IC and the Mind-Body Connection
I was diagnosed with IC in 2001 by a urologist who was referred to me by my gynecologist after suffering for about a month with bladder pain. For nearly ten years I had bladder installations, although they only helped with pain relief for about a week, and I eventually stopped getting them due to concern about the possible side effects, and stiffening of my bladder muscles. I was unable to tolerate Elmiron, due to the need to take the pills on an empty stomach, which caused stomach pain. Next, I tried various opioid pain medications, but only got lasting relief with few side affects from Norco, which I still take as needed. When sitting and sleeping I also use a gel ice-pak, which is soothing and provides relief from burning bladder pain.
I always felt that my sudden onset of IC in 2001 – with no prior symptoms – was related to stress. Years of experience have led me to the conclusion that emotional stress significantly increases my bladder pain. Wanting to further investigate my belief, I have done considerable research and work on myself regarding the mind-body connection. The mind-body connection has had a profound impact on my well-being. For my own sake, I have removed all toxic people from my life, including relatives. I meditate daily, keep a gratitude journal, and do yoga and walk for exercise. In making my emotional health a priority, I have reduced my bladder pain to a tolerable level, as well as my dependency on pain meds.
Several years ago, I went to a pain specialist for a screening prior to possibly getting a pain pump surgically implanted. The next required step was to go to a psychiatrist to discern if my pain was psychological. In the end, I decided against the pain pump so I did not follow-up with the psychiatrist, but it was a big wake-up call for me to face the fact that perhaps my pain was at least partially caused by my thoughts. Consequently, I began seriously working on myself and my emotional patterns of behavior. My bladder pain can escalate from a 2 to a 10 if I experience emotional stress, especially if it is family-related, and old resentments and anger surface. When this happens, I now know to retreat to a quiet place, clear my mind, and do my deep breathing and yoga exercises. Swimming is also beneficial to me for relaxation.
I hope my story is helpful to others who suffer from IC.