on the eve of a long anticipated move to New York City in 1975, my symptoms
started once again. I went in for yet another dilation and antibiotics.
I assumed the symptoms would stop, as they always had, following this course
of treatment. But they did not. As my husband and I drove slowly to New
York we made endless stops at restaurants and gas stations to accomodate
my constant urge to urinate. Nights I made 15 to 20 trips to the bathroom,
hardly sleeping, more and more terrified.
My intestinal problems
worsened also. I had constant gas and severe constipation. Now, there was
another frightening and mysterious aspect of my cystitis. Dozens of urinalyses
over the next 10 years would reveal infection only once! And later I would
discover that no infection was found from 1972 to 1975 either. What, then
was causing all this misery?
The next six years were spent merely coping and
in fruitless trips to specialists in an effort to get help. In the beginning
I cried quietly through breakfast and dressing for work, right to the elevator
door. My marriage, already problematic, quickly degenerated. We were divorced
within two years. An old friend from Minneapolis wrote that she would like
to visit me for a couple of weeks. I was chronically depressed and too exhausted
to respond. Three months later she was dead of a suicide. Her husband told
me she, too, had
severe health problems. My sister came and went and I was almost indifferent
to her efforts to comfort me. A friend from Europe stayed with me for two
weeks while she was in New York and I didn't even have the energy to fill
my refrigerator for her.
The years from 1975 to 1982 were not without joy.
I married an old high school friend living in New York and I had a good
job. But even summer vacations in Maine with David, which should have been
idyllic in every way, were very difficult for him and sometimes almost unendurable
for me. I envied the stranger on the street, the poorest soul on the subway
his physical peace.
In the fall of 1979 a teaching urologist
said he thought he could help me with an operation involvingelectrical cauterization
of the irritated neck of the bladder. Other urologists told me they had
not been able to duplicate his results. I was terrified of further manipulation
of the bladder, especially afraid I would become incontinent. But I was
also desperate. I underwent the operation.
After a two-month recuperation, my bladder seemed
better. But the level of urgency gradually returned.
Four months after David and I were married, I became
pregnant, and despite my health problems I was determined to have the baby.
Irrationally, I hoped it would somehow help. I asked my gynecologist if
she anticipated that my bladder would get worse with the pregnancy. She
said there was no way to know. Then