Pursuant to yesterday's non-adventure of the missing pilot, my first order of business today was to replace my cellphone with one that works in BC. The choice was Telus (shouldn't that be TelCan?) or Bell. In an attempt to demonstrate to the clients that I am taking prompt and immediate action to address the problem, I take their recommendation and walk across the Alaska Highway (a.k.a. 50th Avenue, if you hadn't guessed) to go to the Telus store.
This was going to be an entire post about buying a cellphone, but comments on the previous post show that you can all predict how that goes. There's the phone itself, with the possibility of cameras, video games, holographi projectors and laser death rays, when what I am really looking for is good predictive text messaging software and buttons that won't wear out quickly. There's the option of pay as you go, versus contract (and you can't swap between these, because they involve different telephones. Pay as you go is ludicrously expensive (how about 55 cents a minute for nationwide long distance?) The contract probably isn't much better when I consider that I have to pay for it in months when I'm not using that telephone. And the contracts are complex with plans and add-ons that I kind of need but aren't really appropriate to the way I use the phone. And of course there is the difficulty of getting a phone number that won't be long distance when I'm at home. I grumble, then suck it up, acknowledging apologetically to the young women working at the store that overpriced Canadian cell service is not their fault. I buy the phone, sign the contract, memorize my new number, and go back to the hotel. That's enough about that. I'll give you too much information about something else.
Here I am flying the airplane. It's ten thirty, two and a half hours into a seven hour flight, and my body has just reminded me that I forgot to pee before takeoff. It's part of my routine, but I didn't have to "go" then, and was busy folding wing tents or something, right up to departure. It's not killing me yet, but there are four and a half hours left before I'll be on the ground. There's nowhere convenient to land, and even if I were passing directly over an airport, I can't just say, "ladies and gentlemen, we now have an unscheduled stop because the pilot didn't learn a lesson her mother should have taught her by the time she was four." Always go before you go.
Last time I ordered oxygen cannulas I topped up the order with a package of disposable portable urinals that are supposed to be effective for men and women. They have a powder in them that turns to a gel when wet, so they can't spill. I included their presence in my passenger briefing and one passenger, a male, confirmed that the product worked. I should have tucked one in my flight bag, but I left them all the airplane, and I'm not in that airplane now. After another hour or so has passsed, I'm furtively looking around the cockpit for a container. I'm not picky. Funnel plus hose plus window seems like a really good idea right now. There's nothing.
It's hard to do the pee-pee dance while flying an airplane. You just have to take your mind off it. I manage to make the urge go away for a while, but the duration of that while subsides to nothing by the end of the flight. And there's a chain reaction. I want to minimize the amount of water I drink, because that will exacerbate the situation, but of course I don't want to spend hours without water. And I'm hungry, but it takes water to digest food, especially the energy bars that I fly with, so I have to limit food, too. So now I'm hungry, a little bit thirsty and floating on my own distended bladder. I somehow survive the flight, turn in a surprisingly good landing, and rush through engine-off checks. The fueller meets the flight at shutdown and I almost knock her over on the way to the washroom.
The next day I completely wring out my bladder before the eight a.m. takeoff. I'm not going through that again! Ten o' clock and all is well ... 10:15 ... 10:30. Oh oh. Same problem. Hey! What's going here? Have I lost my touch. Did I break something by holding it so hard yesterday? Can you do permanent damage by holding your pee? There's a Seinfeld episode about that. I endure another excruciating flight. I think having to pee sits above several levels of pain in the scale of impediments to conentration and enjoyment. In fact, I can vouch for that, having attended a ground school course with a broken back. I survive that flight too, and hit the internet for information.
First off, anyone who hits the comments and tells me, perhaps citing Tycho Brahe, that people have died from holding their pee, are full of it. (But not as full as I was). The sphincter concerned is going to let loose and wet the left seat long before it explodes out any other avenue. Like anything else on the Internet, I get a mixed set of results. The first batch of hits I get are with reference to children, and they promise dire consequences from forcing children to hold it.
"Infrequent urination and incomplete emptying lead to an ever-increasing bladder size and capacity. This is turn leads to a decrease in sensation to empty the bladder... Renal failure may ultimately develop secondary to bladder function abnormalities" (MedHelp.org, Urology Forum).
This one says that if the bladder gets too full urine can back up into the kidneys causing extra pressure which may damage the tiny blood vessels in the kidney.
Over time, the pressure can cause the bladder muscles to become very thick and the bladder may generate frequent, strong contractions... The high pressures in the bladder may force urine backwards (reflux) up the tubes (ureters) from the kidneys and damage the kidneys." (Christopher S. Cooper, M.D., 2000, Pediatric Urologist).
I'm guessing there's a difference between adults and children, and that part of the maturing process that allows us to understand the urges that allow us to be toilet trained in the first place is a change in our bodies that allows us to hold it.
There are a lot of medical-sounding hits that indicate holding your pee is in itself not a bad thing, but that if you have a urinary infection that delayed urination can spread the infection to the kidneys.
On the other side of the issue, the admitedly amateur WikiHow Says there's no medical impact of holding it in, and gives suggestions on how to hold it.
I wonder also if this is a sex-specific question, as my anatomy doesn't quite match that of those who are warned of possible protate problems.
At any rate I didn't break anything vital, as subsequent flights went fine and my bladder allowed me to eat and drink, land the plane, put on the engine tents and wing covers and then find the washroom.
I wonder where NASA gets their famous astronaut diapers? Anyone know? Maybe I'll write them.