Saturday, July 26, 2014

Tea Pee

The last thing, the very last thing, I do before I travel is pee. Even if I don't have to, even if I have to wring the bladder out, even if I haven't had a tea in a couple of hours, I go pee. I'm over sixty, I'm a wheelchair user who travels strapped to the floor of a van. I go pee. When we left Harrisburg to make the drive home, I did the deed, because it's ritual but also because I'd just done a lecture and I'd had a cup of tea, taken in quick sips, as I talked.

We got to the van, got me in, strapped me down, loaded the van with luggage and bags and bags of stuff from shopping. About three hours in to the trip I began to suspect that I wasn't going to make the full seven hours home without stopping at a 'rest stop' which is just a nice way of saying 'pee palace.' Our route took us through a lot of countryside so I just had to focus on something else.

I decided to read. I read. And I read. And I read. Until my book had this wonderfully descriptive passage about the main character taking a shower. I could hear the water ... I put the book down. It wasn't helping.

I now announce to Joe that we'd best be thinking of a place to fill up the tank of the car and drain the tank of the passenger. We stopped at three places and did neither. The stations weren't accessible. I'm harsh on these, if I can't pee at your gas station, you can't put your hose in my car. I'm still OK, still in control, but getting a bit worried. I begin to sweat. I wonder if that will help.

We find a place, it's accessible, we're good, I'm dry, Joe pulls up beside a sidewalk so we can put the ramp down and I can exit. But hold on. First he has to unload all sorts of stuff before he can unlatch my chair from the floor, before I can transfer to the power chair, before I can move the power chair which is presently surrounded by stuff. The power chair is slowly released from captivity. This takes longer than you imagine. I wonder, briefly, if crying would help.

Have you ever noticed that when you are in the car and you have to pee that you're OK until you've parked and then, WHAM, you've suddenly really, desperately have to go. It's like your bladder can sense the presence of the toilet. I'm being calm. Inside I'm thinking, hurry up, hurry up, hurry up, hurry up. I see other drivers park and rush into the building. Great, there's going to be a line up. Great, great, great, and why did I drink that FREAKING tea? Finally I'm out. My chair rears up and bursts into a quick trot to the building.

There's no freaking door opener. Someone rushes by me, also over sixty, also looking like they've got water on their minds. I grab the door, I get in. I hear Joe cursing as he's trying to get everything back in the van. I look over to him, I can see the Pacific Ocean in the blue of his eyes. It's a multi stall bathroom with a row of three urinals. All the stalls are taken but the accessible one. I head to it at the same time as a young teen boy does.

I point to him saying, "new plumbing," and then to myself, "old plumbing." He lets me go first.

Blessed relief.

From strapped down to zipped up didn't take that long but it felt like eternity.

Back to the car, unload everything, get the power chair in, get the manual chair in, get strapped down, get the stuff back in. Get back on the road. Back in Canada, we figure we've got it made, we're close to home, so we stop for a Tim's Tea.

That, my friends, was a mistake.


Anonymous said...

Bless you for posting about the problem.

You can't tell people to hydrate - and then not take into consideration the DEhydration problem.

One of my kids pointed out that caffeine is a diuretic - which I was surprised to find out. Now, if I'm going to be out, no Diet Coke for me (which then leads to headaches from caffeine withdrawal).

You need to be kinder to yourself, and not try for a seven-hour journey with no plans to stop. So you can enjoy your tea.

And maybe just plain water would be better.

CL said...

Seven hours is really ambitious! I'm young but I have overactive bladder syndrome, so I try to stop every 1-2 hours. Sometimes I map out locations in advance, even if I won't use them. I can't imagine the added anxiety of not knowing if a place is accessible.

I've always thought we deal with people's restroom needs poorly. So many businesses insist their restrooms are for customers-only, yet often there are no public restrooms where one doesn't have to pay. It should be rare to be panicking about not finding a place in a civilized world, yet it happens to me all the time. Free, accessible restrooms should be plentiful -- it's just a basic human need.

Rickismom said...

Dave, please check with your doctor. Meds sometimes can help with overactive bladder (although seven hours sounds VERY ambitious to me.)

Anonymous said...

Oh. This reminds me of the mile long walk home from school along the gravel sidewalks when I was six. I was okay until I turned the last corner and could see my green-sided war time house. Then all bets were off, and sometimes I didn't make it all the way home. :/ I seriously used to think it was that green asbestos siding that did it! samm

Belinda said...

I laughed out loud at the wheelchair rearing up and breaking into a trot! And it IS funny how those last few steps, or rolls to the toilet, are the hardest in which to hold it in! Why is that? :)

wheeliecrone said...

Oh, dear. Older women often have a similar problem. At least this older woman does. And you have described it very accurately indeed. All auto trips are based around my bladder and its capacity and the amount of time to allow between stops. I have learned why our Senior time is known as "the golden years"!

B. said...

Got some good advice from a ParaTranspo driver once about this because he couldn't be sure of adequate pit-stops in his schedule. The closer you get to the relief spot (toilet) breathe in more rapidly/deeply. It actually helps. Thanks for the laugh, Dave.

clairesmum said...

products for backcountry hikers (who have to carry out all of their waste) might be an emergency resource..though positioning would be a challenge, i imagine.
glad you and joe are skilled at disability resource calculations - tho this is one that mothers of young kids, pregnant ladies, any one who takes certain classes of meds, and ALL of us as we age share some of this challenge.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever considered a urinal?

FunMumX3 said...

Travelling in Hong Kong (known for it's lack of public facilities) the tour guides give advice about the location of the next Happy Room. Because when you get there, are you ever happy!

Anonymous said...

We have discovered why a one bedroom apt might have a bath and a "powder room". We have solved the problem of his sudden urges (which are different urges than they were 45 years ago but now less controllable). We keep a urinal with a snap on top in the bedroom cupboard. So if "the throne" is occupied he needn't lose his (ahem) composure. There are travel products you might consider. A lap blanket could provide privacy.