10 Jan
My Co-Worker Has Bladder Issues

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

I have a very unusual problem.  I work with a lady who has bladder issues.  I mean, even though she wears the adult diapers, she still wets herself fairly regularly.  Two to four times a week.  The smell is absolutely overpowering. She is in the process of cross-training me, and when she comes into my office I feel like I am going to throw up.  She has a lot of health issues, and I feel sorry for her, but I am at my wit’s end.  Please help.


Gagging in Austin


Dear Gagging,

Boy, do I feel for you. Other people’s health problems can be so draining. I mean, it’s one thing if they go somewhere and seek treatment quietly, but now they insist on bringing it into the office! In public!

Although I am ordinarily all for “clearing the air,” so to speak, in this case, I suggest that you try to cope with it.   Because chances are that whatever discomfort you are experiencing is dwarfed by your co-worker’s constant struggle.   So I would discourage you from speaking to your co-worker about this directly and I wouldn’t discuss the situation with others in your office, either.   Chances are the woman in question is already aware of the challenges that her situation poses and is embarrassed about it.

If you feel like you cannot work in the environment because of the odor, speak to the personnel officer and let him or her know that it is interfering with your performance.   The personnel person may be able to reassign you to a different department, seat you in a better ventilated area or speak to your co-worker about taking steps to reduce the odors.

Good luck,

Marinka, TMH

9 Responses to “My Co-Worker Has Bladder Issues”


Comment by Alexandra.

Whew…Marinka…did you get a tough question.

But, I agree, what can you say??

The only thing I would do is install one of those plug in automatic air fresheneres that are triggered with motion sensors, and I’d wave my hand or foot in front of it that thing the whole dang time the co worker was there.

What else can you do??


Comment by Nicole.

Oh this is sad. I think Marinka hit the nail on the head, try to deal because I imagine this woman is humiliated enough already. Maybe smear some vicks under your nose until you cannot smell anything else? Good luck!


Comment by vodka tonic.

Airline attendant friend that encounters many foul odors swears by fresh coffee grounds. Get one of those filter packs, and stuff it down the front of your shirt.


Comment by Kimberly.

I have a similar problem, but with curry. Same chances that anything can be done about it, zee row. Both scenarios fall under diversity guidelines, which means – you loose. But, I got myself this extremely quiet “Zippie” desk fan that really seems to… clear the air for me.


Comment by annie.

Well said Marinka!

No doubt your co-worker is all too aware of her health issues and has been at HER wit’s end for some time.

Find yourself an air freshener.


Comment by skchord.

Unfortunately, someone very close to me has a very similar situation. She is all too aware of her disability and despite taking medication and precautions, accidents happen. She too also has a very foul odor when it does occur. I know from personal experience that while your co-worker may not be fully aware of her odor, she would be absolutely mortified if she knew others were so aware of her situation. It is such an embarassment. I think Marinka is right, and follow the advice of Kimberly and Alexandra and get both a fan, and an air freshener. Good luck!


Comment by Plano Mom.

I wonder, there must be a change in smell for Ms. Austin to know that “it” happens 2-4 times a week. So maybe there’s times when it’s not as noticeable? Perhaps the woman could be doing something to minimize the odor, but she’s not aware that it’s that noticeable?

Not saying Ms. G should say something, but perhaps she could talk to the HR person about it. Yeah, this might fall under value diversity, but you know what? I do know that stinky people aren’t specifically called out in my company’s diversity statement…


Comment by Lizzie @ Infectious Chatter.

air fresheners!!!


Comment by mbjensen.

there are procedures Uro Gyns can perform to prevent this type of leakage. If you have a supervisor or manager, speak with them and let them know her poor hygiene interferes with your ability to work. Depending on your company & # of employees, there are certain HR rules where they’d have to address this issue with her. If your company has insurance, most incontinent issues are covered and she doesn’t have to live like that. How horrible.

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