For anyone who has ever spent any time with me – especially on a long car journey or at the cinema will know I need to pee a lot more than the average person. I have had all the tests and you know, I have a reasonable urinary system but the bladder just gets irritated and then it screams to be emptied – especially after booze or juice or large volumes of liquid all at once. I guarantee that it annoys me way more than it annoys you. It causes to me to have to pee beside motorways and in hedges, know where the nearest loo is on long journeys and even on the daily commute, but it’s just the way I am. I have heard people say “oh, I never use a public toilet” well I should be so lucky!
Having lived with this condition since my teens it can have some limitations on my life and it can also cause some rather awkward conversations if you have to ask to use the loo in more unusual places. It also increases my anxiety levels and on a bad day needing to pee and not being able to go can lead to a panic attack – not fun. I decided to arm myself with a bit of support and got a little card to carry in my wallet that says “Please help, I really need to go!” I hoped it would take the stress out of some situations and also help reduce my anxiety.
The first time I used my card was at the Take That concert at Hyde Park this summer. I had a chat with the stewards on the night and explained the situation. No problem they said, just take it over to the welfare tent and they will sort you out if you need it. For the first time I thought “Great I can go to a festival and have a drink, just like everyone else because I won’t have to worry about needing to pee!” So off I went and bought a nice Gin and Tonic, had a good boogie and then the time came for the G&T to be evacuated. Off I went to the welfare tent, only to be faced with a huge queue of people all waiting for the disabled toilets – errrr this wasn’t supposed to happen. The panic began to rise, I stood there for a few moments to assess the situation. There were 14 people in the queue for 3 disabled toilets including 4 wheelchair users – I suspect that 14 people with disabilities are going to take considerably longer to complete their toilet than 14 abled bodied folk from a manoeuvrability situation if nothing else. So I spoke to another friendly steward and explained the situation – “No problem” she said and whisked me off to jump the queue for the ladies loos. Within a couple of minutes I had used the loo and the panic attack had been averted and I could go back and enjoy my night. I was really impressed with the staff and how helpful they all were.
However, while I waited for a free toilet I was verbally abused, shouted at and pushed by one lady in the queue.
Woman (I won’t call her a lady) – How come she can jump the queue?
Steward – She has a medical condition and needs to go quickly
W – Prove it
Me – Shows Card
W – What a load of bullshit, I could print that out on my computer
She and her friends then proceeded to talk about me like I wasn’t there and the pushed me into the cubicle when it became free. They then heckled me when I left. Not really what I wanted.
The thing that got me was, my condition is annoying but it’s the way I am, I am used to living with it. Many of the people who carry cards like mine have a much more debilitating illness like Crohn’s disease or serious bladder or kidney problems. Many of the women who carry these cards are on medication after being treated for breast cancer – it is a very common side effect after cancer treatment. I just thought to myself, how would I cope with the way I was treated that night if I had already battled with a cancer that had seriously affected my confidence?
So next time there is someone who needs a bit of help, perhaps try to understand and be empathetic. After all we’ve all been bursting for a pee at sometime in our life to the point where you feel you might explode – well that’s me every couple of hours, if I’m lucky. Go on, be a nice person, help a sister out!