About Tracy Tutty
Tracy's IBS Story
My husband and I returned from our honeymoon in Bath to a house where the cupboards were bare. We decided to check out the fancy burger restaurant up the road. 8 hours later we were playing bathroom tag…a nasty bout of food poisoning meant we were getting to know a lot more about each other than we had intended!
After 3 days of not knowing whether I wanted to sit on the loo or peer into the loo, finally the enforced expulsion subsided. But, then I noticed the rectal bleeding. I was scared. My Dad had been diagnosed with colon cancer when he was 49. I was 36. I went to the doctor and reported all that had happened. I was sent for some tests and salmonella was confirmed, but still the bleeding continued. My recollection was of the doctor saying, it’s likely to be bowel cancer because your father was diagnosed at 49 and the tumour would have been growing when he was around my age. I must say, at this point, that the important thing is what I heard the doctor say, not what he said. I don’t recall the exact conversation (other than the, you might have cancer part where I burst into tears in his office) but he could have said something like there’s a higher risk because your father was diagnosed with colon cancer so young. But all I heard was you’ve probably got cancer.
He’s a great doctor and referred me for a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy is where your large intestine is observed using a camera that is inserted at the end of a flexible tube via your rectum. This allows your consultant to notice any areas of inflammation, ulcers or growths. When I went to the hospital for my colonoscopy, I was in bits. I was scared, and not just because a camera was going to be inserted in my bottom, but also because I associated this particular test with my father’s illness. Anyway, the consultant who reviewed my colon said it looked perfectly healthy and no evidence of any abnormality was found. Great news!
That should have been the end of my digestive journey. Unfortunately, things started to go wrong. I would be in a meeting at work and suddenly I would be doubled over in pain. I would have to leave the meeting immediately and race to the ladies toilet (the only one on the floor) and pray that one of the cubicles was free. The sudden onset of pain was how I knew the diarrhoea was coming, and coming right now. My job as a Financial Controller meant that I had to face a supplier who was behaving rather unhelpfully. I felt I couldn’t show weakness, but when the pain started I couldn’t stay in the meeting either. There was a strict time limit.
When I wasn’t trying to manage the diarrhoea, I would be extremely constipated. I would sit on the toilet, my head in my hands, sweating, tired and feeling bunged up. I really did feel unwell. I would strain to try and get everything out but I never felt that I had evacuated my bowel completely. I went back to the doctor, but he didn’t know as there was nothing in the tests to suggest a problem that needed fixing. The tests said everything was as it should be. But my life was falling apart around me. I started to feel really anxious because I didn’t know when the next episode might come. I felt completely alone, frightened and embarrassed. Talking about my toilet habits wasn’t something I normally did.
About this time I also started university. I know; getting married, starting university; all in all a lot of change. University was strange for me because I didn’t feel I was good enough to get a university education. I hadn’t been to university before. I need not have worried about being up for the job. I was awarded the Nutricentre CAM Academic Excellence Award for Level 4 and Level 5 of the BSc (Hons) Health Sciences: Herbal Medicine. In my final year (known mysteriously as level 6), I was awarded the Nutricentre Prize for Best Overall Performance in Level 6 of the BSc (Hons) Health Sciences: Herbal Medicine and the Neals Yard Meteria Medica Prize. It’s funny, how your beliefs about capability have nothing whatsoever to do with actually how capable you are.
My BSc (Hons) in Herbal Medicine involved 500 clinical hours and assessment after assessment. It was a very stressful time. It was very stressful trying to work with a patient (often somebody I had never met before), trying to be completely focussed on what they were telling me, but with one eye open for any signs my body might give me that I needed to take immediate action to excuse myself from the consultation and race to the loo.
One of the best things about studying herbal medicine at the same time as having IBS, is that I was surrounded by specialists in various complementary and allopathic medicine fields. I was able to study how they dealt with people who have IBS and experiment with the different protocols to find out what worked for me. Also, my honours degree required me to review scientific papers. I had the best of both worlds; access to the latest thinking on gut disorders combined with experienced specialists in a wide range of fields (scientific and complementary). My dissertation compared the efficacy of treatment plans for IBS as offered by three very different (and very experienced) herbalists and compared these treatment protocols to the last research on IBS. The combination of being exposed to various theories and my own personal experience of what it’s like to live with IBS awakened a passion within me. I still review scientific papers because I find them interesting, and as an added bonus, it ensures I remain up to date on the latest research and theories in relation to IBS.
I am pleased to report that I no longer have IBS. I do have an appreciation for how different IBS is for each person. There may be a similar cluster of symptoms which together are referred to as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (based on the Rome III diagnostic criteria), but our thoughts and emotions also affect how our IBS presents itself. My experience really made me appreciate the importance of creating a plan that works for you, not just your IBS.
Many health professionals are at a loss when faced with a patient who has IBS, but there are things that can help you manage your IBS. What is important is that other possible gut disorders are ruled out, you find the right combination of strategies that work for you; and if you feel you need to, you work with a health professional who can appreciate what living with IBS is like for you.
