Pavlov’s Dog Of Bladder Control

If you’re not familiar with Pavlov’s dogs, let me offer a little history. In simple terms Ivan Pavlov was a Russian Scientist who ended up discovering and studying the process of learning known as classical conditioning. He realized that dogs that normally salivate when food was present learned to salivate when an unrelated stimulus was paired with the food, like the footsteps of his assistant or the ringing of a bell. Anyone who happened to take Psychology 101 (in my case as an elective) would be familiar with Pavlov’s dog. Not to mention that the whole concept has been the butt of humorous cartoons and comedy skits for years.

Lately I feel that I am reacting to an unrelated stimulus whenever I walk into my house after an excursion out into the real world. I have never been fond of public washrooms. These days, with COVID in our midst, I avoid them even more. Over the years I have developed a pretty-impressive skill when it comes to bladder holding. It started when I was just a kid and didn’t want to go home when outside playing but also didn’t want to go in the woods because that somehow always resulted in wet shoes or worse. There was a local gas station that had a typical 60’s local gas station washroom. Picture clogged toilets and sinks full of dead bugs. Again, I couldn’t bring myself to do that. 

After a couple of childhood years of having accidents, I developed my superpower of holding. We are talking long-drive holding because a lot of drivers I know don’t like to make stops. And outdoor-excursion holding because even as an adult, I still can’t go in the woods. Shoes and socks and even pants remain at risk. Then there is I’m-in-the-middle-of-something-else holding because I have a tendency to get overly focused on other things, like my graphic design projects when I was employed or a good movie now that I’m retired.

But something has changed. It doesn’t seem to matter how long I have been out in the real world. When I arrive home, I usually need about forty-five seconds to make it to the john. Lately, as I am trying to kick off my shoes, there is a cramp followed by a slight release. I begin running down the hall hoping that that drip is, or those few drips are, all I am going to feel before I drop my drawers and sit down. 


This has happened several times in the past few months, and I am constantly looking around my entry to see if I can discover whatever stimulus I am reacting to. I need to remove it. It has to go. Surely this is a learned response. Surely I have been conditioned by something. Surely, because I am not ready to admit that certain parts of me are getting older than I want them to; and that my active future may depend on Depends.

Thank you for reading. 

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13 thoughts on “Pavlov’s Dog Of Bladder Control

  1. This post reminded me of two things about teaching. (What doesn’t remind this guy about teaching?)

    #1 Teachers have unusually strong bladders. When I was a kid, I remember that the elementary teacher would leave the room for a couple of minutes to use the bathroom and appoint a head narc. Some other students appointed themselves assistant narcs. That would never happen today, as you can never leave kids alone. It’s a lawsuit waiting to happen.

    #2 Occasionally, someone would have an accident in class. Nine times out of ten, the child was so mortified that he/she wouldn’t fess up. I’d walk around like a bloodhound, subtly trying to determine where the offending smell was coming from. I could usually find the child, and they would whisper in their ear to get a change of clothes from the office and get themselves cleaned up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that also happens in old folks homes. Care givers walking and sniffing. Also other seniors being self-appointed narcs. They used to tattle on my mother-in-law. Mind you who wants to eat dinner with that odour present. Who knows what our future holds or releases in that department.


  2. First, I really liked this one. (And by that I don’t mean that I haven’t found your other pieces to be wonderfully satisfying, of course.) We share a history of both developing an iron bladder in our salad days and now facing the fact that the iron might be a bit rusty. I’m glad you share this because…

    Second, I had an incident earlier today, in my DOCTOR’s OFFICE, of all places, that completely mortified me. I wasn’t sure that I should rehash said incident in the land of Bonnywood, but now you have convinced me. We might as well giggle about the rusty, and I shall be scribbling away this weekend. Just as soon as I dry off… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It was only in the last six months I learned (a) I am not the only person to suffer this and (b) it’s known as latchkey incontinence. Seems there’s a lot of us about. I have had several trips to Urology over the years. A few years ago I had a catheter fitted for 12 weeks. I could drink as much as I liked and as long as I fitted a night bag before sleep, was able to sleep undisturbed for eight hours. Bliss. As soon as I was released from the catheter |I started having to get up in the night again…

    Liked by 1 person

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