Many interstitial cystitis patients dread holidays, such as Independence Day. The joyful family picnic or nighttime firework display lose their appeal when you’re struggling with a sensitive bladder, need restroom access and would like to eat something that won’t trigger an IC flare. Yes, we have a bladder disorder. Yes, it gives us plenty of discomfort at times. But, yes, we also deserve to be a part of the celebration. Don’t let IC isolate you. You have the right to participate as fully as you would like. I encourage you to enjoy the day!
Embrace Your “independence”
There is no reason for you to shy away from important family and community events. There is no shame in having a pelvic pain disorder. I want you to walk in, with your head held high. You have done nothing wrong. You didn’t ask for IC. Your place in your community has not changed and, in fact, many would argue that you would more welcome and are deserving of their support and encouragement.
You have the right to use the restroom
If you need restroom access, ask for it and use that opportunity to educate someone else about interstitial cystitis. If you’re at a park and none are available, then bring some TravelJohn’s and duck behind a bush! Seriously, you can make some hysterical memories with your friends while trying to find the perfect place to have a discrete pee.
There are plenty of IC friendly foods available
If you need bladder friendly foods, bring your own or seek it out. If, for example, there’s a community barbecue happening, ask the cooks to grill you some meat without the spices and sauce. Better yet, bring it yourself. The great news is that most picnic foods are IC friendly, including: BBQ steak, chicken, corn on the cob, breads, salads and even Apple Pie.
Happy Hour Alternatives
For drinks, how about sparkling mineral water with some mint or berries in it. Think infused spa waters. Even some lemon rind will give it a light, refreshing flavor without irritating the bladder so much. If your bladder is calm enough that you’d like to try some alcohol, go for the pale ale beers, apple, pear or berry hard ciders. If wine is on the menu, stick with a lower acid Merlot, keep it to one glass over ice. Always follow any alcohol with a glass of water to dilute your urine. Of course, if your bladder is flaring, its best to avoid all alcohols.
Nurturing Others Who Also Struggle
There’s an old saying that some patients find grating: “It’s not what happens to you that’s important, but what you do with it.” Yes, we have interstitial cystitis and struggle, often daily, with discomfort but there are millions of others who have their own struggles, some far worse than ours.
So, as you set about Independence Day, don’t hesitate. Get yourself out of the house and enjoy the day. Give yourself permission to be among friends. If you don’t want to do a long party, then at least go for an hour or so.
If you’re in a crowd and not sure who to talk to, look for others who might sitting alone and struggling. Break their isolation for just a few minutes and you will have done a very important service for someone else that day! Please thank anyone who has served and protected our right to freedom and liberty!
At 2pm, I hope you’ll join me in ringing a bell to honor our country. This is a long standing tradition that began during John F. Kennedy’s presidency honoring the concept – “Let Freedom Ring.” But how about we also ring the bell to honor our brothers and sisters with IC. I’ll be thinking of you all when I do it!