Quick Tips for Surviving the Holidays with IC!

Hello Friends!

Before we began our trek to VA, I was feeling pretty horrible. I’ve mentioned before that I wasn’t feeling very sure about traveling this year. I’m very thankful that I was able to calm my body enough to not have to make that decision. So how did I push through the holidays with as little pain possible?

Here are a few tips to keep your bladder happy:

  1. I made sure to take my meds and supplements every day! 

This is very important! If you miss a dose you are increasing your chances of pain and a major flare. Nobody wants that!

2. Take maintenance precautions!

Every day I took Prelief with every meal. I also began the day with a tsp. of baking soda mixed in water. (Caution: If you are on a low salt diet, this is not a good option for you!) I’m now using Clear Tract (D-Mannose) at the beginning of each day. IF you feel an increase in frequency, you can use this multiple times a day.

3. Dress and pack comfortably.

When I was at my in-laws homes, I would wear leggings or pj bottoms. Loose clothing is very important! If clothing is too tight it can cause a flare.

4. I was careful with my diet.

I mostly stuck to the IC diet with a few exceptions, but because I used a lot of precautions—I didn’t pay for it later. Thankfully!

5. I did all I could to keep stress and anxiety low.

I shopped for Christmas gifts early (throughout the year). I planned my food preparations ahead of time.

What do you do to prep for a big trip or the holidays to insure no flares?

<3 Anna

The Flare Before Christmas…

Hello Friends!

Just before Christmas we had an awful cold snap. I remember waking up that morning feeling incredibly stiff and dejected. I knew what was coming. It’s much easier to see the signs when you have been through something multiple times. Unfortunately, this particular flare was very painful. It reminded me of just before my diagnosis. It was such an awful feeling! I remember the feeling of complete dread knowing that I couldn’t stop it and that this could ruin my plans to go to see our VA family.  (Thankfully, it did not!)

So how did I get through it?

*I made sure to take all of my meds every day.

*I ate my safe flare foods for three days straight so I could enjoy my Christmas meals that I had carefully planned.

*I took 1 tsp of baking soda with water to help with the acidity in foods. It tastes horrible, but it helps! (I have since added to more supplements to my regimen and I’ll be sharing soon about those!) If you are on a low sodium diet, this is not the answer for you!

*I also took Prelief with every meal.

*I didn’t remember to do them every day, but I tried to incorporate my stretches to strengthen my pelvic floor muscles.

* I used a heating pad before my stretches.

*I wore pj bottoms/leggings. (Loose clothing is best when in the throes of a flare!)

*I lowered my expectations and made sure to institute quiet time every day.

The last one was key for me. I had a few activities planned that I had to drop in order to feel up to the trip ahead of me. This has been difficult for me, but it honestly gets easier with time. It becomes so much more important to be fully invested in moments with family than using that time and energy to invest in activities that you have added to your list that (may be important), but are not necessarily more important than your quality time with those you love. This is something that I have to continue to practice because it’s very natural for me to want to go above and beyond for my family. I want to make everything special, but sometimes the special moments are made when we are just together. You can’t carefully orchestrate a special moment. It doesn’t work that way!

Another thing that I’ve learned from my experiences with IC is that there are many causes to flares and usually it’s hard to tell why. (If you can figure out what happened, that’s great! You may be able to use specific therapies to help shorten your flare time.) The best thing to do is do NOT panic. Stress can cause flares and it can also make flares worse. It’s a vicious cycle. So be aware! I hope these tips are helpful for my fellow IC warriors/sisters!

<3 Anna

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly (October Edition)

Hello Friends!

This month has felt long and short at the same time! It felt very long during my surgery and recovery and it’s sped up for me as I’m getting back into the swing of things! I’ve stopped racing to try and catch up. It’s not working. 😉 This post will (mostly) be a photo spam post! 😉

The Good:

Silliness with D on our way to see Nana for her bday and dropping D off before surgery. :'(

Silliness with D on our way to see Nana for her bday and dropping D off before surgery. :'(

My hospital day socks!

