...we may choose to ignore or fight: Or surrender to the truth we hear when we silent our struggle and listen.
They say it takes a woman up to 4 years to be correctly diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis. This is my story of how it took 14.
I wake up one night in my Seattle home and feel a bit odd, a strong sensation to pee mixed with pressure. I run to the bathroom and after releasing I still need to go, but nothing is there. Pressure continues and after a urine test shows no infection I take home some homeopathy and try to manage the pain.
It is the summer of 1998 and Patrick and I are in the middle of planning our wedding. I make a decision that goes against my heart. I am working a job I both love and dread in the pit of my belly. We are uniting two families who do things very differently, causing friction for both of us. The wedding is taking place in Maine in October. The pain spreads into my lower back. I go to the bathroom a few times an hour.
We rush off to the clinic, Bastyr, where once again, I simply have no infection. I have to pee in a cup each time and it takes forever due to the pain and feeling of urgency mixed with nothing coming out. I tell my sweet doctor who is a student of natural medicine and healing about the decision I made and the wedding. She scolds me sweetly for not telling her sooner, a new homeopathic remedy and a promise that I will speak from my heart -- out the door I go once again.
Within hours the pain starts to subside. I still have extreme pain during sex, I am covered in psoriasis all over my face.
I am diagnosed with Candidiasis (a systemic yeast overgrowth in my body) and I follow the Candida diet to the letter. I feel amazing and whole. I marry my love in October in Maine, holding hands and dreaming of what shall come next in our lives.
In 2000 my first miscarriage leads to a D&C, my body will not release the pregnancy, so after what had been about 6-7 weeks, I agree to the surgery. I cannot pee after. Nothing will come out but I have to go and my bladder is filling. To be released from the hospital I must pee so I sit in the bathroom and squeeze as hard as I can, finally something comes out, I can go home.
I sit on the toilet at home long into the night crying because I still can't release my bladder. I can feel it spasm and in pain. I am so full I feel like I might explode. I turn out the light, sitting only with a candle. I eat catnip. I relax. Finally, I pee.
Living no longer near the clinic that treats with homeopathy and kindness I am thrown into a medical world. Each time my bladder flares up and doesn't show on the urine test as infected, I am sent home with antibiotics (hello systemic yeast overgrowth) because I must have an infection, I show all the signs of it. Being in so much pain I take them, praying that it will help.
Years pass, three children are born. Time floats along and it is 2011.
I feel nauseous one evening as I go to sleep, a bit light headed. I wake up to the most incredible pains, making labor feel easy (which it wasn't). Patrick takes me to the emergency room where I am put through a cat scan. I show no infection on a urine test. Through my pain I try to explain to the doctor on duty that my bladder infections never show up, that I have flare ups when I'm stressed or sad, that my body reacts to the way my mind is processing, that I...
Patrick holds my hand. He watches the blank face of the doctor who could care less about my stress. He wishes he could take the pain away for me. He doesn't realize he is doing more to heal me by being next to me, loving me, than any emergency room can do.
In my doctor's office the next day, the closest place I have found to a compassionate doctor who listens to me, she tells me that I have a large kidney stone and I do not have UTIs. I have what is called Irritable Bladder, it is brought on by stress or caffeine and if I can stay away from caffeine and manage my stress I can keep it calm. Finally, some answers. I don't think much more of it, but am careful to monitor my caffeine.
In the 14th year, since the first flare up, I have now learned the pattern. I feel nauseous, diarrhea, pressure when I pee, urine cloudy and sometimes lightly bloody, light headed, back pain, chills and waking to pee up to 6 times a night. I know when I've eaten too many foods that cause yeast overgrowth or am in a stressful place, not processing my feelings, that I will need to spend some time resting and flushing my bladder with water and my heart with love.
Another flare up sets in, now 14 years later, though even as a child I remember being the one who always had to stop to pee. I am processing old pain, and feeling ashamed of my body. When it is particularly bad my bladder spasms and I leak urine, yep, pee my pants. I can avoid caffeine, but stress! Ha! I. Am. Trying. We hold pain memory from traumatic times, it can flare up just as the bladder symptoms can.
A friend on FB says, I think you have Interstitial Cystitis. I Google it. Irritable bladder = Interstitial Cystitis. I read everything I can. Holy Shit. 14 years later I understand, as much as I can what is going on. While it is unknown what causes it and there are very few treatments, I finally know I am not alone. I am not broken. This is an auto immune/mind and body connection diagnosis all in one. I am not broken.
I surrender to the truth that this is not something that I can just fix. This is part of my truth. Revealing that my body is not in perfect working order is about as vulnerable as walking down the street naked to me. (Especially the pee in my pants part.)
When I surrendered to the truth that this is part of my whole self, I started to gather the support around me that will make it possible to heal. This too, a lesson I am given from the Universe over and over. Giving is my abundance, but without learning to receive that abundance will never manifest fully.
I will heal from this, because I am no longer fighting against it. I will heal from this because it is not an excuse or a weakness, it is part of my truth. I will heal from this because I see a time when the pain is gone and my bladder is strong and calmed. Waves on the beach. Strong yet soft. Lulling in their sound which is at the heart of our Universe.
I will heal.
I have surrendered to the truth.
I am listening.
Surrender is a vulnerable place to step into. It is the only place where we can see fully the beauty of our lives and the potential of greatness and joy that we are born to be.
I'm surrendering and inviting you with me.