So a lot has happened since I last wrote. I went to a specialist who is a gynecologist and a urologist about my nearly constant bladder infections and all the pain and burning and was officially diagnosed with interstitial cystitis and vulvadynia, aka vulva vestibulitis. As awful as it is to be diagnosed with yet another disease, it’s a relief to finally have a diagnosis and to know it can be treated; not cured, but treated. Melinda Staten, the nurse practitioner, is an amazing woman full of energy, positive spirit, knowledge and caring. She answered all my questions and gave me the reasons why I had certain symptoms and issues.
For example, I’d often have the symptoms of a bladder infection: frequency and burning, pressure, pain, burning that I could not tell if it was vaginal or urethral, only that it hurt like crazy. My urine would also be cloudy which is a sign of white blood cells. Whenever I went to the doc, they would see the white blood cells and microscopic blood and would assume it was a urinary tract infection and would give me a course of antibiotics. Whenever they grew out the culture, it would come back with no bacteria present, therefore, no source of infection. Melinda explained that the white blood cells point to the body fighting inflammation and that it is a symptom of IC. She said that there is a protective layer of mucus surrounding the bladder and that it prevents waste from reaching the nerve endings and that some people’s mucus layer don’t regenerate like they should and that leaves holes so particles irritate the nerves. The nerves send warnings to nearby nerves so the body reacts to that, which is why my vagina would hurt, my back would hurt and everything else. She said that the antibiotics seemed to help the problem but that they probably didn’t do anything for me but that it was just the flare up ending on its own. And that, in fact, the antibiotics over time were making the situation worse since it triggers the body to react causing inflammation.
So the first things she is going to have me do is be tested for food allergies since they can cause or mimic flareups. I’m scheduled to see an allergist on March 7th. The test will take between 3 and 4 hours. So I’m expecting plenty of boredom and itching. I’ll be relieved, though, to find out what I’m allergic to so I can avoid those foods and start feeling better. Plus, years ago, an ex-girlfriend of a guy I was dating found out that she was allergic to sugar. She had been a big girl but when she cut out sugar, she lost a ton of weight. I’d love to find out that there’s something I’m eating that is causing me to be so plump. Though I hope it’s something like celery, not sugar. (Why is it always the yummy stuff so bad for us?)
She started me on UTA, which turns my urine blue. I feel so smurfy! She recommended Prelief, which neutralizes foods so by the time they reach the bladder, they won’t hit the sensitive nerve endings. My insurance doesn’t cover it but it isn’t majorly expensive. Besides, I can stop buying the cranberry capsules since while they are good for treating UTIs, they are highly acidic and cause pain to people with IC. She also recommended aloe vera capsules, preferably Healthy Harvest brand and said the cold something or other kind was the most effective for treating IC but I haven’t been able to find them. I have an appointment with her next week so I’ll see where she finds hers. They didn’t have them at Rainbow Blossom and when I asked the clerk specifically for them because my doctor personally recommended that brand, the clerk got her panties in a wad stating that all of their merchandise is of the highest quality and that the reason docs do that is because they get kickbacks for endorsing certain products, blah, blah, blah. Geez, sister, back off.
I’d been afraid to go to a urologist since I’ve heard the tests for IC can be painful. Melinda said that her patients are put under general anesthesia while the test is performed and that NO WOMAN SHOULD EVER HAVE TO TAKE IT WITHOUT BEING UNDER ANESTHESIA! In the test, they insert a catheter and overfill the bladder to expand it and look for holes in the protective layer. She didn’t say that I had to have it performed but that may be somewhere down the line. She did examine me and pushed on several parts of my pelvis while I was in the stirrups. The first location didn’t hurt a bit. The second location had me clinging to the ceiling. The third location didn’t hurt at all. She said I said, “Ow” exactly where I should have said “Ow” if I truly had IC. She said that if I didn’t have it, the poking and prodding wouldn’t have hurt at all. I’m glad to go through a test as simple as that. Hopefully I won’t have to do any others. But if I do, I know that Melinda will make sure it doesn’t hurt me. I have a lot of confidence in her.
I highly recommend her and her colleague Jan Eklund for anyone with gynecological or urological issues, especially IC.
Their information is Women’s Center for Gynecology & Bladder Disorders, 5512 Bardstown Road, Louisville, KY 40291, 502-239-9920. http://www.louisvillewomenscenter.com