Void Where Prohibited or Urine Big Trouble: How to Use a Plastic Urinal

Feb 28, 2013

*****Guest Blogger and good friend T. Mark Bartley has graciously offered to share some of his deep insights into the problem of pain, suffering and how to use a urinal. Thanks Mark!

Henry David Thoreau said “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” Why? Because men will not ask directions! Moses walked around in the desert for forty years and some have theorized that it could have been for this very reason. I am no different. I fell, broke my back and was taken to the hospital for my first overnight stay- at age forty six. Then a nurse handed me a urinal. She may have asked me if I knew how to use one- but it would not have mattered, I am a guy. I would have confidently assured her, “oh, sure”. Men think things like: “I have seen one before and I mean, how hard could this be? I am a man and I know how to pee- I can even write my name in the snow, at least my initials! It has a lid, etc- no problem-”

Ten stressful days later I realized that I had been using it wrong! Let me tell you- there is a right and wrong way! Who knew? Probably some guy who died quietly smug- or some guy who had a nurse for a wife and then when she told him that he was doing it wrong- died of embarrassment.

Nurses would much rather tell you how to use one than have to clean you up because you are a knucklehead who thinks he can figure out “simple plumbing and gravity”. They will treat you with dignity and respect if you ask and are honest about how much you don’t know and your life will be so much better.

You will be really surprised at how well those things work when you use it correctly! Amazing- because when are using it wrong, you are like “what the heck- how did this ever get invented and why hasn’t it been fixed- you gotta be kidding me- yikes, crap, oh man- no, no wait a minute- etc” as well as other exclamations, all of which are said at extremely low volume so that no one will hear what is happening. Then it is all about how slowly and still you can move without creating waves or sloshing- and that is the really terrifying part- it might as well be acid or lava or some radioactive chemical that is capable of burning right through the floor.

If you are lucky enough to have this figured out, the next obstacle is the privacy/noise issue. Even when you have just had all your medicines and someone has been through your room cleaning and all your visitors have left- and your door is shut- it could just be opened at any minute. Just when you think you have enough time- and then it hits: its called, Stage Fright. Your body will not do what it was telling you it was going to do. The clock is ticking- you have a mission, and if you are holding that urinal wrong, this is ten times worse.

The measurement on the side of the urinal is kind of odd- you can’t help but look at it when you are done and It makes you wonder about things you really should not dwell on. Am I really going to be judged on color or quantity? No. OK, well let’s move on to the next funny topic; You can’t leave until you have had a bowel movement- which begs the question; Is there a market for stool in the hospital among those who have just had surgery? And how would it be sold- by weight? Texture? Color?

Doctors and nurses don’t think of this as funny, it is a simple sign of improvement or a return to normality. They just had your hood open and your engine apart and they want to see if you still run after they fixed you. We turn into eight year olds, giggling and making fart noises, like a kid blowing the horn of your car while you are walking past the front to open your door and jumping out of your skin while they snicker and laugh.

Of course women have to endure things at the doctors that are hundreds of times worse. Even if we were to only look at female urinals- a topic of which I am in no way qualified to speak. All of this just adds up to more proof that there is no way we evolved. Our ways of coping with the idea of sleeping in a bed and being able to pee without getting up would make any self respecting cave-man blush. Men who have no problem working on a car and being covered in grease, oil and mud will cower, cringe and run from even the idea of getting pee on themselves. I had to empty the potty tank on an RV once on a trip at a trailer park and was tempted to cut off my own hands afterward, calling in to my wife and kids inside to get me a “knife and some papertowels”.

I was careful to thank every nurse I had and all the CNA’s that took care of me. I remember when I was put in charge of my own mother, first as health care proxy, then power or attorney etc. and she was not an easy patient. Each time I would visit her, I would stop in at the nurse’s station and tell them how I appreciated what they were doing and thank them, because someone needs to. It can be draining and exhausting, like being a Mom is, and you need to know you are appreciated and loved more than once a year on mothers day. Which is sometimes kind of a disaster. If you have ever seen a man try to make breakfast on mothers day- whether it is oatmeal or pancakes, you will see him following the directions on the box as though he was a chemist, measuring ingredients to the mili-cup. And it still comes out not-quite-right. So, perhaps this is where that distrust in directions comes from?

For more original T. Mark Bartley visit his awesome website:  www.marcwelding.com