Saturday, June 8, 2013

A Drinking Problem

I drink a lot.  Of water, that is.  I always have.  I’m just a water-drinking kind of guy.  Oh sure, I’ll have some coffee in the morning, and an occasional soda or alcoholic beverage when watching sports, but water is the mainstay of the liquid side of my diet.  I keep a bottle in the car, have one going at work, and usually have a glass nearby at home.  As habits go, it is probably one of the better ones I could have.  Beats the heck out of sticking silverware into electrical outlets, which is a habit no one sticks with for long.

Okay, maybe I don't drink this much, but close.

Water drinking is not a habit without its downsides however.  Off the top of my head, I can think of two negative side effects, one minor and one not so much.

The minor one is when I go out to eat at a restaurant.  I always order ice water with my meal, since that’s just what I like.  It’s what I drink with meals at home, so why wouldn't I have it when I am out? The thing is, I can’t help but feel like the server, deep-down, must think I am just another cheap bastard not ordering something for which I would have to pay.  I’m sure that if I had a few beers in me, I’d probably get up the courage to address this perceived issue with my server, maybe going to far as to encourage them to stop by my home any evening at mealtime to see that I really do indeed have ice water with all my meals.  Of course, if I had a few beers in me, the whole point would be moot. So I just leave a generous tip, more for the sake of my own conscience than anything else.

The more problematic side effect of drinking a lot of water involves making trips to the bathroom.  The human body can only make use of so much water after all, and what it does not need has to come out at a certain point. Biology 101, right there.  Fortunately, I am rarely in a situation where I am not able to make a quick trip to the restroom.  There are, however, times when I really don’t want to, like in the middle of attending a live event or while trying to sleep.  It’s that latter issue that really causes me problems.

As I get older, I find that nocturnal sojourns to the loo are a more frequent occurrence.  On a good night, I don’t need to go at all or maybe only need to go once, but sometimes it can be more.  It wouldn't be so bad if I was a sound sleeper, but alas, I am not.  It always takes me a long time to fall asleep, and I do not sleep very deeply when I do.  If I get up to go to the john, it wakes me just enough so that it can take upwards of an hour for me to get back to dreamland. If I've stubbed a toe, tripped over a cat or two, or run into a door, all of which are not infrequent happenings, it can be even longer. 

Some nights, I can totally relate.

Getting back to sleep is usually a real challenge for me.  During those late night hours, my mind functions with all the calm reason of a teenage girl in the front row of a Justin Bieber concert.  It turns every little problem into a big one, and regrets from the past, particularly the ridiculous and trivial ones, are dredged up and amplified.  One night not long ago, for example, I tossed and turned and fretted for what must have been over an hour after a bathroom trip because I felt bad about taking a regular college English course my senior year in high school instead of the accelerated course my teacher desperately wanted me to take.  Did I mention that I graduated from high school a quarter-century ago?  And that I got into the college of my choice and the program of my choice with no problems, despite only taking regular college English?  In the dark of the night, not taking the accelerated course seemed like such a deep regret of which I should be eternally ashamed.  Come morning, it seemed like a monumentally stupid thing to waste my energy thinking about.

In the 80s, the Australian pop band Men at Work even wrote a hit song about this middle-of-the-night phenomenon of exaggerated thinking.  The song is called “Overkill”, and here are some of the lyrics, as written by lead singer Colin James Hay:

I can't get to sleep. 
I think about the implications 
Of diving in too deep 
And possibly the complications. 

Especially at night 
I worry over situations that 
I know will be alright.
It's just overkill.
(Lyrics © EMI Music Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC)

Video of "Overkill" by Men at Work from YouTube

At least there’s a little bit of comfort in knowing that it’s not just me who suffers mild temporary insanity in the middle of the night.

If dawn is approaching soon and my bladder is urging me to take a trip down the hall, I have been known to try to “ride it out” until I have to get up anyway, especially if things are not too urgent.  This rarely works.  First of all, I can rarely get comfortable when I have to go, so I toss and turn and generally destroy the bed.  Then, if I do manage to achieve some semblance of sleep, I almost always have the most outrageously stressful dreams, often involving being chased by something horrible and nasty, or being extremely late for something extremely important, like my presidential inauguration or something.  I have no doubt that these dreams are triggered in my subconscious by my body’s need to take care of business, and waking up after them is like returning home from a particularly violent war.  And of course, as official wake up time draws close, a cat or two always manages to make its way into the room in hopes of rousting me for their breakfast, and will invariably sit, if not pounce, directly on my bladder.

They know.  I’m not sure how, but they do.  This is no accident on their part.

I’m a solution-oriented person, but I don’t think there is a solution for this.  Stop drinking water after dinnertime?  Been there, done that, didn't work.  Talk to my doctor? Did that too.  Not enough of a problem to require medical intervention, I’m told.  And don’t even suggest wearing a diaper or some sort of contraption. NOT an option!  Not even maybe.

I guess I should be grateful that I am a light enough sleeper that I am awakened to deal with these requests from my bladder, otherwise I’d be doing a lot more laundry and probably not writing about this particular issue publicly.

It would probably generate a ton of blog hits though...


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