It is amazing how you need to plan your life when you have chronic conditions. Simple things like a road trip become an event. I need to figure out if I need to walk with my portable liquid oxygen or my concentrator, or both. How many days of medication I need. If I am flying I need to have the actual prescription bottles with me for security purposes to prove that the drugs in my possession are mine. So many little things to think about.
I take a bunch of different medications for the sarcoidosis, heart failure and pulmonary hypertension, and a few of them have the same effect – a diuretic. Some days I am fine, but other days it seems I have to go to the toilet every half an hour! And that makes it interesting for traveling, especially when it is a road trip. And it’s all about timing.
This weekend I had to go up state, about a three-hour drive, for work. It is a trip I made a number if times and one that I learned to time well. I have to time myself for bathroom stops. I know which exits have bathrooms and where the rest stops are along the highway. I actually have them programmed into my GPS so I know how much longer I can hold before my next stop. One of my biggest culprits is a heart drug called Losartan which I take at 4:00 pm. If I know I am going to be on the road then, I skip it, otherwise my drive will be a nightmare.
The worst is if I get into traffic and I am holding! When i now started the Losartan, I drove a friend into the city and dropped them off at their hotel, and as I was driving off, I began to feel the urge to pee. To stop and find somewhere in the city is a hassle onto itself, far less trying to find parking near a bathroom. So I decided to just try my luck and drive back home, knowing that I had a McDonald’s about 30 minutes out that I could stop.
As I made my way out of the city, the urge got stronger and stronger and stronger. Then I felt as if I was literally going to burst, and I remembered that there was the Cloister’s Museum just up the highway where I could stop and pee. It was getting dark, and museum was closed, so I figured I could just pull into the parking lot, run out and find a tree. As I pulled into the parking lot, there were a couple of buses parked along the tree line, with people lining up to get into them. My other option was to pull around the back and get out there and pee against the wall, but there were people parked there and mulling around.
I had to make a decision or pee myself in the car. My friend had a large coffee on the way down and the empty cup was in the car, so I stopped, jumped into the back seat, and peed and peed and peed into that paper cup. My car’s windows are tinted dark, so you can’t see in. As I peed, the cup filled up, so here came the opportunity to use my muscles and squeeze. I opened the door slightly and poured out the contents onto the pavement and then started again. I filled the cup another three quarters.
I thought it was rather gross myself to empty my pee onto the ground like that, but I had no choice. It was that or risk being arrested for exposure. So I looked up on the internet for travel bottles for peeing into if that ever happened again, and I found these bags that contain some type of crystals that you pee into and the pee turns to a solid gel. They hold up to three cups and when you are done, you just seal the bag and toss it. No spillage. So I have about four of these in each now, but never had to use them yet, well, because I have become an expert of pee locations and planning and medicine taking coordination when traveling. Maybe I should write a book!