Why I Will Henceforth Dehydrate Myself in Public.

Not Recommended Reading

Caution: This story is so humiliating that I didn’t even tell it to my husband for several days. And it took me all of a month to come back and read it and decide whether I’d cringe too much to share it here.

(I will, for the record, but alas. I am a blogger. And I have a duty to overshare.)

(But fortunately for you, you have no such duty to read. So turn off your computer now before it’s too late.)

I’ve been sick. A lot. Sickness tends to wear at you in many ways, and those ways are sometimes in conflict with one another, creating unsavory circumstances.

This story is a cautionary tale about one of those situations.

I was on my next-to-last day of antibiotics and worse than ever. My cough had kept me up half the night for the past four nights, I was an emotional wreck, and fearful that my lungs were completely full of pneumonia and I was going to die at any moment.

I had called my Mother that morning crying, because that’s what I do best when I haven’t slept in four days. And she, being the good mother that she is, was already making me homemade Chicken Soup, offered to keep my kids so I could return to the doctor, and visited every avenue of potential cough suppressants.

“You know what? I think I still have some of your Grandmother’s cough pearls…I need to check. She used to take these pearl thingies that worked WONDERFULLY. I’ll find them. I wonder if they’re still any good…?”

My Grandmother died SEVEN YEARS AGO.

I think I’ll pass. But thanks, Mom.

So I dropped my kids off at my parent’s and left before Mom could find her moldy drug stash, went to the doctor, discovered that I was not dying of pneumonia, and then went to the drug store to get my new prescriptions – prescriptions which, perhaps, my life depended upon.

I was careful not to breathe the air at the doctor’s office or in the pharmacy because I’d found out the day before that in addition to Dysautonomia, I have a seriously compromised immune system, so I would continue to catch every bug that floated along my path until they could decide on a treatment plan.

Must avoid all paths.

As I waited to pick up my prescriptions, I found myself in an extreme dire need of visiting the little girl’s room.

Stupid Dysautonomia water intake requirements.

I followed a giant, serious-looking, radio-chattering policeman down the restroom hall. Where I discovered that the bathroom available was one. And it was co-ed.

So I was going to have to wait.

I did a jig in the hallway, fearing how long that wait might be depending on the nature of his business inside. I tried not to listen to his radio chatter through the door.

Fortunately, he emerged quickly, so we crossed paths (me holding my breath in case of germs) and I went in.

And this is the point in the story where my lapse in judgment occurred.

I sat.

I’ll admit it. I’m a public restroom sitter. Despite the fact that it’s unsavory to think about and one of my friends ruined me forever by forcing me to consider all of the butt-to-butt contact one does with other people by sitting on toilet seats, I will never be coordinated enough to be a squatter. And an uncoordinated squatter can lead to a significantly high amount of bathroom injuries…and therefore germs.

So I sat. And I was in such a Red Alert State of Need that I forgot to look or wipe the seat first.

And as fate would have it, that law enforcement officer had not been enforcing his own aim.

That horrible feeling of warm moisture crept over my being. Very moist moisture. Dank moisture even.

If you’ve never experienced the sensation of a stranger’s urine making contact with your backside, then God Bless You. Because you are Fortunate above all others.

I, however, was overcome with horror. I jumped up and panicked. What does one do in this situation?

The first thing I did was look at the floor around the toilet. It was quite soggy also, confirming my fears that this wasn’t just a case of a self-moistening toilet seat.

(They exist, guys.)

I repeated the mantra of my nurse friend.

Urine is sterile.

Urine is sterile.

Urine is sterile.

But my head did not buy it, because my compromised immune system was performing a death wail over the top of my chant.

I waddled over to the sink, where the soap dispenser bladder was out of its container and lying in a puddle of pink soap in what looked like a cleanliness murder scene, and there were no paper towels, pre-moistened wipes, blow-torches, or other items that would have been helpful to me in that moment.

So I waddled further, over to my purse, frantically digging around, and finally finding my hand sanitizer.

And I emptied that bottle onto my hands. And slathered my butt cheeks. Both at once.

Wax on, wax off.

Sanitize on, sanitize off.

I doused my hands and arms with the remaining droplets in the bottle and then scraped soap out of the leaky bladder and washed them again with searing hot water.Then I washed my arms. And my hands again. Then once more, my hands.

I slumped out of the bathroom to pay for my prescriptions. And in an act of absolute compulsion, bought four bottles of hand sanitizer.

If only I’d skipped the pharmacy and taken my Grandmother’s petrified pearls.

The Bathroom Chronicles.

Stuff happens in public restrooms.


Sometimes you get to see it after the fact, like this beautiful graffiti on a Church bathroom door…

IMG_5521…even for defacing Church Property.

And sometimes you are blessed enough to live through it – like the time, almost exactly a year ago, when I was in a Tampa restaurant bathroom stall while Chris and I were on our anniversary trip.

It was Tampa that finally helped me understand why Florida is considered the retirement destination of the world. I’d always been to North Florida, near the border of Alabama and Georgia, where it is full of gazoodles of families with small children, all watching the Perpetually Spring Breaking Girls Gone Wild walk up and down the beach while digging out their bikini wedgies every three steps. So I was left to wonder how Florida managed to hide all the retirement villages I’d heard so much about.

But Tampa – Tampa is a different Florida. I’m pretty sure their average resident age is 88 and a half. Which really cuts down on the beachfront wedgie picking ratio.

During one of our many delicious meals, we found ourselves in a restaurant that was wildly popular on the retirement scene. If they knew how to use UrbanSpoon on that newfangled smart phone their son-in-law insisted they have, they’d give it a rating of at least five denture creams. And maybe two hemorrhoid salves to boot.

