A CROSLAND MOOR woman has drunk nothing but water for 13 years because of a debilitating bladder illness.
Now Beverly Greenfield, 62, is on a mission to raise awareness about a condition so painful it drives some sufferers to suicide.
The mum-of-one’s agonising symptoms first started when she was 49.
For years, doctors treated her with antibiotics for bacterial cystitis.
But Beverly continued to suffer repeated attacks and constantly found herself back at her doctors asking for help.
Eventually the hairdresser was diagnosed with interstitial cystitis – which is inflammation of the bladder wall, not caused by bacteria at all.
There is no cure and medics can only help alleviate the symptoms which include bladder pain and the constant urge to urinate.
The only permanent relief is to undergo major surgery to remove the bladder.
Beverly said: “It has been a nightmare because people are not aware of it.
“Time just drags on and on and you think ‘why am I getting this?’ The doctors don’t know and even the consultants can’t help that much. It is so isolating.
“It is debilitating really. Painkillers do not touch the pain. There is nowhere to turn. I just grit my teeth and bear it.”
Beverly has tried a number of treatments over the years including Botox. In her case, it has made the pain worse.
She has found relief from using an analgesic inflammatory drug called RIMSO 50, which she has to pump into her bladder herself using a catheter.
She added: “There is just no-one who can help me.
“I can stand severe pain because I have had a back condition for many years.
“I have coped quite well as I have a high pain threshold. But you can’t take your mind off this pain at all.
“I just try to carry on. I even sat on a plane to Australia in agony. I never want to do that again.
“It has been a hundred times worse since the Botox. I would advise people not to go for that.
“My diet has played a big part in controlling it.”
Beverly has found controlling the amount of acid in her diet is the key to preventing flare-ups. She has cut many things out of her diet including alcohol, caffeine, fruit, pickles, tomatoes, cheese and yoghurt.
She added: “I wouldn't dare cheat. I stick to it 100%. I have only drunk water for 13 years. It definitely helps.”
She has also received support from the Cystitis and Overactive Bladder (COB) Foundation, which offers sufferers local help in Leeds.
The Foundation carries out research and keeps patients informed about the illness and any new treatments. It also runs a support group and aims to raise awareness of the condition.
“The support group has been fantastic,” Beverly added.
Alison Ellis from the COB Foundation urged people concerned about their symptoms not to suffer in silence.
She said: “The effects of this condition can be devastating on a person’s physical and mental well being and can lead to very severe depression in some cases.”
For further support and information visit: www.cobfoundation.org.