When Lizzie Barham, 25, visited her doctor on Monday complaining of a burning sensation when urinating, she received a harrowing diagnosis: UTI.
“You never expect to hear your doctor say those three letters about you,” says Barham. She continues: “I know it’s a pretty common condition for women, but I keep replaying that day in my head. Why couldn’t I have done something differently? I figure that since most people get them from sex, having one might make me seem cool and fun. But I know the truth, and it’s not cute.”
The truth is that Barham contracted her UTI from holding in her pee for five hours at Birdy Café last weekend. Birdy is a small, organic coffee house, known for its comfortable leather couches and great almond milk lattés. “My usual Saturday plan is to order a medium AML and read 200 pages of a book, but that day I ordered a large. I had no idea how much it would throw off my urine schedule.”
According to Barham’s roommate, Chrissy Walters, Barham is very anal about her bathroom usage. “She never uses any bathroom besides the one in our apartment because she’s too embarrassed for people to know she’s an alive human with no catheter.” Walters adds, “Luckily, she works from home as a freelance web designer. Otherwise she’d have UTIs all the time.”
In order to use the bathrooms at Birdy Café, one must verbally request the bathroom key, which is an actual key attached to a large wooden spoon. “When I was ordering, I accidentally pronounced ‘almond’ like ‘almoaned.’ I felt too embarrassed to ask the barista for the bathroom key, even though I had to pee after just 40 minutes of being in the café.”
That barista was Mark Turner, whose shift ended only two hours into Barham’s stay. “Sure, a new barista started working, but the other guy probably told her about how weird I was,” said Barham. “Besides, if I got up, I’d have to ask someone I don’t even know to protect my things. And if I got up with my things, I’d lose my favorite seat!” Barham still has nightmares about the day in question.
Based on security footage, freelance writer Duane Richardson spent three hours next to Barham in the café. He asked her to watch his laptop twice so he could go to the bathroom. “I totally would have watched her stuff in return. All she had was a copy of The Goldfinch. I know it’s kind of an expensive book, but no one was gonna steal it. It’s not Infinite Jest.”
In no rush to overcome her fears, Barham plans on riding out the rest of her UTI by spending the next few weeks in her bathroom.