Tracy holds a first class Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Health Sciences (Herbal Medicine) from the University of Westminster. This involves 500 clinic hours as well as papers such as pharmacology, materia medica and therapeutics, clinical skills, dietary therapy and systems pathology.
Tracy was recipient of the Nutricentre CAM Award for ‘best overall performance in the year’ for each of the three years she was at the University of Westminster and in her final year, the Neals Yard Remedies Materia Medica Prize. Tracy has taught clinical skills to herbal medicine students at the University of Westminster.
Subtle Energy Medicine Practitioner
She has practiced as a Reiki Master since 1999.
Tracy has studied energetic NLP with Art Gizer (level 1, 2 and 3).
Tracy holds a first class Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Health Sciences (Herbal Medicine) from the University of Westminster in London. This involves 500 clinic hours as well as papers such as pharmacology, materia medica and therapeutics, clinical skills, dietary therapy and systems pathology.
Tracy was recipient of the Nutricentre CAM award for ‘best overall performance in the year’ for each of the three years she was at the University of Westminster and in her final year, the Neals Yard Remedies Materia Medica prize. Tracy has taught clinical skills to herbal medicine students at the University of Westminster.
Subtle energies practitioner
Tracy studied subtle energy medicine to diploma level with the Vibrational Healing Foundation in London.
She has practiced as a Reiki Master since 1999.
Tracy has studied energetic neurolinguistic programming (NLP) with Art Gizer (level 1, 2 and 3).
Tracy studied the mind and body maintenance programme with it’s founder, Nita Mary Yeoman in Kent, England. Tracy taught this programme on behalf of the Association of Stress Therapists in the United Kingdom.
Stress therapy is a talking-based therapy that reminds you how to relax, encourages you to listen to your body and examine your stress triggers. This combination of relaxation through guided visualisation, discovering your body’s stress patterns as a means of gaining biofeedback and changing unhelpful responses into more positive ones through cognitive restructuring helps you to work with your body to manage your stress proactively.
Skill based entrepreneur
Tracy is a Chartered Accountant and works within organisations as a Financial Controller and with complementary therapists as a business mentor.
Imagine if you woke up one morning and you were feeling unwell, say you had a sore throat.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could go into your garden and pick the combination of herbs that would support you best in that moment to heal yourself? Or you could go to your cupboard or fridge and assemble the ingredients to make something healing.
Or imagine if you had something more serious to contend with, and you were able to assemble your own care team who were specialists in their field. Imagine if you could choose from doctors, consultants, herbalists, nutritionists, osteopaths and each one could advise you based on their specialist field of knowledge. And together they all supported you in choosing the healing journey that was right for you. And that you could determine what that healing would mean for you. Wouldn’t that be great?
These are a few of my favourite things …
Wherever I live, I always plant. Every action, no matter how small it seems, can make a huge difference when it comes to healing the earth.
Create a window box, plant a small bed of flowering herbs. You’ll be amazed at the number of birds and bees that make your little corner of paradise their home. If we each planted just one small corner of where we lived, we would be rewarded with all manner of little visitors.
We can make a difference through education and regeneration.
There’s nothing better than walking in Nature or digging in your garden. You trundle along until you come to a spot that stops you in your steps. It’s beauty is so remarkable that you can’t help but take stock and drink it in.
Herbal Medicine is an art and a science. I love the fact that research is allowing us to discover how plants interact with us. But there’s more to it than that. When you connect with the plant that your body is searching for, magic happens.
I believe the best medicine you can make, is often the one you make yourself.
Once upon a time, this art was handed down from generation to generation. Family recipes to beat colds and flu were copied from family herbal to family herbal. Much was forgotten as we moved away from the land. There’s an awakening. We’re taking back responsibility for our health and well-being. And that means, where it’s appropriate, we can make our own medicines again.
I call this the great remembering.
Abdominal pain is one of the most common reasons for visiting Emergency Services. It’s important that you tell your doctor about your abdominal pain as it can be related to a wide variety of conditions. Common causes of abdominal pain includeread more
November is National Stress Awareness Month in the UK. Not only does stress affect our psychological well-being, it can also wreak havoc when you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome. We feel stressed whenever we decide something is a threat. This sets off a unique mind and body response which arms our muscles with oxygenated blood, clears our focus in the moment and prepares us to fight or flee. Unfortunately, when this stress response continues for a long period of time, it’s inflammatory nature can affect our health, particularly our digestive system.read more
What You Need to Know About IBS
I’ve created a mindmap that introduces you to the basics of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. This is what you need to know in order to start your healing journey or to help somebody who has Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
In this mindmap, we talk about: (1) what Irritable Bowel Syndrome is, (2) what the symptoms are, when you absolutely must visit your doctor; and (3) the 3 things that you can focus on right now to begin your healing journey