My 11 Year Journey to “Curing” my Painful Bladder Disease IC Intersitial Cysistis…
First things first… Let me start by saying that I am not a doctor, a physician or anyone who knows anything about anything medical related. Let’s get real, I am an interior designer. The girl who flinches when I see a drop of blood. ALWAYS consult with a physician before starting any type of “die” or cleanse or fasting or anything mentioned in this post. I am simply sharing my research, my experience and the pain relief I have found from this debilitating disease..
Good morning! “Happy” Thursday! Hope everyone is hanging in there as we all go through this Coronavirus craziness together. Praying hard every single day that we all make it out safe and healthy and stronger than ever. I truly believe that good will come from all of this in the end somehow and in some way. If nothing else, a shift in focus to what is truly important in life and how we can all live and find happiness with so much less “busy-ness” than this world has become.
Now with all of that important life stuff aside, let me take you on a journey. A really painful one. I have pulled some of this from a post I did several years ago but I wanted to share an overview of how I have tackled and somewhat overcome this disease. But first things first, a “reshare” of my journey… Eleven years ago I was diagnosed with a bladder disease. A bladder disease called Interstitial Cystitis and what is now also known as Painful Bladder Syndrome. A disease that is sometimes all consuming and absolutely life altering. A disease without a known cause and a disease without a cure. A disease that is absolutely horrible. Something I would not wish on my worst enemy. Truly. After back to back UTIs (probably my first ever actually!) and continued pain, I was referred to a Urologist where I underwent MISERABLE testing from a camera up my bladder while I was awake to a pressure thing up my booty. Not even kidding. Testing that resulted in a life changing diagnosis at the ripe ole age of 27. A diagnosis that I genuinely thought would ruin my life. A diagnosis that resulted in so much pain all day everyday for so long that I truly never ever thought my life would be the same.
Fast forward to today and I am no longer the girl who believes I have been cursed with a painful condition that I will have for the rest of my life. I am now a girl who truly believes in the power of food as healing and in the possibilities of unconventional medicine. After gaining a ton of weight (around 100lbs) and suffering horrible side effects from anxiety medication thirteen years ago, I do not like medicine. You can read all about my weight loss journey HERE. Doctors have tried prescribing me pills to “maybe” mask the pain of my IC (interstitial cystitis) for years and years now and I have aways declined. I have found what works for me, what foods to avoid and how to deal with flare-ups and I have just stuck with that plan. For over a decade now. I just KNEW there HAD to be something out there! And there is. For me at least and I am hoping it is all tips and tricks and ideas that will work just as well for some of you. Today I am sharing my “secrets” to how I have “cured” my IC.
Okay… Okay… I use the term “cure” very very very loosely. MY IC is not and possibly never ever will be CURED. I just know that when I Googled relief over these last eleven years that is exactly what I searched… “how to CURE interstitial cystitis”. So I say “cure” in hopes that people find my blog post and find huge amounts of relief. Relief that results in getting your life back. Results that will put your IC into remission once and for all.
Let’s rewind once again to eleven years ago. I was given a diagnosis and basically a prognosis that I would have “bladder infection” pain for the rest of my life. And although it seemed that way for so so so long, I refused to believe it. I refused to believe that prescription medecine was my only option. And I was RIGHT! I wish I could say that the road has been quick and easy but it has not. Whatsoever. I’ve had hard days and flare ups over the years but overall I can honestly say that I have gotten myself to a point today where I can drink coffee and wine and eat tomatoes and limes and I have very little to no daily pain. It’s funny because I’ve had people swear to me on social media that there’s no way I have IC for the way I am able to eat but I can 1,000% assure you that I do. I spent YEARS in crippling pain, MONTHS at a time eating nothing but rice and chicken and DAYS and DAYS in tears.
So how did I do it? First things first… CLEANSE YOUR SYSTEM! There are lots of options for doing so but I would HIGHLY suggest ditching sugar, caffeine, alcohol and acidic fruits COMPLETELY for 4-6 weeks. Ugh yes, it’s hard and awful and terrible but it is SOOOO WORTH IT!!!! I did it about four years ago and it was the jumpstart I needed to get my IC into remission. In some ways way easier and in some ways way harder than I imagined. I started out week one with a simple lessening of sugar intake, zero alcohol and zero acidic foods. I added half of the sugar to my coffee and avoided sweets but didn’t research labels or avoid other forms of sugar like honey and agave. About nine days in, I then decided to start ditching it ALL. Like I said before, this is not forever and you will thank yourself for the rest of your life if you can stick to it. Literally. I did get quite a few headaches and DEFINITELY felt irritable and cranky for a week or so. However, what I was most surprised about was my lack of cravings after about ten days.
Next, during this “cleanse of all things not IC friendly”, I would also suggest adding high pH water (7+) into your routine. This will be a step that you’ll pretty much continue forever in my “IC curing” opinion. As I sit here today typing, I am finishing up a bottle of water that has a pH of 9+. I would suggest increasing your high pH water intake slowly because as it detoxes your body, it may give you headaches. I try and drink at least 8 ounces of high pH water per day but there were literally years where I was drinking 32 ounces or more a day to really cleanse the acidity from my bladder.
Another step I suggest including during your first 6-8 weeks is a broth cleanse. I blogged the one I do HERE! I also fast for 24-48 hours when I drink this broth but that is up to you! During one of my last and honestly worst flare-ups three Thanksgivings ago, I fasted for 48 hours and drank this and it literally took me from a pain level of 10+ to like a 2 by the 48 hour mark!
Whew! Okay sorry that was a lot and I’m sure a wee bit overwhelming but once again, IT IS WORTH IT!!!!! And hopefully something you will only need to do ONCE! As far as foods, I feel like lots of people may be different and it may be a huge learning process but I have found that I have to COMPLETELY avoid (still to this day and probably forever)… bananas and asparagus (too much potassium), lemons, cranberries, all fake sugar and Advil. Yes, ADVIL! It is the worst for IC!
Another bit of advice that I have for pain relief is to use a heating pad as needed. This is simply for pain relief and not for “curing” your IC. I slept with a heating pad for literally a decade. It was the ONLY way I could sleep at night because my pain was so intense for so long. I just recently have been able to sleep without one!
One of the stranger bits of advice I have is to seek pelvic floor physical therapy. Some call this one of the most proven ways to seek IC relief. It was literally the weirdest thing you will ever do BUT it freaking works!!! With IC pain, the muscles around your pelvic floor become so tight with continued tension that it begins to further irritate the nerves that run through the pelvis. I found sooooo much relief in seeing a pelvic floor physical therapist! Once I went several times, I was able to get an idea on how to do some of this therapy at home and have since done so on my own. You can even get your partner to help you with the massaging!
And lastly, supplements. Here are all of the supplements I swear by for IC… Oh and before, I go FIRST I truly truly hope this helps even one person find HUGE relief from IC. It is such a terrible diagnosis but there is hope! Second, do share what works for you! I would LOVE to hear feedback and your tips as well!
XOXO, Brittany Hayes