This holiday season, we wish you the joy of simple moments. A snowball fight, a day making cookies, a good movie, an afternoon of board games, the peace of a holiday service, the inspiration of song and, of course, the love of family and friends.
Our Holiday Gift To You - Guide to Managing IC Flares
We want you to be able to enjoy the holidays even if you're struggling with a flare. If you're not sure what causes flares or the different types of flares that you can have (bladder wall flare, vs. pelvic floor flare vs. hormone flare, etc.), the ICN Guide to Managing IC Flares provides the comprehensive information and hour by hour rescue plans that can help you gain control of your symptoms! We're making this available for our 26,000 newsletter subscribers FREE until New Years Day! Download it today!
Holiday Survival Strategies
It's Christmas Eve and if you're like many, this is one the holidays go from being enjoyable to being stressful! Surviving the holidays is all about pacing yourself, communicating clearly with your family and, of course, avoiding those things that we know can trigger IC flares. Here are some tips that we hope will help!
It's easy to blame yourself when IC limits your ability to enjoy a holiday. I want you to remember that IC is not your fault. You are NOT to blame. You have nothing to be ashamed of. Be proud of yourself. You are working hard to treat your IC. Treat yourself with kindness and compassion. Take in the small moments of joy that a holiday can bring. The lights, the music, the games, the sports and the laughter. Do things that will bring you comfort and joy, even if that means that you stay home and sit by the fire with a favorite book. If you need a shoulder to lean on, visit the ICN Support Forum or your favorite IC groups.
- ICN "Living with IC" Video - Facing The Holidays With New Diagnosis of Interstitial Cystitis
- ICN "Living with IC" Video - Holiday Survival Strategies
Over the river and through the woods in a bouncing car, much less sleigh, isn't appealing for anyone with pelvic pain and discomfort. Enduring hours of bouncing, jiggling and stress associated with travelling is a recipe for an IC flare. If at all possible, invite family and/or friends to your home instead or travel shorter distances until you are feeling better. And if you need to stay home because your symptoms are flaring badly, then give yourself permission to stay home. Sometimes the best holiday of all is staying at home, with a fire, a movie and some easy, IC friendly food!
We often hear patients lamenting that they won't be able to enjoy their favorite holiday meals & foods. Yes, this is true if your favorite foods involve acids or caffeine! The last thing we want you to do is eat or drink something that is very bladder irritating on Christmas Eve only to ruin your Christmas Day with a terrible flare. This is the time to be a bit more protective with your diet. The good news is that the majority of holiday foods and trimmings, from pancakes christmas morning to a christmas turkey or roast beef for dinner are IC friendly. It's the heavy Italian foods with red sauce (i.e. pasta, lasagna) or spicy ethnic foods that you'll want to avoid in favor of milder foods.
- If you're going to someone elses house for several days over the holidays, bring some of your favorite foods with you, such as your bread, cheese, veggies, cookies and the like. Explain to your host that certain foods really irritate your bladder and that you'll be happy to contribute some dishes that are flavorful and comfortable for you.
- If you're going to someones house for a meal, especially if they have a history of preparing food that you know will be irritating, eat some snacks ahead of time so that you are full. For potlucks, bring a favorite dish or two that you can know you will enjoy.
- Don't eat a food that you know may bother your bladder just to appease your family or host. Simply put that food to the side of your plate and eat something else instead.
- Practice the art of distraction. If someone makes a comments about what you are or aren't eating, divert their attention to something else such as: the latest news, politics, holiday decorations, etc.
- There isn't a better time for using an acid reducing supplement like Prelief! It helps to reduce the overall acid level of the food so that it's less bladder irritating. If you don't have any with you (and it's too late to order from the ICN) check your local Walgreens or CVS.
- ICN Website - ICN Diet & Food Lists
- ICN Article - Holiday Foods & Parties
Family & Friends
Why, oh why, is there atleast one family member who, rudely, doesn't believe that IC is a real disease? We suggest that you put out our free IC Information Booklet (free download), the book the IC Survival Guide, a few of our IC Optimist magazines or even some of our Living With IC videos! When it comes up, calmly look that person in the face and say "Three to 8 million women in the USA suffer from this disease and 1 to 4 million men. Here are some reading materials that will help you understand what I'm struggling with." Then change the topic. Don't be defensive. Don't be hurt. Remember, these individuals are just extremely naive or uninformed. It says far more about them than you if they bring it up in a hurtful way! I encourage you to calmly and firmly stand up for yourself!
- Article - Educating Loved Ones about Your Health During the Holidays
- Article - Head-Off Holiday Stress by Educating Loved-Ones About Your Health Limitations
IC Optimist Patient Magazine Released
If you routinely take an antibiotic every time you experience a flare, you may be risking not only your life, but also the lives of your family members. Over the past few years, and particularly the last six months, we’ve been working with IC patients struggling with unusually resistant bacterial and yeast infections. These infections are so strong that they’ve been able to resist many, if not most, of the common antibiotic and antifungal treatments leaving these patients desperate for relief. As a new Center for Disease Control report suggests, we are now perilously close to losing our ability to fight infections due to the overuse of antibiotics in humans and in agriculture. Our feature story, “Hooked on Antibiotics: Resistent Infections Rise As Antibiotics Lose Effectiveness,” shares the latest information and tips on how you can help stop this public health disaster.
We’ve also continued our discussion of the related conditions to IC with a review of overactive bladder (OAB), a review of the latest research studies, four new clinical trials of interest to IC patients, a new portable pain relieving device called PainShield MD, self-help, diet tips & more!
New Book! Ending Male Pelvic Pain: A Man's Guide
When a diagnosis of IC or chronic prostatitis is considered, a pelvic floor assessment should always be performed and, for most patients, pelvic floor dysfunction (i.e. tension, trigger points and/or weakness) is usually found. Patients, however, are left in a quandry. How is PFD treated? Physical therapy is the suggested course of action. If it's not covered by insurance, what's a patient to do?
Physical therapist Isa Herrera has released her SECOND groundbreaking book, Ending Male Pelvic Pain: A Man's Guide, which shares her successful pelvic pain and pelvic floor dysfunction treatment approach. She says "I've had many successes in treating men with pelvic issues and I must say that the men who are the most succesful either possess or develop a positive, fighting attitude and learn how to take control of their pain and pelvic floor issues on their own."
The book is exceptional and a must read for men struggling with IC, prostatitis or recovering from prostatectomy. In Part One, Isa provides one of the best discussions of pelvic floor anatomy that I've read. The pelvic floor is unusually complex with muscles in various locations and depths. She shows readers how to examine their muscles to determine which could be contributing to their pain.
Part Two offers an extensive set of exercises and stretches (with demonstrative pictures, including how to do kegels, using pilates balls, yoga, stretching in the workplace, using a foam roller and building a strong core.
She shows readers how to do external muscle work, including the abdomen, hips, legs and perineum, including simple, useful tools that can help such as a simple tennis ball. She also covers, in-depth, how to perform internal muscle assessments and massage. Yes, it sounds difficult but it can work and work well. I particularly like her discussion and pictures for using a TENS unit to help manage pelvic pain.
What makes this book truly effective is its approach to working with the unique struggles that men face. She encourages men to be open-minded and willing to work hard. She reminds men that practice is required to master the techniques and provides a very doable schedule of activities. A patients approach to the treatment is also important. Patience and a fearless attitude is essential! As she says, she wants her male patients to be "fearless warriors."
We strongly recommend this book for any men struggling with IC, CP and other sources of pelvic pain! We give it five stars!
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