Two Ideas that Won’t Die … But Should

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We are living in a time when we can connect with people like never before. No matter your interest, there is a forum or website that caters to it and lets you connect with people who are like-minded or share experiences, including incontinence. Things we used to speak about only to medical professionals and only in hushed tones, we can now talk about openly with people going through the same thing.

This has given me insights into what others in my shoes think and feel, and a couple things never fail to surprise me:

1. “I want the lowest level of protection that will be effective.” If you just dribble or occasionally squirt, maybe an incontinence pad, liner or guard works well enough that you never give it a second thought, never worry about leaks, that’s great. But far too often I read accounts of urinary leaks that could have been avoided by simply stepping up the protection and expecting the unexpected. Unforeseen traffic jams, meetings that run long, accidental increases in fluid intake, etc. can all cause mischief that leads to exceeding the razor-thin margin of error built into that “lowest level” protection.

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For you, maybe that means stepping up from a pad to protective underwear or from a pad to a more absorbent liner, but given my issues, it means adult diapers. Yes, I could get by with DynaDry liners more often than I do, but then I would have to change more often and, and this is key, I would constantly worry and would be unable to be present in my life. That is a tradeoff I am unwilling to make. But there’s something about the word “diaper.” People feel it’s demeaning or that using them means they have failed or given up. Poppycock.

2. “I call them ‘briefs’ to preserve dignity.” I’m all for preserving anyone’s dignity, but the idea that you can do that by changing the name of the product you’re using, for yourself or someone else, is window dressing. You can call them kitchen tables if you want to, but it doesn’t change what they do and are ... tab-style briefs are also known as briefs with tabs AND adult diapers.

Here’s something that illustrates the confusion this creates: I’ve read countless reviews on multiple websites from unhappy customers who bought “briefs” and were royally ticked off that they received "diapers." The confusion was completely foreseeable and avoidable. We don’t call wheelchairs “rolling chairs” or hearing aids “earphones,” so why are we being coy about diapers?

If there’s no shame in our bodies needing the occasional aid to help us live happier, more productive lives—and there absolutely is not—then let’s take back the language that helps us talk openly. Let’s call them what they are.

I’m on a mission to help people feel more comfortable talking about incontinence. It’s amazing to me that something so common, so normal could still be taboo. It’s getting better, but it won’t really ever get destigmatized until it’s brought out in the open, where people can talk about it without shame and without having to whisper.

Learn more about NorthShore's selection of adult diapers and other incontinence products or call (800) 563-0161 to talk to Customer Care & Service. Need help finding the right products for you or your loved one? NorthShore offers a handy Online Product Finder, which offers recommendations in five quick steps.

Some years ago (I decline to say how many), life threw me a curveball and I found myself facing some new and frightening challenges, and having to navigate the confusing world of incontinence products alone. This was pre-internet and, frankly, pre-decent options. Through constant experimentation, I’ve found products that work for me—yes, many of which are sold by NorthShore Care—but the more important part of my journey has been internal. I’ve fought insecurity, isolation, paranoia that EVERYONE was staring at my butt, and fear that I’d never be able to return to the rich, full life I once had. I’m happy to say all of that was unfounded.

Part of the work I did to understand and accept myself included reading. A LOT of reading. I found articles that explained the different kinds of incontinence, blog posts about the various products that were available, and even pamphlets for drugs that offered to solve my problem. What I couldn’t find was practical guidance on and honest thoughts about living with this embarrassing, confusing, and occasionally hilarious new “feature” my body had to offer.

NorthShore gets it, and that’s why I’m here. NorthShore isn’t just a business that sells incontinence supplies, it’s a business built on a foundation of understanding of what you and I are dealing with every day.

I don’t work for NorthShore (would it be too cheesy to say I work for you?) but this feels like the right place for a blog that addresses real-world issues around incontinence. Here I’ll talk candidly, openly, and occasionally uncomfortably about the challenges we face, the products that can help us manage those challenges, and how to go about confidently getting on with our lives.

Let’s get real.

—Bill Edwards

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