The time the hospital thought I had an eating disorder

Couple years ago I was in hospital because I had been peeing too much. Not uncontrollably or constantly, but frequently enough that my girlfriend eventually convinced me to see a doctor. Whether she was truly concerned about my health or just annoyed that I woke her up while going to the bathroom every night remains unclear.

My GP referred me to a charming young urologist. He ruled out diabetes and made me pee into a special toilet. He was so lovely that Senaai and I seriously considered faking more symptoms just so we could spend more time in his presence. Alas, he referred us on to another doctor who was some other sort of urine specialist. My pee was for the first and last time something of a mystery.

This new doctor made me get an ultrasound (the jelly feels strange, yet alluring) and keep a pee diary. It certainly wasn’t the high point of my young life. Eventually this new doctor decided that I should stay in hospital for a day where to undergo a test where my blood would be tested periodically.

Although I had been warned about this process, the day it actually came caught me by surprise. I found myself with an unplanned overnight stay in hospital in a different city. Hard enough when you don’t say something stupid. Unluckily, for better or for worse, I am me.

I had never spent any significant time in hospital as a patient, apart from when I broke my arm as a kid, which doesn’t really count. Perhaps I was nervous. Perhaps it’s my natural inclination to make a joke when things are uncomfortable. Perhaps I secretly love the thrill of awkwardness. Whatever the reason, when the nurse who was checking me in asked about my weight I decided to say that I “wouldn’t mind if I was little lighter!”

The nurse looked at me worriedly and made a note on the file. I didn’t immediately realise what I’d done but later that night it became clear. In every other respect I was a perfect patient. I was in my early twenties, no real health issues apart from peeing a bit. I was a breeze compared to the sick and elderly.

However, later that night after dinner, the nurses came to diligently check I had eaten everything. The next morning, a different nurse tried to covertly ask about my mental health.

As it turns out (and was apparently immediately obvious to Senaai) my little joke had led the nurses to believe that I was secretly battling an eating disorder. Nothing could be further from the truth! If anything I eat a bit too much, hence my hilarious joke! But I certainly am not tortured by it, I’m just like most people out there who love chips and make jokes to nurses.

I tried to let them know I was joking but to no avail. They must have thought I was lying, not realising I use humour to stop/create awkward moments, not to deflect from hidden problems. Once somebody suspects you, there’s nothing you can do can convince them otherwise.

It turned out that my blood tests were fine. The doctor, who had also heard about my supposed eating disorder, tenderly broached the idea that maybe it, the peeing frequency, was all in my head. This is where joking gets you! Senaai must despair of me.

The doctor didn’t seem that convinced but apparently some of her colleagues first brought up the idea. She dismissed it, repeatedly claiming that I was a “genuine” person, whatever that means. She said it about fifteen times. Things were awkward but I knew not to make a joke.

After all this, my frequent urination was put down to an overactive bladder. You drink too much and you’ll pee too much. I didn’t really think I was drinking excessively but there you go. I try to not drink before bed, which seems to have done the trick. Simple problems, simple solutions.

I still get up during the night, but it’s under control. Our cat gets up for food several times a night anyway, so we coordinate – chicken mince for him, toilet for me. If anyone has an eating disorder, it’s Sam.

I hope this doesn’t sound dismissive of people facing genuine problems. I’d never joke about something like that. I hope everyone can get the care they need, whether it’s dieting or peeing.

Unfortunately the problems I got can’t be cured. No pill for ineptness yet.

Sidenote – the night I was in hospital was when the huge Jennifer Lawrence iCloud nude photo leak story first broke. I tried to work that into this piece, but it didn’t really fit, but it feels important, somehow, to my memory.

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