Friday, September 5, 2014

What Is Your Interstitial Cystitis "New Normal?"

Thumbs up! Live Your Life!
Have you heard the phrase "new normal" which describes how a person  experiences life after diagnosis and treatment for an illness or chronic condition? It started to be used decades ago among cancer survivors, and many times people with conditions like interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome use it as well.

Simply put, "new normal" implies that you may never go back to the body or even mental state that you were in before you were diagnosed with interstitial cystitis, but you have reached a point in treatment where you feel better and have even developed coping skills that make navigating your painful bladder easier and maybe even automatic. 

For example, I am MUCH better than when I was first diagnosed with IC! I now look at the couple of years before and after my diagnosis as one long bladder flare where I had to learn to listen to my own body and not ignore what was happening. 

Obviously the IC diet is important, but I don't have to watch what I eat as much as I used to.  I still have several things I definitely cannot touch: Soy, cranberry juice (but I can have a few dried cranberries on a salad), strawberries, very spicy foods (although I can have a pinch of spice in something like guacamole), alcohol, any tea other than chamomile and mint (never did drink coffee), and "too many" tomatoes or citrus. I am at a point where I can have one "bad" thing a day and do well. I am always on the hunt for new recipes and food isn't the frightening thing it was 15 years ago.

If I start to feel some bladder twinges or increase in frequency above my "new normal," I go back to a strict IC diet, which for me involves a lot of water, eggs, toast, cottage cheese, and vegetables. I have learned that I need to get plenty of sleep. I watch my stress level  and have coping strategies for that also. I take Epsom salts baths when I need them (or just when I want them!), and I don't apologize for the medications I need to take occasionally because they improve my quality of life, something I lost for a few years! (There is a chapter on how to handle flares in Customizing the Interstitial Cystitis Diet: A Confident Choices® Book)

I still void more often than someone without IC/BPS (mostly in the morning), and my body reminds me about once a week what the feeling of urgency really is, but since I truly don't have pain anymore, I can live with those things and even manage them with a few tricks I have learned over the years, but the most important thing is that I don't fixate on them. That is my "new normal." 

How about you? What is your "new normal" with interstitial cystitis? Let's help the newly diagnosed among us learn some ways to enjoy their lives again!

Sending you all warm, end of summer hugs!

PS: Thank you Confident Choices® shoppers!  It seems you are getting the hang of clicking on the Confident Choices Amazon links to make your everyday purchases work for our cause.  As you can see below, each purchase may only generate a tiny amount, but added together it makes a difference:

Here are some recent and (fun!) purchases by our readers that helped raise $75.00 last month:

Timex Women's T21693Elevated Classics Dress Burgundy Leather Strap Watch
The Proactive Patient: Managing Interstitial Cystitis/Bladder Pain Syndrome and the Related Conditions
The Most Amazing Black Dress with Lots of Gold Sequins Made to Fit the Barbie Barbie Sized Doll
Genuine Elegante Adjustable Oxidized .925 Sterling Silver Spoon Ring with Swirl Motif

Julie Beyer, MA, RDN
Author, Speaker, Patient Advocate Freshen Up Your Meal Plans!

For step by step guidance for creating your own personal interstitial cystitis meal plan, see: Confident Choices®: Customizing the Interstitial Cystitis Diet.

For some basic, family-style, IC bladder-friendly recipes, see: Confident Choices®: A Cookbook for Interstitial Cystitis and Overactive Bladder

For health care workers:  Interstitial Cystitis: A Guide for Nutrition Educators 

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