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Don’t Tell Me What I Can’t Do

In 1999, when I was 16 years old, I was diagnosed with interstitial cystitis. I suffered for two years from the onset of symptoms to diagnosis. As a little girl, I had frequent bouts with bladder infections, and as I got older in my teenage years, it got worse. I was constantly in and out of hospitals.

At 15, I had a dermoid cyst on my ovary and had surgery to have it removed. After that, I was still in a lot of pain, so my gynecologist directed me to see another specialist because she suspected I had endometriosis. The new doctor advised me to have a cystoscopy because he supposed I had IC. The cystoscopy revealed that I had the worst case of IC the doctor had ever seen in someone so young. In addition to my diagnosis of both IC and endometriosis, I was also given the devastating news that I would likely never be able to have children.

IC caused me to miss a great deal of high school and many of the usual teenager experiences. For example, I was discharged from the hospital just a day before my senior prom. On the night I graduated from high school, I was in so much pain I could not go out with my friends to celebrate. After high school, I attempted to attend college, but unfortunately, my IC prevented me from finishing.

Treatment was not working, so my doctor and I agreed to try DMSO (Dimethyl sulfoxide). Finally I began to feel much better, and fortunately, that trend has continued. That is not to say that I do not continue to struggle at times. Like most IC patients, I have good days and bad days. There are still times when I am unable to get out of bed or walk, and I still go to the restroom often at night and at work. However, I’m now in my 30s and my two beautiful daughters are proof that you do not have to let IC control your life.