Allright, I’m angry right now. Yes, ANGRY. Thoroughly and completely pissed. Why? Because, in 2014, an IC patient in the South of the USA was told that the reason that she had IC was because she was angry about her ex-boyfriend. Yes, he really, REALLY said that. This was after she had been diagnosed by another doctor, found to have a damaged bladder wall, Hunner’s lesions and was in serious pain. His treatment suggestion? Get psychological therapy.
Yeah, right! DUDE, we’re not in the 1950’s. It’s 2014 and IC has clearly been established to be a genuine bladder and pelvic pain medical condition. In fact, new research released this year found that some Hunner’s lesions may be the result of a BK polyoma viral infection (1). Another study also published this summer found genomic variations
in patients with IC which has helped two reveal two possible subsets of the condition (2).
It pains me that some IC patients are still being dismissed so casually and, far worse, are labelled as hysterical and/or emotional. The root of that perception began in 1958 when three clinicians suggested that a woman who had been under medical care from childhood to 29 years of age with severe IC may have had “repressed hostility towards parental figures handled masochistically via bladder symptoms since infancy. (3)“ Can you just imagine how their patient must have felt? To be so ignored by her care providers, labelled as hysterical and, in all likelihood, refused treatment.
This shouldn’t be happening in 2014.
More than $100 million dollars have been dedicated to IC research in the past twenty years proving, clearly, that not only is this a real condition but that, for some patients, there is a genetic connection, as it is in my case with a grandmother, mother, aunt and sister with similar problems. IC is seen in higher rates in veterans returning from active duty. And, for some patients, IC and chronic pelvic pain may have been triggered by accident or injury to the pelvis, such as through childbirth or surgery. How dare anyone suggest that my IC is the result of my being angry! Really??
How do you think an IC patient should respond when someone says something like this?
If a doctor and the audacity to say that to me, I would respond “Then why is my bladder bleeding?” or “How does anger make my bladder bleed?” I’d explain the family connection, share the research and, basically, try to educate him. But, it would also be very tempting to just gather my things, look him up and down, and say “I deserve to be with a doctor who is knowledgeable and experienced at treating interstitial cystitis” and then walk out with my head held high.
I’d love to hear if this has happened to you or how you would handle a doctor making that judgement. Let’s see if we can give some patients some ideas on how to respond! Share your ideas on our Facebook page or below!
By Jill Heidi Osborne, MA
ICN President & Founder
1 Van der Aa F., et al. Polyomavirus BK–a potential new therapeutic target for painful bladder syndrome/interstitial cystitis? Med Hypotheses. 2014 Sep;83(3):317-20.
2. Colaco M, et al. Correlation of gene expression with bladder capacity in interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome. J Urol. 2014 Oct;192(4):1123-9.
3. Bowers JE, Schwarz BE, Leon MJ. Masochism and interstitial cystitis. Psychosom Med 1958;20:296-302