*This is an article by Kenda Smith.
One day, in late December of 2003, I started doing the pee-pee dance. You know, the one where you go from no big deal to “I have to go to the bathroom RIGHT NOW” within a matter of seconds. I chalked it up to over hydrating myself and went about my business. It didn’t get better, but I had other things to do. Besides, it was no big deal. So what if I had a little urinary infection? I wasn’t even in pain so it couldn’t be that bad. Everyone told me to drink cranberry juice, lots of water and a slew of other home remedies. They said that’s what they always did, so just ‘flush’ out my body and I’d be fine. I followed their advice.
On Christmas night, as I opened gifts with my family, I was suddenly hit with a migraine so severe that I had to excuse myself and hide in a dark room. I knew there was no way I was getting in to see my doctor because of the holiday, so I chugged more water and tried to sleep.
The next day I woke in excruciating pain. I felt like I had a steel rod shoved up the left side of my torso. Any movement at all sent pulses of agony from my lower back to my stomach and up into my shoulder blade. I managed to make it to the living room and call my mother.
She only lived next door, but by the time she arrived at my doorstep I could no longer walk. The muscles in my legs just refused to work. I was so weak, I could only lay on the couch and wait for her to come in on her own. She and my father helped me get dressed, slowly, and they each took one arm and basically carried me to the car.
In the car, on the way to the emergency room, my sight failed. First everything got very dim, and then I saw bright star bursts everywhere I looked. I’d lost my ability to walk, move and see. I was terrified. I remember thinking to myself, “I’m going to die.”
After a long night in the ER, on four IV drips and so many pain killers I not only forgot my pain, but also my name – the doctor gave me a scolding far worse than my mother ever has. Because I waited and trusted old wives tales instead of my doctor, my left kidney was at 40% function and attempting to shut down completely. The UTI had progressed rapidly to my upper urinary system and caused Pyelonephritis. Luckily, they were able to raise the function back to a safe range with antibiotics, hydration and many more hours in the hospital.
One week. That’s all it took to go from the seemingly harmless “pee-pee dance” to an emergency situation.
But, I didn’t come out of it unscathed. My left kidney was damaged. I will always have issues with it, have experienced a higher rate of infection just on that side, and I’m afraid at even the slightest twinge of pain as I get up from the bed in the morning.
But, I learned. I no longer trust home remedies for my UTIs. At the first sign that my urinary system isn’t operating as it should, I call my doctor. Pain or no pain, it doesn’t matter. Something weird? Time to make an appointment.
And guess what? Thanks to the fact that I’m in early menopause, my chances of developing a UTI have increased even more. Due to perimenopause a decrease in estrogen production creates all new changes in my urinary tract, making it even more vulnerable to infection. So, I have to be even more vigilant and keep my doctor’s number handy.
But What Can I Do While I Wait?
Unfortunately, we all know how the doctor’s office works. You may call right away, but they don’t always see you right away. There ARE ways to start easing the symptoms, and I don’t mean cranberry juice. Over the counter medications are a valuable tool to help while you wait for your appointment. UTI’s must be treated with a prescription antibiotic, but you can get some relief in the meantime.
You’ve probably seen that there are many different urinary tablets to choose from. Unlike basic iodine or cranberry pills which can take a day or more to work and only cover one or two symptoms, URISTAT® Pain Relief Tablets deliver fast relief of pain, burning, urgency and frequency for a temporary time until you get the prescription medication your body needs.