• What Do You Do When You Gotta Go and There’s Nowhere to Go to Go?

    by Debra DeAngelo

    The best part of last week’s story about my adventures in radio commercials is the part I didn’t tell: getting there.

    But first, some context.

    I have the bladder of a hamster. And my urgency ratio is directly linked to my stress level. The higher the stress, the greater the urgency. If I’m anxious or stressed, I think I have to go. Even if I don’t. But I’ll go anyway. Just in case. It’s like a nervous tick.

    Come to think of it, I have the bladder of a nervous tick.

    What makes me anxious? (I mean, in addition to the long working list.) Worrying that I might have to go and have nowhere to go to go. Just typing that makes me want to go.

    (Fun side note: Don’t you wish you could go on car trips with me?)

    My urological neurosis is intensified by the diuretics I take to keep my blood pressure within reasonable limits. So, going somewhere with me is like taking the dog for a walk. Where you see gas stations on the highway, I see fire hydrants.

    And right about now, you’re thinking, “Really? You’re going to write about urine?” Before you flip to the sports page in a huff, rest assured, this isn’t just an exploration of bodily fluid. It’s a tale of potential disaster, my friend, and it could happen to you.

    Context established, let’s proceed to setting: It’s the morning of the recording session. Besides needing to be in San Francisco by a certain time, I also needed to leave San Francisco in time to meet my husbie in San Jose for a five-day vacationette. For which I did not pack until about an hour before I left.

    As I hurled things into my suitcase, it occurred to me that I didn’t consider how long a recording session takes. I’d figured, what, 30 minutes, tops?) Oh no. What if it takes hours? What if I’m stuck in the evening rush hour!


    Speaking of rush hour. Although I’d planned ample commute time into the city, I hadn’t anticipated one thing: weather. That morning, the heavens were gushing like Mother Nature was on diuretics too. I needed to leave about an hour earlier. Which plopped me right into the I-80 morning commute.

    This all adds up to one thing: Stress. (Please refer to third paragraph for significance.) Right around Richmond, that last cup of black coffee I chugged on the way out the door kicked in. Oh no. Gotta go.

    In Richmond? You think I’m insane?

    I continued to Berkeley, where the traffic always clogs for no apparent reason, and now it was getting serious. My bladder dummy light flashed on. But pull off in Berkeley in a traffic jam? It’d take longer to find a gas station than to get downtown.

    By the time I reached the Bay Bridge toll plaza, I was sweating. I looked at the 360-degree traffic jam and realized that even if there was a place to pull over, I’d never be able to. And then I noticed the commute time roadside sign: Downtown – 24 minutes. To go about two miles, people. Creatures have evolved faster.

    Caught in the slow conveyor belt of traffic, I reached the bridge – the point of no return. Signs all along the way warn, “No stopping on the bridge.”

    This is where anxiety segues into panic.

    What would you do, sitting there in gridlock and pouring rain, your bladder at capacity? If you’re a guy, no problem: crack the door, whip it out, and ahhh – sweet relief. It’s trickier for us gals. I imagined wagging my big, bare tail out the door, losing control of the car and rolling across five lanes of traffic like an out of control fire hose. It was an unhappy image.

    I gritted my teeth and clenched my fists on the wheel, searching for an empty can or bottle in the back seat. Nothing. I considered pulling off at Treasure Island, but I didn’t know my way around there, and didn’t have time to get lost.

    I was going to burst. I wondered if my bucket seat could live up to its name. And imagined walking into a posh San Francisco recording studio in pee-drenched jeans. Uncool, people.

    Maybe if I stood in the downpour and got soaked all over, they wouldn’t notice?


    I had to make it to the Fremont Street off-ramp. I had to. And when I did, I was pulling over and going right there, even if some jerkwad recorded it and posted it on YouTube. I didn’t care. And I realized I’d probably be raped and murdered by gangsters too, but at this point, that seemed less painful. But yet… I hit the ramp and just couldn’t do it.

    It gets worse. I was unfamiliar with the studio’s location. Now, finding a parking spot in San Francisco is always a crap-shoot, but when you’re lost? It’d be easier to find a bejeweled magical unicorn. Suddenly, my luck did a 180. My Google map was spot on. I didn’t hit any red lights. It was only a couple blocks away. And so help me, as God is my witness, there was an empty parking space in front of the building.

    And no, smarty-pants, it wasn’t right next to the unicorn.

    I leaped from the car and sprint-waddled through the lobby for the restroom, making it within a nanosecond of complete urethral failure. I nearly wept from relief.

    I’ll tell you what. I’m never pushing my potty luck again. My near-disaster traumatized me to this moment. In fact, just thinking about it…

    Excuse me. Gotta go.

    • Oh Debra- I felt your pain!
      So glad the story has a happy ending. When you used the word “crap-shoot” I started to get really anxious. Thankfully it didn’t lead where I feared.

      • Judy

      • March 13, 2011 at 10:18 am
      • Reply

      Fun! And I’ve so been there. And try the opera sometime when intermission involves racing fashionably dressed women to the very long line for one of the two stalls in the oh so tiny women’s bathroom.

    • Great story Debra. I suggest a bladder sling. It worked wonders for me. Now just when I hit my front door I race in but nowhere else. My doc said try going in my side door. Weird but it works. At least no amount of sneezing, coughing (which I am doing a lot right now with flu) will cause leaking anymore. Only my front door. Our bodies are miraculous and can be tricked. When necessary I use side door.
      Also, there are pills too which are effective for urgency which sounds like that is what you have. I am not a doctor put I play one everyday in my fantasies.

      • David Lacy

      • March 13, 2011 at 11:53 am
      • Reply

      I love this!

      It’s so visual … although at times that’s not a good thing.


    • Hollye – LOL!!!!!

      Judy – All you’d have to do is pee on them once.

      Madge – I don’t think I have an actual physical problem… it’s a combination of diuretics and neurosis

      David – Don’t visualize it. Don’t go there, or you will be scarred for life.

    • I take a mild diuretic for the same reason as you and I have no fallout from that as it dissipates within an hour of taking the pill. I noticed if I took it at night it was far worse than first thing in the am. Aging it sucks-wish it sucked urine.

    • Debra, you crack me up.

      • Christy

      • March 15, 2011 at 3:17 pm
      • Reply

      Loved this…I can totally relate!
      One time, on NYE, I-80 flooded and we were stuck in traffic for 5 hours on our way to San Francisco. I had a urethral emergency of epic proportions…I got out and decided to pee in front of the entire I-80 parking lot audience…but of course Pee-phobia set in and I squatted there with my pants down for a good 5 minutes and NOTHING came out. I aborted the plan and held it until we moved to the next exit where I finally released a 10min long pee behind a gas station without 10 other people. BEST PEE EVER!
      It’s a woman thing…and it sucks, just like how we’re cold all the time…except when we’re having hot flashes!

      • Christy

      • March 15, 2011 at 3:18 pm
      • Reply

      correction- “*with* 10 other people”

    • Christy – Pee-phobia! LOL!
      BEST PEE EVER! I totally understand! 😀

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