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Know There May Be Roadblocks

Randie Noell I get up every morning and face the day not knowing whether I’ll be having a good or difficult “IC bladder day.” Having had IC for over 23 years, I’ve been waking up with this question for 8,395 days. As a newly retired elementary school teacher, one of the best things about not working is that I no longer wonder what will happen if I’m having a “difficult day” and suddenly need to use the restroom—in a hurry—because a teacher just can’t walk out of her classroom whenever she needs to. In the 26 years I taught, I only had to leave for the restroom maybe 4 times. That’s pretty amazing, because it shows how well one can actually cope with an unpredictable chronic illness by simply pushing through a very uncomfortable feeling in order to get through the day.

And, so I am sitting here at my computer typing out my thoughts for “Stories of Hope” realizing that for the past 8,395 days I pretty much go through my days mostly “pretending” I’m just fine—even though I am actually not. From the very early days of my diagnosis I don’t allow my IC to get in my way. After lots of experimentation, I now know (most of the time) which medications or supplements to take that make me feel more comfortable—like Elmiron, calcium, Uribel, Atarax, Toviaz, Valium, Claritin, Zantac, and estrogen cream. Sometimes just a nice cup of chamomile tea and a heating pad are all I need.  Because I refuse to be sidelined by a cranky difficult chronic illness, I still travel a lot—with a backpack full of medicine to help keep me as comfortable as possible. When I’m not traveling, I walk several miles a week, take lots of yoga classes, shop, crochet, read lots of books, garden, attend symphonies, explore new places, play a role in my city’s government, meet friends for lunch, attend meetings, get facial treatments to help ward off wrinkles, search for new recipes, frequent consignment stores, get manicures and pedicures, etc. etc.

If there is a silver lining to having a chronic condition like IC, it is that you learn to just get up in the morning and just go through the day knowing that there may be a few roadblocks, but that there are always things that can be done to make you feel more comfortable. My mom once asked me what it felt like to have IC. When I told her it was like living with a bladder infection that never goes away, she asked why I’d never mentioned this before. My reply was easy—I simply asked her what difference it would make because even with the “inconvenience” of having IC I’d still be traveling, shopping, walking, going to yoga, meeting friends for lunch, etc. etc. etc.

Mrs. Randie Noell, California

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