It is winter. The heat buttons are manipulated too high and directed to our feet and faces. Halfway through our trip, we are en route to Milwaukee in standard Windy City traffic. Fortunately, for me, my partner in crime has offered to captain the car on this leg of the journey.

Our throats and mouth become parched. Sunglasses and liquid tears in a bottle help me keep my eyes open to the heated air. Hydration is sucked from a water bottle to avoid hoarseness and allow strained conversation.

We hit the Skyway Toll Road and I realize my urostomy bag is getting heavy. It’s not an urgency as much as it is psychological anxiety. There is no place to stop; no place to pee!

It conjures up images of previous close calls and preventable leaks I’ve suffered in the past ten years. I scroll through a few cerebral checkpoints including the date I last changed my appliance (3 days), and an inventory of the change of clothes, wafers, and bags in my duffle bag. I’m well hydrated trying to erase the cotton in my mouth, which now tastes even dryer.

I wonder if I should inform my wife, the driver, or if I should hope the bag and wafer are well constructed and still adherent enough to withstand over-stuffing. This intimate discussion with my partner of my needy toilet habits isn’t new. In fact, it gets really old!

I dig around my immediate passenger compartment and locate an empty wide-mouthed sports drink bottle that importantly still has a cap.

The internal struggle continues as I periodically gently surveil the compressibility of the full bag. I finally admit my fallibility to my partner in crime at the steering wheel. She does her own quick analysis of the situation and asks, “what do you want me to do? There is no place to stop!”

I advise her about my plumbing solution, simple but detailed. She gets my vulnerability but again begs out of the situation.

Advised not to look, she keeps her eyes on the road while I deftly dispense the warm liquid into the waiting sports drink receptacle between my legs. A few misplaced small drips get neutralized by my trusty StomaCloak. I remember to firmly replace the bottle cap before breathing a sigh of relief and smiling at a job well done!

By Dr. Joseph Salisz, MD A urologist with an ostomy

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