By Linda Ryan

Illustration by Mark H. Adams

I’m sitting on an exam table in a drafty little paper gown and knee socks, two feet away from some guy in a white coat who has just told me no man would ever get near me with that THING on my side.

I bet you think I’ve got something fairly scary growing out of my body. Maybe an extra head, a third eyeball? Perhaps an outlet for small appliances?

No, no, no. Sorry to disappoint.

What he was actually referring to was a hole about the size of a dime, covered by something that looks a lot like a sandwich bag with a nozzle.

I pee through a hole in my stomach. I was born with spina bifida, which tends to mangle your spinal cord — in my case, including the bit that controlled my entire urinary tract. So when I was 3 years old, a surgeon rerouted the tract to what they call an “ileal conduit,” a little hole. I stick on a bit of medical Tupperware, attach a bag every week or two and it helps prevent slow leaks, infection and kidney failure.

This has its advantages. None of my skin ever touches public bathroom seats and I don’t come in contact with any bodily fluids