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Don’t Give Up!

First of all, let me acknowledge that I have not been officially diagnosed with IC. That said, I am sure I have had IC for the last four years. The first specialist I consulted booked me for a cystoscopy, but could not diagnose me. Despite the issues I was having, I kept living my life as though nothing was wrong, not being aware of what was causing all the terrible pain, the constant urge to urinate, and the bladder pressure and pain. Some days I went to the toilet every 30 minutes. Some days it would be better, and some days it would be much worse. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason, and this frustrated me and made me a bit depressed. Whenever I would leave my home, I always had to know the location of the nearest toilet, and who I was traveling with because they needed to be understanding and willing to stop frequently. Over time, I grew tired of the constant pain – often intense enough to make my eyes water.

I began extensively researching all the symptoms and found an abundance of information on IC available on the ICA website. Once I had an idea what I was dealing with, I was determined to beat it. I saw a specialist who agreed that IC was likely the problem, but who also recommended I have another cystoscopy to confirm our suspicion, which I did not undergo. Believing I had an infection, my general practitioner gave me antibiotics, which neither of us felt would actually succeed considering I’d tried them before. As expected, I finished the antibiotics, with little impact.

What finally made a difference was changing the way I ate. After completing the course of antibiotics, I waited a while and started following the IC diet very strictly and stopped smoking (I had been smoking for 12 years). These two life changes proved to be key in my road to remission. I began feeling better almost immediately, making me very excited. I now feel I am almost normal again and that I can manage my IC on my own. The dietary changes have helped tremendously. All the research clearly stated the deleterious effect smoking has on the bladder, and quitting has almost certainly contributed to my improving IC symptoms. Despite knowing better, I still have an alcoholic drink now and then, and the consequences are not good, but fortunately I don’t drink often. I have learned that those foods that irritate my bladder can make my life miserable so I have stopped consuming them. Maintaining the IC diet takes work – you have to put in the effort to know what is in the foods you eat, and I am still learning what causes pain. There are still foods that make me very uncomfortable, and I will try bringing some of them back at a later stage, one at a time, but I can say from experience that you must keep trying different things, take notes, stick to the diet, and most of all don’t give up!

Wesley Barnes