UTI + menstruation = stuck in the tub for 10 days?
February 22, 2010 11:21 AM   Subscribe

I am in serious pain with a supposed UTI. Any suggestions on ways for me to get through this without losing my mind? Waiting to get culture back from hospital, my symptoms are not typical. Scared it's something worse...

I woke up yesterday feeling just fine, got up, peed, and screamed in absolute agony. I mean, I had to stop peeing because it felt like broken glass.

My urethral opening is very swollen, painful to the touch (I can't bear to touch it) and I ended up in the emergency room. They catheterized me and took samples, which caused more screaming. I was prescribed Azo, Macrobid and ibuprofen.

I feel none of the other UTI symptoms; no urgency, no need to pee frequently, no bladder pain, no nausea (except from the pills I'm taking now). The only symptom I have is constant, extreme pain at the urethral opening. It's so bad I can only sit up comfortably on an ice pack. The nurse thought it unusual that I had none of the UTI symptoms, and her poking and pushing showed no tenderness.

I was tested for STDs and have none. Boyfriend and I did have sex five times the day before, however, then went on a vigorous 3-mile hike and a party after where I drank 2-3 glasses of champagne.

They are culturing the samples for MRSA in my bladder because I have a history and am considered "colonized" after 4-5 serious infections, the last of which was in 2007.

After 24 hours on meds, NOTHING is helping with the pain. Even peeing in a tub of lukewarm water, I still am screaming and crying from the pain and can't bear to touch anything down there.

Worse, I'm scheduled to start my period sometime today. I am dreading trying to deal with blood and pee with pain so severe I can't touch myself or dress myself at all from the waist down. Any advice on how to manage a period when I can't use a tampon or a pad at all?

I am allergic to opiates. Could this really not be a UTI and something more sinister? I'm stumped and really uncomfortable (and have a charity event to attend tomorrow night with non-refundable tickets, unfortunately).

This is my second "UTI" ever in my medical history. Thanks for any helpful suggestions in advance -- my neighbors must think I'm doing scream therapy.
posted by Unicorn on the cob to Health & Fitness (37 answers total)
OUCH! so sorry to hear you are experiencing this, sounds awful. Talk to your pharmacist....there is this pill, now over the counter, that turns your pee orange. Not medicinal, will not cure a thing, but whatever it puts in your pee anesthesizes your urethra when you pee and you don't feel the pain associated from peeing with a UTI. I don't know if it would be helpful with a non-UTI but I'd ask the pharmacist about it. They will know exactly what you are talking about when you ask about the pill that turns your pee orange. feel better.
posted by Lylo at 11:27 AM on February 22, 2010

I suggest you return to the ER.
posted by amro at 11:28 AM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

oh, and of course ask the pharmacist if that pill is contraindicated with any conditions you might possibly have and not know about yet...........
posted by Lylo at 11:33 AM on February 22, 2010

Lylo, I'm taking the prescription-strength version of the pill you're describing and it's only allowed me to be able to pee in the tub without breaking out into a sweat from the pain (I'm taking 3x-4x the dosage you can buy at the store over the counter). I hate the idea of going back to the ER... but I will if it doesn't improve.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 11:34 AM on February 22, 2010

Maybe this is a silly question, but the ER staff heard about your activities the day before, right? Did they rule out a physical injury/irritation to the area?
posted by heyforfour at 11:56 AM on February 22, 2010

Call your doctor back and explain what you told us. This is worth being pushy about.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:01 PM on February 22, 2010

OMG, you poor thing. I know the ER sucks, but the longer you wait, the longer you put off feeling better.

I'd immediately go back to the emergency room or your doctor's office if I were in that kind of pain. You shouldn't have to suffer like that at home while waiting for test results - go in, be pushy and don't leave until you get some actual relief.

Hope you feel better soon.
posted by Space Kitty at 12:23 PM on February 22, 2010

Okay, after a call I have the go-ahead to double the AZO and Ibuprofen for three days. I'll report back if that works...

In regards to our activities, yeah, I told them. What's weird is that isn't unusual for us in the least, so I was surprised as anybody at the... um... irritation.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 12:31 PM on February 22, 2010

Yea no one should be in that much pain. Perhaps you have a kidney stone that can't pass your urethra. :( I'm sorry if you're in pain but this doesnt' sound right.
posted by stormpooper at 12:42 PM on February 22, 2010

Hot baths, and when you pee, pee whilst sitting in a hot bath.
posted by kmennie at 12:44 PM on February 22, 2010

Emphasis "hot" -- not lukewarm -- sorry!
posted by kmennie at 12:45 PM on February 22, 2010

If the increased painkillers don't get you to a bearable, non-screamy level of pain, go back to the ER. Don't tough it out for three days.
posted by desuetude at 12:47 PM on February 22, 2010

Oh, man. I'm so sorry. One thought for menstrual issues--a disposable underpad or a bed pad. Also called "chucks."

