Four Bad Bladder Stories

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PopCandy shared a link yesterday to Peerun.com, a site that hopes to solve one of life's biggest problems "“ finding a time to pee during movies. Now that peeing during movies isn't a problem anymore (if you can hold it to the recommended point), let's look at four times when a full bladder did present a problem.

The 1998 Golden Globes

The Golden Globes are known for their spontaneous and wild moments, often fueled by the ceremony's open bar. But perhaps the most memorable was in 1998, when Christine Lahti was announced as the winner for Best Actress in a Drama Series. Her name was called but"¦she didn't come up to the stage. After some creative vamping by the presenters and Robin Williams, Lahti finally rushed in and explained that she was in the bathroom. To her credit, Lahti never let the moment embarrass her "“ at the next year's ceremony, she walked on stage with a piece of toilet paper deliberately stuck to her shoe.

The Freedom 7 Launch

alan_shepard.jpgAs Al Shepard sat in the Freedom 7 capsule on May 5, 1961, waiting to become the first American in space, he famously said to himself "Don't f*** up." He didn't, but his bladder almost caused a disaster. Since the planned flight was only fifteen minutes, nobody had thought to give him a way to use the bathroom, which became an issue when a technical delay kept him on the ground for more than an hour. He ended up relieving himself in his suit (described in the most excruciatingly lyrical detail by Tom Wolfe in "The Right Stuff"), which set off a thermometer and knocked out the sensor recording his electrocardiogram. His angle in the capsule also meant that his urine ended up pooling at his back, where it stayed through the (eventually successful) flight.

This was hardly the last time NASA had urine issues, though. Early astronauts were outfitted with bags for defecation or special diapers. And this Wired article describes a 2005 project NASA explored to convert astronaut's urine into drinking water.

Tycho Brahe's deathbed

Legend has it that famed astronomer Tycho Brahe died after he refused to use the bathroom at a banquet and his bladder burst. While part of that story is correct, the real cause of his death is far more interesting. A 1991 forensics investigation into Brahe's death (a case 391 years old at that point) revealed high amounts of mercury and later tests showed that the mercury had been digested, suggesting Brahe was either poisoned or was munching on thermometers. Various accounts from the time of Brahe's death show that the astronomer did go to a banquet and did refuse to pee, but once he got home found that he was unable to urinate. He died days later after suffering from intense pain, fevers and the continued inability to urinate. The exhumations don't show his bladder troubles as the cause of his death, so the best theory now is that Brahe tried to fix his prostate problems with a self-concocted mercury medicine.

During Hugh Jackman's performance in Beauty and the Beast

jackman.jpgIn a 2008 interview with Playboy, Jackman reflected on a time when he guzzled water before going onstage to play Gaston in Beauty and the Beast. Inevitably, he found himself at the breaking point during a big song and dance number that ended on a high note. In the interview, Jackman recalls thinking, "The actor in me took over. I was singing, thinking, 'Wow, I'm peeing my pants.'" He even thought he had gotten away with it because his tights were waterproof, but as it turns out they weren't and the audience could tell. Luckily, he made it through this year's Oscar ceremony without any bladder issues.

May 22, 2009 - 12:58pm
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