A Bladder the Size of a Pea | January 2007


I’m known for a lot of things. For example, you know me as The Humorless Twit. My co-workers know me for various things, from my marathon sneezing sessions, to my constant search for caffeine (in the form of coffee, Cuban coffee or Diet Coke), to my ability to look things up online (via Google) in a flash. My boss knows me as “that lazy bum.” Bill collectors know me as “the deadbeat.” You get the picture.

One thing almost everyone who knows me, knows me for, is my tendency to–how do I put this delicately–frequent the men’s room, um, quite frequently. It would appear that I have a bladder the size of a pea.

I’ve been checked out medically a number of times to see what’s going on. For men, the primary culprit for this condition is the prostate, or more accurately, a swollen prostate. And there is pretty much only one way to check for this. I won’t get into details here, but it involves the doctor putting on a rubber glove…

Anyway, despite having played the role of the world’s largest finger puppet numerous times, I came up okay in the prostate department (i.e. no swelling) each time. So that was clearly not my trouble.

Let me add a quick aside here: my situation is one that is typically associated with men in their 50’s but I’m only 41. Also, I should note that I’ve had this problem at least since I was in the Army, where I served during the tender ages of 18 to 22 years. I even recall my first two years in the Army, in Germany–I wasn’t even 21 when I left Germany–where a roommate of mine remarked that had I gone to his favorite bar in his hometown, where they featured free beer for all patrons until the first person gets up to use the restroom, I’d have been ostracized for being that first person all the time.

So this is obviously something I’ve had for some time now.

I’ve had other parts of the “plumbing” (so to speak) checked out to no avail, not just my prostate. One procedure I’d describe as EEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!! In fact, it was so painful, I’d rather not describe it all. Suffice it to say that I’m in the fetal position right now, with both hands covering my groin. If you’re a man, I think you can imagine what I’m talking about here.

So the mystery and my habit of having to get up constantly (Dolphins games, movies, airplane flights, concerts, etc.) to use the restroom have served as both a form of amusement and a source of irritation for those around me. On the plus side, I usually get aisle seats when I’m with friends and family at events or while traveling. And after my first couple of trips to the facilities, even strangers are willing to accommodate me with the aisle seat.

I drink a lot of fluids, which for obvious reasons doesn’t help, but I know to moderate it a bit if I’m going to an event where there may be parts I don’t want to miss. In fact, I’ve found that diet soda (especially Diet Pepsi, although lucky for me, I prefer Diet Coke) tends to make me more likely to get up to go. So I try to keep ingestion of these sodas to a minimum when I attend events. Although they’re typically the ONLY things available to drink at some events.

One necessary adaptation I’ve had to make is to make sure I don’t go anywehere unless there’s somewhere I can go. In fact, the first thing I usually do when I’m somewhere I’ve never been before is look for the nearest men’s room. Some safety-minded people will look for the fire exits first, but I’ll look for the restrooms. Not just because I have to go all the time, but also because if there’s a fire, well, let’s just say I should be able to clear my own path out of a burning building, so I don’t necessarily have to worry about the fire exits.

And now I… oops, um, uh-oh. I’m afraid I’m going to have to cut this column short. You see, as I sat down to write it, I drank a HUMONGOUS bucket of Diet Coke from a nearby convenience store. And as they say (or as I just made up), “what goes in must come out.” In other words, I’ve got to go (and in more ways than one). What can I say, they don’t call me a “whiz kid” for nothing.