My career in active duty and reserves of the U.S. Army for 39 years allowed me to see parts of the world few Americans ever experience; I deployed to combat tours in Iraq (twice), Afghanistan and Bosnia. My military civil affairs career focused on creating stability, enabling local government, improving quality of life in war-torn areas while winning over hearts and minds of local populations – it was vital work, but one I enjoyed very much.
As I worked through my military career, I frequently felt exhausted, had blood in my urine, and suspected I had an urinary tract infection (UTI). Each time I saw a provider they dismissed these symptoms as routine UTIs; yet over time I learned that having blood in your urine (hematuria) can be deadly serious.
Antibiotics were always the go-to treatment.
My symptoms initially seemed minor; I chalked them up to stress, age and being away on long duty hours overseas.
As soon as my active duty service concluded, I transitioned into the reserves and returned home community. Shortly thereafter, I noticed an increase in symptoms as well as blood in my urine once more; everyday activities became an obstacle course.