As you can see from my brief bio on the We All See IC blog sidebar, I've had bladder issues since I was a child.  At the age of four, I underwent a procedure to widen my urethra.  This procedure was very common at the time but was extremely invasive and often misused by urologists.  This procedure appears to have helped set the stage for me for even greater bladder issues (eventually leading to my IC) and also left me with significant post-surgery trauma and an extreme level of health anxiety.

With the exception of the bladder stuff, I had regular childhood viruses and illnesses, nothing out of the ordinary.  My UTI's finally stopped at age 14 and didn't reoccur in my 20's or 30's unless I was lazy about hygiene.  Inflammation started showing with my skin and eyes in my 20's but it was usually treated by some medication by a MD.  It went away and I didn't think twice about it.

Until I turned 29, when I had some severe inflammation issues with my eyes. For some reason, my conjunctiva would ulcerate.  It felt like someone was pouring acid into my eyes.  It happened once and I treated it with meds and didn't think about it.  Until it happened again and again.  This time the doctors couldn't conclusively tell me what was wrong with me.  The solution they offered was long-term treatment with tetracycline and topical steroids.  I was not about to deal with the side effects of long-term tetracycline use, so I opted to treat the inflammation through diet.

I became Macrobiotic and followed a healing version of the diet for almost three years.  For inflammation, Macrobiotics was great.  For other bodily functions, not so much.  I lost a significant amount of weight and became too obsessed with the diet.  After four years, I stopped practicing the diet and kept my intake of inflammatory foods very low.  It was after I introduced things like sugar, eggs, nightshades, and chocolate back into my diet that I started getting what I called the "UTI fakeout".  Sometimes after eating a meal at a restaurant (I could tell if they used table salt instead of unprocessed salt), I would get a burning sensation in my urethra.  Although it was annoying, I could always make it calm down by drinking large amounts of water or kukicha tea and use a hot water bottle.

I think that it was at this time that I put two and two together and realized that I might have a mild version of IC.  Since it was so inconsistent and kind of infrequent, it didn't affect my life and so I went on without making any changes.  At 37, I became pregnant and had a relatively uneventful pregnancy.  Even after I delivered my son, I rarely had any IC issues.  I almost thought that they were a thing of the past.

Fast forward to last summer.  I had a year of extremely stressful events one after another.  In August, my body just gave up and IC came roaring back.  This time it wasn't responding to anything and I became extremely frightened.  It was a hellish couple of months before I could get any kind of treatment.  I did go the conventional route because I was afraid that I was going to lose it from the constant pain and burning but in December, I started seeing an herbalist and acupuncturist.  Both started to have me feeling better consistently.

Through my work with them, I began to see that most of my flares were tied up with my menstrual cycle.  Suddenly, things started to make sense.  I realized that my hormones kicked in at age 14, which is maybe the reason why I stopped having regular utis.  It's also probably the reason why I felt so IC free during my pregnancy and afterwards (I breastfed for six month).  My hormones are definitely a key part of my IC.

I've also learned that stress is huge for me, as is the ptsd that I hold from my procedure at four.  I'm beginning to learn that I might have a histamine issue as well.  Atarax, a common IC treatment as well as a prescription antihistamine, actually helped to relieve some of the constant burning.

I currently use diet, herbs, acupuncture, meditation, bodywork, therapy, and conventional meds to manage my IC.  My plan is to go off the meds, scale back on the other treatments and use diet and meditation to live with my IC.  Many of my posts will be about the role of hormones in IC and how the mind works with the body in cases of chronic illness.  Thank you for reading my story!

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