Incontinence does not have to be an indignity. And we've seen big improvements in provision in the past decade - after inviting one incontinence "advisor" to leave after she told me my teenage daughter had no right to expect anything better than she was being given, and that anything more absorbent would be too bulky between the legs, and that wet patches and puddles on the floor were indeed more age appropriate than a bit of extra padding; well, after that, you'd hope things could only get better.
And they seem to be. We have lovely paper-backed, rustle free incontinence pads. We have catheters smaller than tampons. Shopping centres are slowly starting to put in adult sized changing benches; the indignity of stripping down in the back of a van in the carpark is reducing but not altogether gone. We can choose between nappy style pads, pull-ups, waterproof backed liners for regular underwear, or a combination of all these.
The indignity of having to pick them up from the doctor's surgery, cart them through the crowded waiting room and then across a busy part of town to the carpark persist; I try to ensure the child's name is hidden and the child is not with me at the time. Not always possible in the summer holidays.
The indignity of having someone administer catheters and suppositories regularly persists, but with age (and possibly with surgery too) will come independence. The indignity for another child in being told the only way to manage constipation is to give that child frequent attacks of what others might consider to be diarrhoea persists - brown smelly sludgy puddles are not pleasant and not discreet. The indignity of carrying "nappy rash ointment" to school persists - come on Sudocreme, please consider providing some alternative packaging for older clients.
The indignity of wearing especially designed swimwear, covering layers of rubber and wadding persists too - but possibly better than the indignity of swimming in a brown cloud.
And, when you're a smaller child with incontinence, there's the added indignity of having to wear not just "nappy-style incontinence pads" but actual baby nappies. Now, if you buy pull-ups or dry night type stuff yourself, for your older child who just happens to be taking his own time in managing to stay dry overnight, you'll get something reasonably discrete, slimline, with a juvenile not infantile pattern (or completely plain), designed to fit under pyjamas and be invisible at sleepovers.
Lovely. Important actually; manufacturers and parents recognise that having other children thinking you wear nappies like a baby is probably not good for the ego. But, be incontinent and be tiny, and you'll be given baby nappies. With baby prints on them. They're cute prints when your baby is one or two, they're fine when that baby becomes a toddler and just needs something reasonably cute and ridiculously watertight overnight. They're not ok when you're swinging in the playground or getting changed for PE or just leaning over in the classroom.
So we were really very pleased when our supplies had a "new improved" design which proved to be plain unprinted white and boring. Fantastic. Just like her big sister's pads. Grown up incontinence supplies for the smaller bottom.
Except that was last month. This month, they've improved the design again. And, perhaps I'm over-picky, but would you want to go around with this as a slogan pasted across your rear end?