Over the span of one year, I went to the doctor EIGHT times thinking I had a bladder infection. I was getting all the symptoms of a UTI. Bladder pain, urgency, and burning when urinating. I thought, what the heck is wrong with me.
I had been getting urinary tract infections since I was a teen. I knew what they felt like and knew the telltale symptoms of these pesky infections. I knew the drill. Get to the doctor immediately, provide a urine sample, take antibiotics, take urinary pain relief pills in the meantime.
I was doing everything possible to prevent UTIs (staying hydrated, peeing after sex, and keeping up with other healthy feminine hygiene habits) however I was still having symptoms.
When I would go to the doctor and give them a urine sample, I would always get the same response. “There are no bacteria that we can see right now but sometimes bacteria can begin to grow. We will send this to the lab but in the meantime here is a prescription for some antibiotics.”
The test results would always come back from the lab with no bacteria. Great, I was taking antibiotics for no reason…scary I know. I try to only take antibiotics when I need them because I am terrified of developing antibiotic resistance from the overuse of antibiotics.
On my eighth trip to the doctor, I went to a different doctor at the clinic. She specialized in women’s health and took her time to listen to me and look back on records. We both thought there was something more going on. And if not, I wanted to know what I was doing wrong.
She looked at me and said, “I think you have something called Interstitial Cystitis.” What? Excuse me, how do you even pronounce that? And what is that?!
She explained that Interstitial Cystitis is a chronic bladder problem that can mimic symptoms of a UTI. There are different theories as to what causes it and what treatments help the best but there is no strong supporting evidence. There is no cure and it can be difficult to find a treatment that helps.
She referred me to a specialist. This started a long journey of finding out what treatments work best for my body. There is a wide range of symptoms that can vary from woman to woman and with that, there is a long list of treatments that effects can vary from woman to woman.
I tried EVERYTHING. Literally everything. The diet, Hydrodistention procedure, Elmiron, physical activity, homeopathic treatments, and many more. Most of these would work for a short period of time.
I even went to see a naturopath who put me on an intense regimen of supplements, teas, and soaks. That just made me want to cry. It was so much work to keep up with and it didn’t really help. I just wanted a pill I could take once a day and forget about even having a chronic pain condition.
It seems that this disease gets smarter and smarter. A treatment will work for a while and then my IC catches on and the treatment will no longer work. I am always finding new things that help. I try to not overuse them to throw it off.
The newest thing I have found that has kept my symptoms under control has been CBD oil with hemp. I put a dropper full under my tongue and let it sit for 1-minute and then swallow. But note that not all CBD brands are legit. Some work great and some don’t work at all! The brand that has helped the best is Charlotte's Web. It has been by far the most helpful and takes my pain away within 30-minutes. I take it like an Ibuprofen. When I feel symptoms come on, I take it.
Another thing that has helped recently has been taking an antihistamine every day such as Zyrtec. After talking to a few other women who have this disease they said they have had great results with this method.
Six years later after my diagnosis, I am still finding new ways to help treat my IC. Constantly researching and talking to other women. I hope one day they find a cure but for right now the best thing I can do is make sure my symptoms are under control.
I used to cry every day and felt hopeless but today I choose to not let it ruin my life. I accept it and move on. I acknowledge everyone is fighting their own battle and mine just happens to be Interstitial Cystitis.
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