The Water Deprivation Test – the patient’s version!

Having been on the receiving ends of several of these delightful tests, I’d like to share with you how it actually feels. 

The test begins with the words “YOU WILL NOT DRINK ANY FLUIDS FOR THE NEXT EIGHT HOURS”.  If you do have suspected DI, you’ll now be in a total panic!  A typical DI patient intake would be at least five litres in eight hours – often much more. 

Tap Hi Res

You are then told that all trips to the loo will be escorted – just in case you find a dripping tap, (or bliss) a can of icy coke on the way.  Half hourly blood tests will break the monotony and you’ll carry a measuring jug at all times - this you’ll fill with ease!

After several hours of the test, any hope of a trickle of saliva has long gone – your tongue is firmly welded to the roof of your mouth, so that your gibbering complaints of dire thirst are totally misunderstood.  There are two dried up marshmallows where your lips once were. 

Can these doctors and nurses possibly imagine what you are going through?

Why do they remark on your grey pallor and shuddering body – this is dehydration!  No, the nurse will not swap you a drink of water for all of your toenails you’ll gladly pull off in exchange.

Hallucinating, you’ll see images of icy ‘anything’ poured into your parched mouth –waterfalls, diet-coke, and buckets of tea - the entire Irish Sea.

On one of my tests (which was carried out in a ward of non-DI patients), I was opposite a lady who had a bottle of ‘Appeltise’ on her table. It took every ounce of strength not to grab it and down it in one!  I still look at this particular drink in shops and recall the dire agony.

During a previous WDT, I found a bucket with ice cubes in, and didn’t resist the urge; I was spotted by the doctor with a bulging mouth of ice cubes, the test was stopped abruptly and I was ordered home - only of course to return and repeat the whole miserable process.  

Even with no fluids going in, your bladder will still twinge, like an annoying buzzing wasp urging you to empty it yet again.  Where on earth is all this pee coming from?

Finally, the doctor approaches your collapsed body on the bed with a cheery “the test is now over, you are free to drink”.  You’ll gulp any fluid in sight - the entire wards’ water jugs, the domestic’s dirty water bucket – anything wet will do!

On completion of the test and if diagnosed, you’ll receive an injection of DDAVP – the most wonderful medicine ever produced for a DI sufferer.  You’ll promise the injection bearer all your worldly goods –this crying, quivering wreck of a patient will be your friend forever. 

That injection gives you back a normal bladder output, and the raging thirst is quelled!  Temporarily of course, but heaven whilst it lasts.

Pat McBride - Patient and Head of Patient & Family Services