A Lady’s Guide to Ultrasounds

Or: The Inaugural Time That I Almost Peed my Pants at the Hospital

You may think that ultrasounds are the kind of rigmarole that only those of us who have allowed the seed of the opposite sex to impregnate us with child have to suffer through. Unfortunately, you are mistaken. There is an abundance of reasons why your physician may want you to go and get an ultrasound. An ultrasound is merely the use of imaging technology to get an up-close and personal look at your insides. Any sort of internal disturbance may require one. You may also need to go for one if you are planning on beginning any type of birth control regimen. Any medical procedure can be stressful if you’re having it for the first time, but an ultrasound is a harmless procedure. Or at least, it can be.


Please, friends. Sit back in your armchair. Bust out the Chex Mix. Put on your listening ears. And allow me to take you on a journey to a fantastical land. I like to call this the land of “How to Act a Fool: Ultrasound Edition.” Our saga begins with my sixteen-year-old self, a deceptively sunny Saturday morning, and a lot of foreshadowing.

I had decided that I wanted to go on birth control, to stem the nightmarish eruption of ghastly effluvia that insisted upon surging from my nether regions month after month. It was no longer cute. My doctor wholeheartedly agreed that this was no longer cute, and scheduled me for an ultrasound at the local hospital for that weekend. They just wanted to have a look at my uterus and make sure it didn’t have any small, decrepit extraterrestrials living in there who would be harmed by the presence of a contraceptive.


“The galaxy… is on… your left… ovary…”

I didn’t have my driver’s license yet at this point in my life due to my completely rational fear of merging into an oncoming eighteen-wheeler while pulling into my driveway, so my mother was going to have to drive me to the hospital. My appointment was scheduled for around three o’clock in the afternoon. I woke at the crack of noon, as I was wont do to as a teenager, and shambled downstairs. My mother had cured four types of cancer and built a time machine already that morning, so she was sitting at the kitchen table waiting for me, tenderly caressing a gallon jug of water.

“I’m glad you’re up,” she said by way of good morning. “The doctor said your bladder had to be nice and full for your ultrasound, or else it won’t be uncomfortable enough, so I want you to drink all this water by the time we leave the house.” I eyed the massive jug. No problem, I thought. I can take this bitch. I proceeded to apply myself to the challenge with almost religious fervor, glugging away emphatically for the next hour. In the space of 60 minutes, I polished off the gallon and trumpeted my satisfaction with a baritone belch. My mom poked her head into my room.

“You know that your appointment isn’t for two hours, right?”

Immediately, I felt the gallon of water rush through my intestines with the speed of Honey Boo Boo confronted by a vegetable and plummet into my vulnerable bladder with an almost audible splash. I really needed to pee. But I was determined to hold it until the deed was done.


Pictured: Public Enemy No. 1

By the time we were climbing in the car to go to the hospital, I was sweating bullets. My stomach felt so distended I was positive I was going to burst like a water balloon. All the way to the hospital, I had my legs locked together in a grip that could have made diamonds out of coal. My mother only laughed derisively at my pleas to drive faster.

We arrived at the hospital and went to the front desk. As the plump blonde receptionist looked for my name in the charts, I did what appeared to be a traditional African rain dance around the waiting area, accompanied by several animalistic moans and howls of agony. Then I heard the receptionist speak: “Oh, I’m so sorry about this, but we actually are running a little bit behind today. Would you mind waiting just another half an hour?”

I did mind. I minded very much. In fact, as I let out a strangled yelp of dismay, I felt a dainty droplet push past the muscular barriers of my loins and exit into my underwear. I was literally peeing myself in the waiting room of the emergency room. Which, if you must pee yourself, is probably not a bad place to do it, considering the sheer variety of bodily fluids those sainted people encounter on a daily basis, but it was still an undesirable situation to find oneself in. I knew that now that the levees had been breached, a flood of Biblical proportions could be expected at any second now. I zeroed in on the closest ladies’ room and proceeded to unleash a barrage of urine and a stream of guttural swear words in pitches that blue whales probably would have comprehended.

Ashamed of my weakness, I slunk back out of the bathroom to find my mom waiting for me. “I won’t say I told you so,” she said, “But now your bladder’s empty. You’re gonna have to go fill it again.” She pointed to the water cooler at the far end of the waiting room, and handed me a tiny plastic Dixie cup. In disgrace, I went over to the water cooler and proceeded to fill the cup with two gulps of water. I had to repeat this about seventy-four times in order to achieve the same level of satiation that I had reached that morning. And because the universe is never satisfied with putting me in only moderately awkward situations, the entire time I was standing there, looking like the world’s thirstiest asshole, a very elderly woman in a wheelchair was sitting right next to the water cooler, staring at me from behind Coke-bottle glasses with a disapproving look on her face, as though the water were laced with meth and I was clad only in strategically placed strips of duct tape.


“You kids these days, with your H2O, and your PCP, and your E…

After that whole debacle, the actual ultrasound was practically a breeze. I went into a dimly lit room and was shown a table closed off by curtains. I laid down and was asked to unbutton my pants so as to give the ultrasound technician better access to my uterus. She squirted a little bit of warm, gooey stuff right onto my lower stomach (nothing we haven’t all experienced in a darkened room before, I’m sure). Then she took out a small plastic wand and proceed to run it over my abdomen so that it could tell them secrets about your insides. After two or three minutes of wishing she was done so that I could violently void my bladder for the second time that day, I was free to go and enjoy a nice, leisurely piss.

And that is the story of why you should not drink an entire gallon of water three hours before an ultrasound appointment. But if you are that unfortunate soul who happens to accidentally pee on a nurse while getting an ultrasound, please tell me about it and make me feel better about my own shortcomings.


One comment

  1. Vicki Ochocki · · Reply

    i am honored, honored i tell you, to be mentioned. And believe me when i tell you that nurses are used to being voided on.

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