My hospital day socks!

So thankful for all the flowers, warm wishes, and love from family! <3

So thankful for all the flowers, warm wishes, and love from family! <3

My bed buddy! <3

My bed buddy! <3

So thankful for One Republic on The Today Show to steal a few moments of peace! D was getting over a cold and I was recovering from surgery here.

So thankful for One Republic on The Today Show to steal a few moments of peace! D was getting over a cold and I was recovering from surgery here.

Our pastor and his sweet family blessed us with dinner one night. <3

Our pastor and his sweet family blessed us with dinner one night. <3

Adult Coloring books are so awesome! <3

Adult Coloring books are so awesome! <3

First outing since surgery at Apple Festival. <3

First outing since surgery at Apple Festival. <3

library visits! <3

library visits! <3

D heading into the corn maze. Be sure to check by Friday for more on our fall fun and pumpkin carving! :)

D heading into the corn maze.

 Be sure to check back on Friday for more on our fall fun and pumpkin carving! :)

Be sure to check back on Friday for more on our fall fun and pumpkin carving! 🙂

The Bad:

My cervix was nicked during surgery, so my doctor had to go back in and give me two stitches. :/ (You can read more on the surgery pre and post thoughts here.)

Incision on belly button and one on my left pelvic bone area.

Incision on belly button and one on my left pelvic bone area.

My recovery took about two weeks and I’m still moving at a snail-ish pace. I’m not complaining though…I’ve come a long way!

The UGLY:

cystoscopy2

The top is my bladder before filling it with water to max capacity. The bottom is filled. I can only hold around 700 mg and average people can hold 1, 000ish mg. So my capacity is much lower than the norm.

Updated Verdict: I have Interstitial Cystitis (This was just further confirmed.) I had inflammation called Trigonitis (It was treated during surgery.) I also have Chronic Pelvic Pain and Pelvic Floor Dysfunction. More on that later!

This month was filled with surgery, recovery, rest, and a slow but steady progression towards a new normal. I feel encouraged to keep pressing forward and am excited about finding ways to treat these conditions. I see these as only obstacles that I can manage. They won’t go away, but I won’t either. I will stand strong and I will keep the faith. I look forward to sharing with you all my results and hope that I can help and encourage others who are going along the same path.

How was your month? Share your good, bad, and ugly moments below! 

<3 Anna

Cystoscopy and Laparoscopy: Pre and Post Surgery Thoughts

Hi guys!

I’m finally blogging again! Post surgery was tough, but I’m getting stronger every day. I have an appointment with my Urologist on Wednesday and an appointment with my gynecologist next month. They should be able to explain things better and how we will move forward. 🙂

Pre-Surgery Thoughts:

I was pretty nervous before surgery, for obvious reasons. I don’t know many people who enjoy being put to sleep, having zero control, and knowing you will wake up in pain. Pre-Op eased my mind some. I was able to watch a computer video on how a laparoscopy is done and then discuss the procedure with my doctor. She answered all of my questions and it just left me more than ready to get that thing done!

The evening before surgery, I prepped my hospital bag and purchased a larger size of leggings, a gown, fun socks, mints, and post surgery food and bottled water for my room.

Hospital day socks! :)

Hospital day socks! 🙂

Post Surgery Thoughts:

After surgery, I felt fine. The meds were strong for this one! 😉 The nurse gave me a few crackers and ginger ale to start and then she suggested peanut butter and graham crackers. They were amazing after not eating for several hours. Everything went crazy when the nurses helped me out of the bed to go to the restroom. I was bleeding and wouldn’t stop! There were 3 large blood clots in the toilet and after two visits to the restroom it wasn’t improving. The nurses were worried and called my doctor and she was very busy with another patient, so I was given to another doctor in the same office. She told me that it seemed that my cervix was nicked in surgery and that that I would need two stitches. I was furious. I cried, which probably made people think I was scared, but more than anything I just wanted to go home. The lap and cystoscopy were done…This wasn’t part of the deal. 🙁 There wasn’t much time to discuss or think, because I had eaten there was a greater risk of me getting sick and having to stay in the hospital if I used anesthesia. So I opted out of that. I held my nurse’s hand and did some very lamaze like breathing to power through those two stitches. The stitches thankfully did the trick and after a little more monitoring I was able to go home around 1:00pm. (I had been at the hospital since 6 AM. ) John and I were both relieved to be able to pick up some lunch…Chic-fil-a for the win! And head home for some much needed rest.

