Chapter 24 – More Travel News

Chapter 24 – More Travel News

September 18

So, I am back from my road trip to spend time with college friends and share a house at the beach.

To say I over-packed is an understatement. By the time I had

… loaded all of the supplies for plumbing purposes

… wrapped up artwork to show my friends

… tossed in all possible combinations of clothes for cold or hot weather, swimming or

beach  walking, eating-out fancy or eating-out rough

… packed food to nosh on the road

… bagged coffee-making equipment for the early morning wake-up cup of java

… boxed up enough champagne to celebrate with one and all

… and squirreled away all the rest of those items that might be needed

…oh, my goodness,

I had an embarrassing pile of bags, boxes, cases and cartons. Luckily, Ashby travels light and had left room in the car for all my stuff and nonsense.

It was a great trip, and we all had a marvelous time. Our time together was filled with good conversation and lots of laughter.

But it also turned out to be a wakeup call for me … I am not as well as I think I am, and I still have a lot of getting better to get through. A year the doctor said, and I guess he is right … don’t tell him I said so! Aches and pains still live in my mid-section, and the plumbing system still calls the shots for where and how I can spend time. And while laughter might be the best medicine, a good belly laugh really taxes those sore abdominal muscles.

But it was well worth the effort. The lingering tireds that plague me this week seem a small price to pay for having had such a wonderful vacation. A nice warm and welcome light at the end of my particular tunnel. Maybe more destinations are on my horizon …

BTW in case you are headed out for a walk on the beach

… Ashby packed the sunscreen

… I packed the bug spray

Go team!!!


This really was a really great trip. We drove down from Connecticut to Charleston with an overnight stay just beyond Washington, DC.

Ashby is a sculptor and, like me, working out how to move ahead in an increasingly opaque artistic world. We shared lots of yack and chatter and talked about our artistic explorations … about motivation and influences, and in general found that the time really flew by.


But, as well as the great conversation, she was a great travel companion because she was very laid back about all the potty stops I had to make. When we left, I was pretty much regular in the timing of my catheterizations. I was able to go 3-4 hours between drains during the day and about 4-5 hours at night. Unfortunately, my life on the road was not to be that predictable.

For whatever reason, my schedule went to hell. Pressure on the abdomen from sitting for long periods … the jiggling of the tummy from the car movement … the anxiety one experiences from driving in heavy traffic … or just sheer cussedness … whatever the cause, I found I was leaking and spasming every 1-2 hours. I became very damp around the middle, and lost control of my timing, as the pressure from the pouch caused urine to empty without any resistance. What a mess! After the first few emergencies, we learned to aim for a rest area nearest the 2-hour mark and stop. For the most part this worked well, and life on the road became more relaxed and leisurely.

However, there was one notable exception … we hit rush hour traffic around Washington, DC. Oy Vey! The traffic! It was horrific, and we found ourselves at a standstill just about the same time I was due for a leak. Luckily Ashby was driving, and I was able to use the emergency kit I had packed for the car.

This kit, which still travels with me everywhere, contains

…a plastic urinal with a cover,

…several baggies, each packed with disposable gloves, a clean catheter wrapped in plastic a glove folded into a paper towel, and an ABD pad,

…a couple of kitchen dish towels

…and plastic shopping bags for waste disposal.

So, while we sat in traffic, I pulled down the waist band of my leggings, covered my lap with a kitchen towel to absorb any spillage and protect the leggings, removed the old bandage and exposed the stoma, unfolded a second towel to cover-up the whole operation, donned a pair of disposable gloves, and catheterized my pouch using the plastic urinal that had come home with me from the hospital. Note; I have since found there are disposable urinal bags that work better for this type of emergency operation. I now keep those in the emergency kit rather than the plastic urinal, as they can be discarded with the gloves, used bandages, pads and other waste materials.

I am not sure but what the truck driver next to us might have been able to see this whole operation, if he chanced to glance down while passing on the right. I would be surprised if he could figure out what the hell I was doing, and even if he could … so what … I mean, give me a break … all anyone might ever see is what looks like a second belly button and my midriff … big deal. Just think of it as automotive-bikini-wear. However, having said all that …despite having rationalized this had nothing to do with indecent exposure …I have to tell you it still felt wrong to pee outside. Go figure … Blame it on the urine!

Another symptom of the pouch being aggravated is that it was producing huge amounts of mucus, and I was forced to flush the system more than twice a day to clear it. This meant I was running low on saline solution. As it turns out, I made it home with just enough saline for one more flush. But it was another lesson in how to prepare for the unexpected. Add 3-4 days’ worth of supplies when packing for a trip.  Better to have too much than not enough … always!

Other lessons learned on this trip,

…Keep a change of clothes near at hand in case of a grand splurt!

…Pack the trunk with your supply bag facing out for easy access.

…Bring along disposable absorbent bed pads for security.

…Enjoy the trip

So yes, it was a challenge. And yes, I was stressed with the strangeness of it all. And yes, the new normal me is not as quick or as adept as the original. And yes, it took a couple of days for my system to recover once I was home again. But the sense of achievement was tremendous … the powerful rush of being out there, once again in the real world … traveling and experiencing new sights and sounds … those were worth all of the hassle.

And the time spent with friends and family, the memories that were created, and the sheer joy of seeing the world once again … there are no words …

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