it might ease your symptoms, but it won't return your dignity

it might ease your symptoms, but it won’t return your dignity

Life at Columbia gets stressful. It is around one hundred times worse when you face a little problem that 50% of women will experience sometime during their life: a UTI.

It begins the night after a crazy party that ended with some marathon sex in someone else’s room. Said someone falls asleep on you almost immediately after completion, and you’re in no position to scurry to an unknown bathroom, particularly given that you have no fucking idea where your underwear (or dignity?) is. You know you should ~cleanse~ your urinary tract, but you just close your eyes, head slightly dizzy, and drift off, hoping for the best.

Or, you’ve been with someone that you KNOW you’ll get a UTI from. You just know, not that he’s dirty or anything, but it’s happened before. But thirst knows no bounds, and you take your cranberry pills right after you receive that 2am text thinking ‘I’m prepared.’ You’re not prepared. You wake up okay, but as you sit in your Contemporary Civilization class, or at Sunday drunch, you know what’s coming with the first stabbing pain in your urinary tract.

The last situation is almost as likely: it just fucking happens. You’re as celibate as the Christian girl in the Secret Life of the American Teenager. You’re applying to grad schools and jobs and you don’t have time for physical contact. You haven’t seen anyone but your suitemates in over 2 weeks because applications are taking precedent over classes. You haven’t showered – let alone let someone of the opposite sex come close enough to smell you. You still get a UTI.

The pain comes, as it always does, almost like a baby pressing on your bladder – but far more painful. This time, like every time, you worry that your symptoms are actually an STI, but you know it’s not true. You just have an extremely short urethra and are honestly not made for sexual intercourse or even daily life. Sometimes, you’ll think the pangs are hunger pangs. Either way, you sit for a long time on an In-Private Browsing window on Google Chrome, worried you are going to die. You think of seeing Health Services, but of course, you wait a day or two until you can’t sleep, and you’ve spent a day or two skipping classes, doing readings crouched over a toilet.

A good tip for this is to find a nice disabled toilet in a remote area, because the lack of interruption is calming to both the bladder and the nerves. Bring a water bottle and fill it up every 5 minutes. Drink more water than you have in a year (part of why you have this problem is because you survive on black coffee, Diet Coke and vodka, but you’ll ignore that). Give yourself water poisoning from the sheer amount of water you’ve just drank. Puke up much of the water and retch uncontrollably for a while before drinking more water. You’re Googling if you can die from this. Hint: you can.

Finally you bite the bullet and go to Health Services. During the immense waiting time, you take 15 trips to the nice oak-paneled bathroom. You can feel everyone’s heated eyes on you. They know. Once you see your doctor and pee in a cup, you feel as if it will get immediately better. It won’t. You’ll have the delay for the results to get back, and when you finally get prescribed antibiotics, you won’t be able to leave the toilet to go to Duane Reade to pick them up. Then, it will take a few days for them to kick in, and honestly, they probably won’t work because you still end up getting roaring drunk at 1020, interfering with their efficacy. It will just happen again.

Or, the alternate, horrible reality takes over: you have too many UTI’s, and they don’t want to encourage resistance by giving you antibiotics. You’re pretty sure your Google Search said this was not the right way to combat it, but you order some dodgy cranberry pills for an exorbitant price and spend a few days getting very acquainted with the Wallach disabled toilet on the ground floor. The only upside is that the re-acquaintance with hydration makes your skin look better than it has since you were 12.

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