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'Honey, I Peed the Bed'

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“Are you awake?” Sniff. Sniff. Sob. “Wake up, I peed the bed.”

It’s 3 a.m., and after a certain age nothing good happens after 2 a.m. (or before 10 a.m. for that matter). When someone is gently waking you because they’ve peed the bed, you expect to see the tear-streaked face of a child hovering over you. But we have no children, and the dog can’t talk, so by process of elimination The Banker (my husband) knew it had to be me. Plus, my dog is perfect. That b*tch would never pee in the house, let alone in her own damn bed. 

author's dog sitting on couch

The Banker rolled over and was immediately sympathetic. He enthusiastically offered to pee the bed too if that would make me feel better. I thought about it and determined that despite the popularity of the show “Girls,” ew. I politely declined, and we set to stripping the bed, doing the laundry and after showering I finally tumbled back into clean sheets just before the sun came up.

The scene, though dreadful, was not unfamiliar. And the bed was not the only place I had been experiencing this awful problem to various degrees of humiliation (the mall, the car, the street, your house). After suffering through periods of self-inflicted dehydration, permanent abdominal bruising from pushing on my bladder and a host of side effects from useless meds, I decided it was time to try something else. Enter “Cathy.”

My doctor and I agreed I was running out of options and so she arranged for a nurse to come to my home and teach me how to self-catheterize. Self what? I know. It sounds horrifying. But hear me out because self-cathing means you get to put the pee where you want it. I can’t emphasize the goodness of this enough.

Like the mysterious tampons of my adolescence it actually didn’t take too much time before I got the hang of it. After a few days with a mirror and some patience I could self-catheterize blindfolded and drunk if I’d needed to. 

But like adolescence, the psychological impact messed with me more than the actual mechanics. In puberty the introduction of these tools signals a transition into adulthood. Terrifying but exciting times. The introduction of continence care feels like the welcome mat is being rolled out to Disease Town, which is a suburb of Oldladyton. And learning to cath (when I could have kept on peeing the bed) felt like I was signing up for my seniors’ discount. Worse still, it meant I had to acknowledge and accept a more permanent state of disability

I don’t know how I came to terms with it, but I did. It doesn’t hurt. That helped. I don’t pee the bed anymore or my pants for that matter. Ever. That definitely helped. My hair didn’t turn grey, and I have yet to be mistaken for a granny. My friends know, and they don’t care. The Banker is totally unfazed and still thinks I’m hot. So, here is a secret: It’s not that scary.

I didn’t get there overnight. In the beginning I couldn’t bring myself to even say the word “catheter,” and I personified the sh*t out of it, turning the whole thing into my new frenemy “Cathy.” Before long that skinny b*tch was coming everywhere with me and soon I realized, making my life easier. She liberated me. I had the security to leave the house, go to bed, stay in a hotel or at a friends’ place. And as an unexpected bonus, gave me the excuse to buy pretty things. Because if I need accessories to pee, I am going to find the perfect Kate Spade wristlet to carry them in.

There is a fine line between TMI and NEI (not enough information). It’s hard to talk about this stuff, so we don’t, and then it’s lonelier and scarier than it needs to be. I’m not suggesting we all post our continence status on Facebook. Ew. But whatever. It’s just pee. It’s mostly wine water. Get on with it.

Follow this journey on Tripping on Air.

Originally published: March 14, 2016
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