Dudley & I are similar #44: Bed wetting

Doodles urinates in his sleep. We’d seen a small puddle on the floor or cushion when he woke up, but were not sure if it was water (he splashes a lot of it around the house), drool (he’s a dog) or urine.

Urine trickling down Dudley's leg while he's deep asleep
Urine trickling down Dudley’s leg while he’s deep asleep

Then I noticed this. I was working, and he was sleeping on the carpet behind me. During a break, I turned around to stretch and noticed the drops on his leg. That was my confirmation. A few days later Amit also confirmed that Sm had noticed it happening.

Duds went for a check-up on Monday. They ran a few tests – checking for infection, inflammation, and stones. All came negative. The current hypothesis from the vet is that this could be behavioural.

Duds’ uber loving day care lady, Sue, suddenly passed away a few months ago. He spent a few days at home with me and his mom. And then they had to start sending him to a new day care woman.

Sue was a lovely woman – friendly, chatty, crazy about most dogs (but specially labradors), and always spoiling dogs with swims and treats. She was one of my favourite people around.

Dudley loved her like crazy. But he didn’t just lose her. He lost all the dogs he used to spend his days with – Tilly Mae, Daisy, Ralph, Archie and others. He lost all his friends.

We have a hypothesis that he may be missing her and his friends, and that may be subconsciously triggering his bed wetting.

Growing up, I too used to urinate in my sleep. I regularly woke up in middle of the night – wet and stinking. I would look for clean, dry clothes in the dark so as not to wake up parents, and cause an upsetting episode in middle of the night. Some times I would even change the bedsheet, so no one noticed it in the morning. My bedroom perennially stank of urine. My mom often travelled with plastic mattress sheets to use when we were sleeping at other people’s homes.

This continued late into my childhood, half way into my junior-high years. I long suffered the ignominy of being that kid. I rarely got invited for stay or sleepover from relatives, like my sister and cousins did. Occasionally I had to bear the brunt of loud grumbling and anger from relatives when I wet their beds (again!) while we were travelling.

My parents got me tested as well. There was nothing wrong with the plumbing. It was India in the 80s so no one dared tell them that this could be behavioural.

Thinking back later, I could recall a lot of correlations and coincidences that suggest that my problem may have been behavioural too. The years that I wetted the bed – junior and middle school – were the least happiest times of my childhood. I did not have any close friends (much like now). I was clearly not my parents’ favourite child – my sister was her class topper in academics, and good at extra-curricular stuff while I used to scrape through every year. I was looked down upon by many close relatives (and their kids) because of similar reasons. I was not good at popular sports (cricket), likely due to what I later realised were my hand-eye coordination issues. No one particularly cared about the sport I was good at – speed skating.

Also, my mom frequently used to tell me that I was ‘such a good kid who rarely wetted the bed when I was younger’. I was a much happier kid earlier as well. I had a friend around (his family left town later). I had a friendly aunt around (she got married and moved away). All us neighbourhood kids used to play together as one large happy bunch (we grew up). I wasn’t great at school, but it wasn’t bearing an effect outside school yet.

Another thing that points in the same direction – the bed wetting stopped around the time I remember my life becoming less bad. I developed a small friend circle at school – a few below-the-radar outliers like me.

I started playing basketball. I was quite bad at shooting (hand-eye coordination), but could make up with the work rate on running, dribbling, blocking and passing. Even on shooting, I discovered that I had a higher conversion ratio on lay-ups than free throws and long shots, so I started focusing on them.

I got lucky with a few compassionate teachers – specially my geography and history teachers. They both noticed (and told my parents) that I knew a lot more than most students, but was struggling to write it down in paper. My history teacher recited to my mom as close to a behavioural evaluation as possible back then – I knew more than her on most topics, but when she read my answers, she could see that I either jumped entire sections or lost thought midway. Her hypothesis: my mind was outrunning my writing ability.

This was also the time that I suddenly stopped wetting my bed. Putting things together, I can place a guess that my bed wetting was likely behavioural too. Once the behavioural issues go reduced, the bed wetting went away as well.

My own experience with bed wetting, and how I was treated, comes out often in how I work with Dudley.

My parents rarely scolded me when I wet my bed, specially at home. Even in middle of the night, mom would get up and clean me. She would give me a fresh set of clothes, place a plastic mattress cover on the wet section of the mattress, and lay out a fresh bed sheet on top. It was so bad that some times she would do it twice in a night.

She would do everything, sometimes with a frown on her face. But she almost never scolded me. I don’t know if it was because she rarely had the energy to scold me, or (like I do now) she realised that scolding was of no help once the deed was done.

I had other relatives who would some times go ballistic, specially if I peed in the bed two days in a row. They’d rant and rave at me and, if mom was around, on her. She would bow her head and clean up my mess as best as he could. And try to not cry, at least in view.

It never occurred to me till earlier today, but I have never reacted to Dudley for wetting the carpet, the sofa or the floor. I just wake him up, and send him to the backyard to pee. Then I wipe the surface, clean it with a soapy spray, and get on with life. We didn’t even bother telling Amit about this till he brought it up.

As much as I have tried not to become like my parents, I seem to have learnt some things from them. Sad. Happy sad.

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