In Collaboration With The

What Patients Are Saying About 
Gut Feelings: The Patient's Story

As a young woman who has struggled with my own medical difficulties, specifically Vulvodynia, PCOS, and IBS-C, finding a doctor who was willing to listen to my story and work with me to create a treatment plan that would help alleviate my symptoms was crucial in allowing me to experience the best possible quality of life. Prior to my experiences working with the doctors and nurses at the UNC MIGs clinic and with Dr. Drossman and Ms. Smith at Drossman Gastroenterology, I had my share of negative experiences in doctor’s offices. Like many of the patients in Gut Feelings: The Patient’s Story, I felt unheard and dismissed in the medical system and after months of intense daily pain doubted that I would ever obtain a diagnosis or alleviate my symptoms. I am one of the lucky ones. Many suffer for years before finding a doctor that will take the time to listen and believe them when they recount their symptoms - that is, if they ever find one.

Experiencing dismissive practitioners in the medical system was an incredibly isolating experience for me and reading stories of patients who have had similar experiences as myself has been empowering and healing. As a young woman I have found it difficult to advocate for myself in a patriarchal medical system. Dr. Drossman and Ms. Ruddy offer insightful advice for improving patient communication with their providers that all patients will find helpful in improving their relationships with providers and optimizing their care. This book not only will be key to reaching patients who might be struggling themselves, but also to reaching practitioners who can incorporate patient-centered care into their patient-provider relationships. I do not doubt that increasing the number of providers who actively listen to their patients, as Dr. Drossman does, will improve patient care and result in more positive outcomes for patients. Gut Feelings: The Patient’s Story is a must read for anyone operating as a patient or provider within the medical system, and I cannot recommend it enough!

Anna Biglaiser
As someone who has lived with IBS for 25+ years and who acts as a patient advocate through my own social communities for IBS sufferers, the one main theme that patients crave is validation about their illness. They are looking for validation that the pain, diarrhea, constipation, or a combination of both is real. They want to know that they are not alone. Above all, they want to know that someone can help them. Gut Feelings: The Patient’s Story by Dr. Drossman and Johannah Ruddy hits the mark on every one of these needs. The patient stories give us an opportunity to understand the journey that the patient has taken. We can relate to the naivety of some healthcare providers and the self-doubt that each patient feels. As a fly on the wall, we read how and who was able to provide a treatment option that best fit the symptoms. It is not one size fits all, rather it is individual treatment plans that try to meet a patient’s individual needs.

Johannah’s expertise as a patient herself, as well as a very seasoned patient advocate shines a light on key messages and takeaways that will be very helpful to all readers. Fellow patients will truly appreciate her balanced and highly measured commentary. Johannah explains in her own narrative, how far she has come from a very difficult childhood of abuse, then aggravated by food poisoning which triggered a dreadful path of illness. Johannah shares her self-talk during miserable encounters with physicians along the path to diagnosis and treatment. I believe that this illustrates to patients that when you know something is wrong it is important to seek out a physician who both listens to your story and wants to help you.

Dr. Drossman’s skill has always been to diagnose and communicate complicated GI problems. His approach has the ability to provide a patient the time to communicate details which others have never asked or may have thought were trivial. This often leads Dr. Drossman to more satisfied treatments and outcomes for patients. This is evidenced in each patient narrative. What Dr. Drossman does differently in this book vs. his others, is to share his rationale for treatment and explain to other physicians and patients what the benefits are for treatment. This tradition of teaching the future physician and patients directly, leads to better informed professionals and patients and long-lasting rewards for each.

I highly recommend this book for patients, families of loved ones who want to understand the patient perspective and other healthcare professionals who are open to gaining insights not often shared about a patient’s journey.

Jeffrey D. Roberts, MSEd, BSc
Founder IBS Patient Support Group and Creator World IBS Day

In August of 2021 I first read Gut Feelings: Disorders of Gut Brain Interaction. It was a huge aha moment for me. I immediately contacted Dr. Drossman for an appointment. I am a 73 year old woman who has dealt with gut pain since I was 15. First it was endometriosis, after a hysterectomy it was diverticulitis and then IBS. The symptoms were virtually identical. This is the first time in my adult life I have had a pain free gut.

The sequel to Dr. Drossman and Ms Ruddy’s second book (Gut Feelings: The Patients Story) brought me to tears of sadness and gratitude. The profiles of suffering of the patients who eventually made their way to Dr. Drossman are truly devastating. I could relate very personally to parts of all of the medical voyages in this invaluable book. Clinical studies make the gut/brain connection far more understandable to those of us who are not trained in medicine. It is very meaningful to finally understand what had been going on in my body all these years. Thank you for your dedication to teaching.

Jill Preyer
Asheville, NC
Reading the individual case studies in "Gut Feelings: The Patient's Story" brought mixed emotions: sadness for the suffering, frustration as each patient looked for answers, disappointment with the lack of care, anger for the way the medical profession so quickly dismissed their cases, surprise with the lack of knowledge even though it was available, and empathy because I too had shared experiences. If "Divine Intervention" had not brought Dr. Drossman into my life, I would have gone forward feeling pain and hopelessness.

