Jul 11, 2009

Never Pass a Bathroom

The other day my wife and I were driving around, looking at properties in our area (did I tell you I'm a Real Estate Agent) and that good old feeling of "I gotta go NOW, and I mean NOW..." came across me. Those of you with this wonderful issue know what I mean. Now fortunately, we were in a particularly rural area and I was able to relieve "the pressure" by pulling off the road - well, you get the picture. I have to admit, since living overseas, this hasn't been as big a problem as it was before we did - though it does "jump" out at me every once in a while. I think I need to explain.

When my urgency problems started, we were living in Europe - England actually - our girls were small and we toured around every chance we could get. To this day I credit this period of our lives to a very unique ability I have - that of being able to find a toilet (in England, a bathroom is for taking a bath) in nano-seconds. Which for parents of small children, can be a god-send (hmmm, did I really use my children as cover-up?). It got so common in our family, that they wouldn't even think twice about how I would disappear to a hidden corner of some ancient castle we were touring and find that elusive toilet. I soon developed the habit of "Never Pass a Bathroom" because you never knew... the real family favorite was always stopping at EVERY rest area along the road because "there might be a traffic jam ahead". And I won't even get into what it was like to travel around Europe on business with this issue!

Then I was transferred to Brussels. We all know Brussels to be the center of European Government and Napoleon's downfall during that fateful battle in Waterloo (at least that's what the song said).

What you may not have known, is that they are also known for their driving, especially "priorite a droit" (French for "priority from the right" - have some fun and google it) and, no kidding, peeing out in the open!

Now I'm a I big believer in living somewhere to really know it - a quick tour doesn't do it justice (ask my oldest daughter who just moved to Mississippi!). And you will always find out the fun factoids that Frommer's doesn't know to tell you. I can't mention how many times in the first month after I was transferred that I saw men peeing by the sidewalk or next to a tree - so much so I had to ask one of my Belgian colleagues about it. With no apparent shame, he said "Of course - why not - when we Belgians need to go, we go!"

Hallelujah! The untold motherland of MSer's with urinary urgency. I must admit, as a prudish American in Belgium (by their standards) - I didn't imbibe that often in this open celebration of passing water - but knowing that I could, seemed to lessen my need to go all of the time. Amazing how the mind works.

In way of condoning this activity - I swear they have their own little god of "Peeing in the Open" - and you can find him off a little alley way attached to the Grand Place in Brussels - the Manneken Pis - and for you ladies, his female counterpart Jeanneken Pis hides herself at the very end of another alley off the Place as well.

Now, I was diagnosed in Brussels with MS, and was put on my meds at about this same time - but I choose to believe the "openness" in Brussels and the little cherub relieved my pain - not the meds.

So if you share this urgency issue with me, make a pilgrimage to this little god of "Peeing in the Open" and maybe you'll find some relief, too.

Until then, remember - never pass a bathroom!

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Never Pass A Bathroom by Nick Marazita is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.