cystoscopy2

This is my bladder. The top pics are before my bladder was filled. The bottom was when my bladder was filled to capacity. Apparently, compared to the normal 1, 000 mg. I can only hold 700 mg and that was what they could do. It could be much less than that on my own. :/ They did a biopsy on the very red part. I’m hoping I’ll get more info on Wednesday’s appointment.

The Verdict:

I have Interstitial Cystitis and Trigonitis. Trigonitis is inflammation on the bladder that is actually near the cervix. Apparently, these two are the cause of all of my pain during pms and menstruation. (I also just purchased some vitamins and supplements that I’m hoping will help with my hormone balance. (Every time I ask my doctor for help with it, she just suggests the pill and that has never been the solution for me. So here’s hoping this will work!) The Trigonitis is very similar to IC, but has different symptoms…fun times—I have both. :/ My Urologist treated it while he was in, but like IC you can treat Trigonitis, but there is no cure. It’s just very difficult to treat. Since surgery, I’ve had the typical good days and bad. I hope that my upcoming appointments will give me more answers and direction for what comes next!

Incision on belly button and one on my left pelvic bone area.

Incision on belly button and one on my left pelvic bone area.

It took me about 2 weeks to get back to some kind of normal. I was given painkillers, but they didn’t agree with me. The first was Vicodin and it made me wired. This was terrible because after surgery you really just want to sleep. Next up, was Tramadol. It worked fine the first night, but the next day I fell asleep and it caused my heart to hammer in my chest…umm..thanks but no thanks! So I ended up taking the max. dosage of Motrin and now I’m only taking it as needed. It was very difficult to power through the pain with less pain killers, but I was sick of all the unwanted side effects.

Beautiful flowers from my dear friend, Whit. <3

Beautiful flowers from my dear friend, Whit. <3

I’m so thankful for all my family and friends! The calls, texts, messages, flowers, and more…mean so much! All of the well wishes definitely helped me to push myself to keep going and to take each day in stride. I’m healing and getting back to my new normal. With chronic illness, there is always pain. A surgery can’t fix everything, but it can give answers and help us to know what our options are for helping me to live life more comfortably.

Before I leave you, I would like to share this link that was a super awesome help to me when getting out of and into bed. Check it out here!

What are your tips for recovering from a surgery? What helped you to get back on your feet? 🙂

<3 Anna

Friday Finds and Favorites #49: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly (September edition)

Hello Friends!

I’ve been busy preparing for my upcoming surgery (next Tuesday!). I’ll be away from the blog for at least a week as I recuperate…BUT I had to get a post in before going on break. 😉

It’s been a wonderfully full month. We’ve had a blast welcoming in our favorite season! 🙂

The Good:

soccer4Declan has really improved this season! He seems to really enjoy his practices and games. I’m sad to see the season end next month.

He kept giving the guy running the ride high fives!

We had a blast at the fair! It was a wonderful way to say “Goodbye to Summer and Hello Fall!”

appleorchard10

We visited our favorite apple orchard. It was a pretty hot day, but we made the most of it and enjoyed some tasty apple treats.

homeschooling14

We “survived” our first four weeks of pre-k homeschooling. 🙂 D is doing great and I’m proud that he is making giant leaps with his handwriting. I’m excited about his progress and what comes next in his future!

johndeclan

We celebrated D’s 4th birthday! It’s so hard to believe that we have a 4 year old now. I’m still getting comfortable with that. 😉 (I’ll share a post on D’s party when I return from the hiatus!)

musicclass

D loves his music class! I’m so pleased with his progress there. He is always singing now and expressing himself by coming up with his own songs. It’s pretty awesome to watch.

brooklyn1

We were so thrilled to meet our niece/cousin, Brooklyn in person! We didn’t know we would get to meet her this month. It was a wonderful surprise to have here here with us for D’s party!