Here's an example of what I mean:

Hopefully you can find them at a large pharmacy or discount store--or if you know someone who works in a lab, they may have some around they could swipe for you. You could also take an adult diaper and cut it to open up flat and it could be used the same way also.

(Hell, some old towels you aren't attached to could serve the same purpose in the short term.)
posted by divka at 12:49 PM on February 22, 2010

Well, for the menstruation, I have one idea you could try. For me, any irritation that comes with my period is from the dryness of the tampons or pads, either from the abrasiveness of them against my skin or from the whole area being dried out by the end, and kind of itchy (more bacteria then, perhaps? ew.)

So I'd suggest getting some Insteads or a Diva Cup. Here's what I'm thinking... you have to insert them, and that can't be pleasant, but they're smooth, at least, and they last a long time, and they don't have to be horribly awkward going in or out, and then you'll be keeping your natural antibacterial moisture (such as it is while you're on meds) unaltered by absorbent things.

PLUS, maybeslather KY all over yourself so you don't have a single moment's sticking or stinging. Jeez, are there topical anesthetics for ladyparts? Like prepration H or something? I would think something like this exists for post-apesiotomies at least. That plus an abnormal amount of personal lubricant seems like the best way to cope through a period to me.

Or I dunno what you have to do (work, gettin' around) or how heavy a flow you have, but you could resort to a water-douche or just a gentle rinse with the shower head to keep clean instead.

I'd definitely encourage you to just focus on your comfort as much as possible, and to me, that would mean keeping yourself clean and slippery.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:15 PM on February 22, 2010

I would second the suggestion of soft towels or sheets to catch the blood. Adult diapers might work, but might be too crinkly and could irritate the area. Unless you could manage to push them down a bit.

This might be a dumb idea, but have you tried peeing in a cold bath?
posted by Koko at 1:21 PM on February 22, 2010

Lylo is talking about pyridium, which I give to all my patients with UTIs who have no contraindication. You certainly could have a UTI as well, but there are plenty of other possibilities. Worth speaking with your doctor.
posted by gramcracker at 1:58 PM on February 22, 2010

Did you make a dinner involving chicken?
posted by srboisvert at 2:37 PM on February 22, 2010

I've found that typically the antibiotics kick in somewhere around dose 2-4. So keep up the AZO/pyridium and ibuprofen and hang in there! If you continue to have pain, check back with your doctor on the cultures and make sure your infection is sensitive to Macrobid. The pain should go away when the antibiotics have started to work, but you must still take the full course because this does not mean your infection is gone yet.

The only other thing I've tried with my patients for severe topical irritation is lidocaine jelly. We use this in the hospital to numb up the urethra before putting in a bladder catheter. I believe you may be able to get this over the counter but your doctor could also call it in for you. It is just basically a numbing gel to put on your skin/mucous membranes, it is not a permanent solution but it could help.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 3:35 PM on February 22, 2010

Also, you may not be wanting to drink much because of the pain of peeing, but you really need to be taking in a lot of fluid if this is either a UTI or a kidney stone (Kidney problems can be very painful, so that would be my second guess). The more water you drink, the better.

I'm so sorry, this sounds excruciating!
posted by misha at 4:38 PM on February 22, 2010

No dinner involving chicken, I haven't cooked in days. The double up is making it less screamy, more stinging really, and I have chugged 4 bottles of water so far today. Cooler water DOES help a bit.

I was wondering about something topical. It's swollen and scary because they stuck in the catheter after swabbing me with what my BF said looked like straight iodine and it's been very swollen/painful there since then.

Can I put neosporin with painkiller RIGHT ON THE AREA? It seems like it would work... sigh. I've had 3 doses of the antibiotics but dose 4 comes tomorrow morning. I'm trying to sleep and chug water and that's basically it.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 5:06 PM on February 22, 2010

they stuck in the catheter after swabbing me with what my BF said looked like straight iodine and it's been very swollen/painful there since then

Have you ever had an allergic reaction to iodine before? I have a fairly severe allergy to topical iodine, which results in a burning, blistery rash wherever it touches me; maybe you have an iodine allergy as well? (I can't even imagine how it would feel to have it jammed into my urethra. I think I might actually prefer anaphylaxis.)

