I began getting UTIs in my early 20s - they became recurrent almost immediately. I was often given short-course antibiotics to treat them and that usually worked, though sometimes the symptoms lingered and occasionally I would be refused antibiotics due to negative urine test results, so I would drink cranberry juice until the the symptoms went away.
Last March, I stepped into a urologist’s office seeking antibiotics for what I believed was a UTI that I'd been battling for four years. I’d been suffering daily with symptoms which were barely being kept at bay with tons of cranberry juice and a couple of short courses of antibiotics here and there, and I wanted to try a longer course of antibiotics – at least ten days - to see if I could get it under control.
I had begun to dread going to doctors for my symptoms because I knew my urine tests were going to be negative (eventually, they always were) and more and more in recent years I’d had to argue to get even short-course antibiotics to try to knock the infections back.
This time, however, before a single test was performed, something new occurred – this doctor informed me that he knew I didn’t have a UTI. He said he’d seen women like me a million times and was certain that what I had was a chronic inflammation disorder called interstitial cystitis. It was incurable. He said I’d be in pain the rest of my life, but changing my diet might help. When I questioned his diagnosis, he shoved two photocopied brochures into my hands and told me to do some research.
I tried to argue with him. Cipro had always relieved my symptoms almost instantly, which to me indicated infection. He dismissively responded that antibiotics had anti-inflammatory properties. I also told him I’d never found a correlation between diet and my symptoms. He just shrugged, quipping, ‘Some things are complicated.’
Panic-stricken, I left his office and found another urologist…only to have the same experience. I demanded that the second doctor at least try antibiotics before condemning me to a lifetime of suffering, but he refused, telling me that I was unqualified to have medical opinions and refusing me as a patient. Instead, he referred me to an IC specialist.
I went home - pacing and terrified. When I calmed down enough to sit at my desk, I began to scour the internet, desperate to find help. I finally landed on a site called Live UTI Free which led me to find the phone number and address of the office of Dr. Stewart Bundrick in Bossier City, Louisiana. I had to wait three weeks to get in to see him and I almost ended up in an Emergency Room, but luckily a friend convinced his doctor to write me a prescription for 5 days of Cipro - that was enough to get me to my appointment in Bossier City. It took only a few hours after swallowing the first pill for my agonizing symptoms to begin to recede, and I was left with the question - why wouldn't those doctors help me?
My UTI symptoms have now been under control for a year, and the situation has become clear to me. Short-course antibiotics do not resolve many UTIs, and standard dipstick and urine cultures fail too often to be used alone as sole diagnostic measures for determining urinary tract infections. Further, many, myself included, have begun to doubt the legitimacy of the interstitial cystitis diagnosis in light of more advanced testing methods, anti-microbial treatment successes and new information about the behavior of urinary bacterial pathogens from the field of microbiology.
It is my hope that sites like this one, Live UTI Free, the Chronic Urinary Tract Infection Campaign, Chronic UTI Australia, Dr. B (Bundrick) YouTube channel and others will lead more and more women toward finding the help they need for the treatment and eradication of recurrent and chronic UTIs.