A very good place to start.
I lived for almost 28 years without Interstitial Cystitis. In fact, up until June '08, I had no idea IC was even a real disease.
It was a good life! I like to think that I still have a good life. There are certainly days where I question that. Where I question my health. Where I question my purpose in life. Where I question why my husband is still faithfully by my side, still loving me, after all we've been through.
My husband & I were married in September 2007. It was a wonderful fall day! It was more than either of us dreamed it would be. Best friends, now friends bonded together forever.
So, we fast-forward to June 2008. I started to notice the symptoms of a urinary tract infection. Since we didn't have insurance I was downing cranberry pills like crazy & hoping that it was something that would just go away. Finally, after an excruciating trip to the zoo, in which I was having to use the restroom every 30 minutes or so, my husband insisted I go to the urgent care clinic.
I found it extremely embarrassing that I had to follow the nurse around the clinic, while she carried a clear cup of my urine (stained a dark red from using AZO tablets), but since then, with all the medical exploits I've been through, that was really a piece of cake!
The doctor said I did have a UTI, and he also lectured me on the dangers of not treating one, with kidney disease being a possibility. He prescribed antibiotics, which we actually got, in-clinic, from a cool little vending machine they have.
Two weeks later, my symptoms were back. Tried another round of antibiotics.
Two weeks later, you guessed it. Urgency, pain & frequency!
I felt like I was going crazy. I started counting how many trips I was taking to the bathroom, and it had felt like it doubled over what I normally would need! It was averaging about 13 or so per day, and I would find myself getting up in the middle of the night at least 2-3 times!
My husband went full-time at work, and at the beginning of 2009 we had insurance! So I picked a doctor, and went to see him. In retrospect, I didn't make a good choice, and that put a strain on our budget, plus created just that many more months before I found the answers I needed.
I had seen the new doctor 3 times, and each time he pushed my urinary symptoms off as something unimportant. My sister, a nurse, told me that it was common for people to get a 2nd opinion. Thanks to her, I switched to my current doctor, and I couldn't be happier! He's supportive of my trials & health problems, plus he has been encouraging about my weight loss goals & achievements. And... the very first time I saw him & told him about my urinary symptoms, he said he thought it sounded like Interstitial Cystitis! (At that point, the only other time I had heard about IC was in an issue of Cosmo magazine! And I had pointed it out to my husband & pondered whether that was what I had!)
My doctor pushed me to go see a urologist, who greatly suspected IC & in turn, sent me to a genito-urologist who specializes in Interstitial Cystitis.
A year after my first UTI, I was in the office of my new genito-urologist, getting prepared for diagnosing Interstitial Cystitis.
I'm going to end my post here, as the diagnosing process is equal to a post of its own.
If you think you may have intersitial cystitis, take this self-screener & give the results to your doctor: http://www.orthoelmiron.com/yoursymptomsic_selfscreener.html
The Interstitial Cystitis Association can be reached on the web: http://www.ichelp.org/
The best place to reach out to other IC patients is the Interstitial Cystitis Network, and their support forums: http://www.ic-network.com/