UTWHYYYYY?! Part 1 – by Katie

So let me set the scene. 

It’s currently 5am and I’m sitting on the toilet with as many over the counter painkillers as I can possibly put in my body, hoping that by some miracle I’m going to be able to wash through this UTI* before I have to start getting ready for work…. That gives me 3 hours. I’m not feeling hopeful.

Let me set the scene further.

I woke up at 2am so I’m already 3 hours deep into this process. I’m pissing blood and I feel like my urethra has first-degree burns and I’ve decided this is the right time to start writing this as I’m hoping it’ll be some form of distraction from the excruciating pain in my crotch. Although I’m not sure that it is working and may have to go back to watching Tiktoks as that seems to be better at keeping my spirits up for the long journey ahead.

As much as I would like to say this is a one-off experience, that wouldn’t be quite true. I’d say I’ve had at least 100 UTI’s at this point in my life. Ranging from one night of having slightly painful wees, to the fall blown infection I am currently experiencing.

My first UTI was at about 2 and a half. Obviously my memories are slightly blurry from my toddler years so this has been filled in by my Mum. She says I always had problems with my nether regions. When I was in nappies, if my mum didn’t immediately change my nappy after I weed or pood my skin would erupt into a red rashy mess, taking mountains of Sudocrem and a fair few teary eyes to get through. She started to notice me crying and getting frustrated when I went to the toilet. I’d run to the toilet and not be able to pee, but then proceed to wet myself later on. As she had been a nurse previously, she was aware of the signs of UTI’s and proceeded to take me to the doctor who prescribed me a few courses of antibiotics.

I continued to have the same problems and UTI’s became a constant in my life. At 3 I was prescribed a prophylactic* daily dose of cephalexin* by a doctor and with the threat of me missing more school from UTIs there wasn’t really any other choice. Although antibiotics are often the best option, consistent and regular use can lead to your body building a resistance to them. There is always the risk of becoming allergic too, so this wasn’t a decision lightly taken. 

Even with the consistent medication I would still get the occasional full infection, leading to the need for another set of antibiotics. At 7 I was sent to have a DMSA scan* where you take a short-lived radioisotope, that goes directly to the kidneys once inside the body, and only stays radioactive for a few hours – giving doctors detailed pictures of my kidneys. They looked for any evidence of damage but didn’t seem to find anything and we were kind of left at square one again. 

That was until one day mum was talking to our neighbour at the time, who said her daughter had suffered from the same problem. They stopped giving her Ribena and the problem went away. This seemed to be too good to be true, but, after some digging and probably a sense of looming hopelessness, Mum heard about about a Kinesiologist* nearby who could test for intolerances.

Once we arrived the lady said I was so young that she sat me on mum’s lap, with our legs touching. Using a small glass vial filled with various foods, including blackcurrants (a main ingredient of Ribena), she would put the glass vials against my skin. Whilst doing so my mum would have her arm outstretched and the lady would push down on it whilst my mum resisted. On every food stuff my mum was able to keep her arm up, but when she put the glass vial of blackcurrants up to my arm she lost all strength and could not keep her arm up. So with that information mum decided to stop any drinking of Ribena and seemingly the UTI’s subsided after a couple weeks. Now, Mum is a trained nurse who worked the majority of her years in intensive care, and not often is she swayed by more alternative medicines, but this one is hard to explain away and at least in my opinion it seems pretty unexplainable.

And that was it…. well until I hit 18 and became sexually active. *Ding* *Ding* Round two here we come 😦 You’ll have to wait until next week to read the rest of my UTI journey, for some actual advice from someone who hasn’t found the answer (yet) but has dealt with a life long reoccurrence of them and has a few tricks up her sleeve to help with reducing them.

If anyone has had similar problems I would love to hear what you do and maybe I can add it into the advice list next week.

*UTI – A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in any part of your urinary system — your kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. Most infections involve the lower urinary tract — the bladder and the urethra.

*Prophylactic – Preventive healthcare, or prophylaxis, consists of measures taken for disease prevention.

*Cephalexin – is an antibiotic that can treat a number of bacterial infections.

*DMSA scan – stands for dimercaptosuccinic acid. A DMSA scan uses radioactive chemicals to create special pictures of the kidneys. These pictures can help doctors assess how well the kidneys are working. DMSA travels through the body joined to a radioactive chemical. It builds up in the kidneys. Pictures of the kidneys are then taken using a special camera which can detect the radioactive chemical.

*Kinesiology – is a form of therapy that uses muscle monitoring (biofeedback) to look at imbalances that may be causing disease in the body. It aims to detect and correct imbalances that may relate to stress, nutrition or minor injuries. Kinesiology is not used to diagnose disorders.

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