Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Safety Dance

I always pee before departure. It's part of the ritual. The "safety pee" I call it. I get back from the restroom (or from behind a tree, depending on the sophistication of the available facilities) and then do one more circumnavigation of the airplane before boarding. That last walk is where I spot unsecured baggage doors, FOD, items placed on the airplane, or the remainder of interrupted tasks. This isn't what I mean by my preflight walkaround: that is more thorough. It's just a last look before I board.

Yesterday I completed the safety pee, walked around the airplane, got in the cockpit, flew for 5.7 hours, drank water when I was thirsty, landed, unloaded, fuelled, taxied from the fuel pumps to parking, and then went to pee, because I felt like I needed to a little. Today I took off after the same preflight ritual and only an hour and fifteen minutes later had to pee so badly I was doing the pee-pee dance right there in the cockpit. I wasn't going to make it to the destination, only forty minutes away. When it comes to technology that makes my life better, folks, the pee bag rivals the wheel. I have landed airplanes without wheels, but landing is so much harder with my legs crossed. So I succumb to the biological need and fill a pee bag to the 600 mL mark. Yeah, my pee bags are calibrated. I have no earthly idea why. Maybe some people like to keep track. Or brag. Am I bragging? Six hundred millilitres isn't bragworthy. I can pee much more than that. I can hold much more than that. Why did my body desperately have to void that 600 mL then and there, when on another day it would happily tanker 900 mL to destination?

So I peed in the bag, flew to destination, landed, threw out the full pee bag, drank more water, and then flew another 5.8 hours without even thinking about my bladder. Body, what are you doing in there? Millions of years of evolution and for most of them our ancestors could pee wherever they were. I did a bunch of reading once on the various nerves and systems that allow us to pee and signal to us that we need to, but it didn't answer the question of why frequency and timing of urgency is so poorly correlated to water intake and recency of voiding.

9 comments:

Jeremy said...

Does your caffeine intake differ from day to day? I find that caffeine causes me to urinate much more urgently compared to drinking the same amount of non-caffeinated drinks. I believe substances that do this are called "diuretics" and other common culprits are apple juice and beer. The wikipedia page on this quickly goes over my head though!

Ihab Awad said...

Do your pee bags contain the magic diaper gel substance, or are they just ... bags? And to a new student pilot (male plumbing, but with female family eventually to be on board), do you have recommendations?

amulbunny's random thoughts said...

Ah but we know when we drink beer we are only renting it. Wine lasts longer.

I can run the ice dispenser on the fridge, have to stop and run to the loo. It's like Pavlov's freaking dog response.

They say to drink on airplanes to avoid dehydration, but the walk of shame to the heads is not much fun either.

Sue said...

I must say that I'm relieved (!) I'm not the only person who has experienced this inconsistency (need to pee not correlated with amount of liquid imbibed or length of time since last pee). I gave up trying to figure it out and decided to simply surrender to the body's wishes and do whatever it takes to make myself comfortable. I'm not sure if there's a male-female difference (you can probably tell by my name that I'm female).

D.B. said...

Definitely pee when you need to. Tycho Brahe died of from infection caused by a burst bladder, because protocol in medieval Hungary(?) prevented him from leaving the room before his Master did. Nasty way to go.

I keep my legs under 3 hours because my bladder range is less than your.....

Aviatrix said...

Oh yeah, definitely magic gel. I can't imagine what I'd do with a bag full of liquid pee. I put a twist tie around the neck anyway and then pop it in an anonymous brown paper bag and dispose of the whole thing along with other cabin garbage in a FOD bin at the next point of landing.

Aviatrix said...

And unless you count chocolate, I've pretty much given up caffeine.

T. Merrylees said...

Oh wow! I was just thinking that this week. I was at Bristol doing my Ground School and I had to pee like 7 times a day.

I realised it's because I unconsciously increased my water intake dramatically. It's actually fantastic for being on top of your game but you have to make sure that you pee before any long periods of time of sitting down.

I've also done the peepee dance like twelve times this week.

majroj said...

Salt will cause you to retain fluids .
Jerky, pemmican, cold commercial pizza, Cheetos, bacon and eggs, ham, commercial soups....

And chocolate? Theobromine.