Life of Pee: Going to the Movies with MS

From the title alone you know where this is going and you think you know exactly what I am going to talk about. But you might not predict my latest adventure to the movie theater when I, like young Pi, was desperate for a lifeboat. And I mean this literally. Huh? Why the hell would anyone need a lifeboat in a movie theater? A real, honest-to-god lifeboat (sans tiger)? Allow me to explain.
Going to movies used to be so easy. Park a few football fields away, jog to the ticket line to make sure you beat the lollygaggers, pick up a soda so large you could swim laps in the carbonated sugar water, and then make a beeline to the perfect seat—eight rows up, dead center. Oh, life before multiple sclerosis.

So the other day, when seeing appropriately Life of Pi, I decided to start tabulating just how trying it can be to watch a movie these days at a large Cineplex, starting with the parking lot. I first calculated that the handicapped parking spaces were nearly a quarter mile from our actual movie theater, conveniently located on the far, far end of the 24-theater complex. Automatically I was guaranteed to trudge a half mile with my forearm crutches to see a flick.
Next, I skipped the soda—extra liquid and movies without a pause button are a poor combination if you have MS. As for grabbing a seat, these days I avoid too many stairs (trying to navigate lots of stairs in the dark is a major MS violation) and if the theater is crowded, that seat is usually on the edge since crawling over folks can be a challenge. But today I went up a few stairs and staked out the middle. I mean, how busy could a movie get that had been out for months? I am such the gambler. And a few minutes later I followed the cardinal rule of having this disease: pee before the movie starts.

All was going swimmingly (pun intended) until I entered the men’s restroom. These days I’m a sit-down kind of guy and two of the three stalls were occupied, including the handicapped one. No biggie, except that the one unoccupied toilet hadn’t been flushed in the last century. It was a swirl of faded fall colors—yellows like the fallen leaves of aspens and browns like the muddy trail after a fresh, chilly rain. Uh, you get the picture. I took it upon myself to be the hero that day. To do what few clearly had had the courage to do before. I flushed that toilet. (Granted, from a good distance using a forearm crutch—I mean it was pretty nasty.)

For reasons unknown, there is exactly one men’s bathroom on this wing. The nearest other bathroom is a quarter mile away roundtrip, something I wanted to avoid since the movie was going to start in 10 minutes. But I realized pretty quickly that such a trip was going to be unavoidable as the murky festival of fall lurking in the toilet bowl started cascading over the rim. And kept cascading. Holy crap, literally. The bathroom was flooding! The two poor souls in the neighboring stalls immediately propped up their legs, struggling to keep their feet aloft. They were trapped without a lifeboat. I apologized (“really sorry guys”) and ran, as fast as one can with forearm crutches, for help—and the other bathroom (after all I did still have to pee).
When I finally made it back to the theater, the previews had started. And the movie theater was packed, my wife bravely fending off potential seat suitors for the last 20 minutes. Now my path was as murky as that toilet water—up stairs and past the legs of a half dozen strangers who were most definitely not prepared for a Dave lap dance. I figured they would probably be poor tippers anyway, so I delicately gimped my way to my seat, sat down, and thought, Oh no-no-no-no, do I have to pee again? Thank goodness it was a false alarm. Ah, my Life of Pee, it’s a guaranteed Oscar contender every time I go to the movies.


Anonymous said…
Really good blog Dave. Great point, plan, plan, plan and then plan for the unexpected. Nothing defines life with MS more than that. That would make a good forum thread.

Anonymous said…
LOL Dave, first you had me laughing so hard with the title, and then you add the 'Dave lap dance' bit at the end.
Dave Bexfield said…
Thanks Larry & I, it was an adventure. And speaking of lap dances, I had my forearm crutches which I suppose could, in theory and in a major pinch, double as stubby stripper poles! Oh jeeze. No, no, there will never be a Magic Dave. I don't have the abs.
Anonymous said…
Loved the blog! I was laughing out loud and my husband kept asking me what was so funny! Thanks for your honesty and outlook on life.
Unknown said…
I died laughing at the "Dave Lap Dance"! Good blog will continue to read as these are certainly insights into my life with MS.
Anonymous said…
I'd like to say it takes me back to a time I experienced the same, but you take the cake! Keep being the "cool rider".

Cvfactor said…
Funny post. I have the opposite problem where I have to carry around catheters in order to urinate. You always have to plan to make sure you enough wherever you go. Fortunately I have not been in a situation where I did not have a catheter when I had to go. I don't know which affliction is worse, yourself or mine.
Dave Bexfield said…
John, CV, Mike and Anon, thanks for the comments. My wife and I were given free tickets to a performance the other day and they were in the dead center. Half of an aisle had to get up and leave so I could get in. And you know what I said when I reached my seat after they had all filed back in? "I think I haveta pee." That got a laugh, ha.
Anonymous said…
Dave! I was looking at the Humans of New York FB page when I saw this and was immediately reminded of my own pee challenges!

She had a stack of comic books in her lap, so I asked:
"If you had a superpower, what would it be?"
"I'd never have to pee," she said.

Somedays I would like to pick that super power too!
Dave Bexfield said…
Anon, that would be a cool superpower! Even better, you can so totally control your pee that you could use your superpower to help firefighters put out small house fires. Although that might be more of a guy thing....
Anonymous said… you were the one in the stall next to me!!! Not you huh? Right...many would believe you Dave. I'll send you the drycleaning bill for the cuffs of my pants! Keep up the good stories!
Dave Bexfield said…
Statute of limitations, Anon. That's all I'm saying. Sorry about your cuffs, ha.

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