As I see the images of the devastation in Japan following a massive earth quake and tsunami tiny prickles run down my arms as I remember similar events which occurred in Sri Lanka during the Christmas holidays a few years ago. I remember the time frame so clearly in my mind because the tsunami in Sri Lanka happened the same year, 2004,that my body was overcome with IC. Waves of emotions now sweep over me as I remember all that has happened since my first initial diagnosis of IC and where I am today. I do not believe that I could fully understand the pain and suffering of others without enduring excruciating pain from IC and I hope that now that my IC is in remission that I can help others who are suffering as my way of giving back.
A sweet female relative of mine was recently in town visiting and asked me what IC was and how it affects patients. Her first question still stands out clearly in my head: "Can you die from it?" I must admit that I could not immediately answer with a definitive 'no' even though the diagnosis is not a terminal one, like cancer, but it is just as final in that that it is determined to be an incurable disease. In a flash I remembered that so many times I felt that I had died when IC consumed my body and who or what that was leftover was not really 'me'. I also thought of my dear friend J.P. who passed away last year who had both I.C. and cancer and so it was very difficult for me to answer quickly. The best I could answer was that technically you do not die from IC but many IC patients wish that they could die swiftly after enduring years and years without sleep or relief from the constant pain.
My dear cousin, one of a handful cancer survivors in my family, I thank you for your interest and your questions about IC. It is in these moments that I find the unexpected gifts that surviving IC has taught me: strength enough to educate people who have never heard of IC with strength leftover to support others still in the swirling, murky aftershocks of their own private earthquake of pain and grief. Tonight I send out prayers for all who are suffering this week.