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The pain of living with interstitial cystitis

CUMBERLAND HEAD - The month of October is Interstitial Cystitis Awareness Month, but for people like Wendy Farrell, there doesn't have to be a month on the calendar to be aware of what can be a very painful urinary bladder disease.

Farrell was been living with interstitial cystitis, commonly referred to as IC, for more than a decade. However, it wasn't until about two years ago her condition was formally diagnosed.

"The doctors I saw didn't know what it was," said the 31-year-old Farrell. "A lot of times they thought it was a urinary tract infection, but there was no sign of infection."

It wasn't until consulting with a urologist in Williston, Vt., and undergoing a series of tests that Farrell was diagnosed with IC, she said.

"What they do is put you [under anesthesia] and fill your bladder and see how the inside of it looks when it is stretched," explained Farrell. "People with IC have a lot of ulcers or red marks inside their bladder."

Though many of the signs of IC appear the same and are marked with frequent and painful urination, some experience varying degrees of pain in the bladder or pelvic region. Pain typically increases during urination and sexual intercourse, making it very difficult for someone with IC to enjoy a normal life.

"It's different for everybody," Farrell said of the level of pain. "But, for me, it's living every day with constant pressure and pain. It's uncomfortable."

"Thankfully, I have a great husband who is very understanding and there for me for everything," she added.

Many things affect the level of pain she feels, said Farrell.

"Food affects it. Stress effects it," she said. "And, the best way to describe it, so other people could understand it, is that it feels like I have razor blades inside that are moving around as I'm walking or moving."

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