As many of my close friends know, my health has kind of been an issue for the last two years. After my hysterectomy in May of 2006 it seems my body decided it was time to give me a good dose of reality. You see, I have never really been sick. I have had the usual childhood diseases (measles, mumps etc) and I did have aseptic meningitis after Zach was born, but on the whole I have been very healthy. Kind of took it for granted. I had no fear of doctors or hospitals because I knew that if I ever came down with anything, they could fix it. Oh, the innocence of the unafflicted!
In October of 2006, I had a urinary tract infection. Never had one of those and I didn't like it one bit. I went to the doctor, they put me on antibiotics and I fully expected it to go away. It did get better, but kept coming back. After 3 rounds of antibiotics, it never truly went away. During this time my hormones were down in the dungeon. My body was in shock from the hysterectomy, having no hormones and then the UTI hit. I guess my bladder said, "I am not happy and I am going to tell you about it." I had pain, terrible pain, bladder spasms and everything seemed to hurt. I went to doctor after doctor. No one could help me. They couldn't understand why I was having this continued pain and no bacteria was showing up when they tested me for the UTI.
Being the resourceful person I am, I got on-line. I was desperate to find out what was happening to me. I spent many hours researching. Surprisingly, there are not many diseases of the bladder. However I did find one that fit my symptoms. So I found a doctor who specializes in this disease and went to Lubbock to see if this was truly what I had. After a bladder procedure entitled the "potassium sensitivity test" which is just as fun as it sounds. This involves putting potassium into your bladder. If it hurts, you have Interstitial Cystitis. Mine hurt-bad-I wanted to jump off the table. Evidently, my bladder lining is falling apart. The GAG layer (weird name) keeps the acidic urine from touching the nerve endings in your bladder. People with this disease begin to lose their GAG layer. Hence the pain. So I was diagnosed with IC-Interstitial Cystitis
Here is the kicker: No one knows what causes IC, there is no cure, and there are over 700,000 people in the US alone that have this disease. Many have it so much worse than I do. They are not able to work, they go to the bathroom up to 60 times a day, and their bladder gets smaller and smaller because it is scarring over trying to protect itself. If you have ever had a UTI, these people put up with that pain times 10 each day of their lives.
So far, my symptoms have been minimal. I do have pain, but most days I can handle the pain. I even have a few days that are pain free. I rejoice in those days. I keep praying that mine will not progress and so far this has held true. My doctor is wonderful and has me on the only treatment they have that works on 20% of the cases. I am praying that I am one of the 20 percent. I am careful about eating acidic foods. I take my meds. I rest when I need to. My friends have prayed with me and have been great about supporting me through this. My mom has heard me cry for hours on the phone. My husband is a saint and always really wants to know how I am doing each day.
I guess I needed to share this because I was a person that really didn't understand when people had pain or diseases. There are millions of people each day walking around this world trying to hold up and do what they need to do, but are doing it in pain. I believe the Lord gave me the blessing of having IC so that my eyes would be open to those who quietly suffer. I needed to grow in patience towards others "having a bad day." This "bad day" may be because they are doing the best they can to hold themselves up. I needed to see suffering from this side to truly know and understand.
I just found out that one of my friends from school has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Before, I would have told her I would pray for her and that is a good thing. I believe in the power of prayer. Now, however, I want to hug her and let her cry and tell me everything. I want her to know that I will be there to talk about it and she can tell me how she is feeling and I will never grow tired of hearing her story. I want to tell her it is okay to be angry with the disease and it is okay to have days to just rest and to not worry about what people will think if she misses another day of school or an important event.
So, I am learning my lesson. I pray that I will be more tolerant, kind, merciful and will react with the heart and mind of Jesus. I want to remember that every person on this earth is suffering from something-maybe not physical, but some kind of hurt. If you know someone who is going through a bad time today, give them a call, send a card, reach out in some way. It makes a difference-it really does.