Monday, 19 December 2022

MS, You're Taking the Piss

Tickle My Balls!

Henry Miller, writer (did not have MS)

Henry Miller apparently once stated that to relieve your bladder is one of life’s greatest pleasures. You could never say that if you had MS. You’re either in constant fear of pissing yourself or you suffer from bladder retention and struggle to go (and keep going).

I’m firmly in the retention camp and Number 1 merely represents what I often think is its rank in my stockpile of MS symptoms. I don’t waste the opportunity of my book to have a good old moan about it. Here’s an extract that describes my tiresome routine whenever I’m standing over a toilet:

‘Every visit is like attempting to get a telephone connection between Timbuktu and Outer Mongolia through one of those ancient plug-in exchanges. Cables have been nibbled by the MS mice and it’s the telephone girl’s first day.

The process begins with some enthusiastic flicking of the head – yes, that one – in order to encourage some kind of muscle memory. Then I begin to stimulate nerves in the vicinity, which entails lightly running a fingernail over the skin. This can be pretty much anywhere between my waist and undercarriage. A favourite place used to be either side of the upper reaches of the bum crack, but I seem to have mostly worn this out now, and it takes some searching to find where the connection resides. In the meantime, I will use the other hand to grab the sink or whatever is nearby and at an appropriate height, or I will just lean against the wall in front of me – Kate is always complaining about dirty finger marks on the bathroom paintwork.

The final piece of the jigsaw is perhaps the strangest of all. I have to throw my head back, but not directly, at a slight angle, otherwise the messages from my brain can’t get through to my urethra. And I have to open my mouth in a slack-jaw kind of way, like I’ve been given a heavy dose of ketamine. My expression is exactly like Lou Reed’s on the cover of his lesser-known album, Ecstasy.

Then, if I’m lucky – it’s always worse when I’ve just woken up or it’s the middle of the night and I’m still half asleep – I might manage a single drip, like when Neil is trying to piss in Simon’s mouth at the end of the second Inbetweeners film, only this isn’t the prelude to a torrent about to enter the fray. It just means I’m finally out of the blocks.’

And there’s more, but I’ll leave that cliffhanger for those who go the whole hog and buy the book. I’ll offer this though. The methods employed to empty my bladder is an ever-evolving blight on my life and the latest aide de urination is to tickle my balls. Yes, you read that right. Sounds like it could be Larry Grayson’s new catchphrase, doesn’t it? Ooh, tickle my balls!


Only Grayson is dead, and my recent practice of tickling beneath the scrotum is alive and well. Is this too much information? Probably, but in both the book and on this blog, I’ve always striven to tell the truth. And tickling my balls is a help, right.

It’s just another way of stimulating nerves, giving my brain a gentle prod and saying, ‘Brain, come on, tell my bladder to release the cargo!’ If you’re a man who suffers from bladder retention too, maybe it could help you as well. Or maybe I’m just amused by the thought of hundreds of men standing astride pots tickling their balls.

Only problem is that I’m 53. If this continues for any length of time, my arms might eventually become too short to reach that area. I wonder if Kate would be interested in helping me out when the ballsack starts to bang against the kneecaps.

And with that evocative image, I will bring this latest post to a close.

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[To order Balls to MS: 20 Years of Discovering Your Body Hates You, follow the link below, where you can also read reviews.]


MS, You're Taking the Piss

Tickle My Balls! Henry Miller, writer (did not have MS) Henry Miller apparently once stated that to relieve your bladder is one of life’s gr...