Yet another urinary tract infection causes a complete change of plans

What's a columnist to do when a too-familiar symptom of a UTI returns?

John Connor avatar

by John Connor |

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What follows is something of an emergency column. All of yesterday’s writing had to be scrapped. I’m now down at the bottom of Column Mountain, squinting up through the clouds and mist, trying to work out again what’s the best route to climb.

Last night, I knew the dreaded urinary tract infection (UTI) had once again exploded from my bladder. No pain, no fever, but having just had a pee, I felt the desperate urge to do another one.

Once again, the ability to actually wee out of my penis was back, which only happens with a UTI ever since my sphincter door smashed shut circa 2011. All completely involuntarily, mind; it would just pump away merrily on its own all night. There’d also be an accompanying light burning sensation, the classic UTI symptom. I sort of treasure it — anything that reminds me of the life that’s passed.

Yup, I can get flowery and maudlin with the best of ’em. Soz.

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How I Survived My Odyssey With a Urinary Tract Infection

Lucky preparation

By rights, I’m usually being shipped off to the hospital right about now, rather than actually writing. Strangely, I feel fine. How come? Well, this time I was ready.

I’d just done another full dose of steroids to fight off last week’s ailment of bullous pemphigoid, and that was bound to set off one of the legion of UTI bugs that are firmly embedded in my bladder wall.

It’s come down to the antibiotic doxycycline (a tetracycline), which I’ve been prescribed by the lower urinary tract symptoms service at Whittington Hospital. In the past, I’d get a prophylactic dose of something like 50 mg a day; this time, though, it’s 200 mg — twice the 100 mg cited in the drug package leaflet.

Yes, I really am under the deadline cosh. That’s why this week’s wittering reads more like the setup to a math test. So if I take my pills for two months, how many pills will I need? Come on, it’s straightforward — no using your phones. That means you, matey. Actually, with women being three times more likely than us blokes to have multiple sclerosis (MS), you’re probably female. No flirtish laughter to try to get out of it. That goes for you fellas, too.

Right, back to the story. It turns out my disease markers are about the same as those taken last October. So after many rounds of high-grade hospital antibiotics, the little critters embedded in my bladder have survived everything. They’re the cockroaches of the bacteria world.

Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Si avatar



As a fellow Londoner with MS I read all your columns. But I’m starting to think about when I’d want to call it a day. I was diagnosed before you but early treatment / luck has kept the worst at bay. However, as I approach 60, the walking stick is coming out more and more and the spasticity in my right leg / foot is starting to bite. I read your columns and in some ways they are akin to a crystal ball. I’m likely to be in your position in 5-10 years time.. But the constant infections, co-morbidities, carer visits etc. aren’t a destination I want to end up at. How much more battering can you take? I often think of the concept of bravery with regard to MS. Some think it’s brave to just continue accumulating damage, others that it’s brave to call it a day when you still can. What keeps you going in the face of this bitch of a disease?

John Connor avatar

John Connor

Hi Si,
Sorry haven't replied earlier but as a fellow Londoner have been enjoying our one week of summer this Sept. For anyone else bothering to read my reply to you it's been the hottest Sept week in the UK since records began. Such records r def having a hot streak!
Your reply also knocked me in the mental solar plexus. My decline has been so catastrophic that as I've just got the top off one crisis the next just loomed in the distance.
I also went for my only swim of the summer this week and did a lot of exercise pootling around on my back. Have to wear a nifty life preserver these days.
It finally hit me how disabled I am. How my whole family had to invest time in getting me in the water, then keeping beady eyes on me and the palaver of getting me out. It is far worse than dealing with a toddler. What toddler’s weigh 18 stone?
Bravery has nothing to do with MS. I’ve been quite open with my family; they’ve said to open about being pragmatic of how far I’m willing to go. My left hand still works so I can type. My intellect survives enough that writing is the struggle it always was. Writing a column about MS has helped.
So yes, I’ve gone further than I thought I would. But then I’ve always been a tenacious S.O.B. It’s in my nature.
Cheers John
PS The time I’ve taken to write this won’t be wasted as I mean to write my next column about this. I will be liberally plagiarising it.

Madelon avatar


Boy can I relate. Can't how many times I was hospitalized for urinary tract infections.

DaveEncinas avatar


John I feel you brother! One of MS's gifts to me was lack of bladder control and a permanent catheter.I'm triple blessed, the predilections of MS warrior, catheter owners, and Ocrevus recipIents to UTIS. I've been lucky only two this year.

