I thought I would write about this issue one last time, in the hopes of helping out another woman. The internet is filled with misinformation about UTI (Urinary Tract Infections)...Also, what works for one person, won't work for another. So, I figured I would share a bit of what I know and my experiences. A lot of this may be TMI for some. You don't have to read it...
Let me begin by sharing that I do feel somewhat better today. I am on my second day of antibiotics, out of a 7-day course. I am not in excruciating kidney/back pain at the moment, I can walk around and even sit at my laptop, this morning. I go through periods of feeling better, just okay and kinda crumby, still. I take it hour by hour. I am relieved that my pain has improved. Just yesterday, my Husband was helping me get around the apartment. I was either on the couch, with a heating pad on my back, or in bed with chills/sweating/aches. It was awful!
Today, Hubby went back to work. He spent the past few days at home, helping me get around, cooking, cleaning and doing most of the things that I normally do. He's been such a great help. Seriously, this kidney infection is THE WORST I HAVE EVER FELT. I felt like death was coming to get me, for a few days there. I am not exaggerating. I even had the H1N1 Swine Flu back in November 2009. Ummmm...that was a cake-walk compared to this infection.
So, to save yourself from all of this pain, death feeling...go to the doctor much sooner than I did. In my defense, though, I have never had a Urinary Tract Infection in my life. I had heard of them, but it was always "what happened to other women." Not me. So, it did not occur to me until well into the symptoms that this was an actual UTI.
My very first symptom started as burning when I pee, back on Christmas. I kind of ignored it, chalked it up as a fluke, or stress, the holidays, etc. This is the first symptom of a UTI, burning when you urinate. This is a good time to then start drinking A LOT of water and call your doctor. More than likely they will ask for a urine sample and check it for an infection and give you a 3-day round of antibiotics and you are done with it.
So, a day after this all started for me...I began feeling like I had come down with a flu-bug. I was achey all over, fever, chills and occasional sweats, mostly at night. I had insane frequent urination ALL day and NIGHT. I drank crap-tons of water, etc. I even took Vitamin C supplements in the hopes of getting rid of this flu.
I ended up calling my StepMom, who is a retired ER Nurse, and she said it sounded like I have a UTI and that I need to drink a lot of water (duh) and get myself to a doctor. I needed antibiotics to get rid of this. It had already infected my bladder at that point. I had abdominal and lower back pain/cramping by that time, added to all of the other symptoms.
I planned to head up to the local health clinic in a few days, not right away, like I should have. Blah blah blah...hind sight is 20/20. I ended up in the Emergency Room two days earlier than my health clinic appointment.
My symptoms got way worse. So, on top of my burning , crazy frequent peeing, bladder/abdominal pain, fever, chills/sweats, achey flu-like feeling...I developed severe mid-back pain. My entire mid-back did hurt, but it was concentrated more on the left side. The infection had spread to my kidney(s). I went to the ER because of the pain...and also since I am a Type 1 Diabetic...I was scared about my kidneys. Plus, once it gets into one's kidneys, the infection becomes more serious. It could progress into Sepsis (blood poisoning) and even lead to death. Eeeeeek!
I was poked and prodded at the emergency room. I had a nice experience at the hospital. I give props to the OHSU emergency room, in Portland. I had a nice and helpful doctor and I love the nurse that attended me. So, I was given the whole blood pressure, heart monitor, finger prick treatment (glucose test). All of my numbers were elevated, probably due to the infection. It wasn't good. I then gave a urine sample. They lab tested it and only found trace amount of bacteria in my urine. The doctor said that was mostly due to the amount of water I had been drinking. It diluted my urine. They took several vials of blood to be further tested. So, I was pretty much diagnosed with a mild case of a UTI, given a prescription for 3 days of antibiotics and sent home. I would have stayed longer, but the blood labs were taking forever.
Later that evening my doctor calls me back and says my blood work actually shows that I have an elevated white blood cell count and that the infection did reach my kidneys and he changed my antibiotics to a 7 day course, to be on the safe side. I could have told him that it was into my kidney. Excruciating pain does not even begin to cover what I was feeling. I probably should have been admitted for a hospital stay, but relieved that I wasn't.
