Hannah Wheeler, aged 27, a property co-ordinator from Solihull, suffered with frequent, painful cystitis for seven years before seeking treatment with Mr Zaki Almallah.
“It all started when I was 18 and had just started at university. The pain was dreadful – it was like going to the toilet and trying to pass razor blades. I felt like I needed to go to the toilet all the time, even though there was nothing there. But I couldn’t leave the bathroom.
“I would have cystitis two or three times a month, lasting two or three days each time. It ruined my life. I missed lectures, social events and concerts because I was in so much pain. It was so bad that I had to rush to the local Accident and Emergency Department one night.
“But when I went to see GPs, they just saw me as a student and thought I was trying to get out of doing my work. I would be fobbed off with antibiotics, which never worked. They had this attitude that cystitis is one of those things you just have to put up with. I don’t think anyone should have to put up with that sort of pain and distress.
“I became really desperate and went to see Mr Almallah at the Priory Hospital. It was such a relief to meet someone who took it seriously and was determined to help.
“I had an exploratory operation to establish what was causing the repeated cystitis. Mr Almallah discovered that I had Interstitial Cystitis, which is very different to the form of cystitis caused by an infection. It means my bladder is particularly prone to inflame and become really painful and tender.
“I realised why the antibiotics had not worked – the problem was this underlying condition, not an infection. Mr Almallah explained that the condition is not curable, but it can be treated.
“I had to go for a treatment where my bladder is filled with a solution of medication. It’s not too bad. The treatment lasts about ten minutes and you have to keep the solution in your bladder for an hour afterwards.
“I can honestly say it has changed my life. After the first treatment, the cystitis went away. At first, I had to go back for treatment every two weeks, then three weeks and now it is every month.
“I was about to get married – I had hoped everything would be sorted out by my wedding and it was amazing to be free from cystitis. I really helped my relationship with my husband. I’m happier in my whole life – at work, socially, in every way. I’ve been clear of cystitis for two years.
“I believe very strongly that no-one should have to put up with the pain and distress of cystitis. I know a lot of people are reluctant to have treatment and like me, when they see a doctor, are not given the support they need.
“But I would say to anyone – don’t put up with cystitis or other bladder problems. They can ruin your life but there are effective treatments for them.”