My story of Interstitial Cystitis dates back many years. It seems now that every minute of my life has influenced so much of who and what I am today.I began experiencing stomach pain and doctors weren't sure at that point if I had Crohns disease or irritable bowel syndrome. A few years later I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in my spine and eventually developed double spinal curvature and scoliosis. During my first year of college I had a severe case of gastroenteritis and I was diagnosed with IBS. Irregular and difficult periods meant I was put on the pill and I started taking codeine for pain. It was during this time I began experiencing bladder problems.
During the next few years I had multiple UTI's and yeast infections and in July of '96 I visited with a urologist and I was told me I had embedded bacteria and a 6 month course of antibiotics would clear up the problem. I didn't tolerate the antibiotics very well so only took them for a few days. The flares continued every few months but since they only lasted a day or two I lived with them.
In '97 I was diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse and tachycardia and I was put on a medication to help with the symptoms. It was during this time I discovered I also had fibromyalga and chronic fatigue syndrome, and hyperactive thyroid. I was put on several medications including anti-anxiety meds, anti-depressants, and large doses of melatonin (to help me sleep). Then in May of '99 I experienced the worst 'so called" UTI of my life where I was voiding blood. It turns out that this UTI was the first major flare of my IC. I never really felt that I had completely gotten rid of the pain after this and it was early the following year that I woke with the IC pain that never went away.
Treatment for me in the beginning included several rounds of antibiotics, weekly heparin instills, and all kinds of "sample" medications for pain and inflammation. Nothing helped. I had a continual yeast infection from the antibiotics and my gynecologist diagnosed me with vulvadynia. I started on Nystatin for the yeast and I douched with boric acid. Nothing was working and I was getting worse. I was next diagnosed with hypoglycemia. I was angry, upset and frustrated. I was engaged and we were to get married in a year. I needed help and I wasn't finding it.
After hours and hours of research about IC and all of these related diseases I found out that not only was there no cure, but also no real hope either. I began a support group in Los Angeles to help both others and myself. No one seemed to be any better off than me. Then in July of 2000 I found Matia Brizman. I had never tried acupuncture before and didn't know anything about Chinese medicine. After my initial call to her, during which we spoke at length about the treatment program, I made an appointment. As with most people who try something that they are unfamiliar with, I was skeptical. One of her patients told me something that I pass onto everyone I meet who has IC and tells me, oh, I have tried acupuncture before and it didn't work! This is what I tell them... if you are diagnosed with IC, would you go to an Internist or to a urologist? They always tell me they would choose a urologist. So, would you go to a someone who treats all kinds of diseases and ailments with acupuncture and Chinese medicine, or would you go to someone who specializes in IC? It's really a very simple question!
It is now September, 2002 and I have been with Matia for a little over 2 life changing years. Going to Matia's clinic for treatment is like having therapy/support sessions. Not only do I feel like a million dollars when I leave her office, but I feel revived and energized. She is caring and compassionate, not like any medical professional I have ever met (and I have met many!!). I refer to Matia as "my bottle of pain pills" since she has always been just a phone call away! I have always followed Matia's diet to the letter. I don't cheat. I don't do anything, nor do I take anything without consulting with her first. I follow her treatment program exactly as she advises me to. I don't skip doses, I don't add in things or take them out. We talk about what's going on in my life to adequately compensate. As a result, I no longer have any of the symptoms of my IBS and I stopped taking my meds as I didn't need them by the 6th or 7th month of treatment. My yeast has completely gone. Not even a trace is left. The hypoglycemia went away very quickly. I don't feel the ups and downs at all today. The chronic fatigue left without me even realizing it. My hormones were tested and the results sent to Matia. With adjustments to my formulas, I only experience mild fluctuations now and they are getting better each month.
To tie in a few other loose ends, I discovered that my spinal curvature and scoliosis, along with my rheumatoid arthritis were all connected to my IC. Although I cannot have my spine straightened, I no longer have the intense pain associated with the deformity. As my body has been balanced, the pain has lessened. I went to the doctor for a physical about a year ago. I wanted to check my vitals and have a blood panel run. My main concern was my thyroid. When I received the results I was happy at the outcome. My levels had gone down (much to the surprise of my doctor) and they are considered to be within the "normal" range again.
We worked a little harder on the mitral valve prolapse and fibromyalga. The medications I was taking were difficult and grueling to wean off. I attempted the one for fibromyalga first and thought about giving up many times. While under my doctor's care and guidance, I weaned down, as Matia balanced my body with the Chinese medicine. I am happy to say that I have been both medication free and not affected by fibromyalga now for almost a year! Last but not least was the mitral valve prolapse. Since I was anxious about eliminating the med for this, we worked very slowly and steadily. Again, with the guidance of my physician, I dropped the dose each week down a little further and Matia compensated with my herbs. It took about 2 months, but now I am happy to say that I am medication free and unaffected by mitral valve prolapse.
My IC is what we are continuing to work on. I am vastly improved from where I was the day I began Matia's program. I still have some pain and flares, but I can function, go about my day, work full time, and live my life. I can walk my dogs, travel, and even rock climb, mountain and road bike! I don't need to be close to a bathroom every moment and my life doesn't revolve around my pain. I have control, and each and every day that goes by, I am improving.
I don't want to anticipate the day when the pain stops and never comes back. I have experienced weeks in a row with no pain. That to me is a miracle in itself. From where I came from to where I am today, all I can do is thank God I found Matia.
My company transferred us to Indiana/Ohio in March, 2002 and I continued to be monitored with the same care and attention I received while in Los Angeles. In September, 2002 I transferred back to Los Angeles. I must say, I am really happy to be in close proximity to Matia once again.