USF Health urologist helps patient live life without debilitating UTI symptoms

With her bladder now under control, Gayle Osborne can pursue her passion for travel without trepidation

Gayle Osborne gets up close with an African lion while on safari in Zimbabwe.

It was supposed to be a once in a lifetime opportunity for Gayle Osborne — walking with the lions as part of an African safari.  But that morning, when a van pulled up instead of a bus with a bathroom, she broke into a cold sweat.  What would she do if she needed to “go?”

A story that began as a “death sentence,” has now transformed into a tale of hope for Osborne after her visit with Daniel Hoffman, MD, assistant professor in the USF Health Urology.

Twenty years after Osborne’s initial diagnosis of interstitial cystitis—an incurable condition managed only by treatment—she is looking forward to living a full life again.

Initially, Osborne’s recurring urinary tract infections (UTI), known as interstitial cystitis, landed her in a Charlotte, N.C. doctor’s office. When doctors in North Carolina led her to believe her cause was hopeless, she walked out of the doctor’s office in tears, uncertain of her next move.

A frequent traveler and an avid tennis league player, Osborne was determined the diagnosis would not take control of her life. She and her husband of 51 years, Alan, were born just 10 days apart and they both have the travel bug.

However, too many times she was met by her own body’s hardship.  “When we went on trips and I knew that there wasn’t a bathroom, I felt anxious because I just didn’t know how I was going to feel,” the 73-year-old Osborne said.  “If you’ve ever had a UTI — it’s that constant burning sensation.  I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.”

After that visit in North Carolina, Osborne worked earnestly to find treatment by researching every resource she could get her hands on: newsletters, websites, advice from friends and family and other specialists.  Sadly, she always found herself at a dead end.

“I suffered, mostly in silence, because very few others could relate to my symptoms,” Osborne said.

Then, she heard about Dr. Hoffman’s expertise and emailed him. He emailed right back and she set up an appointment. During the initial visit, Dr. Hoffman told Osborne he would treat the symptoms and work to figure out how to give her relief. Listening and solving Osborne’s problem was his top priority.

“Gayle’s quality of life was crushed by her condition,” Dr. Hoffman said. “I could immediately tell that she had lost hope in finding improvement. We identified the symptoms that were truly bothering her and targeted these issues specifically, putting her back in control of her bladder.”

Osborne with USF Health urologist Dr. Daniel Hoffman | Photo by Michelle Young, USF Health Communications and Marketing

“His approach, demeanor, and treatment plan gave me immense hope. Dr. Hoffman was a godsend.  Somebody was finally listening,’” Osborne said.

Indeed, Dr. Hoffman’s approach differed from the doctors from whom she’d sought treatment from in the past.  Thanks to his compassionate assessment of directly treating the symptoms, Osborne perked up instantly.

“It’s just like when you go to a doctor and you say, ‘Hey I have a cold.’ The doctor won’t treat it with an antibiotic because it’s a virus. You tell the doctor you have a cough.  And he says ‘We’ll give you something for your cough.’ It’s the same thing with what I have, and that’s how Dr. Hoffman approached it,” Osborne added.

Osborne hiking in Knysna, South Africa

For Osborne, compassion is one of the most important traits of a top-notch physician. With tears in her eyes, she told Dr. Hoffman during that first visit, “Not one urologist I visited before you has approached this ‘death sentence’ with the knowledge, energy and hope you have given to me in the last hour. It has taken a huge burden off of my shoulders and given me a feeling that now we are on the right track!”

With her primary issues now under control, she continues to work with Dr. Hoffman on the symptoms. With the travel bug biting again, she and her husband are planning a trip to South America this fall, where they will hike Machu Picchu Mountain. And this time if a van pulls up, Osborne will hop on with a smile.

Osborne with her husband and traveling companion Alan.

Story by Shelby Kaplan and doctor-patient video by Michelle Young, USF Health Communications and Marketing; “Walking with lions” video and photos courtesy of Gayle Osborne