBS. In addition to this, fact sheets and testimonials from IBS sufferers are presented on the website.What is perhaps the most useful tool is a free app for the iPhone and iPad called Gi BodyGuard This app is designed to create a profile of you and your symptoms and allows you to track your bowel movements, your level of pain in certain areas (ex. abdomen, rectum etc.), your food intake, medication and other symptoms. This app could be particularly helpful when working with your doctor or dietitian.
Gastrointestinal Society (formerly the Canadian Society of Intestinal Research): similar to CDHF, badgut.org offers fact sheets, videos and articles relating to managing IBS as well as current research about the condition. In addition to their newsletter, Inside Tract, this organization will mail pamphlets free-of-charge to individuals and groups upon request.
Capital District Health Authority (Nova Scotia):The province’s largest health authority, through the Nutrition Education Clinic at both the Dartmouth General Hospital and the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in Halifax, offer an Irritable Bowel Syndrome Program. Patients must be referred by their doctor in order to access the program which is scheduled once or twice a month. IBS sufferers have the opportunity to meet first in a group setting (1.5-2 hours) and then one-on-one to learn from both a nutritionist and other sufferers as to what to eat when you have IBS.
IBS Support Canada: Founded by volunteer and IBS sufferer, Belinda Sutton, this organization offers the opportunity to speak to others with the same condition on a monthly basis either in-person or over the phone.
Can’t Wait: Created by the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Canada, the Can’t Wait website and app are there for you during that moment where you are desperately searching for a washroom. The app uses your phone’s GPS to determine your location and the closest washroom. If using the website, just plug in your address and street name and the site will generate a list of options for you.
We have focused on the resources available from Canadian providers, however, if there are any other resources you find particularly useful, please provide the information below in the comments section and help us to continue to support each other as we struggle with this health condition.
Written by Lyndin Kane of Halifax, Nova Scotia, freelance writer and author of Running from the Runs, a health and wellness blog dedicated to irritable bowel syndrome and the often uncomfortable, always humorous, effect it can have on daily life.
Follow her on Twitter @Rnningfrmtherns