By and large, I'm sticking with my previous assessment of my atonic, underactive, neurogenic, screwed-up bladder: IT SUCKS, big time.
But here's a positive side effect. Time has definitely slowed down for me.
Since I'm 69, and not getting any younger (which seems to be standard for everybody), I'm pleased that the days have been passing more slowly since my bladder decided to go on what appears to be a permanent work stoppage for the rest of my life.
I'm curious whether other people with chronic health problems have experienced the same phenomenon, time slowing down. Naturally I Googled this, but couldn't find any references to it.
So on the chance that I'm the first person in the history of the world to have discovered that time slows down in the presence of a chronic health problem, I'm non-humbly calling this the Hines Effect after moi.
(Hey, since I'm not going to live forever, leaving behind a scientific term that's named after me is a far distant second best.)
What seems to be happening is that because I have to self-catheterize about five times a day on a fairly strict schedule, rather than heading to a bathroom on demand as I used to do, I've had to become much more self-conscious of everything having to do with urination.
How much I'm drinking. What I'm drinking. Where I need to be when the time for self-catherization comes around. How my bladder is feeling, urge-to-urinate-wise.
It's a lot like enforced mindfulness, albeit of a rather strange variety. I'm having to pay way more attention throughout the day to something that I used to take for granted: peeing.
The subjective experience that results for me is of time passing much more slowly that it did before my bladder went on strike.
(After a serious urinary retention episode about 10 months ago, I can urinate some on my own, but not nearly enough to keep up with what's being produced by my kidneys; hence, the need to self-catheterize.)
I'm pleased that time has slowed down, though I'd be even happier about this if my life were more pleasant. But if I didn't have my chronic health problem, time would have kept on speeding by as it did when I was "normal."
My pre-bladder-problem sense of time was that I was having a birthday about every six months, and reading the Sunday paper every couple of days. Not literally, of course, but subjectively. Back then I sort of cruised through life on auto-pilot, because I was healthy and enjoyed my various routines.
Now, I'm having to pay close attention throughout the day to what my bladder is doing, and notably, isn't doing. The five times I day I self-catheterize require a certain ritual that is considerably more involved than simply popping into a bathroom and peeing away.
My theory -- which is needed to justify naming it the Hines Effect -- is that my experience of daily life now has considerably more events or impressions in it. This produces the sensation of time slowing down, as noted in a Psychology Today article, "How the Brain Stops Time."
One of the strangest side-effects of intense fear is time dilation, the apparent slowing-down of time. It's a common trope in movies and TV shows, like the memorable scene from The Matrix in which time slows down so dramatically that bullets fired at the hero seem to move at a walking pace.
In real life, our perceptions aren't keyed up quite that dramatically, but survivors of life-and-death situations often report that things seem to take longer to happen, objects fall more slowly, and they're capable of complex thoughts in what would normally be the blink of an eye.
...fear does not actually speed up our rate of perception or mental processing. Instead, it allows us to remember what we do experience in greater detail. Since our perception of time is based on the number of things we remember, fearful experiences thus seem to unfold more slowly.
I'm not afraid, but my chronic health problem does produce a pervasive sense of caution, wariness, concern. Thus I'm having to remember more things than I did before, which apparently produces the feeling of time slowing down.
All in all, I'd rather have a functioning bladder with time going more quickly for me.
But it's good that a crappy situation has the side benefit of elongating my subjective experience of life, since while I'm not as happy as I was before, I still find life very much worth living and generally pleasant.