After my ER visit, I went home and got into bed. I did not get my prescription filled until the next morning when my local pharmacy opened at 9 am. I spent an AWFUL night of worsening pain and the queasiness started. I never vomited, but I was wishing that I could. It was awful. I almost went back to the ER that night with the worsening symptoms. I most assuredly would have been admitted for IV antibiotics then. I managed to hang on until the morning for the antibiotic pills. Once I took my first dose of antibiotics...I slowly began feeling better. Very slowly...
My tale of UTI woe...
- The first symptom is burning urination. Your pee may also be cloudy, or smell differently. Your urine may have blood in it. Mine did. Get thee to a doctor for antibiotics. Before it reaches the bladder and kidneys.
- Drink crap-tons of water. It can help flush infection out. It also dilutes urine to where it won't burn when you pee. THIS DOES NOT MEAN IT IS GONE. It is only temporary relief.
- Cranberry juice is kind of a myth. It can be used as a preventative measure, BUT once you have a UTI...not going to help much. Drinking water is better. Also, you need to consume 100% juice, no sugar added, bitter tasting, expensive cranberry juice to be any kind of helpful. The nurse at the ER recommended a cranberry pill supplement that you take once a day to PREVENT urinary tract infections. This is a good idea for women who have recurring UTI problems.
- Things to avoid during a UTI, in my experience...sugar, caffeine, soda, coffee! I limit my sugar intake anyways, being a diabetic. I do love my caffeine and coffee, though. I drink a lot of coffee every single day. I had to cut it out completely. I've had caffeine headaches, even. I have had one cup of coffee in the last 10 days. I regretted that one cup of coffee with my infection. Within an hour of drinking it and the following 4 + hours after...I had abdominal pain, bladder spasms, intense burning urination and just bad, bad, bad...Save yourself the issues and lay off the coffee. It will be hard, believe me. I still have not had any coffee and I am on the antibiotics. I'm nervouse about tying any...I did try a caffeine free, sugar free soda yesterday evening and I felt fine with it, but this is just me.
- I have been taking Exedrin Extra Strength as my pain reliever. It is what I had, on hand, as my pain reliever...Because Ibuprofen or Aspirin wasn't gonna cover my pain. I use the Exedrin normally for my hormonal migraines and I know it helps with the pain and lasts up to 6 hours at a time. It did help manage the pain of things, a bit. Towards the end, nothing was helping my kidney/back pain, hence why I ended up going to the ER. I am taking Aleve at the moment and it works well too. One thing I can recommend for the kidney/back pain is a heating pad. It worked wonders for me.
I think that is it, for now. I am still pretty sick, working my way to starting to feel better. I still hurt. I am more flu-like achey, with occasional twinges of back pain. I am exhausted most of the time, even after having slept most of the night or day. I feel tired just walking around the apartment. I force myself to eat food, mostly for the antibiotics. My appetite is not back yet. I do still get the chills and the sweats, but they are becoming less frequent. I haven't had any lower abdominal (bladder) pain in about 15 hours. I still have some occasional and minor burning when I urinate, but it is improving too. I drink insane amounts of water!!! No coffee, still. I'm afraid to even take a sip. THAT is how bad it hurt, after drinking one cup on Monday morning. I never realized how much coffee can affect ones kidneys and/or bladder in a negative way. So, I am thinking IF I do go back to consuming coffee...I will be a 1-2 cup a day coffee person. You know, limit myself?
Through this whole illness I have learned a lot about how the kidneys work and probably way more about a person's urinary tract. More than I wanted to know, for sure. I am now educated and ready to tackle this shit again, if I become a recurrent UTI sufferer. Let's hope not.
I am now very tired. I have been sitting at my laptop for over an hour. I am off to take a pain pill and go and lay down on the couch, I think. I am around...off and on, on the internet. I go through spurts. I am slowly going to get back into real life and internet life again. I have been so out of it for the past...10 days. Oh, I may even try to knit a few rows later this afternoon. Seriously, no knitting has been performed for a while now. I am ready.
Have a great day, everyone. I apologize for being so long-winded...Toodles!