In late 2001 I was as stressed-out as any American, but as every one of us has our own special crazy-making influences, I had my own special blend of stressed-out-ness:
-I was establishing myself as a professional TV producer at E! Networks, working insane hours for little pay
-I drove the worst commute in America twice a day. It literally was dubbed the worst commute one day on the radio as I sat in the stopped traffic at the interchange of the 101 and 405 freeways. I called Stewart, weeping, telling him the commute was making me a bad person. I had to make a pit stop at a grungy 7 Eleven bathroom in Studio City on the way to work. A pit stop. On the way to work.
-I was planning our wedding. Need I say more?
I loved my job, I loved Stewart, and I loved my little car. I loved living in Los Angeles and being young and energetic. So the stresses of my life did not faze me mentally, at least. It was only when I started suffering bouts of crippling abdominal pain that I realized I was really wound up.
I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, which comes up a distant second to Irritable Uterus in the competition for most annoying diagnosis. With irritable uterus, there is a baby at stake. With IBS, it’s your own damn fault. A steady diet of bagels and Marie Callendar’s pot pies does not a regular GI system make. To treat my condition, the nurse practitioner subscribed a medication to relax the spasm in my colon, and told me to alter my diet.
The meds never really helped. Once the onset of an attack came on they only served to slightly sedate me as I took to my bed and slept, which was the only way it ended. I do remember a few episodes when I lay on the floor of an editing bay at E!, most likely horrifying the poor people who had to work with me. I didn’t care. I was in too much pain, and on deadline.
Eventually it was the altered diet that helped keep the attacks at bay. Once I got pregnant with Kyle, popped that sucker out, and started breastfeeding, all along eating whatever the hell I wanted and suffering only crippling heartburn as a consequence, I sort of forgot about the low diary, low meat, high carb diet recommended for IBS patients.
Oh, to have the stressors in my life that I had then. At least, if stuck in traffic now, I would have Audible books and Pandora radio and free unlimited calls to anyone anywhere. And to worry only about how fast we could sum up the life of Naomi Campbell and get it on the air, versus what to write about my dead girlfriend or how to break the news to my child, her godson? Wedding planning? Please. I can do that in my sleep. And now I’m an “influencer,” so everything would be tax deductible if I captured it on Instagram and blogged about it.
The attacks started coming back a few months ago. I know them. We are old frenemies. The enemy part is the severe pain. The friend part is the Great Big Reminder that you are stressed out and you should go the f*ck to sleep.
All of this is a ridiculous preamble to my story about probiotics. Probiotics, which are dietary supplements of healthy bacteria that you ingest to promote good colon health, were not as widely available or recommended for IBS when I was first diagnosed. I only really started paying attention to the concept when yogurts and kefir came out and marketed with them, and recently I chose to participate in a testing period for the Costco brand of probiotics in caplet form: 4x Pro-B.
I’ve been taking the supplement for 21 days now. Here is the photo spread of how I acquired 4X Probiotic from Costco.com.
Funny thing about probiotics is that even in the actual product packaging, nobody tells you exactly how they work, although some try. Here is my limited understanding: humans have friendly bacteria living in their colons that help them digest food. For whatever reason, diet and stress upset the balance in the colon and cause pain via impacted waste, trapped gas, etc. One can add more friendly bacteria into the mix in hopes that they will act as microscopic soldiers to help with digestion, like the Army National Guard of the lower GI.
After two weeks I noticed that I was more…regular. But then a fresh wave of stomach pain hit me a couple of times in the same week. I stepped up my game by exercising more and eating a more healthy diet, and working some old IBS tricks back into my day: peppermint tea and cinnamon zucchini bread.
Peppermint tea is a natural way to soothe the stomach, so IBS advisers (well, Heather Van Vorous, who authored the two books that were my IBS bibles, at least) tell you to live on the stuff. I hated mint before that but I got used to it because it really does help, and now I actually find myself craving it sometimes.
And Van Vorous’s cinnamon zucchini bread – dense and sweet and packed with GI-friendly fiber. I used to bake loaves and loaves of the stuff, but realized during this probiotic trial that I hadn’t done it in years. I pulled out my bread pan and whipped up a batch.
You know how some tastes transport you to a different time? If I close my eyes and take a bite of the warm goodness of this bread, I can almost feel 2001.
And that’s not okay.
Today is better, because it is the present, and part of being so stressed out that your tummy hurts all the time is worrying about the past or the future. I’m gonna pop my probiotic pills once a day, quaff my tea and bake my bread, and get on with things. There’s no other choice, really. I’ve got important stuff to do:
This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. #CBias All opinions and stories are my own. Who else would want to claim them?!
Side note: you can get everything at Costco. Refinance your mortgage, buy a car, FIX a car, get a bridal gown, replace your floors. And tend to your digestive health. Amazing.