I’ve just been on holiday for the first time since being diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis. You probably think I chose a nice relaxing week in the sun listening to the ocean waves but no, I chose to spend five nights of debauchary in Las Vegas!
Before you start thinking I’m totally crazy, the holiday was booked before my diagnosis and when I was still hopeful my symptoms would magically disappear. Would I have chosen Las Vegas post diagnosis? Definitely not. I’ve been there before, I know the drill and have the tales to tell about how mental it gets. It doesn’t bode well for my attempt to live a healthy and stress free life.
As the holiday loomed nearer, my friend’s reached fever pitch but I struggled to join in. Instead, I tortured myself with “what if’s” and played out countless imaginary conversations telling them I wasn’t going. I didn’t want to be thousands of miles from home with a bladder full of razor blades, watching them have fun whilst I was left high on painkillers in my hotel room.
I think the turning point was a few weeks before jetting off when my bladder felt the best it ever had. I saw it as a sign, a gift from the Gods, telling me I was doing the right thing by going. So, amongst the bikinis and sun cream, I packed all my flare essentials (painkillers, supplements, prelief & heat packs). At least I knew if the worst was to happen, I was fully prepared.
Of course, I woke up on the morning of my flight with a very angry bladder. I swear, that little bitch knows everything I get up to! Day of my exam, flaring. Day of long haul flight, flaring. I know IC can be linked to stress and maybe it’s time to realise mine is as well.
I was thankful for my aisle seat because I lost count after toilet trip number seven on the plane. There I was, sat with my tuppaware of IC friendly food and a very painful bladder, asking myself what the hell I was doing. By that time, I was across the Atlantic and past the point of no return so all I could do was buckle up for the ride.
Thankfully, the very uncomfortable 10 hour flight wasn’t a sign of things to come and my bladder calmed down. In fact, I had a fantastic holiday and IC didn’t once hold me back.
There was gambling, shopping (every girl needs three Kate Spade bags, right?) and most importantly of all, endless amounts of fun and laughter.
Everything I had been scared of didn’t materialise and for the first time in a long time, I felt almost “normal”.
I wasn’t Emma with IC, I was just Emma.
I am, admittedly, very strict with the IC diet and so faced with the vast amount of mouth watering American food, I was up against my biggest challenge yet. My sweet tooth was constantly tempting me and so on my last day, I stuck two fingers up to my bladder and ate whatever I wanted.
It’s safe to say, I didn’t hold back and even now, the food baby is going strong. The highlight of my feast was an Oreo Dream Extreme Cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory. Even the name sounds amazing and after seven months of chocolate and cheesecake deprevation, I cannot put into words how fantastic it tasted. My mouth is still watering!
The best bit? My bladder didn’t enter the depths of fiery hell. Yes, there was pain but nothing I couldn’t handle and it was 100% worth it.
The scariest part in all of this? I almost talked myself out of a holiday I’ll remember forever and for the first time since being ill, I have real optimism that things can get better.