The Bad and The Ugly

I’m not sure if this should be classified as bad or ugly, but here we are. IC flares have been on and off. I’ve found that they are usually premenstrual and during ovulation. This makes me thankful that I’m having the laparoscopy done because I wonder now if this is just IC? Could this be endometriosis? Or something else that is related to my reproductive system? I’m beyond ready to get some answers. It’s been a long and frustrating journey. It’s time. I look forward to sharing my findings, but I’m also nervous about surgery. I don’t like the idea of being put to sleep and I don’t like the idea of not being in control. I’m trying not to think too much about it because it will only cause stress and anxiety and that only leads to more flares. :/ Party planning was a good distraction, but now that the party is over…I’m actually having to face the surgery. Eek! Thoughts and prayers are appreciated. <3

Now it’s your turn! Share your favorite memories and finds this week! Leave a comment below. Add your blog to our linky and don’t forget to visit my amazing co-host, Camille! Feel free to grab a button it’s optional! 😉

 




 

 

 

<3 Anna

Friday Finds and Favorites #47

Hello Friends!

This week has been crazy busy! So I’ll keep this week’s post very brief. I have two awesome recommendations that you should definitely check out! 🙂

elderberry

Excellent immune system booster!

1) Black Elderberry and Black Elderberry Syrup

I purchased the Black Elderberry capsules for John and I and the syrup for D. 🙂 Elderberries support and boost our immune systems. We ordered ours from Thrive Market. 

2) Clary Sage

I’ve been diffusing Clary Sage this week. Clary Sage is mainly known for helping with PMS, but it also helps with depression, anxiety, and stress. It also smells fantastic! 😉

Now it’s your turn! Share your favorite memories and finds this week! Leave a comment below. Add your blog to our linky and don’t forget to visit my amazing co-host, Camille! Feel free to grab a button it’s optional! 😉

 

 




 

<3 Anna

5 Helpful Posts on Interstitial Cystitis!

Hello Friends!

Today I’m sharing a few of my past posts on Interstitial Cystitis. I hope that this can help someone struggling with bladder pain. <3

Interstitial Cystitis

***If you missed last week’s post on Dietary Guidelines, be sure to check it out here!***

***This post shares the signs and symptoms of IC. It’s especially helpful if you are not sure and have yet to be diagnosed.***

***This post has even more resources and help for once you are diagnosed.***

***This post, I reviewed an excellent book on bladder health. I would recommend this one to anyone!***

***And this is just a great post for everyone! It explains what IC is and some ways I cope with it.

Please let me know if you have any questions on any of these posts. I’ll do what I can to help. Thanks for reading!

<3 Anna

Interstitial Cystitis Dietary Guidelines

Hello Friends!

Interstitial Cystitis

Since the month of September is Interstitial Cystitis Awareness Month, I thought that I would spend the next four Mondays sharing posts that are relevant to Interstitial Cystitis. (You can find even more information on our IG account and my FB page. ) This week I’ve been sharing dietary guidelines. Diet plays a very big role in decreasing discomfort and pain for those of us with IC. One thing you must know up front—What works for me, may not work for someone else with IC. (Interstitial Cystitis is a very individualized disease. This is one of many reasons it is so very difficult to diagnose!)

BEVERAGES:

Hydration is very important for everyone and that doesn’t change with this diagnosis. It does, however, make things a little tricky. This requires balancing hydration and frequent restroom visits which can be a major nuisance for everyone involved.  I mostly drink water, Teeccino Dandelion Caramel Nut (morning treat now that I can’t have coffee), and hot/cold chamomile or peppermint teas. I sometimes get vanilla or caramel frappes at Starbucks and obviously have them made with just milk. I also drink almond/coconut milk with cereal and things like that. I absolutely CANNOT have caffeine, carbonated beverages, or alcoholic beverages. These send me into bladder spasms and pain for weeks/months. 🙁 I also CANNOT have any citrus—so lemonade, orange juice are out as well. (I rarely do this, but when I do have orange juice—I get low acid and water it down a ton!)

