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On The Trail to Recovery

My name is Erica Welu and I live in Hill City, South Dakota. I was diagnosed with interstitial cystitis in 2006 while living in Sioux Falls, SD. Bladder infections began to plague me starting in high school. They would recur several times a year, more and more frequently, until eventually I felt like I had one nearly all the time. Since the diagnosis, I have tried many medical and alternative treatments. What ultimately seems to be the best treatment for me is a combination of medications (Elmiron, Tramadol, Methylphenidate, Vesicare, and Voltaren gel applied topically over the bladder), taking Prelief daily (more as a medicine than taking it with acidic foods), taking D-Mannose daily, and taking a bladder-specific antibiotic (nitrofurantoin) every time I have sexual intercourse. What’s more, following the IC diet and staying gluten free as much as possible have helped tremendously.

I am married and have two girls (ages 13 and 16) and have not had to work since my first child was born. This has been a blessing as it has afforded me greater ability to focus on my health. I spend a lot of time reading about health and diet-related topics. After recently finishing another diet book, I decided to take up running, which is something I have never done before in my life. Bloodwork from my most recent physical showed my total cholesterol and LDL (“bad cholesterol”) were somewhat high and my vitamin D level to be substantially low. Hopefully this new daily outdoor running will help improve those levels.

I just completed running the Mickelson Trail in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota. The crushed stone trail starts in Deadwood (Mile Marker 110) and extends 110 miles south to Edgemont (Mile Marker 0). Completing the trail took 25 days. My husband helped me on some days by dropping me off at one point and picking me up at my destination. The week before I started running the trail, I decided to dedicate the journey to my good friend who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. As a reminder, I had a t-shirt made specifically for my adventure. Emblazoned on the front is a line from the song, “Superheroes” by The Script: “Every Day Every Hour Turn Your Pain Into Power.” The back proudly proclaims, “On The Trail to Recovery,” with a map of the Mickelson Trail.

Living with interstitial cystitis is difficult and life-changing. Every day is a challenge. I am 45 years old and have a long time left to live with it. Eight years post-diagnosis I think I am just starting to embrace the challenge.

Erica Welu