New year's eve and I would fill a wine glass with sparkling water, forcing festivity upon myself, while avoiding the mirror that would break the image of someone happy and looking forward to another year. Another year without good food, wine and socializing with family and friends. Another year without travelling. Another year without my sexuality.
I remember everything. The harrowing days of excruciating pain. Watching people eat all of the foods that caused me further pain. Every single radio, television or magazine ad seemed to scream at me constantly that I was not a vibrant, sexual woman engaged in a normal life. Some friends and family faded out of my life or told me to take some cranberry capsules for my bladder infection that seemed to have been lingering on now,-for what- five years now? 'Get a grip.' their eyes said to me as they never tried to pronounce even once the name of the disease that was my constant companion.
I remember my bladder feeling full of lead and my vagina feeling like it was on fire. On and on and on again. Every single day. I remember the first time an IC patient became my friend and my confidant. I remember the relief I felt in that moment. 'I am not alone. I am not crazy. I am wanted.' I remember a vow I made to myself and to my first IC friend, that if I overcame IC I would work to help others, by supporting them and being an advocate for their pain and isolation. I remember everything and because of this I say to every IC patient "I believe your pain is real. I also believe in you and your strength. Hold onto hope, as I hold out my hand in friendship."