How Safe is Your Bladder at Work?

Workplace Pressure that Could Affect Your Health

I Peed My Pants at Work!

Somehow sharing this incredibly embarrassing fact with the world in print is far easier than to ask a supervisor to go to the bathroom. Even if not widely admitted, there has to be someone else in the world that has wet their pants at work.

When it comes to actually being in the workforce, they don’t prepare you in college for the practical life lessons. Maintaining self-care and health is one such issue. Graduating, landing a job and starting off as a newbie brings with it stress and incredible pressure to live up to the expectations of colleagues and supervisors. The field of teaching is no exception.

High Pressure Work Environments Lead to Unforeseen Problems

In this case, bladder damage is the consequence. My adult pant wetting experience is forever burned in my professional brain. 7th period, the final period of a long day in my first year of teaching was dragging on. This particular school year, my one scheduled break was at 9 AM. Essentially, I went from around 10:30 AM to 3:41 PM or longer every day without hitting the ladies room once. I thought this was “part of the job.” Little did I know, ignoring my bladder’s call would have embarrassing consequences.

How Often Should We Visit the Loo?

Frequent Urination Protects You from Urinary Tract Infections
Frequent Urination Can Help Save You From Uncomfortable Urinary Tract Infections. – Photo Courtesy of Pexels
A normal human being should try to empty their bladder around every three hours. A healthy bathroom routine is often disrupted, or we make mental excuses not to get up and go.
When it comes to my situation, you are probably thinking, what about between classes? Couldn’t you go then? Well, wading through a sea of 6th graders to the faculty room that was on the far end of the hall is hard enough. Add the challenge of dodging administration, colleagues and “that one student” almost ALWAYS resulted in 30 seconds to do the deed and of course wash up and dash back.

Inevitably, your late, and boy do you hear about it. Coming up with excuses like these to not use the restroom is easy at first. Now, you might say, what’s the big deal? Being a tad bit late can’t hurt, can it? Let me list the workplace pressure and complications involved around teacher tardiness:

  • Administration frowned upon hall cluttering and lines of students waiting at the door (at this particular school, students were not allowed in the classroom unsupervised).

  • As a first year teacher, somehow bathroom tardiness was deemed “unprofessional” due to starting a class late or disorderly.

  • A break in the entering class routine could result in a class from hell if it’s your “rough” period.

Again, these were excuses not to visit the loo. My first year teacher brain struggled with the question, “Is it worth it?” Considering the incomplete list of consequence above, it was better to hold it and dance around the room with added “energy.”

Laws are in place requiring workplaces to offer a relief system
I got into the habit of holding it more times than I can count. This particular year, I was fresh meat both to students and faculty. Seasoned teachers viewed me as a young enthusiast who knew nothing about the practical world of teaching. I didn’t have any “teacher buddies” whose break lined up to give me my special potty time. After trying myself to get relief from unwilling or busy co-workers, I sought out help from administration.
“For certain occupations, such as assembly line work, where a bathroom break may disrupt the workflow, a relief system is advised, where a worker would signal for a temporary replacement and the employer must ensure that relief workers are available.”- Roy Maurer

I tried sending an “emergency” email to administration to get someone to cover my room when I had the ULTIMATE stomach ache. It felt like an eternity had passed when a disgruntled campus adviser eventually stepped into the room and gave me the stink eye. Without any words, there was a clear message that this strategy of asking for administrative help was not welcomed.

 Like I said, better to hold it. And hold it I did. Day after day, month after month. Then that fateful day, 7th period. I was doing my typical “pee dance” around the room. Class started, kiddos were engaged, everything going great, right? Wrongo!

I cannot express the panic that surged through me. The need to pee swiped all ability to think, speak, or do anything resembling teaching. I couldn’t hold it. My adult self, in a classroom full of 18 students, peed my pants. My face was burning red. I waited for it. What would I hear? The sounds of laughter? Or “Ew, what’s that smell?”

 Nothing but the sounds of students working… kids engaged in their soft discussions. No one noticed.

Thankfully, my pants were black. I attempted to sneak towards my desk. Praying kids wouldn’t hear the squish of my shoes. Sitting down in utter embarrassment, I spent the remaining 25 minutes, in the corner of the room and tried to keep my distance when students approached. When the bell rang and with goodbyes completed, I made a mad dash to my car. Spending 35 uncomfortable minutes on my commute home reflecting in disbelief that I actually peed in front of children. It sounded so illegal and fire worthy. I vowed to tell no one. Years later, here I am sharing.

What Are the Ramifications of Holding your Urine?

Severe Urinary Tract Infections Can Send You to the Doctor
Severe Urinary Tract Infections Can Send You to the Doctor.- Photo Courtesy of Pexels

Why reveal such a disgusting moment in my life? Simple… I assume people out there in the workforce are facing some high pressure jobs. Employees are feeling the same requirements to perform and pressure to put self-health and care on the back burner.

“… If you retain urine and you don’t empty your bladder well or if you don’t empty frequently enough, you can have what we call urinary stasis and develop urinary tract infections. Your bladder, a muscle, may even start to atrophy or weaken leading to urinary incontinence, or poor bladder emptying.”- Piedmont Health Care

These high pressure work environments have the potential to create long-lasting damage to your bladder. Much later, conversations in the workroom with colleagues that opened up revealed that a number of my co-workers suffered from urinary tract infections. These UTIs, which sometimes became severe, put a significant damper on their work and home life resulting in time off and doctor’s visits. I still kept my pant peeing incident to myself, but hearing my co-workers admit their bathroom problems was comforting.

What can we do about this unfriendly bladder workplace environment? Well, take advice from a now bathroom frequent flier, hold on… I need to go empty my atrophied bladder.

If you have to go, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HEALTHY, find a way to go!

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