Can we talk? I'm not going to whisper about this. I'm going to keep the decibel level loud and clear. Don't listen or read any further if you're squeamish and don't want to hear about my bladder. Let me say my bladder again. Not your bladder. So, please don't interject negative feelings. My bladder is sensitive and so am I -- about it.
I pee every 20 minutes to an hour. Yes, I drink a lot. And, I pee a lot. Everyone has a theory why. Even when not asked. "Try drinking less tea," plenty of people feel is the answer to a question I never asked. "It's a diuretic, did you know that?" Why, yes, I hear that a lot. Then I give them my pat answer that I'll now give to you if you're still on board. I have always, and I do mean always, had a very small (at least I assumed it was small) bladder. Even in my 20s, I peed nearly the same amount.
In case you think talking about bladders is taboo, everyone seems to be talking about them these days. Everyone in my age bracket anyway. Women. Men. All of us, discussing the frequency of urination. Since I'm not a man, I have nothing to add or share on that. All I really know is that their prostates enlarge, causing them to wake up in the night to pee. It doesn't sound that bad to me because I've always had to wake up to pee in the middle of the night. Not just since menopause, which a lot of women claim is the issue with their bladders.
I have women friends who tell me they talk to their over-stimulated bladders and tell them to calm the fuck down. Some women say they pee just a little when they laugh and have done this since giving birth. In their pants. They want to assume that I do that too. I do not. I had C-sections, I tell them, but don't know if this is why I don't have the problem. Plus, I just prefer making it to a toilet.
One day, about six years ago, I did have this sudden urgency to go. I mean just like the commercials. To go RIGHT NOW. I'm not a person who pulls her pants down and squats at the side of a road, or on a mountain while hiking. So, now I was in this traffic and the light wouldn't change and I was freaking out so much, I thought it might just be a heart attack. But, finally I pull into the Ralphs market parking lot in some random area and frantically rushed to find their bathroom. I'm so worried about the way this went down that I drive straight to my doctor's office. I just show up. Unannounced. No appointment. I figure this is my internist and I know they are open and I would like to be checked out in case it was some sort of heart issue. The woman who works there is angry: "Fredrica," she calls out to me in a harsh tone that indicates how she feels. "Next time go the nearest emergency room." REALLY? I tattled on her to the doctor for being the c-word that she is.
I inadvertently stumbled on the physiological reason I have this peeing issue. I will not label it a problem. I get a yearly exam and before the gynecologist did the pelvic ultrasound, she asked me to go to the bathroom to relieve myself. "Oh, and while you're in there, leave us a sample." Only, I had already left that sample the minute I arrived for the appointment. As you see, I can pretty much always "leave a sample." Ten or 15 minutes go by and I'm sitting in a half smock, legs spread, feet placed on the oven mitts that cover the cold stirrups. The doctor, a beautiful, serene East Indian woman, walks in. She calmly inserts what looks like a dildo with a condom on it inside of me and turns it to one side. Then the other side. She asks me, "When did you urinate? Was it the minute I asked?" Yes, I say, like I passed a test. Well, she realizes there is around 20 percent of urine still inside my bladder and eureka! -- or should I say urethra! My doctor figures out why I always have to pee. My bladder doesn't completely empty. It's what Oprah calls the Aha Moment.
Over the years, my bladder and I have learned to navigate the world together. When I'm driving from my house to the east side of town -- which can take anywhere from thirty minutes to two hours -- I know each clean and easy-access bathroom along the way. The one in the Chevron station close to the 405 Freeway is vital because that's where all the traffic congests. If I'm driving as far as Hollywood, a must-stop is the Bristol Farms market on Doheny & Beverly Boulevard. While I'm there, I pick up some organic cashews to snack on because hey -- it's been a long ride.
Traveling on a plane, I get a seat near a restroom, on the aisle. Close enough to get up at least once an hour, or more, during the flight. I know all the good and quick pee-stops to and from the airport once I land in New York. Hint: hotels are great. Staples on Queens Boulevard has a clean bathroom, but forget about the Staples closest to JFK. I even use one at the Custom Hotel on the way to LAX, even though the drive is not that long. But the lines at airport security are.
Recently, I was introduced to an actress at Locanda Portofino, an Italian restaurant. We chatted about food we love and how exciting it is to now have a train that gets us from Santa Monica to downtown Los Angeles. I told her I didn't think I could take that train because of the long ride without a bathroom. She didn't hesitate to make a suggestion: wear a diaper.
I said, "I'll be right back." I stood and excused myself to use the restroom. While I was peeing -- in a toilet -- I thought about it.
I don't think I'm there yet.