Wellness-ing Interstitial Cystitis, an Invisible Illness

When work-stress strikes, so does lack of nutrition and exercise in the big picture..

There’s something magical about the ocean that heals from within… it’s a an essential part of my recoveryHot or Cold, just go often…

Here is my IC story, it goes a lot deeper, but some things are meant not to publish.

One year ago I miraculously ‘cured’ myself from 8 months of an unbearable bladder pain condition caused by my nerves, stress and diet. Having no real outlet from the abundance of urological specialists in Miami who could not identify my symptoms, I then researched online for ways to cope. It wasn’t until I went to the very last recommended physician, a Urogynecologist, Dr Yavagal, in South Miami Baptiste Hospital who sat with me and worked through my journey since inception to figure out a potential diagnosis, which she trimmed down to being Interstitial Cystitis, a bladder pain disease, with constant urgency to urinate. I never felt so much gratitude towards someone, I was so happy I found her.

Let’s scroll back to January 2018, when a major transition in management rendered in my place of work, in the hospitality industry. Dysfunction, for lack of a better term added to how many insiders who would agree, the many increased hours and work overload leaving me practically nocturnal, and working nonstop. Effecting my mood, my ability to socialize and motivation to exercise or make healthy food decisions, combined with having to reprove myself again and again, and again. (which I’ve sort of gotten used to working in 3 transitional old hotels, but this by far was the cherry on top).

Bikram Yoga, A huge stress reliever for me. It’s not for everyone, but the 107 degree room helps to detox and eliminate muscle aches and pains.

I started cycling in my gym at home and immediately felt some pain in my urethra, thought i pulled something, but realized after a second and third time that it was contributing to something that was causing this sharp, knife-jabbing pain on the left wall of my urethra, so cycling quickly ended. I thought it was from swimming or using the jacuzzi, so I took a break from that activity too. Finally I couldn’t eat or drink anything without feeling urgency to urinate, Id run to the bathroom 30+ times per day but my bladder was empty. Then I couldn’t insert tampons without feeling intense discomfort, followed by out-of-nowhere extreme pain so bad I couldn’t sit, think, or do anything other then leave work to come home and sit in a hot or cold bathtub to find relief. I then was so dehydrated I ended up in the emergency room with a kidney stone. (Thanks to the South Beach firemen who transported me, I sent them each a spa day). My symptoms went from bad to worse, and everything I tried and every physician I went to, couldn’t figure out the problem. I had 8 gynecological exams last year, including a bladder installation to help medicate and relieve my insides, I took various over the counter Flora supplements which help to a certain point, and took various medications. Nobody could give me an answer and I was knee-deep in expenses. I had gotten used to feeling uncomfortable, while trying to find an alternative solution in a moment where I didn’t know what to do. I tried loads of therapies to find any level of tranquility. By Summertime, my life was revolved around this and nobody can help. While all of this was happening, working around the clock in such a toxic environment, I remained reserved about it on the job, but at home, I was lost.

Chefs & Champagne By James Beard Foundation, a spectacular East End food event showcasing top chefs from around the globe

Before I knew it, my vacation had begun! Out in Montauk for the week, I noticed my discomfort was NOT so massive. I was feeling good, so I knew stress was a contributing factor. It wasn’t until my last day, I was at one of my favorite annual James Beard food events on the East End of the Hamptons, sampling gourmet bites from the worlds finest chefs at a serene estate, was the start of my turning point. I looked forward to this all year, but the mixed food intake contributed greatly in a moments notice. I was in complete agony. Seeing a huge line to the bathroom, all I can think of is finding sense of relief but I was stuck. It was hot, I was uncomfortable and I needed to get out of there. Knowing I had to travel back to Westchester on the jitney a few hours later, being on that bus was the most horrifying experience of my life.. I was seriously ready to pay top tourist dollar in peak high season for a hotel just to sit in the bathtub, I didn’t think i would make it home. I thought I was going to be that person who had to make an emergency stop to go to a hospital. The only solution was to pull myself together, focus, breathe slowly, calm myself down and meditate on the area of tremendous pain, which then minimized it to zero by the time I reached the last stop in midtown NYC. I finally used the nature of what I preach to my clients and guests on myself …and it worked!

One day later i flew home to Miami, went into work early before the spa opened to get situated, and by noon I had learned that myself and several other leaders jobs were being cut, our departments soon closing for renovations. While I was not totally surprised, I was devastated. The energy I put into that place, the belittling I dealt with. I came home asking God why does this have to happen, AGAIN? I work in the most ridiculous industry on earth and every old transitioning hotel does this. I work SO hard to paint this canvas, and all taken away in one shot. Deep inside I knew I was miserable. I hated the disorganization, the unqualified peers, the ones who didn’t support my efforts, and those who were plain jealous…but it was my blessing from so early.

The first two people I called, were my two former bosses (not the family, I couldn’t put them through that again!), one told me to go have a glass of rosé by the pool and confirmed I’ll be fine. The other said to trust God , when the timing is right, i’ll hit the pavement running. I did just that and that is exactly what had happened. (more like a glass of water in my bathtub but I got the message!) I meditated daily. I started to write again. I never felt so much weight come off me so fast. I slept and slept and slept….

On this very same day, last day of the month, I received a call from the doctors office — they found red blood cells in my urine and needed to take a special medication immediately. The last day my health insurance existed, I quickly picked up my prescription and that help spearhead a solution for the pain, but I knew it wasnt enough. I had to fix my diet, I had to research. I joined a support group to find like-minded people going through the same things as me. It was still there but my stress was diminishing by the day, the week, the hour… and so was my condition.

I read articles on pelvic floor excersises that I heard could help. Of course! excersicing the area is movement and movement is good! I started working on this on my own and felt a difference! Thanks to yoga friend who came to my home and did pelvic floor excersises with me out of good faith, teaching concentration and breathing into that area. I read about citrus & and spicy foods that contribute to IC, so I visited Joe and the Juice which just opened downstairs from me and was life changing how delicious and healthy the ‘Joe’s Green Mile” juice made me feel. I cleaned out my fridge and took a trip to WholeFoods with a list of what has helped others. I stopped eating meat on the spot, and most importantly, eliminated dairy which was a contributing factor. This still stands today. I pick and choose wisely now but I was never health conscious, counting calories or dieting. I had no choice but to change my habits, and THAT is a tough one. This was Laura time, a gift from above. In the moment not knowing whats next was tough, but I’m a big believer in intuition and I felt it talking daily. My condition dissipated within a month, it was literally gone. I decompressed for approximately three months and before starting a new career. I’m still sipping my Joe’s Green Mile.

Today I am an advocate to support those who are going through this invisible, exhausting and painful disease. I’m a member of several Interstitial Cyctitis support groups for women giving advice and empathy to those suffering. What works for one, may not work for another but I found my cocktail and try to implement whats worked for me to others. I continue to watch my diet and be aware of contradictions to bringing on anxiety and stress so not to bring this on. Transitioning to work back in my very first spa employer, in a greater role that I was longing for, has given me the ability to have real work/life balance too…

I hope I can continue connecting and supporting others going through this battle, integrating positive reinforcement and shed some light!

In good health,

~WOS

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