Of all the things I was expecting upon arriving in what I have traditionally come to believe is the Land of Plenty - steaks the size of three Welsh cows, saturated fat by the pint - the American obsession with BWH (Below the Waist Hygiene) was not among them. Already, my writing about furnishing my small vaginal house from the pharmacist Rite-Aid, has attracted a lot of attention from women in the UK, whose complaints about their shortcomings in the downstairs flora and fauna department have been met with dumbfounded astonishment by the UK's National Health Service.
If you don't have an infection and all your tests come back negative, the NHS basically doesn't know what to do with you, short of offering you a peg to place on your nose every time you go to the bathroom. Now, thanks to Rite-Aid, I am receiving e-mails from my friends in the UK, asking for advice, and I have become a sort of one-woman show for feminine hygiene.
But it's not just women who can benefit from the BWH obsession. This morning, in my gym, there I was happily watching Las Vegas on the TV as I hit my fourth mile (Tom Selleck has taken over the casino, by the way; he smokes fat cigars and has yet to get his kit off), when a commercial caught my attention and instantly threatened to usurp problems of the female kind for one of a more general nature and which I might also be able to share with men.
Overactivebladder.com was really the wrong ad for me, as I generally have to leave the treadmill every half mile to relieve myself of the three cups of tea I have before leaving for the gym in the morning. Having always claimed to suffer from a "weak bladder" and constantly been told that, no, I just have a small one, maybe this problem (Over-Active Bladder - it sounds so much better in American), like so many others, was also about to be miraculously solved by my moving continents (or incontinents, whichever way you like to look at it).
I learned from the website that people with OAB rush to the bathroom a lot (yes, that's me), and get up to go to the bathroom in the night. When I was drinking, I never used to get up in the night, as I was generally comatose ten minutes after arriving home; if I did get up, it was only to check out the other side of the bed to assess the kind of monstrosity I might have brought home with me. These days, though, I do get up, but that is generally because for every glass of wine I used to drink, I now have three mugs of tea before going to bed.
I took the test on overactivebladder.com (something tells me that title is never going to make a movie), and, apart from my having to leave the treadmill and Tom Selleck every ten minutes, don't think I have the condition. Something that did interest me, though, was the news that, in terms of discomfort, men scored 6 and women scored 8, meaning that men have a higher threshold for bother.
Really? Go to a rugby international, stand behind the beer tents and see how high their bother threshold is there.
But at least I am assured that there are some products I don't have to buy from Rite-Aid, and that, in my continued pursuit of the American Dream, it doesn't necessarily have to be a wet one.