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Nina Sharma

Pee and Fury: Testing the Limits of Bladder Control

Illustration by Kjell Reigstad (Images by Colorblind and ugurhan for iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Nina Sharma | Longreads | June 2, 2017 | 9 minutes (2,322 words)


The first night of our vacation, I wake up in the middle of the night needing to pee. I’m tired, nestled in the hotel bed, and I debate getting up or not. I have a love-hate relationship with my bladder. I hate how much I have to pee; it feels as if upon the hour sometimes. “Ugh, it’s at it again,” I often groan to my husband, Quincy. “But Nina, it’s your body,” he’ll say. In the rivalry between team Nina and team Nina’s bladder, he always sides with the bladder.

Lately, even if I wake up feeling like a dangerously over-filled waterbed has sprouted up inside of me, I can avoid the half-awake march to the bathroom and fall back to sleep. When I wake up a few hours later, my thought almost always is, “I won.” It’s a relief to know that should the apocalypse require me holding my bladder for an extended period of time, I can do it.

As I contemplate listening to my bladder this time or not, I hear commotion in the hallway. A man yells, “Get down on the ground! Now!” He is yelling this in a voice so certain and sturdy it feels like the scariest part of the whole thing.

A woman chimes in. “Why would you do that!” she screams. I try to imagine what “that” is but I can’t get past my body, which I realize is shaking now, head to toe, a shudder I would otherwise think is reserved for cartoons but it’s real and upstaging my bladder. I draw myself close to Quincy, who pulls me into his arms tightly.

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