FRUITS:

Fruits…it seems like an easy category, but it’s NOT! I’m very limited on what fruits I can actually eat. As I said above, citrus fruits are completely out. Bananas are safe for some people, but I’m not one of those people. :/ Right now, I’m able to eat blueberries, pears, and certain kinds of apples. I still need to experiment with melons to see if honeydew or watermelon would work for me. (Cantaloupe is usually not tolerated well. I have no idea why!) I also enjoy dates, raisins, and coconut without any issues. Coconut has definitely helped with making my limits not feel so unbearable!

VEGETABLES:

Vegetables are easier to fit into my diet. I can eat most anything and it has been fun to expand my horizons and try new things! The major no-nos for vegetables are tomatoes (which I know are considered a fruit…It’s just weird putting it in that category.), raw onions, chili peppers, anything pickled, and certain kinds of beans. Vegetables that I love are: sweet potatoes, bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, parsnips, asparagus, squash, zucchini, and okra. 🙂 I really don’t feel too limited with vegetables. Sometimes it stinks that I can’t have tomatoes for a good sauce, but I’m learning to work around it.

MILK/DAIRY:

Since I’ve already discussed beverages, I’ll just skip on to food items. I can eat frozen yogurt, but not refrigerated. I’m not sure what the difference is. As far as cheeses go, I eat mozzarella, mild cheddar, and sometimes Parmesan. Heavily processed and spicy cheese are a no-go! Cottage and ricotta cheeses are also safe! 🙂

CARBS/GRAINS:

I have found that gluten doesn’t do me any favors with my bladder, so I try to not eat it very often. I’m usually more relaxed about that when I’m out, but at home I’m (pretty) strictly gluten free! For example, when I’m out I’ll have a burger and usually take the top bun off…fewer calories (Not that I’m counting! ;)) and less gluten. Heavily processed breads, pastas, and cereals are bad news.

MEATS/FISH:

Meats are pretty flexible. I just need to avoid super processed and canned meats. I don’t enjoy those anyway, so it’s not a huge loss! I’m careful to get bacon that is free of nitrates and extra processing measures. I do the same for deli meat. I don’t eat deli meat too often, but I’m careful about what I buy and made this change before my diagnosis.

NUTS:

I typically eat almonds and cashews. Peanuts and most oils are also safe. Hazelnuts and pistachios are to be avoided and pecans are iffy for me.

SEASONINGS:

Garlic has become one of my new best friends for seasoning my food. Turmeric is also a great one! They both have tons of benefits as well! Big no-nos are ketchup (tomatoes again!), mustard, vinegar, soy sauce, any spicy seasonings/foods.

FOOD ADDITIVES:

Things I should avoid: ascorbic acid, MSG, aspartame (NutraSweet), saccharin, and foods containing preservatives, artificial ingredients/colors.

Any questions? The IC diet has definitely presented its challenges, but when pain comes into play…I try to play it safe most of the time. Sometimes I rebel and pay for it, but I’m only human. 😉

<3 Anna

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly (August edition)

Hello Friends!

It’s time for another edition of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly! The good news is that my list of good is so much bigger than the bad and ugly. I think that doing something like this really helps your mindset. You realize that you have so many more things to be grateful for!

