The day three IBS sufferers changed my life!
One day in June 1991 started like any other, but by the end of the day, my life had changed, and I had promised to try and change the lives of my patients too!
It was a normal working day, a Wednesday with the summer sun shining through the window as I had breakfast with my children. I was getting ready to go to my practice based in a busy medical centre in Cheshire, England hoping the summer sun would last until the weekend when I could be out enjoying it. The English weather is well known to be fickle!
Driving to work was a normal journey, nothing to suggest the huge change in my life that was coming. My first couple of patients were received and the sessions went well.
My next client was a woman with IBS, it was our first meeting and obvious that she was in deep distress. She explained her symptoms and her frustrations.
All aspects of life were being affected. Her social life was ruined, and her doctors didn’t know what else to do for her.
She explained in detail the unpredictability of her symptoms and the pain. Nobody seemed to understand she said, several times. She was desperate for help. I felt troubled because at that time IBS to me was just three little letters, I knew very little about. I told her I would investigate it and promised to keep in touch. But at that time there was little I could do. I hated saying it, but I had to be honest.
The following two patients through my door were people I had seen previously, and they were doing well with the treatment plan we had agreed upon.
The next through my door was my second IBS woman of the day, the first meeting and it was almost a copy of the first IBS woman I had spoken to.
Pain, frustration, fear and anxiety. She felt additionally bad for letting people down and having to cancel events and shopping trips at the last minute. Mealtimes were time-consuming, trying to decide what to eat. Would it go quickly through her?
Depending on where she was meant to be after food, dictated what she’d eat. I remember her weeping saying people have no patience or understanding and didn’t want to know. She felt isolated. Travelling to see me had meant she had not eaten, just in case she had a bowel accident.
Her desperation was obvious. My reply was the same, I made a promise to investigate.
The third IBS sufferer entered the room, she was extremely tearful, her doctors had said there was nothing they could do, and she was told she had to live with it.
The thought of nothing but more of the same terrified her. She lifted her sweater, look she exclaimed, I look pregnant, but I'm not, her stomach was uncomfortably distended. She explained she had to go home sometimes as her clothes were so uncomfortable because of the bloating.
She was highly stressed, and her confidence and self-esteem were at an all-time low. She was a high achiever, but then she explained how she then held back, she was falling further behind in her adult studies, and opportunities were passing her by.
I made her the same promise as I had the others. She didn’t believe me, she didn't say as much, but I could see it in her eyes, but she thanked me all the same.
Eventually, the last patient was seen, and the day was over.
But the three women with IBS were very much still in my mind. I had to be part of the solution to this I told myself. There was a deep determination, a passion that I had to do something about it.
The old saying 'things come in threes' came to mind, three times I had to say I couldn't help, I didn't like it!
The internet was not readily available at that time, I had trips to the library and found early research papers. I spoke to doctors I worked with, they put me in touch with several friendly gastroenterologists who gave me time in their lunch break to answer my many questions.
And, as they say, to cut a long, story short, several years later, I had developed a structured program. My commitment was such that I mortgaged my family home to raise funds as no one wanted to help me.
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Every pharmaceutical company I contacted ignored my request for sponsorship, except one that said no. I contacted every over-the-counter medicine (OTC) supplier, they too ignored every sponsorship request.
I was told by many people that I was 'on to a loser', wasting my time and that if the medical profession said no then it was time to stop. But those three women, and the sickening feeling I still felt when I had to tell them I couldn’t help, haunted me.
I contacted the three women I had seen, and they were delighted to hear from me. One was positively giddy!
I told each of them that if they were willing, I had developed a process that might help them. I gave them priority appointments and within a week all had had their initial consultation updating me on how things were their stories were even more horrifying and touching than the first time I had met them, each and had their first hypnotherapy session with me.
A week later they had their second, and things were looking promising. And two weeks later their third session. A few tweaks were suggested, which led to adding another session and restructuring the program.
I needed more IBS sufferers to work with. I put the word out through my health professionals’ network and in two weeks I had 15 people to work with, referred by their health professionals. With their feedback, another session was added, and more testing and restructuring were done.
I was funding this, and funds were getting low. The chorus of folk telling me to ‘stop and think what I was doing’ grew louder and included some people I thought would have been more supportive.
I worked long hours with other patients to fund my work. Dark days were looming on the horizon, I was pushing myself hard, and long late nights and early starts were taking their toll.
I also continued with the three I had started with, they were enjoying their recordings, and all were feeling much improved.
The sessions with the 15 patients were closely monitored, feedback was given after the sessions were completed. Then for the following 3 years feedback was given annually. The result was a new proven, largely effective IBS protocol which I later called the IBS Audio Program 100.
It was now 1998, I joined a bulletin board, and the very forward-thinking owner allowed me to mention my program on his site. Local doctors had heard of the success I had with IBS patients and my diary got full, months in advance. I found time for myself; I realised if I couldn’t look after myself how could I look after others
And now at the time of writing the IBS Audio Program 100 is used in over 40 countries. It has positively changed the lives of so many people I have lost count.
But it all started with those three women, whom I will add, all live much better lives now, and thanks to them, so do many thousands of others, whom neither they nor I will ever meet, but we made a difference. And that’s what it was all about.
I remember one of 'the band of three' as they came to call themselves, gave me the biggest hug, it took my breath away. Stepping back to look at me she said 'you came through for me, for all of us, and we all love you'.
She cheekily added, even my husband loves you for what you have done she laughed. It was the first time I had heard her laugh.
At last, I could release my promise into the air and be free of it.
I finally paid off my debts after many long years of extended hours in my practice. Many of those who had been calling me to give it up, have drifted out of my life, but I am blessed to have many more folk who are interested in supporting me.
I learned many things through the years of developing the IBS Audio Program 100.
One is that IBS sufferers, have a depth of strength they rarely recognize until they look back on their IBS journey.
Another thing is we all have to take responsibility for what we do, and what we don't do. We need to learn to say yes to ourselves, because in difficult circumstances it isn't selfish to do so, it's often self-preservation.
And the third thing I learned, is that we cannot rush our healing, we are all different. Healing and positive change come when the time is right.
The best we can do is persevere and do what we can to help the process as many of the user comments below will testify.
In short, we have to be ready for the long haul, we have to stick with things.
In those early days, I didn't realize how long the haul would be for me when I met those three women on that summer day in 1991.
But I stuck with it, largely because of the promise I made to them and myself, but also because every IBS suffer, I met, deep down had hope, courage and inner strength, they just needed to find it again. And they did!
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