“What is it like?” That has been a favorite theme of mine in these essays.
I was first moved to write columns when I first became a father: Filling the pail for the Wydee Dydee Diaper man to exchange once a week, leaving clean, folded diapers while removing ... Ugh! Guarding against the boys-pee-up phenomenon, usually futilely, while wearing a dress shirt and necktie.
Those events evoke angst when they occur, and humor when we look back on them. Angst plus humor makes for dandy stories for newspaper columns. I have tried to capture my experiences in ways that recall, or forewarn, others.
I have a doozy for you this week: Depends.
NOBODY talks about wearing adult disposable underwear lined with absorbent material. It just is not done.
But millions of Depends are sold each year, and not just for use by geezers.
So when the happily temporary aftereffects of recent bladder cancer surgery caused ... umm ... leakage, I donned Depends and lived to write about the experience. Some guys experience the leakage naturally as body parts wear out. Others need catheters from time to time. I have had four catheters. Their aftermath can also include a need for Depends.
Happily, I wear what are called “relaxed fit” pants, full through the seat and thighs. Most are equipped with elasticized “comfort waists,” to accommodate the movement of what used to be my pectoral muscles to belly button level, yielding a body shaped like a pear.
My experiences have been mercifully brief, two or three days at a time.
Catheterization is best left undescribed except to say that whenever I do mention it, women laugh and men wince.
But since an acquaintanceship with Depends can unexpectedly afflict even the youngest, healthiest males among us, I feel duty bound to share my reaction.
They aren’t all that bad.
Like disposable infant diapers, adult absorbent undergarments have come a long way.
The outer layer is of some plastic-like material threaded with elastic material, liquid-resistant yet lightweight. The inner layer is soft, moldable and non-chafing.
They look goofy if you stand before a mirror while wearing them. Swaddling an adult male is a goofy concept.
But once gathered beneath relaxed-fit jeans, they are practically unnoticeable. Sweat pants also worked well, but beware of the narrower, now fashionable “yoga pants.” They are clingy, and accentuate unsightly bumps and clumps.
I got through entire days with few mishaps. Most of those days were spent primarily at home, with ready access to bathrooms, waste containers and replacement underwear.
I had far more difficulty with the urination process itself than I did with the underwear. Even when dampened, they did not produce painful chafing or burning, as long as I replaced them frequently.
I did drive into town, walk through stores and visit family members’ houses, all without difficulty. The two-hour trips to Pittsburgh for medical reasons did about reach the useful life limit of one set. While changing in a men’s bathroom, I looked ruefully at the folded diaper changing station hanging from a wall.
“Circle of life,” I thought, followed by a few unprintable words.
Depends do bunch up a bit. They also trap some heat, a natural result of their partly plastic construction. Daily showers and attention to basic hygiene alleviate bad consequences.
I have not yet needed to resort to hearing aids, though my wife and children strongly hint that that time is approaching rapidly. Except for assorted fractures and sprains, I have avoided the need for canes or walkers. One son, Greg, uses a wheelchair on occasion to ease his aching knees and hips, a characteristic of Down syndrome in some adults.
But I have reached the state in life where I depended on Depends.
I have not discarded the remaining diapers in the pack. They, and a smaller pack of those mini-pads that can absorb leakage for both men and women, repose in storage. See, I figure that if I keep them, I probably won’t need them anytime soon. Reverse psychology is a great morale booster.
I bravely report that, yes, men can move about in society while wearing Depends without being spotted as probable refugees from nursing homes.
However, if you ask me whether I am wearing Depends should you meet me on the street, my answer will be the same as it is if you ask me whether I am in fact carrying a handgun: I could be, but you’ll never know unless you provoke an emergency, will you?
“It depends,” should be the answer, with respect to adult underwear as well as handguns.
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Denny Bonavita is a former editor at newspapers in DuBois and Warren. He lives near Brookville. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org