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Trust Yourself, Love Yourself

My name is Erika Kerr. I’m 30 years old and I’m from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. I was diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis when I was 25 years old, but had been battling it for some time before being diagnosed. If I think back, I guess I’ve had bladder issues since I was a little girl because I remember having to take antibiotics for bladder infections, and having to stop at rest stops a lot when taking road trips. However, things got a lot worse when I was 20 years old because I began developing kidney stones. At the time, I lived in Edmonton, Alberta. I was unable to pass the stone and had to get a stint. Needless to say, after a very tough few weeks, the stint was removed and I decided to move back east with my family.

When I moved back home, I was hoping to feel better and get my health back on track. However, due to some unforeseen circumstances, that didn’t happen. By the time I was 23, I had three more separate kidney stone/stint episodes, and had numerous medical procedures to try and pinpoint what the issue was. I lost my parents two years apart from one another, one of cancer and one of heart disease, and I was still feeling physically terrible and had no idea why. Things seemed to keep getting worse. It hurt to pee, I was getting burning sensations, I felt irritated to sit down or even stand up at times, and I was going to the bathroom over 30 times a day. Work was impossible because I couldn’t concentrate most days, and was always in emergency rooms or doctors’ offices in a lot of pain.

I had been feeling terrible for years, and wanted to give up. Some people questioned me, while others were more supportive. However I knew my body and I knew there was something wrong, so I didn’t give up. Instead I did some research, and with the encouragement and suggestions from a few friends, I decided to go back to my urologist and discuss possibilities of what I thought was wrong, and where to go from there. My urologist suggested I have a cystoscopy. I agreed and had the procedure done.

That was a critical moment. I was diagnosed with interstitial cystitis immediately after the procedure and was put on two medications. After about six months of getting acclimated to the medications, I felt a bit of a difference but not enough to make me comfortable. My urologist then suggested he do a bladder distension. The distension helped, but only took the edge off the burning and irritation and frequency. Since the distension wasn’t helping in the way we hoped, we decided to go further and do bladder installations. I did them once a week for a month, then every two weeks for a few months, and worked my way to once a month for a few months. After almost a year of bladder installations, I felt better – almost like a normal person. I was so shocked and happy to feel better. It was one of the best feelings in the world, and I’m happy to say that even though I have to get bladder installations every few years, most days I am still feeling well.

I’m now 30, engaged to be married, and about to start a business with my amazingly supportive husband-to-be. Even though I had some doctors and people who didn’t support me, and even though they were the hardest ten years of my life, I never gave up on myself. I can’t thank my family, friends, and my amazing urologist enough for never giving up on me either.

I hope my story can inspire people battling IC to never give up on yourself. Trust yourself, love yourself and have hope that one day there will be a cure.

Erika Kerr

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