Monday, September 29, 2008
Paruresis (pronounced /pærjəˈriːsɪs/), also known as pee shyness, shy kidney, bashful bladder, stage fright, urophobia or shy bladder syndrome, is a type of phobia in which the sufferer is unable to urinate in the (real or imaginary) presence of others, such as in a public restroom.
Another diagnosis to add to my growing list. This time, a self-diagnosis. I don't need a doctor, a procedure, or a bunch of tests to tell me I completely freeze up when I have to pee in the presence of others. The weird thing is, I only started having this within the last couple of years. But it's getting worse. My experience at the ob-gyn today proves this.
So I already needed to pee--bad--on my way to my yearly. But I didn't go before my appointment because I knew they would want to do a urine sample. You know, the routine preggo test. (Why is it even though I know there's no way I could be pregnant, I am always so curious to see what that little test will show? It was negative, in case you were curious.) Anyway, sure enough, as soon as I walked back to the little blood pressure-taking room, the first thing the nurse did was hand me a cup and sent me to the bathroom. She went over the "clean sample" instructions with me and left. No biggie. I got this. So after following steps 1-3 on the chart next to the toilet, I sat, cup in hand, and relaxed. This was when I remembered: Me no pee. I sat, listening to the nurse shuffling around in the little room next door, wondering if the walls were actually made out of cellophane. I tried my hardest to block her out, and concentrated on going. Nothing. Focus. Remember how full your bladder is. It was at this point that I heard the little metal door on the other side of the wall open and close. The nurse was already checking for my sample!! I didn't even have a drip!
Oh, this is just great. This should really help me go now, the stress and pressure to already be done. If there had been even a slight chance that my bladder was nearing cooperation at this point, it was long gone. Now the room next to me was silent. I tried to tell myself the nurse was off doing other nurse-y stuff, down the hall or in with another patient, no where near within hearing-distance. But it was so quiet. What if she's in there, reading charts, and can hear every noise I'm making. Or--horror of horrors--what if she's listening, waiting to hear the little door open and close to see if the sample is there, ready for her to test?! Just kill. Me. Now.
New tactic. Turn on the water. This is a risky maneuver, I know, because anyone listening would assume I was done, washing my hands. But desperate times call for desperate measures. The water goes on. And.........nothing. I'm beginning to panic a little, wondering what would happen if I walked back out of the bathroom with the empty cup and claimed stage fright? Seriously, what can they do to me if I cannot physically go? If this is all about a pregnancy test, I can save us both a lot of trouble and tell you in no uncertain terms that there's nothing in there. No, I can do this. I mean, come on, it's peeing!! How hard is this?!
I was just about to pull my last trick out of my sleeve when the little metal door on the other side opened again. OH COME ON, ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I'LL LET YOU KNOW WHEN IT'S THERE!! Do you really think this is helping?! Let me pee in peace, for the love of Pete!!
Now the nurse is out in the hall, just outside the bathroom door, talking loudly to another nurse. I think she's caught on at this point (unless she's missing half her brain) that I'm having a little problem and is trying to help my plight by conversing loudly. You'd think this would help, be better than the ominous silence, but, alas, it only told me that not only was there one possible overhear-er in the hallway, but two. With cup in hand, I covered up my ears. It almost worked! I squeezed out a few drips, but completely psyched myself out with excitement. By the time I got the cup down there, everything had shut down.
I've probably been in the bathroom for ten minutes now. I half expected the nurse to knock on the door and ask if everything was okay, or, if she was anything like my mom, ask me if I "fell in." But she didn't. Yet. I wasn't going to let it get to that. COME ON, you can DO this.
I was out of ideas. As a last, desperate attempt, I turned the water on one more time and focused yet again on just how full my bladder was. And.....SUCCESS!!! I've never been so happy to pee in my life. I got the cup down there faster than lightening, before my bladder could change its mind. I held the full cup up. Never before had I seen such a glorious sight. I promptly opened the stupid metal door and shoved it in there, still on the toilet. I didn't even have it latched shut yet when it opened on the other side. Impatient much?
I contemplated what I would say when I went back out, if I'd make a joke about uncooperative bladders or apologize or simply say nothing. I decided on the joke--always the best way to fix an awkward situation--but the nurse didn't even give me a chance. I think her idea for dealing with awkwardness was telling me to stand on the scale before I'd even made it out of the bathroom door. Oh well, whatever. I didn't care. My bladder and I had shared a triumph together, and nothing was going to ruin that for us.