The thing about being committed to trying to write a personal account story each and every week is that is forces one, (the one here being “me”), to be pretty honest with the readers and myself. For example, I have a draft written of what I think is a somewhat self-deprecating story, one I must have written more than a year ago. I know that one day it will get published but it’s difficult for me to finish because in general, I try to always be a ‘glass is almost full’ kinda’ guy. Sometimes I feel like I’m judging myself in these stories, being too critical perhaps. We are most tough on ourselves.
I must have written the following paraphrased sentence at least twenty times in this blog:
Everything we do and everything that happens to us goes into the making of who we are.
One the biggest realizations I’m finding out about myself through my writing is the impact that getting hit by a school bus must have had on me. In addition to helping form a positive outlook on life itself, I think it also helped to make me a bit of a nervous person most of my life. I bite my nails, I am always in a ‘planning’ mode, my mind constantly races, (I think this contributes to my quietness at times), and a somewhat embarrassing confession for this week’s story – I am a bed wetter.
Ok, so I haven’t wet the bed in years but for me, it’s like being an alcoholic; once a bed wetter, always an alcoholic.
I might have wet the bed before the age of seven, (year of the bus), I don’t know, but what I do remember is bed wetting in our bunk beds on Goodman Avenue. Mom had me sleeping on the bottom bunk just in case I wet the bed and it dripped down to the unsuspecting brother below. I don’t remember wetting the bed every night, but I’m sure it was fifty percent of the time, except for the nights my mom woke me up to go to the bathroom.
When I got older, I got more self aware and self conscious. By the time junior high rolled around, I began practicing different techniques in an effort to avoid the wetting. I’d cut myself off from liquids early in the evening and I’d try to stay awake after going to bed so that I could get in an extra trip to the bathroom before falling asleep. Some days I’d feel like a zombie at school from being deprived of sleep. It’s a wonder I did as well as I did at my schoolwork.
By the time I reached high school age, I’d estimate I wetted the bed maybe 3-4 times per year. I know it might not seem like much to those of you reading who have never had this problem, but to those of us who have suffered from this, it’s extremely embarrassing when it happens. Almost invariably, I would be urinating in a deep sleep dream I was having. Just at the point to where I’m feeling relieved from a full bladder, I’d wake up in a panic. My underwear would be totally soaked as would be the two towels I had secretly tucked underneath my sheet. I’d quickly and quietly get out of bed, sneak out a new pair of underwear from my dresser, (without waking my brothers), gather my towels together and make my way to the bathroom.
Inside the bathroom I’d rinse out the towels in the tub, along with my wet underwear. After getting myself clean, I’d slip on my underwear and a pair of pants so that I could sneak everything down into the basement. My bed was a problem. If the time was close to the time I would normally be getting up, I’d sorta’ make my bed by way of pitching a tent with the cover, using a couple of pillows so that the sheet had a chance to dry during the day. I slept on the upper deck of a trundle bed that had a thin mattress so I’d flip it over to the opposite side when I got home from school and restock it with new towels. The sheet I would have to go down and wash in the basement with my towels and any other clothing I might have.
The experience usually filled me with self loathing. Although I had managed to get the bed wetting down to only a few times a year, every time it happened I hated myself. Mostly I guess I hated myself because I felt I could not control myself, this was something that took control over me any time it pleased. Luckily, none of my children inherited this gene from me. WebMD states that it’s likely inherited. Maybe so but I tend to think it’s linked to my nervousness, linked to my childhood anxiety.
Over the years, I had to teach myself a lot of anti-urinating discipline. For example, I’ve written a couple of times that we went camping quite a bit. I also worked for P&G, (pack and go), and so had to travel at times – I couldn’t dare have an accident at a hotel (the maids didn’t accept American Express). We stayed with Kim’s parents at various times. There were also sleepovers as a kid. How embarrassing would it be to have an accident at a friend’s house? Managing myself at home is one thing, but it’s a totally different freak out when you’re outside your own home. I know I’m not alone – some of you readers likely have this issue, (or something similar).
I never once had an accident at anyone’s house or in the company of anyone else, (like a sleepover), but it came with a lot of effort and lack of sleep. If I was at a hotel traveling, I’d set my room alarm every 85 minutes in addition to my wake up call. I found that an hour and 25 minutes was my absolute safety threshold. All nighttime accidents as an adult, (maybe 8-10 of them over the past 40 years), have occurred beyond the 85 minutes, normally if I forgot to reset my alarm after getting up to pee the first time. Every time it happened, I was urinating in a dream.
I even purchased an alarm clock that shakes itself so that I could be quieter if traveling. Let me confess – it’s been a real pain in the ass not being able to drink even water after six pm at times, (like camping or sleepovers before the digital age).
I watch and see the patterns of others; they can go all night and wake up after a great night’s sleep having to go to the bathroom like crazy. Or, if they have to go, their body and brain tells them to wake up. But they don’t go in their bed. Me? For some reason, it seems that all the liquids in my body get processed by my kidneys when I’m sound asleep. On a normal night, I will get up about 4 or 5 times to urinate and each time, it’s a full bladder. And it’s not like I have a peanut bladder or something weird like that. I don’t get it but I stopped trying to understand it many years ago.
I haven’t slept through a night in over 40 years. In fact, I cannot remember sleeping more than four hours without waking up. I’ve read that most dreams occur during the REM, (rapid eye movement), stage of the sleep cycle. I don’t think I get much REM sleep, I rarely remember dreams unless it’s one I have at the end of the night before waking for the day. This is a small price to pay though for feeling in control of myself.
I wrote about dealing with tinnitus in this story (link). When it gets all quiet around me, I have a constant high pitched ringing in my left ear. I’ve pretty much learned to deal with that. From my leg accident, (this story), I wake up every single night with an aching knee, caused by my tendons or ligaments, (I always get those two mixed up), being inappropriately stretched during sleep. I have to lay on my back for the balance of sleep unless I can get two pillows to form a perfect parallel barrier between my legs as I lay on my side. And to top things off, I set my alarm to go off every 85 minutes so that I can drink whatever the hell I want and whenever the hell I want.
All of these factors combined make for, (I guess), a not very restful evening. I try to make up for it by getting in a twenty minute power nap every day. To be clear, I’m really not complaining; I’m just documenting my accounts. I have had, and am having a life that I’m sure 99% of the planetary population would love to live. I found the love of my life at an early age and together we’ve raised three boys and have rarely worried about a financial budget. We’re both retired in our mid fifties and are now golfing and exercising every day of the week in beautiful weather. We go to concerts, have great vacations and still love each other very much, (TMI?). Who wouldn’t want that?
Everything in my stories is truth. Maybe one day I’ll buy some adult diapers and turn off my alarm clock so that I can see how the other half lives.