I have a phobia of not being able to get to a loo. I've had it all my life and it made coming home from university a particular nightmare because, if the coach was running late, it sometimes didn't stop at St Asaph to allow passengers a 'comfort stop', and way back then, coaches didn't have loos on board. I can remember one particularly agonising journey where I had to cross my legs all the way from Bangor, North Wales, to Liverpool. By the end of the journey, I was sweating, shaking, and thinking I was going to burst. I just made it to the toilets in Lime Street station.
I think I know where this particular fear came from. When I was four or five, I remember my mum showing me a photo of her old tom cat, Chummy, a huge tabby with torn ears and a look of a battered boxer about him, with his huge head and squashed-looking nose. I asked what had happened to him and she told me he had had a bladder problem and couldn't pee and his bladder had burst and killed him. The idea was so horrifying to me that I think, from that moment on, I became very conscious of making sure I peed as often as possible. And over the years, I developed a kind of irritable bladder condition, like permanent cystitis without the presence of any infection, but with burning in the bladder and a frequent need to 'go'.
It's a particular problem because of where I live; it takes an hour and a half on the tube to get to Uxbridge, then another half hour to get home from there, the last stretch being a ten minute walk from the bus stop. Imagine that after a meal with friends in London and a few glasses of wine. That's why I hardly ever go out!
On Wednesday, my greatest fear is happening. I am having one of those ultrasound x-rays like you have when you are pregnant. Yes, that's the one where you have to drink two pints of water and aren't allowed to go to the loo till after your scan. I am dreading it. I am losing sleep over it. What if I have an awful accident? You have to drink the water an hour before your scan, but I have to get to the hospital by means of... yes, that ten minute walk and then a bus journey. I'm in such a state that I'm contemplating ringing up tomorrow and cancelling it. Oh God!
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