Years ago I started support groups as an ICA volunteer in South Carolina and had the privilege to travel to other states to offer assistance to their coordinators. Instead of wallowing in “ain’t it awful,” I looked for how my situation could be used to my advantage. Along the path other conditions surfaced, which I thought originally were related to IC and now research is showing probable connections. These included IBS, allergies, Fibromyalgia, Vulvodynia, Vestibulitis, and food intolerances. With each added diagnosis I educated my health practitioners about the development and kept them informed. The result was they now look to me for updated information. They refer patients to me for support.
My story does not end there. Last year I went through a divorce, was diagnosed with colon cancer, and a blocked right carotid artery. Two surgeries within seven days and a two-week hospitalization took its toll on my already compromised body. Instead of whining about my situation I used the tools IC had taught me. I wrote articles, research papers, and journaled as the release for my anxiety and fear. I called on my support network of other IC patients to check on me and pray for me. They rallied around me as I had them in their “dark night of the soul.”
Here I am one year later and have added two more diagnoses to my growing list. They are Chronic Lyme’s disease and Heavy Metal Toxicity. The literature references a possible connection to my IC and cancer. Once again my writing afforded me the opportunity to publish an article in an on-line journal for social workers.
Now disabled, I have the time to rest, to write, to read all the research, and to educate patients and health practitioners alike. I am more centered, aware of my body, alert to changes in it, open to new techniques, and hopeful that research will bring us the knowledge of what can be done to lessen our pain and treat this all-encompassing condition. May you breathe deeply and rest in the assurance that you are not alone.