Monday, October 1, 2012

my urinary tract: a manual

If you are grossed out by the topics of urinary tracts or feminine-specific health, just look away now. There's no point in you toughing it out - it's not going to get better.
Here's the thing: I've had more urinary tract infections (UTIs) in my life than I can count. I am crazy prone to them. Like, so much so that if I drink too many sweetened (or LAWDY artificially sweetened) beverages relative to my water intake, I'd feel one starting immediately. I took antibiotics ONCE, they didn't completely get rid of it, so I took matters into my own hands. For the past, like, 10 years I've employed a regimen of increased water intake, D-Mannose, and being really stringent about going to the bathroom after sex. It's always been super effective.
Here's the other thing: Ladies are all kinds of embarrassed to talk about them, so I had NO idea what was going on the first time, and have always been super awkward about making excuses for myself, and this stigma pisses me off. I shouldn't have to squirm and stammer about why I can't take part in long outdoor events sometimes. If I were sick, I'd say "I'm nauseated" or "I have an upset stomach." If I had a headache, I'd just say so. Saying, "I have a UTI and I'm just really uncomfortable at the moment," should not be a big deal. But it is. Especially if you're talking to dudes. People who are not sexually interested in vaginas I can excuse. But for anyone who wants the pink? GET COMFORTABLE. I assume you want to experience only healthy vaginas, so maybe become an active participant in that being a reality. Blah. Soapboxes.
Here's the otherest thing: When I was 7 I had a kidney infection, and then a bladder infection. Because this whole system of mine is just such a frigging mess.
So. On Friday I started to feel symptoms. They came on faster than usual, but I drank probably a gallon of water over the course of the day, and wore loose clothes, and figured that would be that. Saturday was worse. That evening I made an emergency run to the store for my D-Mannose, and felt slight relief. Sunday morning I took another supplement, drank a ton of water, and....felt worse.
The Foliage suggested I call my midwife, but NO WAY was I going to do that. It's just a UTI! We are old pals! I got this! I hate saying UTI out loud! Then, in church*, I was so miserable just being confined to one non-bathroom place for AN HOUR, and afterwards couldn't even bear to do a single lap of the farmer's market, I figured I'd take a look at my midwife emergency-situation-list.
They give you this card that they mark on during every visit, and you keep. It has your blood pressure, fetal heartbeat, etc. On the back is a list of call-immediately-do-not-wait-or-email situations. About halfway down the list is a bullet point that describes the symptoms of a UTI. Well shit. So I called, and told her when things had started, my history, and that I really try to avoid antibiotics.
Then she voices the fear that my reasonable mind has been whispering for days: "I don't want this to progress and have you end up on an IV in the hospital for a kidney infection." That. Would be terrible. And obviously then I'd be forced to take a TON of antibiotics, and the natural route didn't seem to be working, and apparently pregnancy causes UTIs to progress WAY faster than normal, because everything going on in the cervical/vaginal area is just rife with moisture and therefore a breeding ground for problems.
She had me come over to her house immediately, and called in a prescription for me, and collected a sample. At her house. That was strange and might be its own post eventually. And now I am on antibiotics. Which is kind of upsetting to me, but the potential relief and peace of mind is worth it I GUESS. Dear kid, you better appreciate the fact that I am currently murdering all the good bacteria I've worked to build up in my body, so I can save you from my hypothetical kidney infection. Ugh. You just take and you take. Love or whatever, Mama.
If you are also someone who has had, or is suffering from, a UTI - I'm sorry. That sucks. Here's what I recommend:
  • Avoid antibiotics. In my experience, they just make your body resistant, and then you get even crazier strains of the infection.
  • Drink a ton of water. A TON.
  • Cranberry juice hasn't ever worked for me, but I have heard that the PURE stuff, mixed with water, is effective.
  • Always go to the bathroom after having an orgasm. Or after fooling around/whatevs, even if you don't get off. If you have the latter situation, adjust your life, because that's only acceptable like once a year if you're super tired or distracted.
  • If your partner's going to manually stimulate you, his/her hands should be clean. This sounds obvious. But sometimes sexytimes start when no one's expecting it and you're not thinking, "this guy was pulling weeds like 5 minutes ago."
  • Front. To. Back.
  • D-Mannose is THE TITS.
  • I also know someone who has consumed vinegar, with apparently good results. I tried doing this once and couldn't handle it. But I was also pretty wimpy at the time, and found the tasteless D-Mannose before I got that desperate again.
You're not alone. You and your effed up vag are in my thoughts. Godspeed.
*One of the lines in the Gospel this week was, "...anyone who is not against you is for you." Which is not a sentiment often voiced by Christians, and I found to be fascinating. Of course the priest's homily focused on the later lines that said things like, "If your hand's making you sin, cut it off!" Which, duh, is hyperbole. Got it. I could probably write an entire post on considering this one quote. Probably won't. But could.


Liz said...

Supermarket cranberry juice is all sugar and basically causes the same problems as drinking any other sugary stuff.

Trader Joe's has straight cranberry juice, and like you said, it works. Immediately. Amazingly. But holy crap, is it the worst stuff you've ever poured in your mouth.

Blergh, UTI's. BLERGH. said...

J is very concerned about my lady bit health. He won't let me go to sleep after until I pee, which I totally resent but secretly appreciate.

Anonymous said...

Dear namesake,

I have been getting infections for decades. Mine started with a not-so-ok delivery and now come on from about twice a year from severe stress (and, ironically, some vacations. I have been to serveral different hospitals in Maine, for instance). I have become immune to one antibiotic from taking it so many times, so I am very careful. I take pure cranberry pills (from Whole Foods) every morning. My naturopath turned my onto the pills as opposed to the pure juice, which tastes terrible and expensive. I don't know if the pure cranberry pills would hurt sprout, but it is worth checking out.

Jo said...

D-Mannose is THE SHIT. I use that crap all the damn time. It's gotten to where I can feel a UTI coming on and take two doses of that and I'm fine.