I wandered to the Ladies’ Room. But before I continue, I must make a confession – at times, I quickly check my email while on the toilet – it only takes a couple of extra seconds, and I’m conscientious about being sanitary – I promise.

So I was checking my email.

The bathroom door opened and a retiree creaked in. I’m not precisely sure how I could tell that she was at least 95 – whether it was that she smelled like my Great-Grandmother’s kitchen or that her bionic hips were squeaking like the Tin Man in a Rain Forest Café.

She stepped into the other stall and heaved a great sigh and a couple small groans as she sat down.

I was ready to head back out to dinner, so I turned off my phone.

But you know that horrifically annoying camera-like click that an iPhone is defaulted to make when you turn it off?


She heard it too. And wasn’t exactly familiar with the meaning of the sound.

So she declared loudly, “I don’t know WHAT people do in here these days.”

As soon as I got back to our booth, I figured out how to disable that sound. While ducking for the ten minutes it took her to walk by.

Last night, Ali had her very own “Stuff Happens in Public Restrooms” moment.

We walked into a two-stall Ladies’ Room – an old one, the kind with the black lids on the white toilets and the rusty doors and a half-inch-buildup of grime on top of the tile grout – you know, the ones you wash your hands twice after you go. Ali was the reason for our visit, so Noah and I stood in the…commodal common area, for lack of a better term, as Ali entered the stall.

But before she could close the door and commence her business, an unusually round apple bounced underneath the wall, across the floor of Ali’s stall, and landed, perfectly leaning up against her toilet.

The inhabitor of stall-next-door would clearly dominate in a game of horseshoes.

All three of us watched the apple’s grand entrance, but Ali kept staring at it, then looked up at me.

“Um, Mommy? There’s an apple. Next to the toilet. What do I do?”

Captain Obvious. But a valid question.

I hoped stall-next-door would convey her wishes as to my daughter’s action with her fruit, but there was silence.

“Well…I guess you should pass it back under the stall, since that’s where it came from.”

The silence next door ceased not.

Ali looked doubtfully at me. “Okay, Mommy…”

She picked up the apple and stretched her arm under the stall, where a silent hand reached back and took it.

Then at long last, she spoke. In a muffled voice. “Guess I’m gonna have to wash that.”

On Making Something so Easy so Hard.

So I tried to potty-train my son. Remember that?

I quit the day I blogged about it, because he was clearly determined to never acquiesce in this matter.


He was overjoyed to be allowed to crap in his pants in peace again, and I was a much better person for not trying to make him do otherwise.

And so, we moved on with life.

“He’ll do it when he’s ready,”

everyone said.

“Boys are different.”

Fine by me. I wasn’t particularly enjoying spending my time on the bathroom floor with a screaming clinching toddler who was gifted with sphincters of steel.

A week later, the kids went to spend the night with my parents.

The next morning at 8:30, I got a text from my Dad.

Potty Training Text From Dad

I chuckled viciously to myself, wondering why they were willing to do that to themselves.

I didn’t hear from them again until 10:30, when Mom shared the stranger aspects of my other child.


Mom Text 1

I assumed that meant that potty-training was an issue of which we wouldn’t speak any longer.

Until two hours later. When the messages started coming in every half-hour.

Mom Text 2

All day. The kid who had never peed a drop outside his diaper was going every time she took him.

And staying dry.Mom Text 3

Mom finally called me that afternoon.

I immediately asked the question I’d been wondering all day.

“What did you TELL him?? What did you DO??”

“Nothing really…I just told him we weren’t going to tee-tee in his diaper today. I only took him once an hour. And he went every time.”

What the….

I spent five days of HELL with that child, taking him to the bathroom every twenty minutes, encouraging, bribing, begging, pleading, cheering, giving his privy member every sort of frolicsome name possible (“Use your fire hose to put out the fire, Noah!”) and got NOTHING.

And she does basically zilch and has him perfectly potty-trained on the first try. Without a single tear shed by either one of them.

What the…

It was at this moment I remembered that my parents had taught BOTH of my children to walk, too. And I began wondering if I had the credentials it takes to be a mother, let alone a homeschool mom.

If I can’t teach them The Basics of Life (yes I hear 4Him in the background) then how can I expect to teach them long division?

Because I totally don’t remember how to do that kind of crap.

I fumed at the injustice and fantasized about interrogating my son as to his intentions with my sanity.

Meanwhile, my parents were celebrating their stunning accomplishments with streamers and confetti.

When Noah came home and I took him to the bathroom the first time, he actually said the words “I can’t – I can only tee-tee in the potty at Gramamma’s house.”

OH NO, son. OH NO YOU DIDN’T. You will pee and you will like it. Your cover is blown. BLOWN. BLOWN!!

He came around quickly, and has been practically 100% potty-trained ever since. Dry overnight and everything. AND INCLUSIVE OF POOP.

What the…

The moral of this story is: When random grandparents gaze reminiscently at you and your children and say sadly, “Enjoy every minute – it just goes by so quickly!”, THEY ARE LYING.

THEY are the ones living the dream.

Getting to spoil the grandkids and having nary a care about discipline.

Experiencing the euphoria of children responding to their every nudge or whim of leadership and being able to watch with joy as the children learn from their great aged wisdom.

And most importantly, they get to send those kids home right before they become brats.

So next time you see a Grandparent with their grandchildren, please look at them longingly and say sadly, “Enjoy every minute! It just takes us so long to get there!”