Also, it was probably Betadine, which is the most common surgical scrub.
posted by elizardbits at 5:31 PM on February 22, 2010

Not that I know of... although I don't encounter iodine regularly I do know I've used it before.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 5:45 PM on February 22, 2010

Can I put neosporin with painkiller RIGHT ON THE AREA? It seems like it would work... sigh. I've had 3 doses of the antibiotics but dose 4 comes tomorrow morning. I'm trying to sleep and chug water and that's basically it.

Well. I just googled this a little, and it seems like a better option would be a sex-specific numbing cream, like anal-eze... which is functionally the same thing as Orajel, benzocaine, which is also found in vaginal anti-itch creams.

Go get some benzocaine cream!!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 5:45 PM on February 22, 2010

Go back to the doctor. I've had a few UTIs which were bad but not as bad as you are describing and when I took the meds (the one that turns your pee orange and the antibiotic) I felt better within a day. You might have something else like a kidney stone or something 'cause what you are describing would be the UTI from Hell!
posted by MsKim at 6:03 PM on February 22, 2010

I'm not at all a doctor. I have had a few UTIs. I really recommend going back to the doctor so you can get more relief, but wanted to share that for me Azo helped eliminate the symptoms that you say you are missing (sense of urgency, bladder pain/cramping feeling, etc.). Possibly that's why you aren't having those symptoms.

Just one more thought: If your period is regular because you take the Pill, could you skip the sugar pills and move directly to the first pill of your next pack, so you skip your period?
posted by Houstonian at 6:29 PM on February 22, 2010

Yeah, I have a spare pack of pills. Haven't started yet, definitely thinking about skipping my period a week... hell, scratch that. Taking pill now! Great suggestion, Houstonian!

I have a reputable urologist on standby and I will call in the morning if the pain hasn't massively subsided. Thank god for sick days and AskMe... y'all have been very helpful and I needed the support today, thank you all so much.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 8:23 PM on February 22, 2010

All I can offer is the mention of drinking plenty of cranberry juice in addition to water and that it's resolved soon. My Dad has had kidney stones, including one the size of a 9mm bullet, that didn't seem to cause him the pain you are having.

Is there anything at all that you've done differently before this happened? New food? New underwear? New laundry detergent or body soap?

I had a friend try one of the "exciting" lubes that had a bad, bad reaction. Convinced me that the extra "heat" sure wasn't worth the risk. Just throwing that out there.

Hope you feel better soon.
posted by lilywing13 at 2:36 AM on February 23, 2010

All I can offer is the mention of drinking plenty of cranberry juice in addition to water

My MD said cranberry juice counteracts the pyridium, so it's either-or. (Personal experience backed this up, I'm afraid.)
posted by small_ruminant at 10:15 AM on February 23, 2010

I saw the urologist and got on painkillers today. They are waiting to get back the test results; it may be MRSA in my bladder. Good times. Assuming it's anything that won't kill me I'll be ok, but I spent the day in the hospital again today having MORE tests... ugh.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 4:24 PM on February 23, 2010

Ugh! How awful! (Also, thanks for the follow up!)
posted by small_ruminant at 7:39 PM on February 23, 2010

I was also thinking of you today, Unicorn. Wishing you and your ladybits very very very very soothing thoughts. Very.
posted by desuetude at 8:27 PM on February 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm on a comical amount of drugs now that they can't figure this out. I'm being treated for three different types of infections "just in case."

I am hopeful I will have some test results tomorrow (since they never called today) and more next Friday... until then, my only update is that I have a very patient boyfriend and no love for catheters.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 3:10 PM on February 24, 2010

I'm on a comical amount of drugs now

Including some for pain, I'm hoping!
posted by small_ruminant at 3:44 PM on February 24, 2010

Pain meds? Yes, I am on ibuprofen, pyridium AND toradol. DANG.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 4:47 PM on February 24, 2010

Drum roll... the answer is I had the beginnings of kidney stones (i.e., crystallization in my urethra) and putting in the catheter scraped that out (or something like that). I had a mild infection plus inflammation, and all the tests, scrapings, stress and whatnot just made it worse. I'm ok today and the pain is done with and I'm clear from here on out, I just have to leave my hoo-ha alone. Hooray!

I never thought I'd be happy about a surprise catheter, but thanks, weird ER lady.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 9:26 PM on February 25, 2010

Oh, thank goodness!

And I'm glad to hear that those medieval-torture-device-like catheters are good for something.
posted by misha at 7:58 AM on February 26, 2010

Hooray for no pain! That sounded just SO awful for you!
posted by small_ruminant at 10:33 AM on February 26, 2010

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