One quirk of doing a stand-up show about my bladder condition is that friends might come to see it; folks I’d known for 30 years heard, for the first time, about my odd bathroom habits at one of my gigs. Via jokes, I’m happy to say, but still, it means I had to face them afterwards. They were, of course, very gracious – they’re friends for a reason, and they knew I had a checkered medical past of some sort. They just didn’t know the ins and outs of it all. (Or maybe I shouldn’t refer to catheters like that.)
During the comedy tour, I stayed the night at a fellow comedian’s house. As a co-stand-up, he knew better than many about the ‘gulp’ sensation of trying new material for the first time, and of putting true anecdotes out there to an audience you hope will sympathize, and laugh. He showed me to his spare room, and very sweetly, after years of knowing me but only just hearing about the caths, he offered a bin in the en suite bathroom, and asked if there was anything else he could do to help a cather feel at home.
I had to think twice. What do we want? Only by actually talking about it publicly had the issue come up. I’m used to living with this on my own. The best I could think was just to expect me to take longer in the bathroom. Otherwise, business as usual.
The bonding experience of talking about urological issues onstage was something I’d not fully appreciated. At a few shows, others I knew with similar bladder conditions came along. That was nice.
At another performance, a stranger who hadn’t seen the poster ‘Navelless Gazing’ but had seen the sign ‘comedy’ was stunned as I announced at the start of the show that I had the same condition as her: bladder exstrophy. It affects 1 in 70,000 people and here were two randomly in the same room. Two rows behind her, a third person stood up and showed his lack of navel. Three in a room! That’s nearly a record...
So, any regrets? No sirree. That stranger, for the first time, met someone like her. We were actually under the same urologist but, of course, patients under the same doctor don’t meet. So, I’m all for building these bridges. Sometimes that means telling jokes onstage at a comedy club, and sometimes that means browsing online forums or reading a blog. Like this one. So thanks! Nice to know you. Like The Manic Street Preachers’ album title goes, This is my truth, tell me yours...
The opinions expressed here are of a personal and anecdotal nature, and are in no way a substitute for professional medical advice. You should always consult your doctor or nurse if you have any questions.