The Good

pawpaw

August 1 was a bittersweet day for me. It is my grandmother’s birthday and the anniversary of my Paw Paw’s death. He passed away August 1, 2012. It was a precious time to watch Tom and Jerry with Declan and keep his memory alive.

brooklyn

Our beautiful niece, Brooklyn Naomi was born on August 5, 2016. <3

It was finally time for my urology appointment. (More on that in The Ugly.) So my news there was less than stellar, but I really like my new urologist and I feel like I’m in good hands.

johnsbig303

We celebrated John’s BIG 3-0 and our 8th wedding anniversary this month. <3

beachtrip4

Our beautiful niece, Abigail turned 4! I can’t believe it…This also means we are not too far from having a 4 year old in our household as well. :’)

We signed D up for Fall Soccer and his first music class. (Through KinderMusik)

As you can see, we have a lot to be thankful for and a lot of great moments this month! <3

The Bad

I have had moments this month where my pain was so intense. I had a horrible flare just before my urology appointment. I am forever grateful that I have a good urologist and he was able to prescribe me Uribel to help me get through it. It was so rough. :'(

This (obviously) has not helped with depression. I’m still fighting it out, but I have had some very blue moments and days.

The Ugly

Declan has had some MAJOR tantrums lately. I know he is growing and learning to express himself, but SON! The whining and shrieking needs to stop. Anyone want to loan me some earplugs? 😉

The urologist agreed with Dr. Lovin, I’ll need to have a cystoscopy (A procedure where the doctor stretches your bladder) and laproscopy soon. Right now, we are looking at insurance (fun stuff!) to determine when the best time will be to schedule said surgery. I’m nervous/anxious to have it done, but I know I’m in good hands and God is always with me. This year is already jam packed with activity, so I’m thinking (right now) that the surgery will be in January, but nothing is on the calendar yet.

I honestly, just feel blessed to have a good list that is so much longer than the bad or ugly. I will press on and September will be awesome too! 🙂

Share your Good, Bad, and Ugly moments for the month of August in the comments below! I always love hearing from my readers. You make my day! 🙂

<3 Anna

IC has changed my mindset, but I’m still me.

Hello all!

Next month, is Interstitial Cystitis Awareness Month and it has me thinking about how much this diagnosis has touched my life. Many things have changed—not just the fact that I take medication and am on a more limited diet. That’s only the tip of the iceberg!

Depression is very common for people with chronic illness(es). This isn’t too shocking considering the every day pain and limitations. Despite these facts, we have to find a way to cope with this several years/lifetime challenge or we are setting ourselves up for a very negative life. No one wants that!

icribbon

IC has definitely changed my mindset, but I’m still me!

1) I’m learning to embrace the good days, because I never know how I’ll feel each day. 

Flares can come without warning and stick around for weeks-months! :'( This is teaching me to be more productive and intentional with my time.

2) I’m learning healthy ways to cope with negative thoughts and feelings.

It is so easy to just give into the negative! (A battle I continue to fight every day!) The best thing to do is to stirs thing up! Tackle a project that you’ve been meaning to finish, a diy project, read a book, whatever you can do to distract your mind from the negativity. You don’t have to give into the negative thoughts. YOU have a choice. <3

3) I’m learning to not feel guilty about my pain.

I did not ask for this. No one does! I can’t continue to beat myself up over a diagnosis that I didn’t ask for and you shouldn’t either!

4) I’m learning my limits. (Though I am really great at bending them too far!)

I can usually recognize what my limits are each day.  I’ll be honest, sometimes I take things too far because I’m sick of limits and sometimes it’s just me thinking like the old Anna. I forget sometimes when I’m feeling “normal” that pushing too hard can result in a flare, exhaustion, both. :/ It’s a balancing act, for sure!

5) Self care is so important.

I think (especially) for mothers, It’s easy to think that our needs don’t matter. Once you become a parent, your needs go on the back burner and your kid is front and center. In some ways, this is only natural, but your needs matter too! If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t give of yourself. Self care isn’t selfish. It’s smart! It’s the best you can do for yourself and for those around you. <3

This diagnosis wasn’t easy for me to accept. (No one enjoys being told that you have to change so many things in your life and so quickly!) As you can see, it hasn’t all been bad though. I’ve grown and become stronger because of these challenges thrown my way. I’m becoming a better person in spite of all of this and you can too!  Don’t let whatever challenges stand in your path now, keep you from growing and becoming a better you. <3

Have you ever had an obstacle (such as a diagnosis) help you become stronger? What did this obstacle mean for you and how did you find the positives?

<3 Anna