Can We Pull into the Next Rest Stop, Please?
Here are a few things you probably know about me already: I’m a nurse, I’m planning my wedding, and I have MS.
I used to declare loud and proud that I would never marry a doctor. They work too many long hours, their careers have to come before their families way too often, and they come with a staggering amount of student debt. I met and fell in love with a young chemistry major in college, and when he declared that he wanted to be a doctor I knew I was going to eat my words someday. Now, six years later we are road tripping all over the country going on interviews for residency programs (and yes, he’s totally rocking it!). The residency hours are going to be long, and it’s best just not to think too hard about the monthly loan payments that are right around the corner. However, I could not have asked for a better or more supportive partner. I have assumed the role of his “campaign manager”. My tasks include taking copious notes, making hotel reservations and taking care of things like car maintenance, driving directions, road snacks, and wardrobe needs. In exchange he puts up with hearing the phrase “can we pull into the next rest stop really quick?” every other hour. So far we’ve logged over 48 hours in the car, and I lost count of how many bathroom breaks I’ve required long ago.
Another thing you should also know: nurses are superhuman. This should be the real job description for a nurse:
"Must be be at work and on the top of your game by 6:45am, but also be equally competent when working all night long. Be prepared to be on your feet for 12+ hours, and be ready for any number of bodily fluids spewing in your direction. We will take 30 minutes out of your pay for lunch, but will never give you the chance to eat. If by some miracle you do eat, we will all judge you for sitting and taking a break instead of helping out on the floor. You can pee once a shift if you absolutely must, but make it quick. "
I remember one time I had been “holding it” for about 4 hours when we heard the alarms of a patient in distress, and had to immediately fetch the crash cart. We proceeded to resuscitate our patient for over an hour and as the adrenaline rush subsided afterwards I found myself REALLY having to pee, and also covered in sweat- CPR is hard work! As I finally made my way to the bathroom an irate family member of another patient cut me off. He proceeded to scold me because his loved one had wanted a cup of water, but everyone had ignored them for over a half an hour because we were all busy. I was annoyed that this man couldn’t see my sweaty face and disheveled hair and immediately understand that maybe nurses are more then waitresses in scrubs, but I also felt terrible that a patient felt ignored so I immediately went to her bedside with a cup of water. It was another couple of hours before I finally made it to the bathroom. Nursing is a tough job.
This arrangement simply does not work for me anymore! Thanks to an abundance of cervical spine lesions I found myself seeking out a bathroom a dozen times a day. It was no way to live, so I quickly found myself in the waiting room of a urologist’s office. Medications have helped significantly, but I still have my “bad bladder days”. For me these entail sharp spasm-like pain, frequency, and urgency. For others this means hesitancy, retention, and recurrent urinary tract infections. It’s embarrassing, and frustrating, and extremely inconvenient. Up to 80% of people with MS have bowel and/or bladder dysfunction. Doesn’t that sound like a tidy little statistic straight out of a pharmaceutical commercial? Well, let me assure you- the reality is much less tidy!
Does anyone else in your family have MS?