I was treated by 4 experienced gastroenterologists with no diagnosis or discharge communication other than, "Go home, take Tylenol 3's, and get on with your life", or "If you ever find out what's wrong, let me know so I can know what I missed." In contrast my appointment with Dr. Drossman was centered on me. Questions like, "Why are you here? What do you hope to get from our meeting? What do you think is causing your pain?" Following this was an exam and then an explanation of gut/brain connection, a diagnosis; and then, most importantly, what treatment plan was to be put in place. Finally I sensed hope, being heard, having a safe place to land, and the feeling that Dr. Drossman was really committed to my journey. ( And indeed this is how it plays out. Every recall appointment focuses on the patient. Dr. Drossman really listens and is prepared to adjust medications and celebrates any improvements. Try and try again works if you are sure the doctor is truly invested in your treatment. If the patient is willing, shouldn't the physician be also? Dr. Drossman is that physician.) There are too many of us walking this path when there are answers, information, teaching tools and treatments that will help us. This book, delivered from a patient's perspective, underlines the importance of advocating for yourself, searching until you find the right doctor/patient partnership, and being actively engaged in your treatment. Ms. Ruddy's input adds value to the cases because she is on this path to healing along with the rest of us. She instills confidence in the process and sorts through each case from that perspective. The format of this book clearly represents the patient/doctor relationship as it presents facts from both sides.

Dr. Drossman is a gifted specialist who eagerly and continually shares his experience with patients, medical doctors and other professionals. There is help, there are answers, and most importantly, he gives us hope.

Peggy Milkeraitus,
Toronto, Canada

Comment from patient’s husband

As a retired doctor, in a completely different field, Peggy's journey totally shocked me. I expected better from the people who treated her. I totally understand the enormous complexity of the human body and the challenges that exist in sorting through challenging problems. But if I could find out about Dr. Drossman, and the the Rome Foundation with its work, articles, books, videos and seminars, why were her treating doctors (Gastroenterologists) unaware. I do not want anyone to think Dr. Drossman is self-promoting with this book. There are many capable doctors connected to this field, aware of its complexity, and in furthering the treatments suggested here. Where Dr. Drossman stands out is as a leader and a teacher. He is a kind, considerate and very knowledgeable mentor in the field of gut/brain issues. With this book, and with the Rome Foundation, he tries to share his and others expertise. Thank you Dr. Drossman.

John Milkeraitus
Peggy’s husband
Toronto, Canada
Having just finished this latest book written by Douglas Drossman, MD and Johannah Ruddy, MEd, it has left me encouraged and determined as I deal with GI issues of my own. The personal stories shared by eight patients of Dr. Drossman each illustrate that when patient and practitioner work together, great things can happen even in such challenging situations as these.

There is much to learn here. In each case study the reader discovers in the patient’s own words the particulars of his or her own illness, followed by Dr. Drossman’s and Ms. Ruddy’s in-depth perspective. Each study is filled with explanation and supporting information. And in every case there are situations that the reader can relate to and see something of his own illness journey reflected. There are many perspectives. There are many take-aways. Knowledge is power, trust is crucial to getting better, the relationship between doctor and patient is of utmost importance, and the brain-gut connection plays a key role in our wellness are just a few.  

The book makes clear to patients that their own narrative is vital to the healing process and that those with chronic or debilitating conditions must have determination and perseverance. When providers and patients collaborate in a nurturing way as these eight challenging examples show us, much good can be achieved. Brain-gut disorders and their treatments are many and varied. They can be terribly complicated and very debilitating. The book is valuable in spelling out what patients must know about their condition and what their doctors must do in order to help them heal.   
Regardless of the reader’s own health story, one can surely relate to each of these personal and honest accounts and find similarities. Many thanks to all the individuals who collaborated on this book for the insights gained. For me, it has been a valuable education.

Mary Lynn Pfohl
I just finished reading your book, Gut Feelings: The Patient’s Story. Those patients shared some truly remarkable stories! Each patient had unique medical circumstances and backgrounds, yet they all seemed to share many common aspects and similar perspectives of their journeys.

A few of the patient's stories really resonated with me. My own hospital trauma, physical trauma, and mental anguish of years of invasive IVF and 4 late miscarriages seem to pale in comparison to some of their stories, but their need for validation, survival, and connection with you as their doctor seemed to parallel my story.  

Here are some of the resounding themes that I harmonized with and experienced as well:

Knowledge is power- This is true. There is nothing worse than having no more options. Knowing your condition and your options feels freeing.

No one listening- I lost count of how many doctors dismissed me and misdiagnosed my medical conditions. Eventually I believed I was just crazy.

Thriving not surviving- I was "surviving" because I had to keep going for my kids and family so I kept pushing my issues aside hoping they'd go away.

Validation/Plan/Actual steps- you always (and still have) a plan for me. You've never said: "no more options"

Breaking the vicious cycle-YES!! For me, I had to accept that sometimes in life there are no answers for loss and to accept that. I found peace in my everyday life, and I continually must remind myself where to find that peace.

Dr. Drossman evaluated me as a human being- yes!

I took care of my kids first- This I truly understand. Especially how I needed to "heal" Jack before I could heal. In the end, Jack helped me:)

Recognizing behaviors that imprisoned me/unhealthy thoughts- Re-framing my ways of thinking. Changing negative thoughts. This has helped with my whole life!

Very aware of how certain things affect the body- For me, if I was stressed, I bloated, I started having pregnancy symptoms, my fingers turned white/numb...I can't believe how CONNECTED it all was!

Dr Drossman said three words..."I BELIEVE YOU." When I read this, I cried. That initial validation was so, so important.

Janine Haldane
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5826 Fayetteville Road, Suite 201
Durham, NC 27713 USA
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