Richard Hagan avatar

Richard Hagan

I have had my fair share of UTI’s over the years. Sometimes 4 to 6 per year. I just took a picture of the ampule and it is 1 mL/ampule, Neomycin and Polymyxin B Sulfates, Solution for Irrigation. I mix one ampule in 500ml saline solution. I draw up about 6mL in a 20 mL syringe. I use the syringe, without any needle, and holding my penis in my hand I open the tip of your penis and squeeze in a 2 to 3mL of solution. I do not flush the bladder. None of the antibiotic gets into the bladder. The solution only goes into the urethra acting as a water balloon making it very easy to insert your catheter. I use the VaPro Plus Pocket by Hollister.
Using this method I have not had a UTI in over 8 years. Heck it could be even more I just lost count. I have MS and was first diagnosed in 1984. It has progressed over the years to the point that I am now rated by the VA as SMC-R2. I have been stable since 2003.

John Connor avatar

John Connor

Hi Rich,
I don't get UTI's thru infection. I'm pretty scrupulous about the process. Mine r on board constantly in my bladder. They've dug in like an army on the Western front. So far no amount of shelling the bacteria with antibiotics has really killed them.
Cheers John

Kit Minden avatar

Kit Minden

ADoxy failed for me. I am trying a lemon powder made from whole lemon since lemon essential oil has been shown to kill e coli in a lab. Hope it's under control fast!

Loralyn Conover avatar

Loralyn Conover

Start using D-Mannose it grabs onto the infection in your bladder and is then flushed out every time you pee.I honestly for the life of me cannot understand why doctors are not telling patients this information . If your infection is REALLY bad combine it with L- Ruteri you can get both of these on AMAZON or any vitamin shop!

Nancy avatar


I agree with you here Loralyn. I believe it also helps to keep the bladder ph more neutral. I ended up drinking 1-2 teaspoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice in about 10 oz of warm/hot water every morning before I do anything else. Sometimes during the day too if I feel something brewing! It seems to have really helped me.

Cynthia L Carter avatar

Cynthia L Carter

Hi John -
I too have MS. Diagnosed in 2002 so I'm over 20 years in. I'm in a powerchair and not able to walk any more. I just want to say that D-Mannose works for me as well. I used to get uti's so often. It seemed like a week after I finished taking an antibiotic for one uti, another one would crop up. Vicious and miserable cycle.
About 4 years ago, I started taking D-Mannose twice a day. Once in the morning and once at night. About a teaspoon dissolved in about 1/2 cup water each time. Well, hallelujah! I haven't had a single uti since then! Not one. Give it go, John. I think it will lighten the MS load you have to carry.

John Connor avatar

John Connor

Hi Y'all,
Gave up on D-Mannose as it had no effect on me. JC

Dee avatar


Glad the UTI hasn't impacted your ability to write amusingly. Thank you!

Delighted Hands avatar

Delighted Hands

I'm so sorry for the cockroaches; I too was well acquainted with them! Fortunately, my dr put me on an older medicine called methenamine which I take 2x daily. At 1G each, they are large but when the bladder isn't the boss of your body (2 yrs now!) it sure is wonderful! Maybe it would work for you, too.

Nicole avatar


I too am on Hiprex, also 2000g daily of vitamin C. I just recently had an infection however I hadn’t had one in over 4 yrs.
Stay well. 😊😌

John Connor avatar

John Connor

I'm current prescribed 3 Hiprex a day. Also take at my urologist's urging 4g of vit C to go with it.

Penny Hutchinson avatar

Penny Hutchinson

I used to have UTI infections CONSTANTLY... until I learned they were likely being caused by my obsesion with "sweet tea." I learned a little about how sugar was "feeding" the bacteria in my body and causing my "routine" bladder infedtions. I also bought stock in "wet wipes," installed them in the bathroom, and stopped earing all sugars and started taking meticulous care to keep my lower body regions spotless. UREKA...bladder infections GONE.

My mother was also plagued with UTIs, and literally LIVED on CIPRO. She was mistified over the death of her kidneys, resentful of the enormous amount of her life spent undergoing dialysis. After she passed (in 2011) I read an article that suggested CIPRO was a poison...and when I asked her doctor if he thought that CIPRO had caused her death he quickly turned his back on me and shouted back a wimpy "on no."

I just feel grateful I'm off sugar and CIPRO these days. I'm now 73 and will be 74 this month (Sept). Hoping to move further into old age with a mild case of manageable chronic progressive MS, and no UTIs!. :)

Beth DeMartino avatar

Beth DeMartino

John, I appreciate your amusing approach to a UTI. I recently have been treated for another one. I have been prescribed Bactrim, 800 mg, twice a day for 10 days! I eat yogurt with live probiotics had it for 30 years. to prevent the usual five days of diarrhea that accompanies antibiotic use. I have been diagnosed with MS for 30 years and now have been labeled with SPMS. I use a walker and am in physical therapy. I fall too much...that damn fairy dust!! I feel that I have "done well" with this lousy disease and that is because I have kept my sense of humor !!! Keep up the humorous articles... they help!! God Bless!!

Joyce Ablog DDS avatar

Joyce Ablog DDS

I have an external catheter,so that helps with the urine flow, but I need to have a BAKERY with the ABUNDANCE of YEAST infections! To say that I'm 'baking bread' is an understatement is...*sigh*


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